Thursday, October 23, 2008


Again, I am amazed at my lack of attention to this little space here... Maybe I'm not amazed... (I guess that was a song title that McCartney didn't use) Almost every hour of every day seems to be promised to something... I'm not complaining.

A lot of it is good... This morning I was in the studio. We're mixing the new Paper Arrows album in less than three weeks, which is crazy... this project, just like the first PA record, seems to have just flown by. A lot of it is that we've again been able to get a lot of recording done in a very few hours of being in the studio.

A good example was last week... in four hours, I was able to knock out lead vocals for three songs as well as do a bunch of background vocals... unheard of production for me. Today, I sang one lead and then we listened back to everything we've done so far... suddenly, it sounded like an album.

We've got 8 tunes with the full band, and all are between 80 and 90 percent done... we spent another hour recording some acoustic guitar, filling in some spaces with textural parts... we made plans to record two acoustic tunes in the next week... quieter affairs with just guitar and vocals, and maybe a little spare piano. Not like the piano is a spare, but the playing is spare.

Anyway... my point is that... the record is basically done. I'm so impressed with how the collection of tunes came together, from the 25 or so we had to start, to these particular 9 or 10 that will comprise the final product. The sounds are miles above Look Alive... not that LA sounded bad... but whereas LA had this low-fi winter attic-vibe to it sonically (which suited the songs), the new record sounds bigger... sounds like it was tracked in studios, like it was recorded in the summer and fall... it sounds like a progression.

Lyrically, it is, to me, the most cohesive thing I've ever done. It's thematic without being repetitive (I hope)... it's mostly personal and direct but still complex... there are words, ideas, and images that recur and are connected but in each context mean something a little bit different...

Which is kind of the point of the record... it's like Magnolia Electric Company's What Comes After the Blues... it's about the process of recovery and claiming yourself again after loss... which I've come to understand as one of the most complex experiences you can have...

The hardest part of doing the record has been the vocals... Not hard technically... I've been very comfortable singing in the studio and my voice has grown in range and depth since Look Alive... the new songs are written with a vocal confidence that I'm very proud of, and Jay has again been an incredible producer in terms of pulling performances out of me that I didn't think I had.

The difficult part has been revisiting some of the lyrics... which were largely written during 2007 and early 2008, when I was in a much different place emotionally... Some of the lyrics are angry... and I've worked so hard to get rid of my anger, that going back to these words and emoting them... is exhausting and complex.

The song we tracked today, Explosions Below... I wrote the lyrics as a stream of consciousness type thing... I think I blogged about it last September... I was on a plane with Andrea coming back from L.A... and I just had this out of body writing experience where all sorts of feelings and thoughts and words I had been just holding below the surface for months... came out.

And I left almost everything about it intact... I built the song structure and the music around the lyrics. And I find it such a profound piece of work... not in an egotistical way, but more personally profound... like the conclusion I drew at the end of the writing of the lyrics... was actually the experience of me drawing that conclusion... I don't know if that makes any sense.

This was not a song that was intellectualized, like some are... written about like an object. This is a song where the process of writing and what is expressed in the song were literally simultaneous. Maybe other people write like this all the time. But for me, it was a revelation.

As gut wrenching as it was for me (and Andrea, I think) it ultimately left me (and us) healthier and better. I think I wrote these out before, but having just spent time singing them this morning... they are burning a hole in my brain so I'm going to type them out again and be done...

EXPLOSIONS BELOW Explosions below and still lingering dreams Of funerals and arguments and trying to breathe As water runs in from impossible seas Saying goodbye never leads where it seems to lead Burning my skin til it peels away And hoping the coast gives me something to say In the end it turned out I was borrowing days And I opened my eyes just a little too late It's drifting away It's fading to grey And I'm watching her go And I'm checking the phone And I'm waiting for love But it's not enough And I'm drying her eyes Like it means we'll survive Like it makes it okay That she's leaving today And taking her things But leaving her rings And I'm missing her laugh It's echoing out In the hollowed out rooms It's echoing loud And I'm sick of the ghosts And I'm tired of hope And I'm tired of tears So tired of tears I'm forgetting the days They're slipping away I'm letting them fade Into shadows and graves And thunder and rain And sunshine and planes And explosions below I'm hiding my face I'm trying to breathe I'm catching my breath I'm ready to leave I'm burning her name With my hand in the flame I'm turning the page of the last piece of love That she gave me The last thing that she gave me The last thing that she gave me The last thing that she gave me


1 comment:

k. goodkin said...