Yester Explains: Association is Subtle Insanity

“SUBTLE INSANITY,” explains Jim Yester, is when the Association sings “Ba-nan-a Won-der-ful” in place of “bop-do-waah” at one point on their album track, ‘Another Time, Another Place’.

Jim, prominent singer-guitarist of the Association, can get away with this casual explanation. He passes it off like a scientific fact because while the Association is noted for their comic view of the world, Jim also has a reputation for keeping both feet on the ground.

If Jim is firmly planted on Mother Earth intellectually, his eyes are in the air following some of the vultures he has trained for 10 years. A member of that often-joked about group, bird lovers, Jim no longer keeps vultures in his backyard but feeds pigeons on his front lawn. It’s his temporary sacrifice to success.

One of the nicknames tagged on Jim is “Owl,” which he earned for his interest in birds of all sorts. “Actually, it was a toss up between Owl and Troupe,” he explains, “The group always called me Yester until one day when I said. ‘Hey, I’ve got a first name, troupe!'” From that day on, Jim has been occasionally known as Troupe.

Still Grows

The 24-year-old Associate who would be a game warden if he weren’t a singer was born in Birmingham, Ala., but grew up in Burbank, Calif., adding “the process still goes on, hopefully.”

He began singing in the folk music bag of 1960 with his younger brother Jerry (producer of the Association) as an act called, originally enough, the Yester Brothers, and sometimes known as Jim and Jerry.

They sang around the Southland in local coffee houses before Jim took the big step and joined the Army. He attended radar school and wound up in Germany where the Bavarian atmosphere got to him and he performed in service shows as Jim Yester Alone.

“When I came back to the U.S., my brother was in the MFQ so I sang in the restaurant (owned by his parents) to replace my father behind the piano bar,” he relates. “Then I came to the big city and stopped by the Ice House where the Association was auditioning, looking for a tenor. To complete the circle of insanity, they had me committed.”

Solo Recut

Institutionalization of the Association-type has done wonders for Jim, and he returned the favor by writing and soloing (on the album version) of ‘No Fair At All’. (The song was recut for the single release without a solo.)

“I was just sitting at the piano going through cord changes when I wrote ‘No Fair At All’,” Jim explains. But when the Association finally recorded the disc, Jim’s part was done in a rather unusual manner — in total darkness.

“Cutting in the dark got to be a habit at the studio,” Jim explains. “Solo work is easier when you know everyone in the studio isn’t looking at you. You can laugh or cry if you want. It’s fun to get involved in singing, though singing in the dark is really no fair at all…

“Actually, it all started after seeing Brian Wilson, who is one of our favorite singers by the way, cut in the dark. All the guys said, ‘Hey, look at that, that’s sharp, we’ll have to try it.'”

Jim jokingly says he’s torn between being “skinny and careful” as his major emphasis in life, but seriously he advocates enjoying life without asking too many questions. “Become very analytical without being critical,” he says.

Great Watcher

“I guess I’m The Great Watcher. I analyze a situation to find out what groovy things there are in it.”

In life, Jim finds many groovy things. He is fond of quoting Einstein: “The center of the universe is where you see it from.” Jim’s point of view is also the message for the year that he left with BEAT.

“Love is the only way,” he said as he left the office. “If you can relate to that, a whole lot of other problems drop away!”

© Rochelle ReedKRLA Beat, 25 March 1967

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