♫ Midnight At The Oasis ♫

Released in 1973 by Italian singer Maria Muldaur, this song was written by David Nichtern, a composer who also became a renown teacher of Shambhala Buddhism. He tells the story of this song …

“I wrote the song before I started working with Maria… the details are a little bit intimate, but let’s just say there was a girl, a waterbed, feta cheese and grape leaves, and a Martin 000-18 near by.

I actually produced the demo (in Woodstock) that got Maria her Warner Bros individual artist deal, so I was on the map already with them to that extent. On that demo was a song I wrote called ‘I Never Did Sing You a Lovesong’ which made it onto the album but was re-recorded. Also we demoed a track that Wendy Waldman wrote called ‘Mad Mad Me (I Love You)’ which made it onto the album as it was so I got producer credit for that track.

My memory is that I came out to LA and got to play rhythm guitar on several tracks. From there I got more and more involved with the record. At a rehearsal, I played ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ for Lenny Waronker and he liked it and wanted to include it on the record.

We recorded it with some great musicians – Jim Gordon on drums (who later went crazy and killed his own mother and went to prison for life I think). Freebo played bass, Mark Jordan on piano and me on acoustic guitar. Later, Famous Amos Garrett added that amazing electric guitar part and solo, which in some circles is as famous as the song itself.

Warner’s released the album and then Midnight as the first single… they hung in there with it for something like nine months until it took off…. that might not happen today… the rest is herstory as they say…”

And Maria Muldaur tells …

I was making my first solo album for Warner Brothers in 1973, and I had just recently separated from my then-husband, Geoff Muldaur, who not only was my partner, but also my musical partner, and sort of the mastermind of, musically, whatever we did together. So being a solo artist was completely strange and alien and rather scary territory for me.

And so I was out in California finding myself in the studio with all the top guns: Dr. John, Ry Cooder, David Lindley; I mean, all the fabulous guys that played on my first album. And I had been working with a young guitarist named David Nichtern when I first separated from Geoffrey. He was very encouraging and told me, ‘You can do this.’ I was just sobbing and I was a mess. We had a little talk and he would say, ‘Look, people still know you from the Jug Band, and if I can get work in these little coffee houses, you can, too.’ And so we put together a few tunes, and he got us some gigs. This was real low-profile stuff. I’d be crying all the way up to the gig, and he’d say, ‘Okay, dry your eyes and wash your face. We’re on in half an hour.’ And he was just a very supportive little brother to me.

And so when I found myself out in California doing this solo album, I was going to do one of his songs. He’s a very lovely songwriter and he’d written this beautiful song called ‘I Never Did Sing You a Lovesong.’ Very lyrical little waltz-y, kind of a country waltz kind of thing. And he knew I had all these really fabulous musicians at the studio. But he came out on his own dime, because he just felt, well, maybe they’ll let him play rhythm guitar on his own tune or something. So he came on out in his little VW bug and slept on a mattress on my living room floor in the Hollywood Hills and came to the studio, was observing everything, and did get to play on his own song.

And then we were almost finished recording, the producer came in the studio and said, ‘You know, I’ve been listening to the rough mixes, and I think we’re in pretty good shape.’ He said, ‘You know, we’ve got some up tempo stuff and we’ve got some nice ballads. I think if we had one more medium tempo song, then the album would be nicely balanced out, we’d be in good shape. Does anything come to mind?’

So David was standing right there, and just off the top of my head, kind of as a gesture of gratitude to him because he had been so supportive to me, kind of holding my hand through all of this, which was very overwhelming, you know, I’d never been in that position before of being a solo artist and trying to make my way through an album that was all about me. And I said, ‘Well, David has this song. It’s a funny little song, really, but it is medium tempo.’ I said, ‘David, play them ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ and see what you think.’ Which I’d heard before and I thought it was just a goofy little song; I didn’t think much of it one way or the other. So he whipped out his guitar and started to play it on the guitar, and I sang it. And the producer cocked his head, he said, ‘Oh, that’s cute, okay, wanna do that one?’ So as a gesture to David, I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that one. I have no other bright ideas.’ And we called in some great studio players and we cut it. And the rest is history.”

Midnight at the Oasis
Maria Muldaur

Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Shadows painting our faces
Traces of romance in our heads
Heaven’s holding a half-moon
Shining just for us
Let’s slip off to a sand dune, real soon
And kick up a little dust

Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evening ends
‘Til the evening ends
You don’t have to answer
There’s no need to speak
I’ll be your belly dancer, prancer
And you can be my sheik

I know your daddy’s a sultan
A nomad known to all
With fifty girls to attend him, they all send him
Jump at his beck and call
But you won’t need no harem, honey
When I’m by your side
And you won’t need no camel, no no
When I take you for a ride
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evening ends
‘Til the evening ends
Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Got shadows painting our faces
And traces of romance in our heads

Oh come on, oh come on
Woo hoo hoo, yeah, oh yeah
Oh oh, yeah, yeah

Songwriters: David Nichtern
Midnight at the Oasis lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

25 thoughts on “♫ Midnight At The Oasis ♫

  1. That’s an interesting history Jill.
    I always that this image of a somewhat pampered young fellow being used to compliant and subservient serving girls about him, when suddenly up pops this assertive willy young woman who turns the tables on him and leaves him staggering back to his tent in the morning, while she rides off to who knows?

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  2. Jill, I started not to comment. This is another song that truly was overplayed in the 1970s. It is not a bad song, but due to the overplaying, if it came on, I would likely change the station. I am sure I listen to songs that others do not care for. Again, it is not a bad song. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I would agree that it was overplayed back in the day. After decades of not hearing it, though, I was happy to be reminded of it. Rather like the uncle who got on your nerves as a kid, but you haven’t seen him in 20 years, so a visit is welcomed.

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  3. We saw Maria Muldaur perform at a small venue once. My wife and her friends insisted that it looked like she was singing this song directly to me, a very flattering thought, and wholly without basis, but it gives me a special memory of the song.

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      • Everything’s pretty dreadful in this island nation – apart from our current break from rain and more rain, in the form of beautiful frosty mornings. But I’ve been busy writing poetry and just had one poem accepted for publication! Went on a poetry retreat and now off on another little creative get-together – trying to use it as therapy for the political situation. You know only too well how it feels. I live in a marginal constituency where everyone is arguing about the best tactical vote which pretty much ensure the Tory far right guy will get back in. Grrr. Sorry I haven’t been popping in so often. Hugs galore!

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          • Oops … hit the wrong button. Anyway, big congratulations on your poetry being accepted for publication! Yes, I can totally relate to the political angst. I’ve been keeping up, somewhat, with the situation over there and the upcoming election, and I am inclined to agree that Boris will get back in. Sigh. I’m thinking we may face the same thing next November, though I really hope not. The world seems to have turned upside down these days, doesn’t it. Huge hugs and much love to you, my friend!

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