Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: A legend living among us.
What becomes of a man who had a mega radio hit 47 years ago and has rarely been heard from since? And what if there was a legend living in our midst and nobody knew it?
The answer to both questions can be answered by Bob Lind, a once reclusive folk singer who reigned at the top of the charts in 1966, courtesy of an international hit called "Elusive Butterfly." Lind sang of love and longing, a rare hint of heart-felt sentiment in the midst of the so-called British invasion in the mid '60s.
Like Dylan, Donovan and Paul Simon, Lind draped himself in tattered troubadour mode, setting hearts a-fluttering in the process. In the years since, the song has been covered by more than 200 other artists, most members of the pop elite -- Cher, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Johnny Mathis, Dolly Parton and Petula Clark among them.
Sadly though, Lind found it difficult to maintain his momentum. Subsequent efforts failed to draw n audience, and after struggling with drugs, and garnering a less than stellar professional reputation, he recorded a final album for Capitol Records in 1971. The effort pleased the critics, but sales failed to follow, causing him to turn his back on the business in favor of other pursuits. He relocated to Boca Raton at the end of the '80s, wrote a series of novels, and penned a screenplay for a film called Refuge, which won the Florida Screenwriters' Competition in 1991. He also had the dubious distinction of serving as a staff writer for the supermarket tabloid Weekly World News, a gig that lasted eight years.
It seemed one hit couldn't maintain his momentum forever.
Nevertheless, at age 70, Lind is continuing a comeback of sorts that began in 2004 when his friend and fellow Floridian Arlo Guthrie encouraged him to consider returning to the concert stage.
In the years since, he's performed practically nonstop both here and abroad. An album, recorded at North Miami's Luna Star Cafe, appeared in 2006. Recently, he released a new collection of songs, aptly titled Finding You Again, his first new studio offering in more than four decades.
Not content to merely rest on his legacy, Lind enlisted an unlikely collaborator, producer and power pop auteur Jamie Hoover of the retro rock outfit the Spongetones. He composed a set of songs that are bound to bring him new relevance and recognition. Most of the tracks sound like they could have been spawned in the initial period of Lind's first success, complete with lush arrangements, flowery imagery, a bit of cabaret attitude and even a song or two that recalls the tangled tapestry that made "Elusive Butterfly" so exquisitely memorable.
It seems then that Lind is back to stay. Occasional reissues of his older albums, infrequent gigs (he last played here locally in the fall of 2011), and even an occasional shout out from unlikely fans -- the British band Pulp named a song after him, "Bob Lind (The Only Way Is Down)" and a 2009 documentary, Bob Lind: Perspective, appeared in 2009. With the release of Finding You Again, Lind appears to have found himself once again.
Happily, we can claim this long-lost legend as one of our own. Kudos to a local boy who once made good, and now seems intent on doing so again.