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Re-More Than A Feeling – Lefsetz Letter

Hitch a Ride is the best song on the “Boston” record.  One of the best guitar solos ever imo.
Hal Cohen
Thanks for calling out Boston. One of the first two albums I ever bought with my own allowance money was their debut, along with Al Stewart’s ‘Year of the Cat’. Top to bottom that Boston album is a gem. “More Than a Feeling” was not my favorite, despite its undeniability. “Rock and Roll Band” was a young, music-loving daydreamer’s paradise. If you were in, and a fan, this was their creation story, the rock and roll dream painted in technicolor sound that you could sing right along to (or try to anyway) and feel like it could be your own story. Scholz is underrated as a pure musical master, and I would go to bat for Brad Delp as one of the best singers of that, or any era. Sad he’s no longer with us.
“Smokin” still passes the volume knob test and is a pure burner of a track. “Hitch a Ride” is just a gorgeous and moving melody. Still get chills when that guitar solo kicks in. And yes, “Foreplay/ Long Time” is a classic. When the snare hits twice to segue into the main song it sparks a kind of euphoria that only great music can bring.
Call it Classic, call it corporate, call it what you will, but mostly call it timeless. Just plain great music.
-Chris Horvath
Bob-Wow. You brought back waves of feelings with this piece. When “More Than A Feeling” came out, we were amazed at the clean, new sound of it—like nothing we’d heard before. It was an anthem of our High school Senior year, and we played that first Boston eight track in our cars incessantly as we cruised our little Kansas town. Life was good!  Thanks for bringing back those memories.
Bruce Dyson
Amen.  I was music director of BCN when the demo (the original) was brought into the station by Paul Ahern, their manager.  It was reel to reel and we put it on a cart which were used mostly for station I.Ds and spots.
There were a couple of us in the studio and it took maybe 30 seconds to say ‘holy s..t’.  We played that song every hour the first few days, which we never ever did.  The rule was no song could be played more than once every other shift.
It is one of the best rock songs ever, if we are being honest.
John Brodey
When I was a teenage recording artist signed to Epic Records, my Jimmy Ienner production company produced single “Rock & Roll President” was released on the same day in 1976 as 2 other singles by new, unknown Epic artists: “More Than a Feeling” (Boston) and “Play That Funky Music White Boy” (Wild Cherry”) – so I was in good company!
Wallace Collins
I loved reading this about Boston. It was definitely a “guilty” pleasure back then. My favorite story was while living in LA (for the third time), I remember listening to Jones’ Jukebox one afternoon in the mid-2000’s and hearing mention how much he loved Boston when they came out but couldn’t tell anyone because he was “punk” rock and anti-corporate! But he was jealous of those guitar tones that he knew he could never get!
Weirdly my two favorite Boston tunes were/are “Hitch A Ride” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight!”
David George
I still shamefacedly have that Boston album, it belonged to Steve Jones, Sex Pistols guitarist and Jonesys Jukebox host;  he absolutely loved it.   Like you said Boston were uncool so Steve’s adoration seemed strange.    But, his post Pistols group, The Professionals, with drummer Paul Cook, put out some great tracks with his power guitar chords overdubbed maybe 10 times, paying symphonic homage to Boston and, probably, Phil Spector.   The vocals were, sadly, not on a par but the sound…!    Just Another Dream and 1-2-3 are on YouTube – the proof is in the pudding.
Its almost the end of October and its sunny and 14 degrees on this side of the ocean;  something’s definitely not right.
Fachtna O Ceallaigh.
Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY in my high school had this on 8-track in their Chevelle, their GTO, their Olds Cutlass 442. EVERYBODY. Many, many joints smoked on lunch hour in those cars (nearly every day) to Boston’s first album. To call it ubiquitous, doesn’t come close to describing the unbelievable impact it had on anybody who was alive then. I’d bet the farm that every single one of my classmates can sing every f…ing word of every song on that record. Me too. And THAT, my friend, will never happen again. Ever.
Sad. We were lucky, Bob.
Really, really lucky.
Counting my blessings.
Pete Kehoe
Journeyman musician (still)
Northern Michigan
(Currently in Amsterdam)
Didn’t know about Scholz’s affinity for the James Gang.
Now that you mention it…
The endings of “More Than A Feeling” and “Tend My Garden” do kinda take similar musical paths.
Marty Bender
“More Than A Feeling” is pure genius.  I owned it within 12 hours of first hearing it on the radio in September of ’76.  Skipped school to buy it.
Chris Herrmann
The Boston debut was my first album I purchased, at the ripe age of 15.  I split the purchase with my younger brother, it still has the $2.98 price sticker from our local Kresge’s (Five & Dime store).
I retained possession and it hangs above our pool table, along with several other landmark albums shared by my wife and I.
I was never a huge Boston fan after that first, but the debut holds up quite well.  There’s no shame in that!
Al Jones
I was 14, going on 15 and getting serious about practicing guitar when this came out and it nearly wiped out everything that I had been listening to up to then. It’s hard to overstate just how electrifying and inspiring this was at a time when most mainstream rock wasn’t anywhere near as well-crafted. Make no mistake: this song, and in fact the entire album are perfect.
And when Brad Delp sang “I dream of girl I used to know”, at 15 I had yet to have that as a personal experience. But now, of course, that line has me choked up pretty much every time.
More Than A Feeling was the song that captured what my girlfriend at the time and I had when we first started out.  That Boston is  not in the Hall Of Fame when a whack of less significant acts are – I won’t name them – is criminal.  That Boston pretty much invented the ‘Power Hits’ radio format has never been chronicled.  That Boston was the hinge that opened the door to Van Halen etc has never been credited.  I was very fortunate to be assigned as the photographer at the Toronto daily I was working at – a year before I became ‘the critic with a camera’ – to capture the band at Maple Leaf Gardens.  Got some great shots of Delp and even went to the after party and hung with Tom and the opening act, one Rick Derringer.
Bottom line, we were young and about as carefree a demographic that ever existed.  And “those old songs” were no more than five or ten years old.  The “sound of infinite space” as I used to describe Boston’s production was the perfect match for an America that was moving forward from Vietnam with unlimited potential.  Like Boston, it wouldn’t last long.  But if you were there…wow.
Personally I think rock died with The Sex Pistols.  Shot the whole spectacle full of holes so to speak.
But, geez, Boston.   Sounded great in the car with my arm around my girl.
Thanks Bob
Jonathan Gross
“Foreplay/Long Time” is the deathless Boston track. It’s that hint of prog that draws you in and Delp’s vocal on the final verse after that organ break is pure FM joy. Too bad about him, by the way.
I was thinking about this topic the other day while looking at the streaming numbers for “Midnights.” Will anyone be talking about or listening to that record 46 years from now? It’s so boring! Even my 18-year-old daughter who professes to love Taylor says, and I quote: “she just makes so much…and now it’s all the same.” Maybe I am just too old to get it and it is the “Satisfaction” of its day. But I don’t think so.
David Vawter
This was great and as always you are spot on.
I remember when the album was released in September of 1976. Our local rock station in my  hometown Columbus OH played just about every song on the record which is unheard of. I was starting college and yet I still love this album to this day.
That said, how many freshmen in college today will still listen and enjoy their present day music in 46 years….my answer is none!
Steve Gerardi
I turned 17  August 29, 1976. Like every year, Mom took me to the “record store” – usually Wallich’s or Licorice Pizza – to pick out my birthday gifts.
Of course, the debut from Boston was on my list… along with the latest from Grand Funk, Al Stewart, REO Speedwagon, and Hall & Oates.
1976 was a transitional and/or landmark year for many established Rock icons. Many released one of their best (Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, Steve Miller)… many not one of their best (Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton).
“Boston” is as important as “RAMONES”.
I’ve played (blasted) the song at least a few times in each of the last 46 years…
Thanks for a great read, Bob.
Bruce R. Kilgour
Boston was a gateway into hard rock for me.  The guitar sounds are heavy yet smooth and melodic.  What many took for corporate,  I took for a style.  It was the soundtrack of my childhood.
I remember riding with my dads 4H group on a rented coach bus in 76 from cedar rapids Iowa to Washington DC.
We had two 8 track tapes for the whole ride, John Denver back home again and the 1st Boston album. The Boston tape got played until the bus could sing along. It ended up getting stretched and unplayable from the use during the return trip.
I’m fine with John Denver but I still adore that 1st album.  Peace of Mind was the song that got me.
David Fink
Ah Bob , what a spot-on analysis! Here I am driving in urban Johannesburg blasting ” All Right Now” and I’m sixteen again. Music is more than a feeling, it`s life.
Benjy Mudie
South Africa
Hey man, great piece of writing. 14 year old me bought this album when it came out and wore it out, probably the second or third LP I’d bought with dough from my paper route and mowing. Today, my 16 year old is a big fan of “Peace of Mind” along with a pile of old and new tracks from all over.
Tom Grueskin
Prompted by your email, I listened to Boston this morning driving down the Autobahn to work today.  A few thoughts crossed my mind:
1) Memories very similar to yours from 1976 came rushing back.  The feeling of community that came from knowing that there were millions of kids in high schools across the country simultaneously discovering and enjoying the same soundtrack was, well, more than a feeling.
2) Years ago in New York, I noticed there were hipster parents who’d dress their kids up in little Ramones t-shirts.  Can you imagine our parents dressing us up in Benny Goodman or Percy Faith t-shirts?  The music on the radio in 1976 was *ours* … with no meddlesome parental involvement.  That was nice.
3) Can you imagine a hit song (or whatever passes for one these days) with an organ as a lead instrument?  An *organ*!
Gunnar Miller
Frankfurt Germany
Wow!  Keen insights on the Fall of ‘76, Bob. En point, as usual.
I was a wanna-be teenager, 12 years old, living in the west San Fernando Valley, Canoga Park. I lived and breathed rock ‘n roll, particularly what was coming across the airwaves from KLOS and KMET (“The Mighty Met!”).  I thought it was great that Paul Thomas Anderson put those billboards of KMET into “Licorice Pizza”, his retro movie from last year. Those billboards were everywhere in LA at that time and rock ‘n roll radio was the king of the airwaves.  KMET had that clever gimmick of the call letters being upside down on the billboard ads and on their T-shirts…who’d ever done that before??
And speaking of Licorice Pizza, that was the closest record store for me, in Canoga Park, on Topanga Canyon Blvd.  It was like Mecca for me and my friends.
It’s funny to remember, because now they’re synonymous with “hopelessly obsolete”, but 8 track tapes at that time were as prestigious as LPs and were actually more expensive than LPs.  For those of us who didn’t have quality home stereo systems, 8 track tapes were the logical choice because you could do what my brother did which was to rig up a used car stereo 8 track player in our bedrooms and of course they were, in our part of the world, what we were playing as we sped around the Valley in his car.
There was no way in hell our parents were going to buy us an actual quality stereo system like you describe, but nonetheless, my friends and I could all mimic the rapid-fire descriptions of Pioneer, Kenwood and Marantz systems from the ubiquitous radio ads for Cal Stereo…a boy could dream.
The discussions on the playground would be about what songs we heard on the radio the night before and the concerts that had been announced that were coming to LA that we had zero chance of going to (triple bill of Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynard and Rick Derringer at Angels Stadium!!)
You’re right:  terrestrial radio is a mere shadow of it’s gloried past:  another jock in the same caliber as Mary Turner was Jim Ladd, on KMET.
Other albums that were getting heavy play in my brother’s ‘69 Plymouth Fury’s 8 track tape player that Summer and Fall along with Boston’s first album were Blue Oyster Cult’s Agents of Fortune, Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same, Wings At The Speed Of Sound and…um…Kiss Destroyer 🙂
Thanks again, Bob!
Darriel Arnott
From: Mike McLeish and many more
Greetings from down under.
I loved your piece on More Than A Feeling. The timing was personally fortuitous because I’d just the other day watched Rick Beato deconstruct the song in one of his ‘What Makes This Song Great?’ episodes.
You may well have seen it. Hell, you may well know Rick.
But just in case…
Melbourne, Australia
Boston?  Unique solitary game-changer.  Gathered up everything every other hard rock pop band had done in a studio up to that point, and took it a step farther.  Moved the goal posts.  One and done.   Paul Lanning
Thank you for the reminder.
Graduating class of ‘76, Queens, NY.
So, as you can see, we need all the help we can get.
I think Scholz must have also liked Tommy James and the Shondells.
And in return, Tommy liked Tom.
And everyone envied The Who.
Who wouldn’t?
Brad Delp *sigh*, if ever there was a voice so alive, it was his.
In closing, I bought an Electro Harmonix Rock Man from the source the first year it came out.
I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn that  I lost it years ago.
Jon Weiss
Nice article on Boston.  I still remember, when I was a music dealer in the ’70s, cracking the shrink-wrap on that first album and playing it in the store.  People would walk in and immediately be going, “Who is THIS?!”  That was all it took, that thing sold like hotcakes.  We sold the album for $4.79 back in those days. $6.99 for the 8-track, but by this time, LPs were the thing — if you were serious about the music, you had a turntable.  If you were REALLY serious you had a Technics turntable.
I saw Boston in concert twice.  The first time I went with friends, and the driver of the car was one of those guys who only went to concerts to chase girls, he wasn’t really into the music, so we wound up being late and having to sit far back from the stage.  I vowed then and there that I wouldn’t go to a concert again unless I was in control of the transportation, so I could make sure to be there on time, and I’ve stuck to that to this day.
The second time was at Red Rocks in Colorado, which is the best concert venue in the western US, this was the tour in which they brought in a ringer to hit the high notes that Brad Delp could no longer reach.  Hearing “More than a Feeling” in that place was pretty magical, let me tell you.
After that stellar debut album, the second album did almost as well but wasn’t quite as good, and from then on they went slowly into the toilet, with mostly dreck-filled albums dribbling out every eight years or so.  I never saw a group hit such heights so fast, only to keep releasing albums that took years and years to make but weren’t very good.
Mike Blakesley
Hi Bob — that Boston album was a wild ride for everyone involved.
Tom Scholz was an engineer working at Polaroid up in Boston area when he recorded his demos.  Lennie Petze, I recall, played a big part in signing the band.  John Boylan, at the time an Epic staff producer, served as producer, but has written that he did not do much as Scholz turned his demos into the first Boston album.
The wonderful Paula Scher wrote about the process of design of that starship guitar album cover in her book, “Make It Bigger.”  I was in those meetings as the band’s product manager at Epic in New York.
Boston was adamant about having a guitar on their cover.  They even brought in their own sketch, which Paula and I both determined, pretty immediately, would have been completely inappropriate.  That put us on the spot, we had to come up with an alternative fast.  Paula bought some time with her wicked sense of humor suggesting a pot of beans or Boston Creme Pie on the cover.  The idea that won the day — addressed the band’s desire for a guitar (and came from a combination of inspiration and desperation) — was the huge spaceship which is really a Les Paul guitar but because of the elongated perspective, is not obvious.  Roger Huyssen brilliantly painted that cover.
The record took off like a rocket at radio, thanks to the strength of the music and the dedication of the Epic promotion staff.  Boston needed a lot of help to get them ready for live performances.  Al DeMarino of Epic artist development played a large role there.  All the guys were willing, but not experienced beyond the bar band scene.  In the end, they were good students, Brad Delp had a great voice to compliment Scholz’s vision, and the record was on its way.
All-in-all, it was a great example of a label getting behind a great piece of music, each department doing its job.  We had great leadership at Epic under Ron Alexenburg.  At least up to then, Boston was the fastest selling first release by a new band in the history of the industry.
It is an achievement of which we are all proud.
Jim Charne
I was never a Boston fan… but I can’t help thinking that they altered the course of my life.
I’m from NH. I was born in 1972. I was a kid in the 80’s when I truly was turned on to music. My town was small, about 19,000 people, and we had a s..tty local top 40 radio station.
My beacon for music was WBCN out of Boston.  We could get the signal in my town. It wasn’t always strong, but by dial was always pegged to 104.1. We got a lot of “local” music on ‘BCN, including Boston.
In 1986 I was a freshman in high school. There was a girl I was crazy over. She was a freshman too.  She went to a junior high in a nearby (smaller) town and I had never seen her before. I can still recall the day I first laid eyes on her. That was it. I was long gone.
Throughout the entire school year, I tried to get to know her. I finally started to make headway and knew I had a chance. Then one weekend, I went to a party at “the cliffs,” a teenage hangout spot in the woods that overlooked the town.
I met a girl, a junior, that was interested in me. When we met, Boston was playing on the boom box. She was a Boston freak. She wouldn’t stop talking about them, let alone singing every word.
Long story short, we connected and then started dating.
I was completely caught up in the fact that I was a freshman, she was a junior, and she chose me. Like a fool, I abandoned the pursuit of the freshman girl I was nuts for.  I blew it!
F..king Boston. Every time I got in her car Boston was playing. I tried to change the cassette, she’d pop it back in. Boston all the damn time!
I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to dump her.
All the while the freshman I was interested in started dating a senior and did for the next three years. Destiny was put on hold for me.
To this day I can’t listen to Boston without thinking of the one I let get away.
I threw it all away… for Boston!
Judd Maracello
Warner Brothers passed on Boston. My late friend and WB promo guy Charlie McKenzie heard the cassette playing in an A&R man’s cubicle and when he found out the label had passed on it, took the cassette to friends at Epic …. Or so the story goes I was told back then……..
Michael Fremer
Rolling Stones, led zeppelin, CSNY, Neil Young, the Pretenders, Rockpile, Clash, the Doors, Foghat, The Grateful Dead, George Harrison, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Television, Kraftwork, Elvis Costello, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Iggy Pop, Jackson Brown, Kiss, Talking Heads, Jethro Tull, Isley Brothers , Supertramp, Ted Nugent,
The 70’s Baby, they call it Rock for a reason
Alan Fenton
I was in college in the early 90’s when my roommate got a CD player in his car. First CD player either of us owned so we had to go to the local Walmart to get a CD to play while we drove around. It had to be something where we wouldn’t get annoyed with a bunch of filler, so we went with Boston. Such a great soundtrack for driving around, looking for trouble.
Jeff Neely
After reading that I made it 602,878,three hundred and 28.  Thanks for the warm and fuzzy email on a dark and rainy Vancouver day
Rob Severyn
Brilliant post and good to know I’m not the only one looking in the rear-view mirror wondering about people I know I’ll most likely never see again but their faces, their unique voices and their laughter still resonates in my head, often as it hits the pillow some memory will whoosh into my thoughts and I’ll think, yes I’ll revisit them again tonight in my dreams. It’s a miracle we are on this planet, it’s a miracle ‘our’ sperm hit our Mother’s egg and it’s a miracle that we lived these last bunch of incredible decades with it’s collective artistry in songs, acts and even movies. The golden years, in that LA sun too.   Bless you for your words Bob.
Eddie Gordon
Funny enough I was driving in Boston today and on came “More than a Feeling” from Boston and I had many of the same feelings you express here.
Ronald C. Pruett, Jr.

By: bob | 2022/10/27 | The Music | Trackback | Comments [RSS 2.0]

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