I’m writing you from the studio but not really from the studio because I’m home with a cold watching documentaries and drinking all manner of fluids. But I’m thinking about the new record we’re making constantly – we’re already tracking but in a few days our pledge music page will be up where you can donate to help us get together the funds we need to finish this Beast and mix it, master it, put it in a stew…
It is a beast – it’s coming out great, greater than I’d dare to hope a record baby of mine could dare to be. Its like when some decent looking parents get together and bam! Make a super model baby and everyone stands back in awe…How. Did. They. Do. That?!! That baby is stupendous looking! That’s how I feel about a lot of the songs I write too. Just watching a Joni Mitchell documentary (in my robe, drinking chicken broth, hair all in a fuzz) and she starts to riff on songwriting, the process etc…Joni says that it goes back to the Irish way, sometimes the blarney is with you and flowing and sometimes it’s not. That it’s all about being open and aware of when that sweet sweet blarney wants to have it’s way with you and catching it like rain in a summer thunder storm, drinking it down and singing out in the sheer drunken electrical pleasure of having harnessed a power far greater than your own…or something like that, my Netflix is acting bratty so I can’t access the vid right now to get the exact quote (forgive me). Now that the older songs are finally getting birthed and babied in the studio, swaddled and fed and fussed over, I feel the reaching out, the tentacles of new ones wanting to come through. It’s starting with a lot of listening and appreciation and questions. We did a lot of driving this weekend and I listened over and over to the chief soundtrack of my childhood: Crosby Stills and Nash self titled album, Crosby Stills and Nash.
Oh man, my brother and I cruised all over this great nation in the back of one beat up station wagon after another, him always covered in juice or something intolerably sticky, singing the doo doo doo doo part at the end of Suite Judy Blue Eyes at the top of his little and all too powerful lungs (Love you Davie if you’re reading this). So I listened to this record a lot and oh how it moved me! To tears and laughter. Those songs still saying everything to me, speaking to me of the best things in life and maybe just because those harmonies are inextricably linked to brilliant pink orange 1980s sunsets and the strange safety net of my parents’ wacky sense of family, all I knew, all I needed.
Then I listened over and over to those fresh new bucks on the scene, direct descendents of CSN, the Fleet Foxes, specifically their latest record, Helplessness Blues. It’s a masterpiece I do believe. Real real fine work. And I was particularly struck by these lyrics: “What’s my name, what’s my station, oh, just tell me what I should do I don’t need to be kind to the armies of night that would do such injustice to you Or bow down and be grateful and say “sure, take all that you see”
To the men who move only in dimly-lit halls and determine my future for me
And I don’t, I don’t know who to believe I’ll get back to you someday soon you will see”
And so I’m thinking as I hear this HELL YES! And it’s sinking in really in a different way than it has before (connecting in my mind to all the great work being done by Josh Fox, Bill Mckibben, 350.org, and the Occupy folks). No, no we do not need to keep laying down and saying “take all that you see to the men who move only in dimly lit halls and determine” our future for us. It’s so good it bears repeating. Listening to the song, I wait for the theme to be developed further, dare I say even hoping waiting for an answer, a proposal. The sound is so powerful, it portends that one will come. What comes is a section that lightens considerably in melody and lyric, proclaiming that if “If I had an orchard, I’d work till I’m raw
If I had an orchard, I’d work till I’m sore. And you would wait tables and soon run the store.” A dream of a simpler life, a way to be humans of action in a clear and decisive context, screw those dudes in the dimly lit halls man can’t we just go back to the land?
Well we can if there’s land to go back to. I love this song so much and yet in the moment I wanted something more. And this is the bud, the stubborn pushing up through the dirt of life, of a new song for me, to elaborate this question or find some piece of an answer that resonates in my own being and hopefully yours too. Thanks for reading.