MUSICAL INTERLUDE: CHRISTIE
By Dmitriy Avdeev
Jeff Christie takes part in our musical history
section as a holiday gift to the readers of Petropavlovsk.
On the origins of Yellow
I wrote Yellow
River sometime in April/May 1969 in about
four hours on the piano. It's so long ago
now that I can't be sure which part started to write
itself through me. Usually I would start with
the chorus and work backwards or laterally, but
often as not I might have just started with those
opening chords with a rolling piano feel that naturally
segued into the verse chording. It was originally
written in D Maj and the original demo is in that
key. It was only later changed to E Maj as it was
a better and bigger sounding guitar key. It took
shape fairly quickly and the chord sequence just
fell into place for the verses and then the chorus
with an escalating tail to raise the tension, bringing
it back to the third and fourth verses and
so on till the end of the song.
I heard a Russian cover
of Yellow River in
some kind of children's television show. There are
hundreds of versions around the world, I know many
of them, but of course I dont remember everything.
In the original, the song is about the civil war
The British Creedence?
The British Music Press
labeled us the English Creedence Clearwater, which
I was never comfortable with as we were totally
different bands. The comparison was probably because
YR was loosely about the American civil war and
that along with many of the songs I was writing
at that time had a very strong American country
rock feel which was a big influence on me at that
time. It was just a part of my songwriting as would
be evidenced by the second Christie album, which
altered course to mine another genre and so on.
I'm a songwriter fundamentally
as well as a performer and like to experiment with
many different styles of songwriting; just as an
artist likes to use a wide range of colours, that's
how it is with me musically and I follow wherever
the muse takes me. In retrospect I have to say the
first Christie album was the most important album
although some of the second album songs were standout
songs for me also.
The Christie musicians
There were several changes
of personnel from 1970 to 1975 and each member played
his part, all of which had their strengths and weaknesses
as all musicians have. The main thing is that the
band should be tight in its playing and as harmonious
as possible on and off stage. This was what I strived
for and sometimes achieved, but personality clashes
and musical differences are common in bands and
very often cause bands to splinter and go their
different ways. Sometimes it's like being married
to three other people!
There were so many influences
from a wide range of musicians and bands from Howlin'
Wolf, Tamla Motown through to Steely Dan by way
of Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, The
Shadows Yes, Genesis, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Steve
Winwood, Ray Davis, Beatles, Bob Dylan etc etc......
just too many to mention.
By the time I wrote YR and
Christie was formed, I had played in bands playing
songs and music of so many variant styles that when
I wrote songs all those past and present influences
would percolate down and distill themselves into
hopefully some kind of style of my own.