IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY – ” White Bird “

Posted: April 1, 2020 in MUSIC
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San Francisco’s own It’s a Beautiful Day’s self-titled debut album in 1969 included its masterpiece “White Bird,” (written by David LaFlamme with his wife Linda) with the sublime vocal combination of LaFlamme and Pattie Santos. The song is emblematic of the era with it’s repeated refrain “White bird must fly/Or she will die.” Or as Jimi Hendrix sang: “Freedom, that’s what I want now/Freedom, that’s what I need now/Freedom to live/Freedom so I can give.” Or even earlier, Elvis put it very simply: “I want to be free/Like a bird in a tree.” It’s a Beautiful Day was active for seven years initially and enjoyed five hit albums, yet the band never attained the popularity of other San Francisco groups. Unfortunately it came under the management of Matthew Katz for the first few years who most people know hindered the career of Moby Grape. The band nearly made an appearance at Woodstock, but an unlucky flip of a coin to decide which of two groups got an invitation resulted in Santana making the trip instead. Nevertheless It’s a Beautiful Day is beloved in the Bay Area for “White Bird,” and their unique meld of many styles: Rock, Jazz, Classical, and Folk.

David and Linda wrote the song in Seattle, where they were living. Said David: “The song describes the picture Linda and I saw as we looked out this little window in this attic. We had a little Wurlitzer portable piano sitting right in the well of this window, and I’d sit and work on songs. When you hear lines like, ‘the leaves blow across the long black road to the darkened sky and its rage,’ it’s describing what I was seeing out the window. Where the ‘white bird’ thing came from: We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.”

David LaFlamme, was a former soloist with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, had previously been in the band Orkustra, and unusually, played a five-string violin. The other members were Linda LaFlamme (keyboards), Pattie Santos (vocals), Hal Wagenet (guitar), Mitchell Holman (bass) and Val Fuentes (drums). Although they were one of the earliest and most important San Francisco bands to emerge from 1967’s social phenomenon Summer of Love, the band never quite achieved the success of contemporaries such as Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana, with whom they had connections. The band created a unique blend of rock, jazz, folk, classical

Pattie Santos, the lead singer for It’s A Beautiful Day, died December 14th, 1989 in an automobile accident on Hwy. 128 in Mendocino County, California, White Bird? was the biggest hit from the groups first album, It’s A Beautiful Day, released in 1969. The album cover became famous. It depicted a bonneted girl in a long dress standing on a hill top and gazing into the blue sky with white clouds all around.

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