Woke up around 5:30, fussed around, read 10 p. of Ellington, made myself go back to bed. Up for real around 9. Headed across the yard to the studio at noon. Visited w/ Mitch and his girlfriend Tammy for a bit, then got to work. Started w/ an easy six-string bass overdub on “Still In Error” for the sake of confidence, then set up a combo organ (a non-standard brand/model) w/ tremolo and distortion on the same song, worked out a droney part – but a part. Derivative of Yo La Tengo, which is what I was hoping for. Used the stylophone to supplement (possibly replace) the theremin freakout on “Our Films, Their Films.” Stayed w/ that keyboard for “Believe in Ghosts” – the upper manual replaces the electric harpsichord idea I’d had. Took a dinner break – stayed “on campus.” Came back to do 4-5 vocal takes each of “Still in Error” (I can hear where the biggest trouble spot is – “scanner”) and “Illusions” (sung at lower intensity, which helped keep it together). Knocked off at about 9. Might not sound like a lot, but a good start. Stayed up for a while, had a beer, went to bed around 11.
Up at 7. Spent too long scanning liner notes to Dillanthology and figuring out how to merge them into one pdf. Went to coffee before 8, caught up on daybook (1 day ahead in fact b/c I forgot the date). Dutifully finished The Amateur – ok profile of Thom Gunn. Worked for 2 hrs on intro. Came back, and tried to “write” some of the guitar and keyboard parts I need to overdub on “Untimely Beggar” and “Believe in Ghosts.” Got some ideas, but I’m afraid these will be a phrase-by-phrase slog in the studio. Went back to E77 to write more from about 4-6. Took train w/ Bree to Lincoln Center, saw Thomas Adès’s opera of The Exteriminating Angel at the Met. Balcony seats, not exorbitant for theater, were fine. Excellently performed, visually and dramatically powerful, and probably unwise to encapsulate here: the baseline musical style is fragementary and dissonant, but no more than, I don’t know, Richard Strauss, and not atonal, with a few more “accessible” arias and duets sprinkled throughout. Pop, it ain’t. I have more taste for this than I used to, and the expressionist relationship to the narrative helps (as in the serialist Lulu and that Schoenberg Zietoper that I like. Cool that the composer included an ondes Martenot in the orchestration – the effect wasn’t so different than overdubbing a Theremin on “Our Films, Their Films.” Everyone acts like Bunuel’s film is enigmatic, but if it isn’t about the limits of the bourgeois life and worldview, I don’t know what is. Got home about 11, did a bit of packing, read a chapter or two of the Otis bio (which I’d left behind on the Catskill trip), lights out 1 am.
Up 7. Left around 9:30 – though I found that I didn’t have my Metrocard and walked back from the train to look for it, to no avail. Coffee, looked at intro, therapy, quick lunch, worked at same coffee place from about 1:45 to 5. Came home earlier than I’d planned (skipped both a library trip and a pre-New Wave French movie at Film Forum that will not be playing when I get back from North Carolina) to call my dad; also checked in w/ my uncle Anthony. Discussed a few practicalities w/ Bree, helped her buy a bottle brush online, went back out for coffee at 9. Wrote emails to Mitch E., his studio manager, and a couple people I hope to see while I’m down there. Came back of started packing – located folders of chord charts (which I probably don’t need but like to have around) and lyrics (which I do, to sing from and make vocal comping notes on), at least. Read all but last 30 p. of Lesser (also on trains) – it’s an aesthete’s book that has moments but wanders off into unconnected essays about a visit to an opera house’s infirmary, a cat, and email resistance (circa 1999). It feels trivial in these times (and it’s art’s and criticism’s first job to convince you that they’re not).
I’m behind a few days on the poetry daybook, + haven’t been reading any.
Restless, up around 7. We checked out of the room by 9, found a (substandard) breakfast, went back to the venue from Friday (which is open for coffee in the daytime) and checked email, etc. Drove to Rodgers Book Barn in Hilldale, which had been recommended, then to a couple of places in Hudson. Spent more overall than I should have, to be honest – mostly nickles and dimes, but one record store just killed me on 3 obscure new wave LPs I couldn’t resist. Got something to eat for the car and started back to NYC just after 4. Listened to the 2nd Major Lance CD (slicker as it goes, unfortunately discovered that my used copy is missing the booklet), Act I of a contemporary recording of Rodgers & Hart’s Dearest Enemy (their first book show, w/ a colonial mise en scene, the hit “Here In My Arms,” and an amusing song w/ patter “trio” called “What Do All the Hermits Do In Springtime”) and Astor Piazzolla’s “tango-operita” Maria de Buenos Aires (sounded great, but I’ll have to sit down w/ the lyrics). Hit traffic before GW bridge, scrapped plan to go to IKEA in Brooklyn for CD shelves (since we have the car) – just too stressful while trying to get the car back on time. Made it to Jackson Heights maybe 8:30, took the car back and walked about a mile home (along the bus route, but w/out catching one). Fortunately, not that cold. Back by 9:30 – the trip’s finish line. Still need to record some expenses. Got in bed, read 50 p. of Wendy Lesser, The Amateur – unchallenging autobiography by the ed/founder of The Threepenny Review, which I picked up today b/c I’d liked her Shostakovich book. Lights out by 11.
Up 9-ish, met Dylan and Nina for breakfast at a diner in Saugerties, discussed TV themes and Woodstock. Walked into town, looked in a thrift store and a bookstore w/ an unusually good stock of jazz CDs until they had to split. Then Bree and I spent most of the day doing the same sort of thing, in Saugerties and a huge antique mall in Coxsackie, which really felt like the sticks. Bought a few things, but the real finds were a 1976 Bliss/Sankey collection of revival songs—for $4! – and an LP I have never seen in my life of Sidney Poitier reciting selections from Plato over music by Fred Katz! Can’t wait to hear it. Back to Saugerties to have dinner at Little Lucy’s Kitchen (Ted’s rec. last night). An out-of-town splurge, but excellent. Got a little lost coming back despite GPS. Glanced at a book on early Ellington I’d picked up, lights out before midnight. Nothing work-like today; a nice respite.