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.
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.
My dad says that bad things come in threes. More bad news yesterday morning. News that has no sure present or future. The kind that, given my least favorite option, might have me move far from New York City, a place I really love, but we shall see. This news is the bad thing that comes after other sad things and one wonders how that’s even possible. This new bad news is the main cause of me posting today’s posting at 12:37 pm. But I keep thinking: things could be worse. Yes, this is true. Things could be much worse, and I’m a grateful for that. I have so much and that is my focus today.
It makes me wonder, wonder, wonder.
Recording: 26 vocal tracks and one mini-stapler on external mic on computer. Have you ever been to a rehearsal of many adolescents? I have. I substitute taught a choir class in Salt Lake City. A group of people singing all together is so interesting: many different timbres, intonations and ideas of rhythm all congregating at the same point in time. How to recreate that sound, though? Change pitches of my voice as I record just a little, be late or early, change the melodies just a little. I attempted to reproduce what I remember hearing when I substitute taught that day, though there’s nothing quite like the real thing.
Originally named Hot Springs, the city changed its name to Truth or Consequences, the title of a popular NBC radio program. In 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show Truth or Consequences announced that he would air the program from the first town that renamed itself after the show. Hot Springs, NM won the honor. Ralph Edwards came to the town during the first weekend of May for the next fifty years. This event was called “Fiesta” and included a beauty contest, a parade, and a stage show. The city still celebrates Fiesta each year on the first weekend of May. The parade generally features area celebrities such as the Hatch Chile Queen. Fiesta also features a dance in Ralph Edwards Park.
Passing the Girl’s Choir Rehearsal Room in Truth and Consequences, NM
This is day three of the Wynn Price catalogue. I have been working on a song I’ve done with field recordings I took from Panguitch, Utah. I have come up with an arsenal of sounds and songs I’ll be posting for the 365. Admittedly, with all this traveling, I’ve been able to get a few days ahead because of all the fortuitous meetings I’ve had with people. I arranged another song with my dad while I was home.
This is one of the first songs to which I remember memorizing all the words. I even remember being taught it in music class in elementary school. I have a hard time remember words, but I remember these! I played the mandolin on this song (since my dad has one). Though the mandolin and the violin have the same tuning, and I feel I have no excuse, I don’t know how to play it that well. It’s a hard instrument for me to play.
Jonathan and I returned this morning at 2 am from Utah. The burial of Jon’s dad, Thomas Cecil Clark, took place yesterday morning in Panguitch, Utah. It was so hard and sad… but happy at the same time: remembering all he was and all he symbolizes. Because it was in Panguitch, as his dad requested, Jonathan was able to take me to Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon. So beautiful. I will post a few pictures later today. As Jonathan and I flew home, I realized we had become that couple on the plane you see who sit really close together and whisper quietly. I have seen couples like this before, sitting very close. There are times when I’ve, very rudely, mentally rolled my eyes and thought, “Get a room.” But maybe they were coming home from burying one of their parents, too. Maybe I shouldn’t have judged them so quickly and harshly. As a person who currently has both her parents still living, it’s hard for me to fully grasp the surreal nature of losing a parent who was close, who was so influential. All I can do is hold his hand and hug him all the time. So, on the plane, that’s what I did, not realizing at first that we had become the couple on the plane I had seen. I thought back to all the times I had flown. I wondered, “How many of those people had just returned from burying someone they loved?”
I do remember one time when I was flying home to Pittsburgh from Salt Lake City. A young woman got on the plane, sat down immediately across the aisle from me and immediately got on the phone before take-off. I could hear her talking about a grandfather and funeral arrangements. When the plane was up in the air I looked over after a while and, in the darkness, I could see her, head in her hands, crying. What an odd experience for me, though I might be construed as the eaves-dropper: interrupting her private moment, subtly, with my eyes and ears. I guess I never thought that girl across the aisle would be me, and, last night, it was.
Sending you lovely thoughts for a hopefully lovely day.
In Panguitch today spending time with Jonathan’s family getting ready to attend the graveside services tomorrow. It’s a day of singing, singing and more singing. Kathy, Jonathan’s sister-in-law, brought her tenor uke, and we’ve been playing songs together, as I have brought mine as well.
This is another song I did with my dad (see yesterday’s posting). This song is the first he learned on banjo using the claw hammer technique. This is a weird song, but funny because Jonathan is a vegetarian, and it actually makes me want to be one, too! Gross!
You will notice that we get faster and faster and faster… not intentional… but you can hear my mom come in the room and say, “Faster!” No thanks! Ha!
I’m not clear on the history of this song, though I’ve looked it up and Greg Brown’s name comes up. I’m not sure if he wrote it or just has the most popular recording of it…
Four Wet Pigs
Here’s a little song about four wet pigs
Here’s a little song about four wet pigs
Two of ’em little and two of ’em big
They danced all night at the Pigtown Jig
The two that were little were just half-grown
The two that were big were big as a barn
Big as a barn and tall as a tree
Took ’em right down to the factory
Slice ’em into bacon, cut ’em into ham
Roll ’em into hot dogs, squeeze ’em into Spam
Throw their little eyes out into the rain
Pickle their feet and scramble their brains
Here’s a little song about two wet pigs
Leanin’ against the trough and smokin’ their cigs
Hopin’ to heaven that they never get big
They danced all night at the Pigtown Jig
(woops! Initial post said I was on number 78…let’s fix that…)
Good morning, friend!
I am in Utah for Jonathan’s father’s funeral. I am posting this late (late as in that I’m posting it today instead of last night). I’m mainly late because I had no motivation to post it yesterday. It was rough. I flew in from Austin at about 9 am, was picked up by my parents, driven home get there just in time for the funeral service. It was a lovely tribute to a fantastic man. It was sad, funny, and happy all at once. The day was so long and at the end if it, I was just too tired to post. We are leaving for the graveside service in Panguitch, Utah today which will be held tomorrow morning.
But, this morning, I had the idea to sit down with my dad, who has collected hundreds of instruments in the last few years. My dad is learning the banjo (hammer claw), mandolin, and ukulele. He is mainly teaching himself, though I know he has taken some private banjo lessons. He plays the old classic tunes like I’ll See You Again, Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, etc. So, I sat down with my dad, and we arranged several songs he and I knew. He has so many instruments I got to pick whatever I wanted. Sadly, I’m not proficient at all on fretted instruments, and find them horribly difficult to play (ironic, I know) I’d understand them better if they didn’t have frets: it would make so much more sense to me…
My dad video taped himself playing this on his uke and sent it to me. I think he is secretly excited that I live in New York, though he often makes fun of me and says I’ll come running back to Utah soon… (hardly! New York is awesome!)
This is kind of bittersweet for me. With Jonathan here with me, I’m relieved, but so sad that his father is no longer here… but it makes me so grateful I can have these kinds of opportunities to share with my awesome dad. He’s funny, sarcastic and hardworking. He loves music. He loves music probably more than I do and that makes me want to love it more, too.
I love you, Dad.
Sidewalks of New York
Written by C. Lawlor and J. Blake
East side, West side; All around the town,
the tots sang “Ring a Rosie,”
“London Bridge is falling down.”
Boys and girls together,
Me and Mamie O’Rourke,
Tripped the light fantastic,
on the Sidewalks of New York
Unfortunately, this is yet to be another day where I cannot write very much. Though I will tell you, as it is 12:25 am, Pearl and the Beard have played their last show at SXSW tonight and, hence, have ended our tour. We are so sad! We’ve had such a wonderful time and have met some of the most amazing people!
Joc and Jeremy will be dropping me off at the airport at 5:30 am to attend Jonathan’s father’s memorial service… quite a change from the blaring sounds of Austin, Texas during the festival. It’s a shocking dip into reality just off of tour. They have to drive thirty hours back to Brooklyn…
This song is based on a scene that happened to me very quickly today: I walked out of a venue, was followed by a friend who called my name, but I could not hear him. He came from behind me, startled me, and I hit him very hard: more than once. I feel bad… and I mistakenly gave him a backhanded compliment by saying the words “nerd but…” when I should have said “You’re a nerd AND….” Being a nerd is good and should never be followed by a but unless it’s “You’re a nerd, but I really think you should be a bigger nerd than you are because that would be way cooler…” So, I walked, I was followed, and I returned to whence I came.
Recording: Took place in a garage this morning while eating a fried egg and toast with tea. It was pretty good. I didn’t immediately like this one at all; in fact, I almost scraped it, but I stopped myself.
Writing: Bass developed first, then motiv, the accompaniment. All other decisions were based of this model in this song: asking myself what range does it need now? What textures? This is a very short song done in a very short space of time….maybe an hour total? Hour and a half probably.
Now, I must sleep. Will revisit…
Walking, Following, Returning (A Scene: Austin, Texas)
Meet 4-year-old Jasper Christmas and his musician father, Jeff Christmas . They live in Knoxville, Tennessee. We stayed with them while we were there, and they just happen to be the coolest people ever AND we all joined Jasper’s band: Laying On A Pillow. Jasper and his dad are great song writers: They performed several songs for us while we were there. Jasper is actually a huge inspiration for Pearl and the Beard’s newest song! So, keep an ear out for Jasper’s debut.
Jasper is playing the banjo in this song! It’s awesome!
I waited to post this until I had enough time to fix the video I took of us doing this song, but I will just post the mp3 for now. We are dashing to Austin today and need to get there by 1:00 and still have 5 hours of driving to do!
We played a very, very small show in Memphis, Tennessee. Though it was small and ill-attended, we met some really great people. Smokey bars really suck, however.
Today’s song is something Jeremy started singing as he was trying to get to sleep. Joc and I kept him up by attempting to record something else, so he just started singing this, and I went with it. I like the laziness of the sound of his voice because 1) he is trying to sleep and 2) he is laying down.
The other problem I’m having with recording is that I’ve lost my headphones at a house in DC and Jeremy’s headphones broke today, so all mixing and tracking has to be done with headphones that only have the left ear working.
Jeremy and Jocelyn both speak spanish (well, at least Jocelyn speaks pretty fluent spanish; I’m not sure about Jeremy actually). I did nothing but study french, so I’m useless, though I do want to do a song in a different language for sure.
Jeremy recorded first, then Joc, then me. It was an experiment in remembering and responding. We recorded everything once. As you’ll hear, Jeremy gets a little…. well.. Jeremy in the middle of it, so we had to work with that, too.
We have a show in Little Rock, Arkansas tonight. I’ve never been this far south, and I’ve never seen so many places to eat fried food in my life. Hoping you are well today!
Ven aquí, mi amor.
Ven aquí, por favor.
Porque yo quiero besarte.