Wrote a rollicking new piano song called "Baby Put Your Perfume On." I sound like I'm drunk during my singing parts. Chad Vickery and Joe LaGrand from Ben and Bruno added shaker and drums, and Erica Froman recorded some sweet slippery Motown backing vocals for it. I hope to use it as a demo to get somebody to pay for real studio time.
"Baby, I love how you dance. Baby, I love your clammy cold hands. Baby, I love putting my hands where they don't belong."
We had a load of fun on tour, visiting friends and acquaintances, eating food, and talking all the time. We sang a lot in the car in Ohio. I came back home feeling artistically fulfilled and renewed, while also anxious to make some changes -- I'm tired of feeling depressed about living in cold, snowy Michigan, isolated from those balmy rolling hills and horse farms of Kentucky. Since tour, I sang back-up for a Brian Vander Ark show and for the filming of his live DVD, which turned out to be a great experience. I was briefly introduced to Bill Szymczyk, who produced Brian's latest record, as well as the Eagles' "Hotel California," among a host of other huge titles. I have never actually listened to the Eagles, and know nothing about them, but it was cool to meet such an influential figure.
I am currently hammering out the last details of a new song called "Somehow We Broke," which is also on piano. Starting to feel like I'm getting close to enough material for a full-length. Three or four more solid songs, and I'll be ready to start polishing up some demos and looking for a studio.
PJB gave me John Cage's book, "Silence," which I am really interested in and encouraged by. It puts words to a lot of ideas I'd been trying to express.
Ribbons has a whole list of new songs for a new record:
Baby Put Your Perfume On
I Can Hear It In My Sleep
The Corners of My Love
Somehow We Broke
Sit Up! And Talk About It
Hair Is Growing Everywhere
I also have several older ones that I'm hoping to record and release: The Rain Follows You, The Hermaphrodite, Purple Camaro, You Tiger You Bear, etc. Also on the list: a cover of an Our Man In Havana song called "Strange Devotions," written by Colin Post.
I hope to post demos of these songs at some point, and I hope to have several thousand dollars at some point to record all these songs in the proper studio style.
Wrote "You've Got Me Sick" on Memorial Day weekend after the melody came to me in Oak Park, Illinois, while I was taking a shower in the Hidalgo basement. I kept re-writing the lyrics, and I ended up taking out the original cancer reference, keeping the focus more on general themes like "love-frustration" and passion. The demo sounds really nice, with a splashy stop-start piano part, and some understated nylon-string guitar runs.
Jes Kramer came over and added some harmonies on several songs last week. Shivery.
My wife and I are seeking a divorce, which is leading me to be a more sober person. I'm moving to a new apartment, so there will be no more hosting house shows or practicing the piano at home. I hope to record these new songs the right way at some point, but it may be a long time...
I have to focus on seeing my therapist and being a good dad to my daughter.
Living alone has brought more quiet time for reflection and recording. While recording gift-songs for friends and friends' new babies, I accidentally wrote a summer jam entitled "The Clouds Look Close Enough to Touch" which I have been obsessed with for the last two weeks. My daughter is obsessed with singing "Hot-dog, hot-dog, hot-diggety-dog!" which I've also recorded this month. It's a real jam as well.
Working on a new piece called "Trouble with a Capital T." I've got the chorus, but where are the verses? Also realized today that I can count Keith Green, the evangelical-Jesus-People-USA-1970s songwriter as an influence. The guy's songs are in my blood after hearing them so much when I was a baby, toddler, kid, teenager. An hour on YouTube watching him sing reveals this intimate bond we share. The band has been taking shape. Joleen pulled a Toccata Crumar out of her attic for our last practice, and what a peach that little organ is! Sam's been nuzzling his basslines into the sweet spot, and we've even arranged a song as a group. I'm still hoping to find a percussionist, particularly a tambourine-player, and to record the album this winter. We shall see.
Kaitlin D. found her way into our hearts, and has been singing with us and banging a tambourine. Chad Vickery borrowed an electric guitar to play with us. We all started singing more. Anathallo asked us to play some shows with them on their tour. Some of our songs were featured in the film, "Carter." I wrote a new song for PJB called, "Your White Hand." I've been recording the guitar parts for the new record and feeling excited about our arrangements...
We went to Canada with Anathallo as a four-piece, and had a lovely time! We stayed with Cotton Lilly friends in Detroit, with our new friend Steve Brown in Toronto, and with Shi-lyn and Amilcar in Montreal. We ate funny food and froze our butts off. We wasted a lot of gasoline getting lost. We made a music video for Wilderness on Kaitlin's camera. We played a song from Disney's Robin Hood movie during our set in Montreal. We got paid at every show, and with all of our expenses, we made ten dollars for the whole tour! Hooray! We're in the black! Looking forward to getting into recording next...
We toured Make Your Own Records, a small recording studio in downtown Grand Rapids, and feel confident about preparing to record there with Dustin Anderson.
Turns out Dustin Anderson is a real gem. The guy pays the utmost attention to detail, has every microphone set up and placed properly BEFORE WE ARRIVE, and can shake a finger at us and make us even more professional and productive than we thought. We've got about 70% of the record tracked -- organ, guitars, bass, vocals, violin, drums. Still squeaking in more vocals, more drums, more lap steel and flute and horns. I am so thankful at this moment for my mentors and my teachers. The guy who taught me guitar chords in high school. It feels so good to make an album that is worth something. This one's going to be good. It just feels so right. I'm glad the stars aligned for once so we could get this on tape. We're taking June off, but there's more work to be done this summer!
June, July, and August have flown by. We went for bikerides and hung out at the parks and the beach. Dustin's finished initial mixing on four tracks from the new record. They sound sparkly and big. He's taking his time. We're taking our time. A lot of time is being taken. We're pretty close to deciding on an album title. We're auditioning drummers. We're rehearsing and booking fall shows. We've been arranging some new songs as a band, too! I've written a few new songs in the interim this summer, and they feel fun and fresh and vibrant:
Shards of Glass
Please Be Really Brave
I started writing from the perspective of this substance-abuser character I've brought to life in my creative mind. He surfaced in Payphone Blues and kind of stuck around. He shows up in Pillar of Salt, and then has a real hey-day in the limelight in some of these new ones. We'll see how he develops. He's a bit of a sap, and kind of shabby-but-lovable. He's not me, but I worry about turning into him.
The mixing of our new album, Pocket Dream, is FINISHED! Mastering is scheduled for February 17th. We've added Tim Broderick on drums, and just practiced with Josh Usadel on trombone. What a total jamfest! Kaitlin moved to the East side of the state, but she'll still be performing with us and we've already started rehearsing new harmonies for new songs... I turned the band into a good old LLC, and got us a band bank account. Perhaps we're going to become a business! I'm looking forward to a new leaf in songwriting, performing, recording, marketing, touring, and accounting. Not much touring, really, but some!