In the late sixties, Terry Talbot and his younger brother John began playing music in Chicago. A friend and local record producer suggested they do what they were best at, an amplified country rock sound, as influenced by The Byrds. The brothers formed a band, Mason Proffit, and released their first album in 1969. Terry was 21 and John, who had dropped out of school to play music, was 15.
Over the next four years, Mason Proffit played as many as 300 shows a year and released five albums. Once, while they jammed with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Earl Scruggs called John Talbot “the best banjo player I’ve ever heard.” The Eagles credited Mason Proffit with some of the inspiration for “Hotel California.”
After the band split up, Warner Brothers re-released Mason Proffit’s first two albums as a compilation, “Come and Gone,” in 1974. I was in Arizona and a pretty big fan of country music when I heard it. Nearly 40 years later, I still enjoy the sound and the eclectic mix of styles. There’s hip country music, like The Byrds. There’s mainline country, though with tongue planted firmly in cheek:
“If you wanna be an all night truckin’ man
can’t expect to have an all night wife.”
There is Christian rock, the musical direction the Talbots took after the band broke up, and there are topical songs, like “Two Hangmen,” which was banned by the FCC. The lyrics seem tame to us now – “He was guilty then of thinking, a crime much worse than all,” – but in 1974, the Nixon administration was fanatically paranoid.
If you are still reading this post, you may be wondering why I would write about a band that broke up 40 years ago and that few have ever heard of. It’s because lately, one of their best songs, “Flying Arrow,” has been playing in my head.
Several cuts on “Come and Gone” focus on the plight of Native Americans. On that level alone, the song is outstanding. “Flying Arrow” tells a heartbreaking truth that is all too apparent in towns likeFlagstaff and Gallup.
“My name is Flying Arrow
And I live in Arizona
Part of what was once a mighty nation
My tribe is called the Cucupa
And we build our homes of cardboard
A desert floor
Nine by Twelve of sorrow.”
Mason Proffit lyrics are seldom one dimensional, and this song is far more subversive than the one that was banned. As it builds to its climax, “Flying Arrow” holds up a mirror that was all too familiar then and is all to familiar now, in light of the current events, right now, right here, this month, this week, in this nation.
“My name is Flying Arrow
And I live in Arizona
Part of what is now a dying nation
And sometimes we feel like you’re already dead.”
The kind of morale that turns football games and nations around, was in play when the song was released. We understood the song, got the poetics, the gist, but didn’t trulybelieve we were dying as a nation. Not then. Call it the optimism or arrogance of youth, but enough people believed and acted on those beliefs that things turned around. For a time.
What’s the temperature now, what’s the morale like? How is the optimism level? What do people believe? This song remains a living thing for me, because now, 40 years later, sometimes I truly feel that as a nation we’re already dead.
Terry Talbot still plays with “The Mason Profit Band.” You can visit their website here: www.masonproffit.com. A half dozen free downloads of recent songs are available.
John Michael Talbot sings gospel music, has formed a Catholic monastic community, and has recently published a book on the Jesus Prayer. His website is here:johnmichaeltalbot.com.
Mason Proffit’s original music, including “Come and Gone,” is available on iTunes.
10 thoughts on “Mason Proffit”
This good old song rings as true today as it did back in the day – nothing has changed one bit except for the police brutality and the arrogance of the elite and that is only because of how our comunication has improuved so that we can all see and hear about what is going on more efficiently. This song “Flying Arrow” and their song “Three Hangmen” are some of my favorite songs. Thanks for posting this Henry/Administer. 🙂 Realy powerful music there.
Thanks for the post. I’ve never heard of them, but I will definitely be checking them out. Sure sounds like it’s relative to today.
Stay Alert, Stay Alive
Not many people have heard of Mason Proffit, Slug Diamond . Yea their song “Three Hangmen” was actually banned from being played on the radio becouse of what it meant and represented. Henry played Three Hangmen on The Word some months ago. Another great song by them guys. Glad ya liked this song, I think that it would be a good group to check out for most people, good easy listening, hard hitting and honest music. 😎
DiggerDan – this is synchronicity is action! I’ve had Mason Profit’s “Two Hangmen” playing in my head for the last 3 days – I hadn’t thought about that song in quite awhile. It still holds up; as does “Flying Arrow”. Thanks for the link.
Just curious, have you heard of the band “Big Louie” – aka Pete Klint Quintet? Just wondering how much our musical tastes/history align.
All the best.
Yea Big Louie – might have been Louie Armstrong – played in a after hour blues club in Madison back in the day. We were all strung out then barely remember but the name does sound familiar. We listened to a lot of old blues and Jazz back then, that would have been mid seventies then I think and then he was about 50 + yr.s then. Yea BB King and Muddy Waters played there.just a small capacity place with about 50 – 75 seats.Talk about junkies there out in the open at that place. 😎
I like most music except rap and most of the justin beiber type stuff. I usualy try to stay with mid 80`s or older.Yea, I try to stay away from that boy george stuff too 😆 he is too damned creapy for my ears.Millie manillie stuff, the same way. Yea, I guess that I do not think much of that punk stuff either.
Yea Hawkeye,this stuff that I post here is some of my favorite stuff. In other words I still have the vinal 33 rpm records 🙂 . Yea the only reason thatI posted thatkid rock song is because I kind of liked the content of the song – other than that I can`t stand kid rock stuff.
Appreciate the response; thanks, DiggerDan.
Pete Klint Quintet was an Iowa band from the 60s-70s, that achieved some midwest regional acclaim – they played my hometown in Eastern Iowa back in the early 70s a lot.
Big Louie was the name they were transitioning to when I left Iowa for Arizona. Some covers, some original material and they were Blues/Rock oriented, to be sure. Speaking of blues/rock, of the Southern fried variety, I’m sure you’re familar with the band ‘Pot Liquor’. Mighty good listening!
Yea, I could listen to Potliquor . I just listened to them . I listened to all kinds of music back in the 60`s – the present. YeaI`ll put then on my favorits Hawkeye. Thanks Hawkeye 😆 I will do a search for that Pete Klint Quintet and check them out – they sound familiar. 🙂
The song Ride On is real familiar… Hey Hawkeye, ya remember “Beaker Street Radio, with Wolf Man Jack” on KAAY Little Rock, ARK. 🙂 We used to listen to that when we were out partying in the old station wagon Memories for sure. 😆 😎