Up around 8. Out to coffee, started to edit an interview between me and Stephen Plummer. It’s 7000 raw, I should just cut a lot of it. Came back before noon, made myself do mundane things – rented car for this weekend, got plane tickets for Christmas, and so on. Played through a couple of Dylan’s songs on piano, and tried to remember “California Baby” and “Only A Monster.” Read more of the intro to the trobaritz book. Went out around 4 for a haircut. Went to Manhattan w/ Bree for Jean and David’s birthday dinner. Read quota of Otis bio on the way back. Went briefly to Starbuck’s, ran into Macgregor. D/l’ed new You Must Remember This, went to bed 11:30.
Up 7. Went to coffee at 8:30. Ran into Ken Lauterbach and talked about music for a while. Came back at 10:30, rehearsed “My Old Man” w/ Bree for a half hr. or so; feel ok about the piano part by now. Left at 12:30 for library. Call from the manager of my parents caregivers’ agency; called back to find out what was up, then called dad (which I’d been planning to do today anyone) to discuss that. Stressful. Sat down to work in library café just before 3, went up to 3rd floor around 5 with the notion of using a digital keyboard (w/ headphones) to practice tonight’s song a little more, but it’s no longer there. Hard to work – half the time I was there, a man was loudly making some kind of elaborate, outlandish request of the librarians, more or less disrupting the whole room. Not much progress, to be honest. Left before 6 to meet Bree at the Cutting Room; we weren’t doing soundcheck, so I finished reading Smullyan and wrote my daybook poem while waiting for the show to start. The show was enjoyable enough (Nellie McKay’s “Shades of Scarlet Conquering” and David Cale’s “The Last Time I Was Richard”), but I wasn’t in the mood to be around downtown theater/cabaret people. Bree’s act went over, though I didn’t play that well (no major mess up, but I kind of faked a couple of runs in the bridge – I give myself a B.) Bree stayed to socialize, I went home, started reading the introduction to Truth of My Songs: Poems of the Trobairitz, trans. Claudia Keelan (is Joni Mitchell a trobairitz?), fell asleep around midnight.
Up 5:30. Dithered, went for a cup of coffee and read Smullyan, came back at 8. Read Otis on train to Park Slope around 9:30, got another coffee nearby, daybook poem, made it to studio by 11, Matt rolled in just after I got there. Did the rest of his percussion: tambourine and handclaps (w/ me) on “Faith and Credit,” a syncopated shaker part on “Illusion,” a military snare overdub on “Enemies of Song,” a woodblock that I’m not sure about on “Boring Postcards”; also his very short backing vocal on “Our Films, Their Films.” Took a break for lunch and walked over to Unneameable Books – bought The Bluegrass Reader, and had the odd experience of not finding any poetry I felt compelled to buy. I’m either cheap or disenchanted. Returned, worked out the “classical” (nylon-string) guitar overdub on “Enemies,” and 2-3 theremin tracks on “Our Films, Their Films.” Sang the chorus harmony on “Guesthouse,” after which I’d run out of overdubs I was prepared to do. Comped Monica’s vocal for “Any Road Home.” Tried to sing “Boring Postcards” through 3 different mics – did a few complete takes, not sure if it’s enough to comp a real take from. Did some data transfer and finished around 8, chatted with Michael for a while about the jazz scene. (Turns out he’s yet another Oberlin grad, so we know some people in common.) Read more Otis on the way home. Also listened to at least an hr of the A-Z playlist over the course of the day. Got home around 10:30, recorded some expenses, put on Monk’s Ellington album, lights out by midnight.
[The Kings of Ragtime, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” to Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers “All For You”]
Spent day recording at Figure 8 in Park Slope. Up at 7, got out by 8:30 for 11 am start time at rec. b/c I knew the trains might be fucked up between weekend service and the NYC marathon, which proved to be the case. Listened to podcast interviews w/ Daniel Kane and Roscoe Mitchell on the way, got to studio at 10:30, found the studio, got there just after the rest of the band. Michael, the engineer, was easy to work with, and the place is well-equipped (tho we were in the smaller downstairs room – a little narrow). Tracked “Any Road Home,” took maybe 3-4 takes to get the feel. Glad we did this as a band, w/ stand-up bass. Did an additional guitar pass for comping, but then switched to a semi-acoustic Guild the studio had, and that felt more like the song, so that’s the main guitar track now. Lunch break – Korean tacos. Turned to “Paradox” (cover from a GE industrial musical) which also took a few takes, but nothing outlandish. Matt did use a click track for this one, and we sped it up eventually, though it’s still about 15 seconds longer than the original. The rhythm guitar track is not super-smooth, but it’s not going to be the point of the track - I only punched obvious mistakes. Matt put down shakers and/or tambourine on “The Old Currencies” and “Guesthouse,” we’ll do more percussion tomorrow. Monica Howe arrived just about 6, I let the band leave and we worked on her vocal for “Any Road Home.” (Not by any means an easy or foriginvg song, esp. in a spare arrangement.) Sang a number of passes, basically it’s one of these things where 85% of it was there on the first take, and everything else was detail. (Not surprisingly, we talked about Elaine Stritch recording “The Ladies Who Lunch.”) Knocked off at 8:30. Productive day. Read about Otis Redding on the way home. Back about 10, lights out before 11.
The flaw in this system is that the more one is doing, the less time there is to write about it.
Woke up a couple of times in the night, up for good at 8:30. Went to coffee briefly, read to p. 50 of Redding bio. I’m sure I’ve never seen this much detail about his family in Georgia. Mainly just got my self ready, listened to the studio takes of some of Laura’s songs for the form. (We both independently figured out where the extra minor chord is in “Indoor Fireworks.”) Got equipment outside at noon (taking a lot of stuff for a local gig, felt like going on tour), talked w/ Bree and neighbors while waiting for Laura to pick me. Rode to Union Pool, said hi to Gail O’Hara, soundchecked, hung around. Played my quick solo set about 2:30—no, major fuck-ups, gtr sounded good on stage. “Just Because It’s Dying,” “Man Up,” “Boring Postcards,” “Guesthouse,” “Not Just When We Kiss.” Watched Governess, a heavyish trio from D.C., and Cotton Candy (Mark from Unrest and his wife Evelyn, who was in Blast Off Country Style). They do commercial jingles a cappella – “The Jordache Look,” “Charlie” [the perfume], many local radio spots that no one outside of D.C. would know. It’s insane, but entertaining. Explained “industrial musicals” to Mark afterwards – I was truly shocked he didn’t know about this stuff. Played Laura’s set, Pete joined us ½ way through. Intimate rather than rollicking, and there are always things I could play better, but in general, it felt musical – we were all listening to each other. The crowd (modest) seemed to appreciate it. Hung out for a while afterwards – talked to Richard B., Claudia Gonson, Brendan Gilmartin, Cliff Schumacher, a facebook connection named John Everhart (who wanted to talk about my least favorite topic). Got paid, but I don’t think I sold any merch. Rode back to JH w/ Laura, loaded in, ran into Bree coming back from the store when I went back out to get a bite. Home and settled around 9, read a bit of Smullyan, lights out 11 if not earlier.