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David Clayton-Thomas Talks "You've Made Me So Very Happy"

After David Clayton-Thomas joined Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1968, the group skyrocked to the top of the charts with their 2nd album, Blood, Sweat & Tears. This had much to do with the addition of a Canadian man with so much soul in his voice, that it could have only come from real experience. "You've Made Me So Very Happy" was one of three massive singles from the album, and we chatted with David Clayton-Thomas about its recording.

This was actually a cover song for you! Can you tell us the story of first recording it?
When I first joined the band in '69 we had a lot of songs under consideration, and I loved this song because it was a Motown tune. I was a big fan of Motown. Of course, Brenda Holloway wrote the original. It was a B side of one of her singles and was never really a big hit. I just loved the song. A lot of the decisions on what we recorded were based on it being suitable for me to sing. In most cases the singer gets the final say, and I just loved the song. Very much like the rest of our stuff, it first went to our arranger, who was Richard Halligan at the time. Then we got the arrangement and went from there.

In those days we were working a club in Greenwich Village called Cafe Au Go Go, so we had lots of opportunity to play in front of live audience. When we got into the studio, we were basically recording the stuff we were performing at night in Greenwich Village, so we pretty much knew what the audience reaction was going to be.

The lyrics were originally written for a man after a break-up. Do you remember what was going through your head when you sang it?
I didn't really think of it as being gender specific. Some songs are - I just recorded "Midnight Train To Georgia", which I really had to turn around as a guy talking to a girl. I've always been a big fan of girl singers. Ella, Aretha, Sarah Vaughan etc. I've recorded several songs that were girl songs, because there are so many girl singers that I love.

I think one of the things I love about Motown is that they were all very personal songs. They're all very common kind of songs - they spoke to the common people, that was the brilliance and magic. They were just about people.

What was the great reward of this song?
Hearing it on the radio, of course! You couldn't turn on the radio in New York without hearing it. It was our first single. After that came "Spinning Wheel" and "When I Die", which was also written by a girl. That whole time was a blur cause it all happened so fast. We recorded in the fall and by Christmas we had the number one album in the world.

This Warren's second time covering a Blood, Sweat &Tears song. What stands out about him?
We had a great time this morning! He's an R&B singer, which puts him right in my wheelhouse. I'm basically an R&B singer. I love jazz and I have jazz influeneces but my roots are blues and R&B, which I see in Warren.

And you'll be performing with him on Sunday.
We rehearsed this morning! It was a lot of fun. What an artist does is unique to them, so for me to tell him, do this, do that, is presumptous. Mentoring is not criticism. I just want to tell him, keep what you're doing kid.

What are your thoughts on Cover Me Canada?
I'm very happy to see musical variety coming back to TV. There was a time in the 60s when CBC had dozens of hit parade pop shows going on, and in the states, too. Musical variety shows were all over place before the age of reality television. Variety TV requires a different level of production and I'm really glad to see it coming back. These shows are really good for music. They disappeared for the longest time.

It's also a good thing to recognize our artists - previously it was that they had to go to the states to get recognized but now it's all changing. Canada is a powerful force, creatively. We have a regular contingent of artists making waves in the states! We have a great breeding ground for talent, especially songwriters. It's nice to see Canadian artists being recognized in Canada. It used to be that the only way to become a star in Canada was to leave. It wasn't the fault of our country - if you lived in Nebraska, you had to move away to make it. I think we're finally moving strongly into creating our own star system. We certainly have a wealth of talent.

Don't forget that David will perform live with Warren Dean Flandez on episode seven (October 30)!

David will be playing with his 10-piece band in Winnipeg at the McPhillips Station Casino on November 8th, and in Halifax at Casino Nova Scotia on January 20th. For more information, go to his website.