Before We Were Born

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Before We Were Born
Studio album by Bill Frisell
Released 1989
Recorded August–September, 1988
Genre Post-bop
Length 49:33
Label Elektra/Musician
Producer Lee Townsend
Bill Frisell chronology
Lookout for Hope
Before We Were Born
Is That You?

Before We Were Born is the first album by Bill Frisell to be released on the Elektra Nonesuch label. It was released in 1989 and features performances by Frisell, Hank Roberts, Kermit Driscoll, and Joey Baron with guest appearances by Arto Lindsay, Peter Scherer, Julius Hemphill, Billy Drewes, Doug Wieselman, and Cyro Baptista.[1]


The Allmusic review by Scott Yanow awarded the album 3½ stars stating "Bill Frisell has been one of the most unique jazz-based guitarists of the 1980s and '90s, a very eclectic player who can switch styles and sounds on a moment's notice, yet is always quite distinctive. On this atmospheric and picturesque set, Frisell uses his regular quartet of the time (cellist Hank Roberts, bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Joey Baron) on some selections, but also interacts with fellow guitarist Arto Lindsay, keyboardist Peter Scherer and, on "Some Song and Dance," baritonist Doug Wieselman and both Julius Hemphill and Billy Drewes on altos... A very intriguing and colorful set of eccentric music. ".[2]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[2]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Before We Were Born" - 6:51
  2. "Some Song and Dance: Freddy's Step" - 3:06
  3. "Some Song and Dance: Love Motel" - 6:49
  4. "Some Song and Dance: Pip, Squeak" - 5:28
  5. "Some Song and Dance: Goodbye" - 1:43
  6. "Hard Plains Drifter" - 13:24
  7. "The Lone Ranger" - 7:34
  8. "Steady, Girl" - 2:10
All songs composed by Bill Frisell. Tracks 1, 7, 8 arr. Bill Frisell, Peter Scherer, and Arto Lindsay; tracks 2-5 arr. Bill Frisell; track 6 arr. John Zorn. Track 8 lyrics by Arto Lindsay.


The Bill Frisell Band on tracks 2 and 3:

on track 2 with

Personnel on tracks 1, 4 and 5:

  • Bill Frisell – electric and acoustic guitars, banjo
  • Arto Lindsay – electric guitar; voice (track 5)
  • Peter Scherer – keyboards; drum programming (track 1)
  • Joey Baron – drums
  • Cyro Baptista – shaker (track 4)
  • Track 2 produced by Lee Townsend
  • Track 3 produced by John Zorn
  • Tracks 1, 4 and 5 produced by Peter Scherer and Arto Lindsay
  • Album produced by Lee Townsend


  1. ^ Nonesuch Records album info accessed 12 September 2008
  2. ^ a b Yanow, S. Allmusic Review accessed June 13, 2011