Micki Callen

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The little-known story of how Mickaela "Micki" Callen came to co-write a track by one of the best American rock bands of the 1960s is so strange it would be impossible to make up. It's also…
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The little-known story of how Mickaela "Micki" Callen came to co-write a track by one of the best American rock bands of the 1960s is so strange it would be impossible to make up. It's also indicative of how much the rock business has changed since then, as several decades later, it would seem very unlikely that a teenage fan with no previous connection to a group would manage to find an opportunity to write a song for their album. But that's what happened.

In August 1967, Los Angeles radio station KHJ ran a contest -- for a prize of $1000 plus publishing royalties -- in which the winning poem would be set to music, and recorded by, Buffalo Springfield. The group were in serious turmoil throughout most of their career, and probably not too inclined to write a song with lyrics penned by a stranger, selected as the winner by an outside party. One wonders if their management slipped this publicity stunt past them unnoticed, or without their approval. Nonetheless, when teenaged Micki Callen was declared the winner out of 15,000 entries for her poem "In the Hour of Not Quite Rain," Buffalo Springfield, then close to breaking up, were burdened with the obligation to give it music and record it. Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield's best writers, were unwilling to get involved; to his credit, Richie Furay took on the task.

Last Time Around
Perhaps sensing that something out of the ordinary would be needed to make the poem into a Buffalo Springfield track, Furay gave the song an unusual, dramatic melody which made full use of his high range. The song was also given an elaborate, somber orchestration by Jeremy Stuart. It wasn't typical of the Buffalo Springfield's brand of folk-rock, but the eerie result was quite respectable, and indeed one of the better songs on the Springfield's third and final album, Last Time Around. It's not known what happened to Micki Callen, and whether she wrote any more lyrics or songs.