After taking an album off as a songwriter with the all-covers collection Playin' Favourites inDon McLean returned to providing most of the compositions on his fifth LP Homeless Brother in It was an ambitious work, which he signaled by a sleeve note on the back cover in which he described "the vision of this album And, indeed, in song after song, notably the title track, which found McLean being accompanied by his Undenied - Portishead - Electronic Collection (Best Trips), Pete Seegeron background vocals, there were references to hoboes and hoboing.
The record was dedicated to Lee HaysSeeger 's partner in the Weavers. But there was also an entirely different concept at work on Homeless Brotherone that to some extent contradicted the hobo theme.
That concept was also suggested in the original packaging, which was a glossy gatefold LP cover, the actual album sleeve containing both the lyrics and lengthy lists of high-priced studio musicians including horn and string sections working at the behest of producer Joel Dorn. All this suggested a major recording effort and a big release with the big sales such a release was intended to Coochy Coochy - Ringo Starr - Beaucoups Of Blues. And, indeed, many of the tracks were creamy pop productions that seemed to have little in common with the hobo theme.
Certainly, much of the music would have confused a buyer who picked up the album based on the title and cover painting and expected a modern version of a topical folk album. On the other hand, the audience that might have been interested in the smooth soft-rock pop music inside probably would have been put off by the title and cover. That may help explain the album's curious commercial fate. Then, months later, a second single, the infectious s-styled You Have Lived - Don McLean - Homeless Brother Baby" a song written for Fred Astairewho recorded it, with some deceptively childlike lyrics that turned out to be somewhat caustic upon close examination was put out on 45 and proceeded to top the Billboard easy listening chart, much too late to do any good to the album on which it originated.
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