Evan, you who first honed your skills on accordion, began concentrating on a full range of keyboards in our early teens and you formed a rock band with a guy named Richard Histed on drums, Steve Campbell on bass, Jim Lord (I think Jim was his first name; it escapes me now) on lead guitar and, I believe, John Elg on rhythm guitar. You guys were the best rock group from our community and periodically headlined our local teen dances. Because you guys had the best keyboardist around in Mark Evan Harlan, and although the other guys were pretty damn good, too, you were known and respected as the only guy around our town able to nail down the keyboard parts of the Doors' LP version of Light My Fire and Iron Butterfly's LP version of
Inna-gadda-da-vida on the Farfisa in the early version of the band. That was HUGE back then for the "Chick Factor." In later versions of that band, and as you all became better craftsmen, you expanded your improvisational skills at soloing after being influenced by players the likes of Lee Michaels and Keith Emerson and groups like Spencer Davis, Electric Flag, and such. You kept on expanding your skills as you expanded your musical tastes. And
as your tastes grew, you carried me along (as well as several of our mutual friends) on a journey of a love for many styles of music, and musicianship especially, that you introduced us to. I think musicianship appreciation is what I have most learned from you, because the way I see it, without a good musician the music has no life on its own. Music must have the talent of a fine musician playing it to bring forth the life it is meant to give away to the listener. It was your ear for honest to goodness fine music and playing, whatever the genre, (even before we knew the meaning of music genre), that taught so many of us, your oldest and earliest friends, how to listen to the music deeper and it gave us that same appreciation for musical talent; and I, for one, especially thank you.
After high school graduation in '71, I went off to Vietnam and you headed for college in Santa Barbara. But by spring of '73, I was out of the Navy and living in a tiny one bedroom apartment in Isla Vista with you and your dog, Jason, Danny Carlson and his dog, Nanook, all of us crammed together. And then I got Erin, my Irish Setter, from the humane society, and we altogether looked like the cover of Jethro Tull's This Was album, a bunch of "moldy hippies" and a pack of dogs crammed into that apartment. Of course Erin came into heat shortly afterward and we had every male dog in Isla Vista parking their butts out our window and front door, and where Jason and Klaus, the huge Husky, got into some vicious fights. I remember going over to Two Guys and buying little boys size 3 underwear to put on Erin with her tail sticking out of the crotch just so she couldn't be mounted
by any of the bitch-hunters when she went out to pee. Then after Danny moved in with Chris Von Der Lohe over at Hope Ranch and it was just you and me and our dogs, I remember many of times when you were practicing on the piano in your bedroom while I sat or laid on my bed on the floor of the living room. I remember you going over and over bits and pieces of a classical compositions until you had every part down perfectly, as the whole it was meant to be. I don't remember ever getting bored hearing you play, stumble, cuss, play it again and again and again. I actually admired your tenacity to stretch your ability as you accomplished each goal to perfection. Looking back at it now, I really feel honored to have been your roommate that year and getting to be "the only person sitting in the audience."
Then there was the period of time before you left for grad school in New England. We were back in Westchester and renting my parents' old house with Jeff Lee. I was just beginning my career as a hairstylist and you were playing piano for modern dance classes. It was a chance for you to practice more on
improv and it was a time when you introduced me to Keith Jarrett's piano improvs. What I loved the most about that time was when you sat down at the Baby Grand at night in the garage party room my parents built and just began to play whatever you felt, improvising all the while. I'd sit or lie on the old couch we had there and i'd be taken away on little visual trips that your music sent me to. I remember telling you about how your playing did that to me and we began to experiment from time to time on other evenings where you'd just simply play whatever your mind wanted you to create and I would go on dreamlike journeys to the music. And then afterwards, we would discuss the rhythm changes, the key changes, the musical note phrasing, everything you played and how it affected changes in my little metaphysical journeys to distant lands. Those were some special moments I've shared with you that I will never forget.
Among the many memories I have of our times together there is one rather humorous event I shall not forget. It happened during the late winter and spring of 1973, the year of gasoline rationing, and the wettest season Santa Barbara, California has ever recorded. Sometime in late February and before the rainy weather really got underway that year, you drove your Chevy Greenbrier van up to Red Rock in the Los Padres National Forest mountains where we used to go hiking and skinny-dipping with friends and other hippie types. That old van made it through a couple of the crossings of the Santa Ynez River but eventually got stuck in the loose and deep gravel on the bottom of one of those river crossings, and that is where you decided to leave it
for the time being until you could arrange for a tow truck to pull it out. It was shortly thereafter that the rain came and it hardly ever let up for the next three months. No tow trucks could get through the river crossings to fetch your van because the rain kept making the release of water necessary from the dam upriver of the van, causing the river to flow higher and deeper than usual. On a few occasions we did manage to take the dogs along for a
hike back into the canyon just to check on the van, and on one of those occasions we saw that it was halfway underwater. We both knew that the Corvair engine those Greenbriers came with was probably wasted at that point. But an amazing thing happened when finally, after three months of waiting for the rains to come to a halt, we hiked back again to see if the river had gone down enough so that a tow truck could haul it out. When we finally reached the location of the abandoned vehicle and could see that the river was considerably lower, we also saw that the van was gone. Not knowing if the river had taken it, or if the forest rangers had it removed, or what, we took a seat under the trees of a picnic spot overlooking the river. A short while later is when we discovered what had become of your van. All of a sudden we heard the sound of a vehicle heading down the road toward us from upriver. That's when we could see your van coming under its own power right toward us. After flagging down the driver and he pulled over to talk to you, we noticed that he and his buddy were high school classmates of ours that had hitch-hiked up there to do some camping and LSD. And it was while they were trippin' that they had managed to hot-wire your van and they had been driving it for days while up there camping before we showed up. I wish I
could remember now who those two guys were, but that's been 40-plus years ago now. Maybe you remember who it was putting around those dirt roads in your van. It doesn't really matter who it was; it's just the fact that it was a couple of guys we'd known from high school trippin' on acid who managed to find your van abandoned and get it started and out of the river and were riding around in it after months of wondering how in the world you were ever going to retrieve it that makes this one of the more odd and funny memories I have from our more carefree days together.
I hope this little memoir brings back some fond memories for you as much as it has for me, my brother. There are so many more memories I have of our times together, but if I wrote them all down now we would have ourselves a book. Just know that I love you and I wish upon you many more wonderful years.
Happy 60th, Evan