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Boomer Anthems: Dear Mr. Fantasy

Winwood in 1970. BTW: I had the exact same pants at the same time. What can I say? We were young.

Surviving Traffic member Steve Winwood at the Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007. NB: The solo at 2:12 is not to be passed by without serious attention being paid.

Winwood was a key member of the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and Go. He also had a successful solo career with hits including “While You See a Chance”, “Valerie”, “Back in the High Life Again” and two US Billboard Hot 100 number ones, “Higher Love” and “Roll with It” charting 20 years after the start of his recording career. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Traffic in 2004… — LaWik

Capaldi recalled the exact moment that spawned “Dear Mr. Fantasy.”

One early morning at the Cottage he was coming down off LSD, sketching in front of a log fire. Bubbling out of his acid-fired subconsciousness and through his pencil came the image of a man hanging on puppet strings and wearing a spiked hat with the words, “Dear Mr. Fantasy, play us a tune, something to make us all happy” scrawled under him.

Wood found Capaldi’s sketch and set a bass line to it. That evening they drove into the city and recorded the song at Olympic Studios. They burned incense in the recording room and turned the lights low to capture the mood the song had been borne from.

During recording, producer Jimmy Miller was so excited by what he heard that he jumped into the room playing maracas, eagerly driving the band on. It’s the only instrumental credit he has on the album. – Songfacts

Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar
Make it snappy, yeah

Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar
Make it snappy

You are the one who can make us all laugh
But doing that you break out in tears
Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had
We wouldn’t have known you all these years

The making of the album as remembered fifty years later:

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper April 24, 2021, 6:11 PM

    “And I’m wasted and I can’t find my way home”


    Nice stickwork that every 6 string gunslinger should have in their arsenal.

  • ghostsniper April 24, 2021, 6:15 PM

    Roll the tone all the way back and give it to slow hand.

  • Kevin April 24, 2021, 6:48 PM

    I love watching Guitarists doing great solo work, It’s my favorite musical performance. I hate when the videographer switches to the keyboardist doing very basic keyboarding at the height of the guitar solo, yet it seems to happen all the time. Of course the back view is #2 of most hated angles during a guitar solo.

  • ghostsniper April 25, 2021, 4:33 AM

    Kevin sed: “Of course the back view is #2 of most hated angles during a guitar solo.”
    I have viewed many videos of Steve Vai playing “For the Love of God”, and not once have they shown the most amazing part of that song, the 300+ note trill that sonically seems impossible. I can do maybe 20 notes in a trill but the amount of effort to mentally “float” like Vai does is impossible for me.

    float: Is an expression to try to describe where the mind is no longer in control of an activity and the hands seem to be doing what they do of their own accord. The first time I floated was scary cause I didn’t know what had happened and unconsciously bailed, then later it took a lot of effort to achieve that state again. You know the starting point and several key points along the way and all the stuff in between is sort of very fast filler material. In Vai’s case he knows maybe 10 key points and then about 30 notes between each key point, and it goes like a blur. Bite size chunks they say.

  • brinster April 25, 2021, 5:07 AM

    Best I remember, Winwood was 18 or 19 when Traffic produced the Mr. Fantasy LP. Odd thing is, Dave Mason contributed more than one song on the album, but wasn’t on the cover. They split up and got back together multiple times.

  • Jeff Brokaw April 25, 2021, 6:23 AM

    The amount of timeless, legendary music this dude created before he was 25 is unbelievable.

    Reading through his Wikipedia entry, I did not realize before that John Barleycorn was basically a solo album with session work from Capaldi and Wood. Holy smokes — he was 21-22 when he did that!

  • stephen_barron April 25, 2021, 8:11 AM

    My very first rock concert was Blind Faith at the LA Forum. My mom worked at the Forum at the time, and there had been some rowdy concerts earlier, but after she got to see a bit of the Elvis concert there, she felt like it was safe enough to let her pre-teen venture there with his friends.

  • Hoss April 25, 2021, 8:15 AM

    Had the pleasure of seeing Winwood in Eugene back in 2014 at a show headlined by Tom Petty and his great band. A birthday present from my wife. This is in no way a knock on Petty, who was fantastic, but I left wondering why Winwood was not headlining his own tour. A phenomenal evening.

  • gwbnyc April 25, 2021, 9:45 AM

    hear it as originally intended-


  • Callmelennie April 25, 2021, 10:59 AM

    Sorry to bust everyone’s bubble, but nothing Winwood ever did tops the suite “Glad/Freedom Rider” — the most unappreciated piece of music in the history of classic rock

    And oi’ll be foighting any man in this bahr what says different

  • EX-Californian Pete April 25, 2021, 12:13 PM

    Blind Faith.

    I remember people calling them “The Original Super Group” when their album debuted.
    No one makes music like that any more- kind of an impossible task.
    And that was one of the rare instances when every single song on the album was pure excellence, instead of a couple of good songs and some “filler tunes.”

    How truly fortunate we are to have been born in the era of such great music, only slightly preceded by some of the world’s OTHER great music- the “Big Bands” and “Swing” music, played by the Greatest Generation.

  • Skorpion April 25, 2021, 1:13 PM

    Saw Winwood with the reunited “Traffic” — Capaldi on percussion/vocals, Rosko Gee on bass, and various sidemen — in 1994. Absolutely stunning live. He did a solo acoustic encore of “John Barleycorn Must Die” that brought the house down. (Did you know that traditional-British folk tune is one of the *oldest* known songs in the English language?)

  • TeeRoy Jenkins April 25, 2021, 2:44 PM

    My first concert age 13 (1976) at the Capitol Centre in Maryland. I had the John Barleycorn must die album and the one with cut off corners that had low spark of high heeled boys.

  • Nori April 25, 2021, 3:36 PM

    The original acoustic version of Can’t Find My Way Home is indeed the best. Ginger Baker’s unusual drumwork gave it a depth and fullness other versions lack,no matter the guitar wizard.
    Interesting that so many of these astoundingly talented Brits were born during WWII,or shortly thereafter. Like the stressed-out Mums & Dads passed on something that produced a bumper crop of superbly talented musicians.

    Winwood in those Peugeot seat cover pants still looks waaay better than Hillary in her tight striped circus pants of the same era.

    Dear Mr Fantasy,thank you for this great,great tune.

  • Jack April 25, 2021, 4:36 PM

    Great vid, vid contributions and comments. You guys made my day. Most excellent!!!

  • H (science denier) April 25, 2021, 6:37 PM

    When “Valerie” came out, I had just gotten over being kicked to the curb by a gal of the same name who, after promising her undying affection, had thrown me over for her version of Mr. Fantasy with a pocket full of cash and a Lincoln and promises of being rich together. What interesting timing, I thought. Then it turned out the pocket full of cash was all credit card debt and the Lincoln was leased and all of a sudden, Mr. Fantasy didn’t look quite as fantastic anymore, so she started coming around again. It also turned out that I wasn’t the same boy I used to be. Sorry, sweetheart, 40,000 Headmen couldn’t make me change my mind about your avarice and greed, so, no sale.

  • Dirk April 26, 2021, 5:00 PM

    1971 Freeborn Hall, UC Davis.

    Traffic live, Winwood played the piano, to this day, the conga players what stands out, in my minds eye memory. Was after Nov 71’ “Low Spark OfHigh Heeled Boys”, had just come out, and I was blown away. Bonus points, Who was one of Traffics Roadies??? Dave Mason!.

    It’s interesting, I started this day with a dose of Low Spark, thru my Klipsch Cornwalls, series II and III. I’d slipped in a different Tube amp, a Stromberg Carlson, I purchased from a Engineer for Boeing, at the time he managed Boeing’s Stereo club.

    upgraded EVERYTHING painstakingly building the Phono stage, and identifying exactly which tubes to Roll, with certain music. 13/14 watts of pure heavenly music. Amazing

    Winwoods contribution to rock roll is huge, I still have my original albums,,,,,,Lowspark, Barlycorn, etc etc, epic music.

    Village Odiot

  • Ed April 26, 2021, 5:48 PM

    Low Spark is just an amazing album, not a song or note is less than excellent. “Many a Mile to Freedom” and “Rainmaker” are just magic, and Winwood’s singing and guitar on each are breathtaking. What a band at that time, with Rebop and Jim Gordon on percussion, Ric Grech, Chris Wood innovating like crazy, and old keyboarder Winwood proving to be fabulous on guitar. Many years later it remains one of my most-played recordings, I hear something additional with each listening. Winwood has accomplished so much, and you don’t hear bad snark about the man.