This is in the PepsiCo Gardens in Westchester, NY. I believe it's called Two Ovals, but I'm not totally sure... you should go if you're in town. It's awesome.
Excuse my very tardy posting (especially those of you on the east coast and even eastern-ly-er. I have been running around, driving, driving, driving and noodling around to get ready for these shows this weekend here in Salt Lake City.
I stayed the night at Jonathan’s mother’s house. She has a piano. I thought, “I haven’t done a piano song yet, so I think I will.” This is a study in octaves. I love octaves. There’s just something very interesting about this interval. They are exactly the same note but very different- a whole span different! I like the feeling of the octave and the color the octave brings to a song.
I also love listening to things we don’t always here. Sometimes in a piano recording, you can hear the player depress the piano pedal. You can hear every string react from the movement and they ring simultaneously. I love that moment. I exaggerated it and used it for myself in this little study.
I am about to run about again and more rehearsals tonight… but will try to be on time tomorrow for the posting, as it’s a good goal to be on time to things in general.
I am in Salt Lake City for a few shows. I arrived last night at 11 pm. I waited and waited and waited for my cello to come into “oversized baggage”. Nothing. Come to find out my cello is in New York. I spoke with an incredibly kind woman at the Salt Lake City airport who was so helpful. I am leaving for the airport right now to see if it came in on another flight today. Positive thinking…
Now, I have usually purchased seats for my cello, but I started flying more and more and just can’t afford it. The only way of guaranteeing a sense of peace about flying with your cello is to buy a seat. Even then they hassle you in security. It’s really a no win in the end… people will give you problems no matter what you do.
Writing: It started as a haiku, but it obviously isn’t (5-7-5), but whatever it takes to get you there, you know? Jonathan offers back-up vocals, and the rest is improvisation! Yay! Now, it’s just a little jingle. Delta- I’ll sell it to you for a price.
The “Delta, You’re Awesome” Song
I love you Delta
You left my cello in New York
You are great Delta
On tour we drove through a few southern states which I had never visited before: Memphis, Little Rock, etc. On route to Austin, we saw many billboards, but it wasn’t until we got to the south that we saw huge ones that boldly stated: Jesus Saves. I grew up in a very religious culture, so this song expresses some feelings (guilt, blame, worthlessness) I remember hearing from various members of congregations as I was growing up, and personal feelings I’ve had as well regarding, but certainly not limited to, Christianity and a general spirituality. It’s important for me to be honest, and I find exploring these kinds of topics freeing.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about Johnny Cash recently. He’s such a fascinating man and had a really interesting relationship with hymns I never knew about before I started reading about his life. I’m also aiming for this song to be a kind of hymn-like, in a way. I will structure this better and that idea will hopefully be clearer at a later time.
Due to a huge time crunch these past 24 hours, I’m submitting a 365 song that is vastly unfinished. I don’t mind unfinished necessarily because it gives you an idea of the drawn out process a song can have, even if it is a part of a 365 project.
Writing: I generally don’t write narratives, ballads or story songs. It was suggested I do one, and I took up the challenge. They are really difficult to do and do well. With this song already, I find major issues with the story line: in verse 4 it says she loved a boy, but in verse 5 is says she never loved anyone. Also, who is verse 5 about? It’s supposed to follow a life-line of this women from birth to near death. Each verse should be a major event: birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage, present, death. Even this rough out line is just a sketch or a guess, really.
I also have problems with the general form of this song as it is. How many verses before a chorus are there? Will there be words in the chorus? The form of the song was basically improvised. I just played the baritone uke after figuring out a few shifts and had the verses in front of me with no plan. This can be really good or really bad. I found I did something completely different for the chorus than what I had practiced, which might be better, but the general layout of the song is very wonky. I’m actually happy you get to hear it like this. I think this song has potential, but not there yet. I will work on it.
I’m also still working on a catch title. Not sure I like what’s here.
Recording: I did this about 4 times stopping and starting to get the intro right. I recorded it as a whole about 2 times, this is a second take. I didn’t try this kind of singing for it until the very last take, this take. I like the singing ideas and think it would sound nice with some harmonies.
I’m off to the airport to fly to Utah tonight for two solo shows this weekend. I’m excited to play, although already anxious to return. There is a lot to do still, and I still haven’t packed yet!
More Easy Than Good or Jesus Saves
“Jesus, He saves,” she said from her swing
“But, He’ll never get this far, you’ll see, not for me.”
“For I lived such a long time, a long way from there,
“So you see it’s just too far, just too far I fear.”
I was born from the britches of witches with wings
Or so the old fable my nana did sing
Left on the steps of a mayoral race
Well, he won on that day I arrived at that place
Brought up so pretty with paper and skins
On my shoes, red bows with lace and buttons
Beat only once for the shape of my nose
And on birthdays got dresses I was sure to outgrow
Fell love with a boy but she was his prize
A beauty with ginger and emeralds for eyes
A spell she did cast unlike mine from the start
He is gone, I’m alone, my dearest sweetheart
Gave him the best and the worst I could stand
And at sun down gave beatings with black and blue hands
Doin’ my best to do all of my worst
Never loved anybody, and all did I curse
Jesus, Jesus, brother of mine
Stained my white dresses with your cups of wine
Broken my back with the weight of your rood
And I’m findin’ bad easy, more easy than good
They say Jesus comes, but no, not for me.
I’m wicked and ugly and bad company
For I lived such a long time, a long way from there,
So you see it’s just too far, just too far I fear.
I recorded this song live in 2008 at Sidewalk Cafe. Funny enough, it was recorded by Bryan Speaker, the very same friend who inspired the 365 project. I re-edited it and sold it on a live EP for about two seconds and then took it off because I thought it was a horrible performance of it. A photographer friend of mine used it on a video she did which I will try to find for you to see; it’s really moving.
It is all done with a single Boss loop station. In the middle of it, once the loop is set up, I got up from my chair (I sat and played then), and used another vocal mic that was set up with a bunch of reverb. Listening back to it, it’s not nearly as awful as I thought it was, and I’m actually surprised it worked as well as it did. Many good thoughts to you on this very cold March day. Good will and good thoughts.
Abbie Gardner is a fantastic musician, and when she asked if we could do another song, I was thrilled. I went to her house in Jersey City on Thursday morning and asked if she had anything she was working on that we might look at. (Ending in prepositions! Ah!) Abbie brought out this song, Momma.
Originally this was a simple outline of a song about a girl in love with a boy who kissed just right and loved just right so much so that she went straight to her momma and said, “I’m in trouble I love this guy so much.” Well, we took a look at it and talked about this relationship between this girl and her mother. We found that the song isn’t really so much about a love between a man and a woman, but the relationship between a mother and a daughter. We talked about what kind of mother this woman is: is she caring and totally helpful? Or a bit apathetic? What kind of reaction might she have to this girl who has obviously been in trouble before?
We decided we didn’t want to focus on the daughter’s problem with her man in this song. We felt like we didn’t need to spell it out for the listener, but that capturing a single moment between a desperate daughter and her mother was more important to us in the span of a three and a half-minute song.
One of the best classes I ever took in college was a course called Theater Analysis. I have no idea what lead me to it, actually. I mean, I think I was mostly done with my music credits as a performance major and just needed some more of… something. I’m not sure. We studied Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie among many others. And though I don’t remember our text, I remember this was the first time I was introduced to the word “aesthetic” because it was in the title of the book we were referencing for all the work we were reading. I remember the teacher being really good and very interesting. We used various tools to look at each work: deciphering movement, cause and effect of each character and how the playwrite used word choice and other tools to create his or her vision.
I think I use the tools I was taught in this class on songs, too. In the case of this song, we addressed the daughter and mother’s own history not only together, but as individuals. We came up with the idea that the mother had a similar history of rebellion and relationship trouble that the daughter was creating for herself which is why the mother reacts in such a, “I can’t do anything for you, child” kind of attitude.
Instrumentation: Abbie started playing this song on her Dobro, and I love the sound so much, I left my cello at home! It’s so awesome and makes me want to learn how to play it!
Writing: Took place on Thursday morning. The bulk of the “Momma” chorus’ were already in place, and I just came in and brainstormed ideas. We worked on the general storyline and Momma’s verses together. Abbie had the idea of a kind of call-and-response towards the end, which I really like.
Recording: Took place on Friday (yesterday) morning due to parking restrictions on Thursday. I only had 2 hours on each day to park before I had to move my car, so we just did it in shifts on two different days. What a pain! But it actually made it kind of nice to have a time frame with which to finish.
I’m so glad spring is starting to peek through the cold lately. Outside our window is a huge rock where trees grow. In the spring, the trees start growing their green leaves and make a nice shade into the house. It doesn’t feel like we’re in the city, but we certainly are! New York. What a place.
May your day be well and spring be where you are, too.
Momma, I’m in trouble this time
Oh Momma, oh momma of mine
momma, i’m in trouble this time
oh my child, what you gone and done now
oh my child, don’t let your daddy find out
oh child, what you gone and done now
momma, he said he was going clean
thought we were in love, but he lied to me
(I) stole daddy’s gun, won’t you help me please
wake up child i can’t save you this time
this is your story, but it sounds just like mine….
but i love him, momma
oh my child
I’m in trouble this time
what you gone and done now
oh my child
oh momma of mine
don’t let your daddy find out
my poor child
I’m in trouble this time
yeah you’re in trouble this time
I’m in trouble this time
Big trouble this time
i’m in trouble this time
oh my poor child
alternate call & response:
won’t you send me a sign
you got to run and hide
don’t waste no time
child my hands are tied
now my hands are tied
had no choice this time
I’m in trouble this time
You’re in trouble this time
Good morning or evening or afternoon to you; whichever it may be right now.
Taken this past Sunday night at Bryce Canyon, Utah by a very kind stranger who put the memory card of our camera into his very nice camera and took our picture. I had never thought of that before, but, man, how nice!
Today is a special song written me and Jonathan Clark. I did the uke playing and Jonathan did the singing and lyrics.
Jonathan and I sat down with the baritone uke, found some chords, and improvised the rest. This was a good exercise in improvisational lyric writing. Jonathan had written the first two lines while we were trying to find a good uke part, but the rest was all improv. I think he did a splendid job. It’s funny how revealing improvisation can be if one empties one’s mind and puts it out onto the table.
Yesterday, I was reading an interview Charlotte Gainsbourg did with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. It was super interesting, and Kim Gordon talked about how she wrote lyrics and music and such. It made it all the more interesting to find that even the great artists get stuck with lyrics now and then. Bon Iver does some mumbling and improvising to find his lyrics, too. It’s an interesting process.
We recorded this in about 15 minutes, I’d say.
May your day be wonderful today…
I don’t know what the bad news brings
All I know is it brings me to my knees
I find it hard when the sun don’t shine
I will eat lemon pie
Yesterday was just a day away
But it feels like three lifetimes past
We just keep on moving forward
The wind does blow in this cold time
The wind does blow all the time
But it keeps me from thinking about the past
It keeps me moving, keeps me dreaming
It keeps me all the time
Keeps me moving, keeps me dreaming
It keeps me here.
More Pearl and the Beard Tour Pictures!
Pearl and the Beard played in Memphis in a bar called The Buccanneer. This was a huge painting that hung on the wall right behind us. How could I not capture this (about 5 different times!) on film?! AWESOME!!!
If you haven't heard of the band, Lost in the Trees yet, today is the perfect opportunity. This was one of the most amazing live show experiences I've had. Virtually a chamber orchestra of sounds and goodwill. Look them up, buy their work, love it, too. Shot in Austin, TX during SXSW while we were there on tour.
We played in Greensboro, North Carolina for a Monkeywhale Productions presented evening. It was awesome. Jocelyn is shown here mimicking her picture on the poster. The picture on the poster is from a video we shot during our last tour with Harvey Robinson for Harvey's Kitchen: a guy who has bands visit him and shoots a live video of them in his awesome kitchen. He did our song Vessel and Lost in Singapore. Look it up! It's truly amazing!
Sometimes you just need to put some beats together, you know?
Total composition time: One and a half hours.
Instrumentation: garageband samples.
I am including some pictures from Pearl and the Beard’s Rebus McEntour 2010 for your perusal.
Much love to you today.
Illegitimi Non Carborundum
Jocelyn brushing her leg hair (she is growing it out for a year to show support for me and the 365)
Kelly Neel showed us how to eat crabs in Baltimore. Jeremy's opinion of it was definitely mixed.
We had places to stay in almost every stop but Memphis and one other town. Here, you can see the sweet, sweet Motel 6 bedspread. And Jocelyn is trying on Jeremy's shoes and showing them to the camera.
In Austin, Jocelyn and I went to dinner and found a spaghetti place where you can ride a horse for fifty cents. I did partake, much to the chagrin of on-lookers waiting imaptiently to be called to take a table, in the bucking of the bronco, however disappointing. Rock on, Austin.