In the hour of not quite rain
when the fog was fingertip high
in a singular sky.
Deeply and beyond seeing
not wishing to intrude
bathed in its own reflection
the water mirrored the moon.
The tumbling birds have now sobered
from the leaves of their nursery
Last Time Around was Buffalo Springfield’s final project. Recorded only to fulfill contract obligations, by this time not a single track on the album included all members of the group. Breakup albums were still a novelty in the Summer of 1968—of the albums considered in Trance Love Airwaves, only Hums by the Lovin’ Spoonful and Notorious Byrd Brothers by the Byrds had signaled the dissolution of a group’s participating members. Within the next couple of years there would follow a slew of breakup albums. Due to the acrimony in the Buffalo Springfield at the time, and the fact that the group members worked for the most part independently of each other, this album has sometimes been compared to the Beatles’ White Album, released later in 1968. The Buffalo Springfield never really put out an album in which the psychedelic aesthetic predominated; indeed, they are mostly remembered as a country rock group. But The Hour of Not Quite Rain is the exception on this album.
Picking up on the growing interest in psychedelic orchestration in 1968 (indeed, following through on Neil Young’s Buffalo Springfield Again cut Expecting to Fly, arranged by Jack Nitzsche) Springfield member Richie Furay hired an arranger named Jeremy Stuart to orchestrate lyrics that had been sent to the group to record. Los Angeles radio KHJ had offered a radio contest for the lyrics with a prize of $1000 plus publishing royalties, which was won by a then 15 year old girl, Micki Callen. (Moby Grape had held a similar contest through the San Francisco radio station KFRC for the lyrics to The Lake on their album Grape Jam.) The result was The Hour of Not Quite Rain, with words evocative of a beautiful but somewhat dreary mood, combined with orchestration that supported Furay’s voice gliding in the upper range. Orchestration included not only strings, horns, and winds but a harpsichord, and the orchestra carries on with its own somewhat lugubrious martial melodies in the spaces between the verses.