My Top 1000 Songs #171: A Plan, Revised

During the long wait between The Feelies' spectacular 1980 debut LP and their dramatically different yet at least as spectacular 1986 follow-up, the band members performed in various other iterations, joined by other musicians from the local New Jersey scene. One of these, the Trypes, released a 4-song EP in 1984, The Explorers Hold; the EP previewed the more jangly, folk-oriented sound that would appear on the Feelies' Good Earth album (one of the EP's tracks, "The Undertow," was later reworked for the Feelies' 1988 Only Life).

But my favorite Trypes song was found on a 1985 compilation featuring artists on the independent Coyote Records label, Luxury Condos Coming To Your Neighborhood Soon. I remember playing the LP all the time on the radio station--it also included a terrific track by Boston's Scruffy the Cat, an early Yo La Tengo obscurity, and a song by Amy Rigby's early country act Last Roundup (among other great tunes). My main go-to, though, was the Trypes' "A Plan, Revised," a gentle, pastoral tune driven by some nicely intertwined piano and guitar and sweet harmonies in the chorus. It's feather-light and ethereal (I think Feelies bassist Brenda Sauter, who'd later front her own side project Wild Carnation, handled the lead vocal), hypnotic and sleepy, and just all-around gorgeous. Every time I hear it, I can close my eyes and feel myself transported to a peaceful meadow bathed in sunshine... but maybe that's just me?

Of course, part of the emotional resonance for me is the rarity of the song. I had taped the vinyl LP in college, and for years the only way I could revisit the song was to dig out that old cassette, so it always felt like a special treat. I was ultimately able to buy a CD version of the compilation when the Coyote catalog was (briefly) made available for special-order; and the track was later included on a Trypes collection (available from Bandcamp). But for me it still has that feel of a buried treasure, a special little song that few have heard and takes some tracking down in the backwaters of my collection.

Trypes founding members Toni and John Baumgartner subsequently evolved into the increasingly folk-driven Speed the Plough, with the Baumgartners joined by a broad cast of musical colleagues (including assorted Feelies here and there); they've released a number of great albums over the intervening decades and continue to record to this day (their musical catalog, long out-of-print, is now available on Bandcamp).

Here's a live performance from 2011 (opening one of the legendary Yo La Tengo Hanukkah shows):