Friday, October 07, 2011

pictures collected

"a picture of an Uncle who died when he was young..."

i lied when i said
"no one died in 1978..."
my Uncle Richard did
i'll never forget the sound of my Mother's sobbing
after she hung up the phone in our kitchen
i've never heard anything like it since
Richard was a wonderful & interesting person
he played piano
loved classical music
was well-read
taught at Rice university
died of cancer when i was 11
when i wrote this song
i was almost the same age as he was when he took his last breath

"pictures collected" started out as a little ditty about only being able to see out of one eye
i've been practically blind in my left eye since i was a kid
i soon realized "one eye" was going to be dreadfully misinterpreted
so i scrapped all the words
and re-wrote them

"Gentlemen take Polaroids in leisure suits
soldiers snapping photos in their combat boots"

back in the '80s
my sister Miriam was a huge fan of the English band
i snuck the gentlemen take polaroids line in for her
did she ever catch that and get a laugh out of it?
i hope so...

the following was originally posted on 5/16/08, the day after Billy Harvey & i recorded "pictures collected"

Billy was on today
in spades
the guy is so in-tune with songs
it's almost freakish...

we tackled "pictures collected"
a bubbly little tune
about the way us humans collect memories
we both agreed that we wanted to steer it away
from Kinks terrain (sorry Ron!)
we tinkered with the structure and key for about an hour
once again
me with my back to the front door in the striped orange chair
Billy sitting on the brown velvety couch
something bothered him about the verse melody
it sounded like a harmony part to him
higher than the chorus melody and bridge
i'd never thought of that
that was just the way it came out when i wrote it
i never second guessed it
he suggested moving the key from A# to D
so that i could sing a lower vocal part on the verse
and once the chorus hit it wouldn't be an energy lag
he was right on
what he said made a lot of sense
it did to this song what the French revolution did to France
well except for no one was be-headed

he built a strange drum loop around
get this
slamming the front door shut
over and over again
then looping it
this was our "snare drum" sound
at first i gotta admit i saw no way that this song
was gonna work to the loop
it felt kinda lurching
and contrary to the rhythm i heard in my head
but i didn't despair
i trusted him
there's no reason on earth not too
he's a pro
as Drakoulias would say "pro looks and chops"
so i just relaxed and enjoyed the ride
we put down a bass part first based around this Day Tripperish riff i had
then Billy plugged his Hofner Galaxy in
this time through a Rangemaster pedal
and POW!
crazy cool tone
i'm serious
one of the coolest tones ever
sounded like a straight up '60s Vox cranked
all from this pedal
it was raise the hair on your forearms hair raising
and the part he played
even better
we were kinda coming at this tune even more backwards
than usual
it was challenging
at one point 3 hours in it still sounded like a complete mess
but by the time we wrapped
around 10:30
we had a pretty decent little groove happening
me plucking away on Billy's Rickenbacker bass
some swingin' acoustic guitar
and this weird loop that somehow worked
i'm a believer baby
and i was a believer coming into today
but now i'm really a believer!