Wednesday, February 10, 2010

“Elephant Cloudland”

Hey folks, here’s yet another new feature on Robert Frost’s Banjo—well, sorta new & sorta old, actually. I’ve decided to feature one song per month from the recorded output of our old & beloved Alice in Wonder Band, which Eberle & I were involved with from its inception in 2001 until its demise in 2004. I’ve written quite a bit about the Alice in Wonder Band here on the Banjo—if you’re interested in learning more, you can either search “Alice in Wonder Band” on the blog, or check out the label “our music” (the latter will bring up some posts that aren’t about the Wonder band, however).

Eberle wrote the music & most of the words for “Elephant Cloudland” in 2003—I added a few words here & there where she was stuck, but most of the lyrics are hers. We began performing the song later that year, & it was always a favorite. Slow & dreamy was probably what the Alice in Wonder Band did best, so this was one of our better numbers.

In 2004, we recorded nine songs—eight in the chapel at Marymount Hermitage, thanks to the generosity of the Sisters, & one back at home. Joshua Housh & Dani Leone drove up from the Bay Area to work as producer/sound guy & assistant to same respectively. The personnel on this song is: Deadre Chase, vocal; Lois Fry: violin; Art Troutner: oboe; Eberle Umabch: piano; & yours truly on the old 5-string electric bass guitar.

By the way, the illustration at the top of this post was done by our good friend Margot Kimball (who folks can read a lot more about on Eberle’s Platypuss-in-Boots blog). The image also appears roughly at the midpoint of the video. This would have been the cover art for the cd, but for various reasons, the project got shelved without the mixing being completed, & then the band broke up—oh well, whatcha gonna do?

All the images used in the slideshow are in the public domain except for the twelfth image (the black & white photo of elephants parading), which is from Deutsche Fotothek & licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

Hope you enjoy the music!


  1. Slow & dreamy and Very Very Good.Thank You .

  2. Oh, how beautiful! The oboe is perfect to express the elephant trumpet and the piano really evokes the movement of the herd. I love Lois's voice too as it gives that wonderful ethereal quality to the piece. I was reminded of music that accompanies the Charlie Brown animations.
    Really started my day off nicely with this. Thanks to the Alice in Wonder Band. (Any chance of a reunion?)


  3. This was such a delightful treat! Of course I am partial to the piano and bass in this piece.

    I love the name "Alice in Wonder Band", by the way.

  4. What gorgeous music! Thanks, John and Eberle!

  5. Hi Tony, Kat, Willow & Karen

    Tony: You're welcome! & thanks--glad you enjoyed it.

    Kat: Interesting about the Charlie Brown thing--Eberle & I both like Vince Guaraldi's music, & we even thought seriously about arranging "Linus & Lucy" for the AIWB. I doubt there'll be a reunion. Geography stands in the way--of the five people in that song now live in four different towns as much as 60 miles apart.

    Willow: Thanks! I think there may be a current band (or bands) with that name in Europe. Eberle's piano playing is wonderful on this--the bassist did what he was supposed to do!

    Karen: Thank you!

  6. Platypuss here. Sidling over from Big Bed Land, and speaking for the Animals thereof, I am requested to state the following: Wow, what a post, Monster J.! Your delightful images gave us new insights into the mysterious dreams of Nellie, our cherished elephant, and the wisdom of her eyes – sometimes playful and sometimes sad.

    RFB readers may not know that many of the Alice in Wonder Band songs were written especially for certain animals in Big Bed Land - like Zebra Weather, Gray Dog's Holiday, Go Lamb Rag and so on.

    Monster E. says to thank tony and Poetikat and willow and Karen - it is lovely and always surprising to her that people whose words she admires like songs that she means a lot!

    Bink also wanted me to ask you, John-Johnny-Jack Monster, if you saw his reference to your insight on the Greek origins of the word “nostalgia” on Platypuss-in-Boots? He would like to give you credit for his growing understanding of that word. Also that you should feel free to comment on the intelligence he displayed in this reference by using it to explicate the haunting emotion of the final entry of Goat’s Pirate Log.


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