01. THE LYRICS - So What!!

THE LYRICS - 'So What!!'/'They Can't Hurt Me' (Era Records 3153) November 1965

Almost three years ago I exchanged emails with Ray Clearwater who wrote, sang and played harmonica on both songs on The Lyrics debut 45 released on Era Records. At the time Ray was a member of The Lyrics he was known as Christopher Gaylord.

My full interview with Ray can be found elsewhere on my site but here are exerpts from it that focus on this incredible two sided single. The double exclamation marks in the title of 'So What!!' was the deciding factor allowing this side to get the nod and become my Number One, LA Select of 2011.

QUES: 'So What!!' and 'They Can't Hurt Me' are very powerful songs. The words are full of anger and spite. What made you so pissed of to write these? Did you have any music influences here and what was your overall experience like in the band?

RAY: 'So What!!' and 'They Can’t Hurt Me', originally called 'Sticks and Stones', were big hits at the dances. Really got things rocking.
It was
Mike Allen that asked me to join the band. We were local kids that grew up playing music together from time to time. I didn’t really know anyone else in the band. Funny thing is, it was Mike Allen again that asked me to join The Magic Mushroom, and again, I didn’t really know anyone else in that band.

We recorded both songs at Gold Star Studios, in Hollywood with a guy named Don Ralke

QUES: Can you remember much about the recording of your songs and were you happy with the results. Also did you have any more original material at this point in time?

RAY: With regards to the record, when we went up to Hollywood to record 'So What!!' and 'They Can’t Hurt Me', the studio used another drummer and another lead guitar player. So the truth is, what you hear on the record was me playing the harp and singing, another band member named Steve Kayler singing back up, and I really don’t remember who played bass if it wasn’t Danny. They used the studio guys to punch up the record.

I seem to remember there being some bad feelings about this but personally, I was happy with the record. Why wouldn’t I be? It was my music and me playing the harp and singing. We all thought we were on our way to the big time.

As for why I was so angry in my songs – I really don’t know. I wrote both of those songs to (or at) a girl I was going with at the time. Her family had a very nice home and two refrigerators and all kinds of things that I had never seen and I was dirt poor and came from a very low income environment. 

I was raised by my grandmother on a small ranch in Cardiff, CA. I was pretty much of a punk. I certainly had my share of trouble in High School, was in Juvenile Hall for a bit, and I guess you might say I had somewhat of a BAD ATTITUDE – at any rate, if you add that up with the fact that I was attempting to be a Rolling Stone kind of guy, in conjunction with a Bob Dylan kind of guy, you get anger and resentment.

On top of this, my mother, who I had hardly known, passed away during my time with The Lyrics, and I never knew my father, so at that point I was basically on my own, taking out my frustrations on my girlfriend and throwing microphones around the stage. I guess it helped to act all of these things out but I can’t say I had a lot of friends. I really didn’t hang with the guys in the band much. Actually, I don’t remember being all that angry, I just liked to write that kind of song, and it seemed to work for everybody else so there it is.

THE LYRICS - So What!!


  1. Oh so raw, crude and still cant stop moving my feet and head with the sounds of the Lyrics. . . im reading the interview. Again, perfect post, nowadays nobody puts the effort like you Col.

    Yes, perhaps blogs are dissapearing but I wiss that FBS will continue for loooooong time.

  2. What a killer two sider! Doesn't get much better than this on the topic of raw American obscure garage teen records does?! Sadly Jagger has no idea what he spawned....

  3. Phil (San Diego)12 October 2012 at 17:38

    This was issued twice, once on the Era label and once on the Feather label with a different b-side. For that release the b-side was Craig Carll's "Why'd He Go", a ballad closer in spirit to "My Son".


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