120. The Canonization of Ida Elliott (Anna Vogelzang)


I am on tour with Anna Vogelzang and Guy Capecelatro.  We drove from New York to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where Guy lives.  I am late in posting today, so Anna sat down with me to help me to do a song.

I met Anna during my time at Carnegie Mellon University while finishing my master’s degree.  She was studying opera but was yearning for a less traditional track in music… she was ambitious and headstrong and determined: she is even more so now.  I have learned a lot from her by way of writing and encouragement.  She has recently been signed to a small record label out of Madison, Wisconsin where she recently relocated.  She has also just recently released a new and fantastic album: Toy Boats.  I actually was able to record cello and vocals on a few of the tracks on this new CD.  Check it out, yo!

I’ve toured with Anna a few times, and it’s always fun and always an adventure.  While at CMU, we started writing songs together and wrote and recorded two songs for her very first album.  Today, we wrote another for you to peruse.

Writing:  We wrote this in Guy’s back yard: Anna on banjo and me on cello.  Guy has a cat named Ida, so we decided to personify this cat into a crazy old lady who dyes her wedding dress pink and decides that she wants to perform a miracle to become sainted by releasing the fish from the aquarium.  I can’t tell you how much of a learning experience it is writing with different people.  Anna has been writing songs quite a bit longer than me, so her style is quick and solidified, though she’s always learning and experimenting.  This is a narrative song, which she and I both tend to avoid for some reason.  She started playing this first banjo riff and chord changes with a different rhythm… I came along and changed the rhythm a bit and added a melody.  Anna, in her genius, suggested we end with a Piccardy third (a nerdy musical term for a minor piece ending with a major chord).  Hilarious.  I love it.  It’s always interesting how people deal with lyrics or deal with getting stuck on a line.  It’s very enlightening and informative and helpful to know I’m not the only one that gets stuck.  We would skip the line we were having trouble with and revisit it later.  We probably wrote this in its entirety in about 2 hours.

Recording: We decided after a few unsuccessful tries at a good, clean live sound, to track the instruments first, then do the vocal.  If only we hadn’t been so giggly.  (Totally my fault at first.)  We didn’t have a headphone splitter so we ended up having to gather both our ears around one side of the headphones.  It became slightly hilarious.  After quite a few tries, but laughing each time, we finally got one down.  The main vocal was recorded with Anna’s voice in the left mic and mine in the right.  We then did a second pass of vocals with both of us just on one mic.  I like that it added a really cool chorus sound to it.  She also added the toy piano last minute with a harmony which I really like.

The Canonization of Ida Elliott

Ida in her wedding dress that she dyed pink inside her bath
To match her hair and tiny legs
Ties her toe shoes to her feet and grabs her Derby hat that has been sitting on the shelf since ’43
Three small miracles.  You’ll be canonized!
They will all pack their bags, your apostles!
Ida, on her holy quest, directs noon traffic in her dress
Aquarium mere blocks away, Mother Mary calls her name
Dynamite against the glass, all the prisoners free at last
Dances out into the sea, with the fishes she does sleep
Three small miracles.  You’ll be canonized!
They will all pack their bags, your apostles!

3 thoughts on “120. The Canonization of Ida Elliott (Anna Vogelzang)

  1. this is so cool! beautiful and fun! it reminds me a lot of sufjan stevens’ writing and arrangement. love the toy piano and the upbeat quality. also loving the lyrics. great one!


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