Nashville session man, studio owner, and producer Norbert Putnam had a loose affiliation with Columbia Records that saw him handle Dan Fogelberg's first record (see our previous volume) and then, bizarrely, NRPS. He went to the Bay Area to meet them, and it proved to be an epic cross-cultural collision. Picked up by a hippie driving a VW bus, he was taken out to the band's communal space. "It was up on the hill in the middle of a wheat field," Putman said later. "The women are walking around wearing muumuus and the kids are running around naked, and here I am, this clean-cut guy from Nashville walking into all this." Marmaduke Dawson took Putnam and the rest of the band out for a communal gathering in the wheat field. "The wheat is so high I can only see people's heads," he said. "I had this speech ready where I was gonna tell them it wasn't going to work. I put my hand up to make a gesture and a butterfly lands on it. The band sees this. They stare at it. No one says a word. Then Marmaduke says, 'That's an omen, man. You're our producer. You've been chosen.' I think to myself, 'You've gotta play the cards you're dealt.'" Putnam called it a good take if Spencer Dryden didn't drop his drumsticks, but they emerged from the Record Plant in nearby Sausalito after four weeks with NRPS's best-selling album, 'The Adventures Of Panama Red.'
Putnam aside, there was another Nashville connection in Peter Rowan. A former Bill Monroe sideman, Rowan had moved out west to become involved with Seatrain, Earth Opera, and other groups of the moment. He wrote the LP's title song as well as Lonesome L.A. Cowboy. In October '73, Rowan recorded this song live when he was with Old and in the Way alongside Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements, David Grisman, and John Kahn.