“Women Sing The Who” is a series of releases of The Who‘s songs recorded by female artists with all proceeds benefiting the band’s charitable organization Teen Cancer America, supporting young people with cancer.
Carla Olson took time to speak with No Earplugs about being the first in the Women Sing The Who series of artists to record and release a song by The Who. Olson chose the 1967 Who classic “I Can See For Miles,” a fierce and rocking version which breathes new life into the 55-year-old tune. Olson pays solid homage to the band, and the drumming of Ben Lecourt just made Keith Moon sit up and take notice.
I have read that the “Women Sing The Who” concept was your brainchild. If so, what inspired you? Several years ago my husband and I were watching a PBS show on Roger Daltrey’s charity in Britain called Teenage Cancer Trust. We found his explanation of the need for teens hospitalized with cancer to have a dedicated ward compelling. Teens need to be together to deal with the illnesses that have taken over their bodies. In Britain, the Trust funded over thirty teen wards in hospitals. Now his goal was to do the same in America, hence we came up with an idea to record women singing the songs of The Who. All proceeds from sales through streaming outlets such as iTunes and Bandcamp will go to Teen Cancer America.
Your cover of “I Can See For Miles” kicks off the series. I see it getting a lot of airplay around the globe. How did you approach the recording, and can you talk about your band? I have always been a huge Who fan and seen them many times through the years. My favorite song has always been “I Can See For Miles.” My thought was to just go for it as loud and brash as I could. It was recorded live in the studio with my pal from my teen years in Texas, guitarist Gary Myrick, along with bassist Lou Castro, and drummer extraordinaire Ben Lecourt (my background vocals were added later).
Teen Cancer America (TCA) has been supported by Daltrey and Pete Townshend for years. How do you feel musicians (and anyone else) can bring awareness to such charitable causes? My husband, Saul Davis, worked with TCA to get their PSAs on PBS TV stations all across the U.S., plus in Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles that coincide with The Who’s local tour dates. More recently, the release of my recording “I Can See For Miles” heightened awareness of Women Sing The Who. But there’s more to come, lots more. Next, on June 17th, will be “Baba O’Riley” by Christy McWilson & The Picketts.
How did your work with the Textones and Mick Taylor affect your solo work and your general musical evolution? When I moved out to L.A. in 1978 with my friend Kathy Valentine, the plan was to start a band with Texas roots, naturally. The Textones were the result of finding bass player Dave Provost and drummer Markus Cuff, and we set upon our quest to play gigs and get a record contract. How we got swept up in the punk/new wave scene is a mystery. After finding our manager Saul Davis, and playing several self-financed tours, The Textones put out a three song EP that included an unreleased Tom Petty song and Kathy Valentine’s pre-Go-Go’s version of “Vacation.” Another single on IRS Records got great reviews. Then in 1980, The Go-Go’s added Kathy to their band as bassist and we carried on as a three piece. Lessons learned and suddenly becoming the bandleader I found my footing! Eventually adding a second guitarist George Callins and Sax/keyboardist Tom Jr. Morgan.
The Textones moved in the direction of the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, and other British Invasion bands, with Rickenbacker 12-strings ablazing! Changes in the rhythm section took place and then we found ourselves with the help of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch in the studio recording our first album, Midnight Mission. We toured Europe and the U.S. and received lots of press. The album ended up in many critics’ Top Ten for 1984 but lacked record company support. Our second album, Cedar Creek, on a new label showed musical growth and seemed promising. In the middle of our U.S. tour, I became ill with diabetes and had to take time off to get used to my new situation and it’s roller coaster reality.
In 1983, I was asked to pantomime Mick Taylor’s guitar parts in Bob Dylan’s first ever video of “Sweetheart Like You.” Bob and Mick came to several Textones’ shows, and Mick and I became friends. Meanwhile, Bob offered me an unreleased song “Clean Cut Kid,” for our album Midnight Mission. A few years later, Mick contacted me about doing some recording together. We decided to play a show at The Roxy in L.A. and record it for an album release. Too Hot For Snakes: Live At The Roxy came out in 1991 and is still considered Mick Taylor’s best work since leaving The Rolling Stones (and it is!). Playing with Mick onstage was phenomenal and he made me realize that I had to be a better frontperson. He adds so much muscle to a band.
What bands and artists got/get you fired up to be on stage? The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, February 1964 changed my life. As a classical piano student I decided that moment I had to play guitar in a band! Other standout moments were seeing Jimi Hendrix for the first time in 1968 and learning to play “Walk Don’t Run” by The Ventures.
It was reported there would be a new song in the Women Sing The Who series every six weeks, or so. Can you share who may be involved? Will this all be released as an album in the end? Any other plans in your future? We are still talking to artists, and besides Christy McWilson, I’d only add one name as of now, actress/singer Mare Winningham. Will there be an album? We don’t know yet. My next album is a duet affair with an old pal, Stephen McCarthy. We just finished mixing it. All we need is a record company!
Listen and buy Olson’s incredible version of “I Can See For Miles” on Bandcamp – your purchase will help fund research in finding a cure for childhood cancer. Stay tuned for more releases and information from Women Sing The Who!
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Categories: New Music