Jeffrey Cain – Whispering Thunder

June 18, 2008

Jeffrey Cain

Whispering Thunder (Raccoon 1972)

Not much is known about Jeffrey Cain other than the fact that he released two albums, For You and Whispering Thunder, for Jesse Colin Young’s Warner Bros. imprint Raccoon records. the Raccoon label was responsible for some of the greatest sides of hippie soul and country folk released in the 70s. It boasted a roster of Jesse Colin Young, Michael Hurley and the Youngbloods. (Note: if anyone has any music by other Raccoon artists Banana and the Bunch, Joe Bauer, Kenny Gill or High Country, email me at

This is his second album and it should appeal to fans of Loudon Wainwright’s early work since both artists use country and folk as a canvas for their own bitter, biting observations. Bob Dylan and the Youngbloods are also strong influences although he is more enamoured of southern-fried rock and roll licks on many of the tracks. He is at his best on the opener “Soul Train” which is blue eyed soul by way of Nashville. Love this track and it stands as one of the best twangy tracks of the early 70s. “Pack Up Your Sorrows” is a heartbreakingly simple tune that offers a sentiment straight out of a Hallmark card. However, his request that a lover pack up her sorrows and share her burden with him just gets me all choked up. On a slightly negative note, I get the sense that his odes to moonshine and farming are somewhat tongue in cheek, but that is just my own paranoia. Like down home country by way of Woodstock? Whispering Thunder is right up your alley.

56 Responses to “Jeffrey Cain – Whispering Thunder”

  1. Tim Brady Says:

    Jeffery Cain wrote several tunes recorded by Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods including “Moonshine/Sunshine” (I think that was the title). I was friendly with Jeffery for several weeks in 1971 in San Raphael, CA and thought he was a very talented guy and pretty brilliant songwriter. When I later had the opportunity to work with Jesse (I am a sound engineer in NY) I brought up Jeffery’s name and Jesse also spoke very highly of him and his work. Sadly, I have not heard anything about him until I saw your posting after seeing his name and address in an old address book of mine from 1972 and googling his name! Thanks for the info and the memory!
    Tim Brady
    Nyack, NY

    • Kyle Says:

      Jeffery Cain currrently lives in Birmingham, Alabama the band just got back together in December 2010. He is rasing a fmaily and his children attend highlands school

      • tom Woolner Says:

        In response to the individual who posted that Jeffrey Cain is living in Birmingham, Alabama, and raising a family – I am sorry to say but that is a different Jeffrey Cain. My beloved friend passed away several years ago from Huntington’s Chorea.
        I wish it were so, that he was still alive. If somehow he has resurrected himself and risen from the dead (he would have loved that!), please check it out.
        Just to be sure, “our” Jeffrey Cain grew up in Wash. DC, real name Jeff Stevens. He would be around 65 or 66. If the Jeffrey Cain who is in Alabama turns out to be “our” Jeffrey, please let us know!!!

  2. jim hendrickson Says:

    how can i get a copy of whispering thunder?been trying for years any help would be great

  3. Gary Aston Says:

    I too have been trying to find any “post-Youngbloods” information on Jeffrey Cain. His Raccoon albums are still two of my favorites! Any information would be appreciated. I’ll post anything I find here.
    I have contacted Banana Levinger, Jerry Corbitt & Jesse Colin Young, none of them had kept in touch with Jeffrey. One of the producers from Bread and Roses said he heard that Jeffrey had passed away a year or two ago, but had no details.
    Gary Aston

  4. Jim Knotts Says:

    I have fairly clean copies of Jeffrey’s 2 LP’s. If anyone wants copies on CD, I can burn them at no charge. I was a former DJ on a local NPR station, and did a Bluegrass and Alt-Country show. The very 1st show I did, I played a cut off Whispering Thunder (don’t remember which cut). It was my chance to share this guy’s genius. I still consider him to be one of the best singer songwriters to come from that period, and have been looking for info for several years. It’s hard to believe a guy this talented has disappeared from music so completely.

    • Thorsten Says:

      Hi Jim

      to get a CD Copy of these 2 LPs would be wonderful!!
      I see no chance to get em anywhere (else).

      What do I have to do, to get it?
      Hamburg, Germany

    • shawn Says:

      hello, i am very interested in getting cdrs of for you and whispering thunder or any other raccoon releases for that matter. i would be happy to trade if i have anything taht you would like…thanx for your time man and please let me know if it’s even possible

      • Finley Hunt Says:

        Could I possibly get a copy of “For You” I have been looking all over for it but to no avail. My address is: Fin Hunt
        2350 Broadway
        New York, NY 10024

        I can send you something if you would like. I have a large collection of folk & bluegrass. Thank you

      • Jim Knotts Says:

        Sorry I didn’t check back on this sight for so long. I was listening to Jeff’s music in my car, which inspired me to see what was happening. E-mail me at if you still need a copy of both LP’s.


    • Mike Bare Says:

      Jim, I am very interested in getting copies of the two Jeffery Cain CD’s you have…….I remember the Whispering Thunder album and I liked it very much!

    • Fin Hun t Says:

      I would love to get a copy of “For You”. I have been looking everywhere!! My email is

    • Fin Hunt Says:

      Could I buy or trade something for a copy? I have been looking everywhere for the first LP “For You” my email is

    • Tim Gannon Says:

      I had copies of Jeffery Cain`s music on 8track tapes. I have been looking for his music for years.Iwould really apreciate to hear how I could get a copy of his songs. sincerely,Tim e-mail

    • Marcia Litman Greene Says:

      I realize I am replying to a 7 year old post, but hope springs eternal. I would be over the moon to be able to listen to Jefrey’s two albums (or any portion thereof). Jeffrey and I wen to Wilson High School together in Washington, DC. He was my first boyfriend(1963-64). We rode around DC on his little red Vespa. I smoked my first doobie with Jeffrey. Sitting in my kitchen tonight, my younger brother and his pal Stevie O were reminiscing about old times. Stevie’s brother was Eddy Ottenstein whose guitar is mentioned in one of these posts (the post’s author bought it from Eddie) and who played sometimes with Jeffrey. Stevie said Jeffrey had died a few years ago and I didn’t know that. Last I was in touch he was married in Virginia Beach. He was a beautiful soul – an extraordinary soul. I would love to have his music. Can you help?

  5. Gary Aston Says:

    All of the cuts from “For You” and “Whispering Thunder” are available, in mp3 format, on Limewire. The only other recording I have found reference to is the 1966 single “Oh, Tomorrow/Lonely Boy” by Jeff Cain and the Youngbloods. I’m sure all of us would like to find a copy of that!

  6. Bernard Beekman Says:

    I have a promotional copy (with NOT FOR SALE on it)of Jeffrey Cain’s first album ‘For You'(WB – Raccoon #2 – 1970).

  7. Colin Says:

    Ah, the genius of Jeffrey Cain. Two LPs, one much rockier than the other but each wonderful. When Banana was in Cornwall this last weekend he played ‘Moonshine is the Sunshine’ just for me! He also played a couple Michael Hurley songs and some great stuff from the Youngbloods back catalog like Interlude, Fiddler A Dram and Grizzly Bear.

    I spent years looking for the Jeff Cain 45 on Altera and snagged one earlier this year. Don’t spend more than a few bucks, it’s nothing like the brilliant Raccoon stuff.

    Jeffrey was a great talent, a tragedy he passed away without releasing anything else.

    Colin ckpygtrack

  8. Sander Says:

    you are all right about one thing, those 2 lps are absolutely beautiful. if you haven’t yet, you should try the two michael hurley lps on the raccoon label too. in my opinion they are very much in the same style. about those cain lps, “whispering thunder” can easily be obtained on “for you” is a little harder but i do have an extra copy if anyone’s interested. keep an eye out for it on ebay. both records can also be downloaded on soulseek, as well as the banana and the bunch one. when you google, you’ll find a very nice picture of jeffrey with mimi farina..

  9. I knew Jeffrey a bit back in the days when he was in the S.F. Bay area. I don’t remember exactly where I ran into him, but our paths crossed a few times when I was living with hippie friends in San Francisco and up in the Russian River area. I was in an unknown and only mildly talented band called “All Gods Children” that busked in S.F, Berkeley and other environs. We landed a few gigs in various coffee houses and our “career” culminated with a gig at “The Inn of the Beginning” in Cotati. Anyway, it was during those days that I met Jeffrey. He was an obviously very talented guy and also a real sweetheart. Very friendly and supportive. I remember meeting him once at an outdoor performance somewhere in Inverness and spending the next day knocking around the hills next to the ocean there. One song fragment that keeps running around my mind was a kind of chant/talking blues called that had a line about “…..clacking and a’clicking….everybody get together and do the Abraham Lincoln…” Funny thing to remember, I know.

    After this period I became an apprentice luthier in Berkeley and my last contact with Jeffrey was when he brought his beautiful old Gibson J-50 to me for refinishing. I did the job–although, with hindsight, I really shouldn’t have touched it! (I have an old J-50 now that doesn’t sound as good as his, but is a nice reminder.)

    I hadn’t thought about him in YEARS, but a few months ago I tried to see what there was on the Internet…but I couldn’t remember his LAST NAME (senior moments). Today I was noodling around and came across Racoon records and was glad to find this blog!

    Does anyone have any more accurate or concrete data on whether Jeffrey has actually passed away? I know that during the time I knew him he was concerned because he had a genetic disposition to Huntington’s chorea, which was the disease that Woody Guthrie died from. I believe he said that he had a good chance of getting the illness, but wouldn’t really know until somewhat later in his life.

    If anyone has any way to purchase or otherwise obtain any of his music, I’d love to get it. Very fond memories of my contact with this soul!

    Stephen Porter

  10. tom woolner Says:

    Jeffrey Cain was my best friend for many years, starting in high school in Washington DC. We came out to CA at the same time, and hung out for a long time, spanning the period in which he cut his two albums. He used my Gibson Hummingbird on the second one, Whispering Thunder. We lost touch after he got sober, around the late 70s, but reconnected after I got sober in the late 80s. He had gotten married, and I would see him periodically when he would travel to CA. He lived in Virginia Beach, VA, then Florida. The last time I saw him would have been around 2000, when he and his wife came to visit me in Santa Rosa. At that time, he told me he was having late onset symptoms of Huntington’s Chorea, which his brother already had, and which his mother had died from. I never saw him again. I contacted Banana a few years ago, and he said that he thought Jeffrey had died, burt did not have any details. I assume it was probably the Huntington’s Chorea.
    He was one in a million, a very old soul, even as a teenager.

  11. tom woolner Says:

    By the way, I was the source of the information that the Bread and Roses producer had about jeffrey’s death.
    His full name was Jeffrey Cain Stevens.

  12. Bob Gilbert Says:

    Jeffrey & I were tight in Washington DC, or more accurately Northern Va. along with his wife and life partner Lela Palmer during the ’90’s.

    He worked and lived with me for awhile and we were close.

    Not only was Jeffrey suffering from Huntington’s but he had contracted Hepatitus C and was being treated under an experimental program at NIH with Interferon.

    Of course he couldn’t afford that but it was under a trial program and Jeffrey was being treated for free and I believe the Interferon arrested or cured his Hep C.

    The last communication I had with Jeffrey and Lela they had moveed to the Denver possibly Boulder area all i can remember is Colorado for sure and he was very ill.

    After 9 -11 my wife and I moved to Raleigh NC and I have lost touch with him but I will attempt to get in touch with Lela as she sold me some insurance ( Jef worked with her for awhile in that )and I may be alble to track her down thru that as she is still listed on the policy they sold me.

    My favorite story was about him makingg out with Janis Joplin ona pool table.

    Jef is and was a great friend, a big gentle giant and all around wonder. He loved his music and just was brimming with good solid positive enrgy even tho life dealt him a very short stack.

    And it really touches me that Jef had touched so many people wherever he was. I felt like we were two old hippie hobo’s who’s paths had crossed.

    It pained me when I had last talked to him in Colorado and we knew he didnt have long so I also assume he passed away but I do not know for sure.

    God bless you Jeffrey wherever you are!

    Your spirit lives on.

    All the best

    Bob Gilbert
    Raleigh NC
    800 459 9785

  13. Janet Fisher Says:

    Long ago in another life, Jeffrey and I ended up occasional lovers and friends after I´d met him in the Bay Area around 1976 or so (I then lived in Berkeley). My memory of him is of a very special, hot (not looking to upset anyone here!),talented and prematurely doomed person (yes, he did know then what would one day lie in wait for him). I was quite smitten, actually, but he had a way of disappearing into the wilds of Marin County or thereabouts and not showing up that often. The last time I saw him, I was, alas, about to marry someone else and move to Brazil. I guess I´ve checked the Internet a few times just to make sure he´s still out there, and though the years have gone by, I still remember him with real affection,and feel true sorrow to know his worse fears finally turned out to be all too true in the end. May his spirit shine on!
    Janet, Toronto

  14. tom woolner Says:

    When we were 15-16 years old, in DC, Jeff knew all the sailors’ bars and bouncers downtown. He was really an old soul, the hippest of the hip. While we were still in high school in the early 60s he got strung out on drugs, meth and heroin, but managed to kick after a few crazy years, which is why he knew every junkie musician on the East and West Coasts. However, alcohol was the drug that almost killed him. if he had not gotten sober, he would have died a lot earlier. He had a great love of AA, which we shared some years later, after I got sober in the 80’s.
    I was playing one of his songs last night, and found myself crying. I tried to describe him to my girlfriend, but my attempt was pretty inadequate. Even before he found out that his mom had Huntington’s Chorea (his father told he and his brothers that she had died of alcoholism) I had a feeling he would not live very long.
    I did not know he had made it to Colorado, thanks for the information.
    By the way, the photo of Jeff and Mimi Farina can be found on the Bread and Roses website. I remember he and Mimi and her sister Joan Baez did a concert in San Quentin, and they all sang Pretty Boy Floyd, to great applause.

  15. Rick Turner Says:

    I produced “For You” and played bass on few of the cuts. Jeffrey was just great, and I loved his mini-songs like “Lost in Space” on which we did backwards echo by running the tape backwards and adding a live echo chamber to it on one track, then flipped the tape back over and mixed in the now pre-echo. We also did a cross fade on the two track stereo master by cutting a splice half way through the tape, then cutting lengthwise for a couple of feet, then completing the cut. Thank god for good splicing tape!

  16. I am really sorry to hear of Jeffrey’s death, I was hoping to meet him again someday in this life. He was a good friend to me during my Marin days in the ’70s, a kind and very supportive guy, as others have said, and a singing soul. He seemed to take a personal interest in just about everyone he met. I was also searching for him on the web, and found this link. Anyhow, RIP, Jeffrey, you were a great one, sad that we hardly knew ye.

  17. Paul Says:

    I just Googled this album because I had “Aurora Borealis” going through my head and I wondered if the album was available on CD, having lost my vinyl copy somewhere along the way. After all of these years some of the songs are still so memorable, though it’s probably been two decades since I last heard any of them. That says quite a bit about his talent, if you ask me. Sad to hear that he passed away, but happy that he is so well remembered.

  18. don adler Says:

    Was reading about Autosalvage and one thing led to another and I ended up here. Is this the same Rick Turner who was in Autosalvage? I played Jeffrey’s albums – and other Raccoon releases- on my college radio stations at the University of Vermont in the early 70’s.

  19. Jack Howell Says:

    Jeff Cain is one of those special folks I have met in my lifetime who has a warm place in my memory banks. I first met Jeff in Marin AA in the 1970’s. I wandered the water district hills with him discussing cabbages and kings. I last saw Jeff in Santa Rosa around 1982. He was the most likeable and loveable human being I ever knew. How sad it is to hear that he no longer walks the planet. To be young and sober and healthy and in Marin AA back in the ’70’s was quite a wonderful thing. To have known Jeff Cain on top of all that was really quite a blessing. If there is a heaven, Jeff is there and God is smiling.
    Peace, Brother.
    Jack Howell.

  20. Brad Thompson Says:

    Jeffrey Cain gets a nod on the cd “Golden Age of Underground Radio”, a release of tracks and airchecks from Tom Donahue on KSAN San Francisco.
    A commmercial for the Family Dog on the Great Highway. Youngbloods, Commander Cody, and Jeffrey Cain. $3.50 Friday and Sunday $3.00 Sunday!!

  21. Rick Turner Says:

    I’ll check with Jesse, Banana, and Stuart Kutchins re. what happened to Jeffrey’s masters. Who knows? We might be able to set up some sort of download thing. BTW, my son, Ethan, now has Jesse’s old ridge top recording studio… Ethan was not quite two when we recorded “For You”…

  22. paul ottenstein Says:

    I remembe being in high school in the early 70s in DC and my brother Eddy played guitar with Jeffrey for a year or 2. I think they moved out to Marin at the same time.

    Jeffrey always treated this teen with respect.

  23. stixmaccoy Says:

    Is ther anyway I could get a copy of this? For You album?

  24. K.S. Wells Says:

    Am I ever glad I found this site! I’ve been wondering about Jeffry Cain Stevens ever since I grabbed a remaindered Jerry Corbitt album that featured “Queen of England”, a wonderful, wonderful song – it means a little more to Canadians, I think. I have some recollection that he was mentioned in a short Rolling Stone review at one time – he was hitch-hiking somewhere in California and the Rolling Stone writer gave him a ride down the coast. THANK YOU!!!

  25. P. Ross Says:

    Jeffrey was an interesting guy I ran into in the ’70s. I worked at the local radio station in Marin and I played a lot of Racoon stuff anyway. I remember Jeffrey hitching around Marin and we talking and discussed doing some recording at the station. As I remember it, we recorded a couple of songs including one severely critical of Dylan who had just started touring at the time – his song was to the tune of Masters of War but with different lyrics. Cool guy. I’ve been wondering what happened to him. I remember the advice he gave to me – no matter how little money you have, copyright your songs.

  26. Tom Woolner Says:

    The same Rick Turner that was involved in Summerfield Waldorf school? MY girlfriend at the time, Ellen, was the handwork teacher.
    Rick, if you have the masters, that would be great.
    Jeff was my best friend for many years, and I still miss him.
    Tom Woolner

  27. Tom Woolner Says:

    Your brother did indeed play with Jeff – I bought his 1946 Gibson J200 from him.
    We spent the summer of 1971 or 1972 living in driftwood houses in Bolinas.
    Where is Eddy now?

  28. […] Jeffrey Cain – Whispering Thunder « Magicistragic’s WeblogJim, I am very interested in getting copies of the two Jeffery Cain CD’s you have…….I remember the Whispering Thunder album and I liked it very much! […]

  29. Tom Woolner Says:

    What a small world we live in! I work at Kaiser’s chemical dependency unit in Vallejo, and one of my coworkers, Darius Davenport, mentioned a few weeks ago that he had been in this band, Autosalvage, in the 60’s. I googled it, and saw that your name appeared on the album. I asked him if it was the same Rick Turner that lived in West Marin, and he said he lived with you for a year or so in Marin!
    He is doing great, by the way.

  30. Tom Woolner Says:

    Thank you, Jim, for the CD! I began playing it immediately. All those memories! I so appreciate your going to the trouble of burning it for me.


  31. Patrice Says:

    if anyone is interested, i’d be glad to share a mp3 version of “Saw a man” performed for a radio show. Sound is not so good, but the performance of Jeffrey Cain is great,
    Patrice, from France

  32. Patrice Says:

    i forgot to notice my email:
    patricecaumon @

  33. Rafael Zamora Says:

    Dear friends, I’ve just heard both Jeffrey LPs in the Rare MP3 blog, and now I was trying to know and find something else about him. I’m loving his Whispering Thunder record.

    In this address you can find both records:

  34. Rick Turner Says:

    I’m not the Waldorf guy. You can find me now at Working with Jeffrey was really great; wish I had a copy of the album. BTW, Eddie Ottenstein passed on a few years back…very talented guy…tried to help get him signed to Capricorn Records with a great demo we did in about 1971 with Cornelius Bumpus on sax.

  35. Tom woolner Says:

    I am sorry to hear about Eddy passing away. He was a great guitarist, and I loved playing the J200 i bought from him (wish i still had it, i could send my kid to college for what it would sell for today.

  36. Jim Clancy Says:

    As I read this, my heart dropped to hear that Jeffrey had died. We intersected somehow in S.F. and up north along Tomales Bay (the infamous Marshall Tavern.)

    Jeffrey picked me up hitchiking one night and took me and the banjo to a recording session up in Marin County (San Rafael, I think.) Later, he came up to Marshall where my twin brother, Brian, and I played every weekend and did a few sets. This was all after the release of Whispering Thunder.

    I was working for CBS (the day job) at the time and conducted some interviews for ‘Bread and Roses’ working with Mimi Farina and her sister, Joan Baez in Woodstock.

    Jeffrey was already sober, but as others have noted, keen to learn more about Huntington’s Chorea that had killed his mother and the “cure” of antipsychotic drugs that triggered Tardive Diskenesia (involuntary muscle movements) that made her final days all the more difficult.

    He actually spurred me to work with 60 Minutes as a producer, researching some of the latest information about the disease and the devastating effects the “cure” had imposed on his mother.

    Jeffrey was an eclectic young man with a beautiful voice and finely honed sense of humor. Reading through all of the posts here, I have no doubt Jeffrey would have been pleased at the way he is being remembered. He was a wanderer, a philosopher and a man who thought deeper and further than most of us about the world around us. As noted, perhaps it was due to his dark unease about what the future held for him.

    He once remarked that Arlo Guthrie was proceeding with life (drinking, smoking and partying) as if the 50/50 chance of getting Huntington’s just didn’t exist — Arlo, thought Jeffrey, had already decided he was in the OTHER 50% bracket and immune from the disease. Jeffrey didn’t think he made it into that “other,”
    survivor’s bracket.

    It’s not mentioned here, but Jeffrey’s ode to imprisoned wildlife, “Mighty Mo,” took on new life when he performed it live! ‘God Bless the Double A’ was another one he loved to share with an audience with a reverence that ran deeper than anyone listening could imagine.

    Jeffrey rarely played “Whispering Thunder” to the audiences who happened to pass by the Marshall Tavern and once told me there were times — when beset with pseudo-revolutionary loudmouths — he wished he had never even written it.

    The fact is, Whispering Thunder is one of the most haunting songs that ever emerged from that era. Jeffrey Cain, the choirboy who went to rock and roll, never became the reknowned artist most of us thought he deserved to be.

    But I think he would be satisfied, no mightily pleased, that he still holds a place in so many of the hearts he touched.

    Jim Clancy
    Atlanta, GA

  37. stephen gregg Says:

    a pleasure reading about jeffery..we hung out in bernal heights 67 69….the man could sing…i’ve always missed him…nice posts..and remember tis is the future

  38. allan pettit, york, PA Says:

    I played Aurora Borealis for my 26-year-old son last night and he absolutely loved it, so another torch has been passed. For what it’s worth, my son is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, so he doesn’t work the turntable, but today I plan to play the entire Whispering Thunder album….at the very least, Soul Train. And I’ve had a really nice time I’ve had reading your posts. Thanks…..

  39. Jim Nelson Says:

    “Pack Up Your Sorrows” was written by another great songwriter/musician, Richard Farina. Great stuff, these records.

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