We’re showing the evolution of Umphrey’s McGee’s Hajimemashite by sharing one version from throughout the last 14 years each day this week.
Yesterday, we presented an early version of Hajimemashite from 1997 that was recorded by Brendan Bayliss and Ryan Stasik’s pre-Umphrey’s band Tashi Station. When Umphrey’s was formed in 1998, Haji was one of the first tunes to make the repertoire. “It was the first song we wrote together, so we we’re probably playing it within the first few months of the band,” said Bayliss. When Umphrey’s got their hands on Haji they changed it in a big way. “The original was 15 minutes of garbage that wrapped around this little vocal section in the middle. What you hear now is what we kept…we had to throw the rest of it away…trust me,” Bayliss continued.
By the Fall of ’98 Umphrey’s was ready to put together their first live album. Songs For Older Women was recorded live at the Madison Street Oyster Bar over two nights. Umphrey’s crew member Kevin Browning fondly remembers those performances, “The Oyster Bar was our home away from home back then, playing for $3 a head at the door and all the Amber Bock we could drink. This was truly our first live album, well before the days of affordable CD burners and nightly UMLives. The band usually just set up on the floor but for this red carpet occasion, we rented a stage that was a whopping 18″ high & I used a bar riser to elevate the sound board. Fancy stuff.”
Those shows also hold a place in Bayliss’s heart, “It was a big deal for us, we let all our friends know we were recording an album.” When asked whether the shows were well-attended (for the time period), Brendan responded, “The place only held 200 people tops, so even if 75 were there, that would be considered well attended.” The decision to put Hajimemashite on Songs For Older Women was an easy one according to Browning, ” Haj was already a band staple by then and it’s inclusion on the album was a given. Back in those days, the song was essentially part two of Much Obliged as they were almost always played together.”
When you talk to Umphrey’s fans about Hajimemashite and why they have a connection with the song, you get many different answers including this one from Browning, “Regardless of where it fell, I always loved Haj from day one. The simplicity of the arrangement and the impact of the lyrics always hits home. It’s one of those songs that everyone seems to connect with but the meaning is unique for all. ‘I didn’t know, things weren’t supposed to be this way, I wasn’t told of this before’ has meant a dozen different things to me over the years and will mean a dozen more in the future. Brendan has a unique way of writing lyrics that are vague enough to apply to many situations but personal enough to ring true to many ears.”
With that, we present the Songs For Older Women version of Much Obliged > Hajimemashite…