Flight Of The Cosmic Hippo – Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

the second Flecktones album

same personnel
Label: Warner Brothers

The Flecktones hit the road hard in 1990, now that I was no longer in NGR. Everyday at soundcheck, we worked on new ideas – so we had lots of music to record when the time came. We played the new tunes live and developed them in front of an audience, which always helped us to know when we had the arrangement right. These days we don’t do that so much. The first rough version gets so widely distributed, and people assume that it’s the final version and not a rough draft, and might judge the tune on that first run-through. Back then, the internet was newer and the downside of playing brand new music and letting people pass it around it hadn’t occurred to me. You don’t get to reveal a brand new record, when everyone already knows and has recordings of all the tunes. And they might even prefer the live early version, which is frustrating! Would Picasso put his first draft version out, or wait til he finished the painting? Moot point, we’re not Picasso. We also asked the crowd for ideas for titles, and ended up with a shopping bag full of handwritten suggestions after every show. We went through them on the bus. One day the title ‘Flight of the Codeine Hippo’ popped up on a slip of paper, and we all thought that was pretty funny – and actually sounded like the song. But we didn’t want to have drugs in the titles of our songs, not even a drug that was legal in Canada. So we let that one go. Some time later, the idea of the Cosmic Hippo occurred to me, and although at first we worried that it might be too Disney, it stuck. One of our bus driver used to always say – I like the album with the pig on it. What are you gonna do?