Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Somebody's Angel

I’ve got no regrets, we tried everything
they did their best it’s no ones fault the surgery didn’t take.
And a war can bring much more than a marriage down
and I know you’d still want me to be happy now.

And the first time I kissed somebody new
I cried when I thought about you
and all the good times we had and the living that we been through
and I’m here for you forever or long as I am able
I gotta be Somebody’s Angel

Sunday mornings at the home
too young they say and still a lifetime to go.
I’m still young enough to want someone to hold through the night
and no amount of wishing can bring you back and make things right

And despite any evil doings I mighta done
or any hurt I mighta caused someone
or any living ahead I got while your times run
I’m here for you forever or long as I am able
But I gotta be Somebody’s Angel


They’re sayin’ now, you won’t be with us long
All my time and my love couldn’t fix the damage done
I pray each day he’ll bring a daddy to our son
But I’m here for you, forever, or long as I am able
and I gotta be Somebody’s Angel

Somebody's Angel was recorded in San Diego, pretty much live and recorded by Ben Moore. Danny Frankel came down from LA to play drums, Ben Campbell on upright bass, Paula Luber on vibraphone and me on my electric (borrowed an amp from my friend O) Gibson 330. We finished this song and An Affair of the Heart within 2 hours and then brought in the strings: Renata Bratt on cello, Glen Campbell (Ben the bassists father) on cello, Christopher Vitas on violin. We recorded strings for this song and "Affair" within an hour or two. 

I might add that Id had a lousy case of Shingles a few weeks before the recording and I was just the other side of that thing. While in the early throes of it, Renata and I were conferring by phone on the string arrangements. She kept us on task and on time, while I languished much of the rest of the day. Meanwhile co-producer Ben Moore's wife had just had a baby the day before the recordings.
A few days after the recording my son and I were filmed for a Covered California Health Care commercial that was aired later that year, and where we met photographer/film-maker Joe Murray.
Sometimes all the shit goes down in a week or two. And that was the case here. 
*       *       *

Considering all I'd gone through with my husbands brain injury and later the dementia related to that brain injury there was probably only one person that could write this song. Well, that's pretty much what Dave Alvin told me when I saw him in early 2011, he'd said "You know, there's something only you can say in a song, with everything you've gone through, and you are the one to say it. That's the song you need to write. " And with that, I wrote the song. Later, I read the lyrics to another music friend who is a very much admired songwriter and legendary figure, he questioned the word "surgery" , as in "they did their best its no one's fault the surgery didn't take". I thought about what he had to say, "don't make it so blunt, keep it softer, surgery is a hard word to hear", and I decided to keep it as it is. The rest of the song softens somewhat and maybe is propelled by the hard-ass concept of a failed surgery. 

Was this song about me and Paul? Only a little bit. I wouldn't have been able to write it if it'd been completely confessional. Im only vaguely a confessional songwriter. I needed to see it as a song with a different narrator then myself, and so, in some regards I wrote it as a song Ruby wrote. That is, the woman, the caregiver, in Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town. My song too address' a spouse that has been to war and comes back irreparably altered.

I also knew that for the sake of the rest of the album I needed to address my unusual situation early on in the album, with a feeling of "lets get this damned uncomfortable stuff over quick". Once it was addressed I felt like the rest of the album which is mostly about the various feelings you have in romantic love, could have a voice. You could say Somebody's Angel is the emotional-white-elephant of the album , and you wouldn't be wrong.

(photo of CLB by Joe Murray)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

American Cinematography: The Video by Matthew Kohn

After The Adventurist was recorded and mastered I played the finished tapes for folks at a few record labels. After about 6 months I found out that my favorite label, Omnivore Records was up for putting out the album. Wow! I was really excited now. So first up, make a video. 

I was out in New York June 2016, doing some shows with Al Stewart (yep, Year of the Cat) and I stayed with my film-maker friend Matthew Kohn in Brooklyn. We tossed around the idea of him making me a video of one of the songs and I assumed it would be I Like Cats/You Like Dogs. No, Matt was really sure he wanted to make a video around the song American Cinematography. 

Let me tell you a little about Matthew Kohn. He's one of my favorite people on the planet. Not just because he cares about the planet, but because he makes films to help people see stuff that's happening in the cracks and crevices of life on planet earth. His documentary Call It Democracy looked at the electoral process and it's controversies in the 2000 to 2004 election period. Recently he's been finishing up a film in Sudan, about Sudan. 

Cool. So Matt wanted to film something for American Cinematography. Problem was his good ideas would take time, and I was only in town a few days, and a cast of organized friends wasn't gonna happen fast. We tossed more ideas around. I talked to Matt about films I liked that looked kind of spontaneous like Pennebakers Dylan documentary Don't Look Back, which seemed so off the cuff. 

Or the look of Andy Warhol's films. I have been a big fan of Warhol's Screen Tests for a while. Edie Sedgwick staring boldly and coquettishly at the camera. Dennis Hopper looking so dramatic just via the lines on face/ like a great sculpture. Or the young starlit that stares at the camera while crying, in slow motion a single tear. 

I suggested to Matt that we try doing nothing and see what comes of it. And so that is what we set out to do. Rather than have the visuals propel the song forward the film sits back and lets the song do all the work. 

And I have to say, its very hard to stare at a camera for minutes at a time. Each one of these series of shots were with Matt setting the camera up on a tripod somewhere in Brooklyn and leaving it alone while I stare back at the black eye of the lens. Its both uncomfortable and intimate. Then I left town and Matt pulled the footage together. So in between the film club nights he holds in Manhattan, and going out to see cool music/art shows and making that film about South Sudan, he made this little film for American Cinematography. 

Here's more on Matt....

Friday, April 28, 2017

American Cinematography

(image by Matthew Kohn)

American Cinematography

The first song on The Adventurist; it was recorded live in Santa Monica with David Schwartz on bass and Michael Jerome Moore on drums and me on guitar and vocals in 2015. The cello parts, played by Renata Bratt were added later in Santa Cruz and finally the piano, played by Robert Lloyd was recorded by Sheldon Gomberg in Los Angeles. Sheldon mixed the song. 

*       *       *

The writing of the album began in early 2011. I had gotten my increasingly ill husband placed in a nursing home in 2009 and I'd had the desire to use the feelings (anxiety, sadness and frustration) that generated to write new songs. I very specifically had the idea that I would not write about the sadness of loss, rather I would write about the incredible feelings of love and desire that had brought me into relationship with my husband in the first place. It took another year and half, after my husband began his life in the nursing home, before the new song cycle started up. 

American Cinematography was written about mid-way through the song-cycle which became The Adventurist. It was a continuation, and another perspective for me, on the concept of Tone-Poems on Love and Desire.

*      *      *

 (image by Matthew Kohn for Amer Cin. video)

American Cinematography
In a small frame I’ll paint a big story
with American cinematography
your face holds a secret territory
my love is revealed in your geography.

All the miles of mountain and valleys
in American cinematography
exist in one panoramic highway
with a flicker of light and a melody.
Blue convertible flyin’ down the highway
red scarf riding like a lovers get-away
that feeling of timeless-wild-kisses
in American Cinematography