from Whispering in a Mad Dog's Ear
by Rick Smith

Available though Amazon

RICK SMITH GREW UP on the lower East Side of NYC before the family moved to Bucks County, Pa. There was also a year or so in Paris. The writing began in high school, poems inspired by William Blake and Carl Sandburg. His English teacher at Solebury School was Michael Casey who would include Yeats, William Burroughs and rock writers Leiber and Stoller in the same lesson plan. Smith went on to study with Anthony Hecht at Bard College where Hart Crane's "The Bridge" made a big impact. At the same time, music began to take an important role. With no formal training (one lesson from Chevy Chase, one from James Cotton), Smith learned blues harmonica and went to work on the streets of Greenwich Village, playing for tips or meals, rubbing shoulders with youngsters like Cass Elliott, Bob Dylan, Richie Havens, Steve Stills and the guys in The Lovin' Spoonful. Dylan actually had to borrow Smith's harmonica for an impromptu set at Bard one night. He delivered a car to California in 1965 and founded The City Lights late that year. He starved on the Sunset Strip, selling candy door to door by day, playing for a piece of the door or for free at clubs like the Sea Witch, The Galaxy, Bido Lito's and The Whiskey. The band played those infamous Be-in concerts at Griffith Park and actually opened for Smokey Robinson and The Miracles at the Cheetah in Venice Beach, in 1967.

In the mid 1970s, Smith joined Dan Ilves to co-edit the literary journal Stonecloud. His interview with Tom Waits in issue #7 made it a sought after collector's item. In 1976, he played on the soundtrack of the Oscar-nominated film, "Days of Heaven." In 1981, he and collaborator John Lyon wrote and recorded "Hand To Mouth," a well-reviewed LP of originals which got substantial air-play. He went on to write and record with Mindless, Go Figure, The Hangan Brothers and The Mescal Sheiks. Smith continues to perform, write and record with The Sheiks and with Music Formula; new releases from both bands are in the works. Poems have appeared widely in journals like New Letters, The Wormwood Review, South Bay Magazine, Rattle and Spillway...

A string of day jobs evolved, unpredictably, to a late career as a clinical psychologist. He spent several years on the internationally acclaimed neurology service at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center. He is now in private practice in Rancho Cucamonga, CA where he lives with his wife and son.

Recently added writing

Duc de Montparnasse
from Under the Sun #8, 2020

Snowed in with Carl Sandburg
from Under the Sun #7, 2019

James Cotton obituary
from Harmonica Happenings , Vol. 5, No. 2
Spring 2017, The Society for the Preservation
and Advancement of the Harmonica

Steve Mann notes
Notes for the 2008 reissue of
Steve Mann, Live at the Ash Grove

Tom Waits interview
from Stonecloud #7, 1978