September 22, 2010

I feel far away here in Tennessee.

I guess coming from me it’s a strange statement. I’ve been far away ever since I left Vancouver… even in Vancouver I was faraway from where I am from…

But I always feel more far away in the east than I do West of the continental divide. I now know that for a fact. But here, to me, it is an alien world. You got the same stores, corporate businesses, cars, etc. but it’s so alien. Don’t get me wrong, there are loads of cool things about the place. Mainly the people are so very warm and friendly but I don’t feel like I am anywhere near something that resembles home.

Each night when I see the sun set on the horizon in the orange hues, birds and crickets and cows and dogs create a soundtrack which is very serene. (the studio is in the country) But I get seized by these thoughts about how far the coast is from where I stand. As the sun sets, a slight panic hits me, I long for the coast, the ocean, the end of the world on that West coast and feel utterly lost for a brief moment..

sunset in Tennessee, west over yonder

1.I find comfort in the junction of earth and waves. Knowing that the end of the continent is right there. There is an end, a start, a space with the idea of infinity, a sense of the ocean’s mystery and unknown depths. A place where the land ends a space that humans stop occupying. No fences. All space. A beautifully defined line, no confusion.


Well, in truth, Gallatin. North of Nashville. A studio built in the middle of farmland. Hence the cows, crickets, tractors and hounds barking in the distance.

Many women are pretty in a Dolly sort of way, the cars are big and everywhere. The men are manly and with an air of Malrboromanness about them. The innumerable churches and Wall Mart seem to be in the heart of it all.

Yesterday I bought an air mattress in said Wall Mart, cost : $11.99 for a 6.2 feet tall rubber thingy. As we walked towards the cashier we passed the pet section, I looked for fun to see how much it cost for a “pet beds” which are basically some fabric and foam sewn together. Price : $40.99. Hmmm… Interesting.

Yes an air mattress. The first night I slept on the floor and when I tried to repeat the second night, my body completely rebelled. I went on to the couch, but I woke up pretty mangled. So I went and got the air mattress. I slept much better last night. Surprisingly it’s really hot. I did not expect that. You touch the front door handle in the middle of the day and it’s just burning. California is hot but it does not cut your legs like the heat out here. I spent most of the days so far holed up in the control room of the studio as it is air conditioned.

I also bought a bottle of Shout! for my jacket… the white jacket that I wore for 14 thousand miles. this is the bottle of Shout! with the little brush thingy on it. I spent about an hour scrubbing the inside and I am glad to report that the fabric and now, once more be construed as white. That stuff works. I took pictures… but I won’t post them… for the faint of heart. Just tryin’ to be thoughtful here… Shout! works!

I then went to take a shower… there is no shower at the studio so it means driving to a fitness center to take the shower. Sleeping on the floor and having no shower seem to come as a pair…

The fitness center offers lots : pool, gym, squash, racket sports, sauna and a nutrition center… here are some photos of the products offered to athletes :

I was duly impressed.

So the music… yes, that is why I am here.

I had recorded the “bed tracks” ( live off the floor tracks with drums, bass and guitar that are to be added to by way of overdubs) and I had done a lot of electric guitar tracks. Since I am playing all the guitars I have to overdub (recording a new musical part over an existing music track or tracks) the different parts. All the playing done in California is proving very useful. Over the last month I have been using borrowed guitars of all types and styles just to play my songs. That helped me get my hands back in playing shape, rebuilding calluses, muscles, reflexes but also forcing me to adapt to all the different instruments to play around with a different sound and to create a new sound stage for my songs.

I walked in the studio on Saturday and my PRS guitar had not arrived yet, in there studio there was two acoustic guitars, two old sisters, a Gibson found in an attic and an old Yamaha. After listening to some of the tracks we decided that they needed acoustic guitars so I was ready to bring that on. Sometimes all is so perfect.

My guitar arrived on Monday. We were heading out when we saw the FEDEX truck approach, “here she comes” A lady driver pulled out the guitar case and the pedal case…

“you can grab that” She said because both cases are heavy

“Oh yeah” I replied thinking of how many times I had hauled, held, pulled, lifted and transported those things in my life.

“I called fedex and they said you’d be here around 7 PM” I said.

“Ha! These guys don’t know anything! Did you talk to an American?”


“On the phone, they get foreigners to answer the phones, they got a lot of complaints over that, you cain’t hear what they say”

“No, I got an automated system…”

“ah… Y’all have a good day”

“thank you”

I grabbed the guitar… the case is covered in various stickers, a way bill, bar codes. It’s heavy. I feel the black leather skin on the handle settle in the grip of my fingers. Oh my.

It is only later that night that I get to open the case. I feel this disconnected sort of place I go into when I know things will be emotional. As if I try to pretend that nothing will affect me.

they have arrived

I put the case down. The middle latch has almost been ripped off but the other two are covered in tape so they held on. The case has numerous new dents and nicks and much, much new dirt on it. I pull the tape off. The way bill, the stickers… I open it. There it is. I catch my breath. There it is.

Smaller than I remembered, the leather strap sits right there. I just look.


Back on the last day of May, back in the house, back in the basement, picking up the last pieces, packing up the last remnants of my belongings out of the house. The guitar was the last thing I put away. I just could not do it earlier, I had to keep it with me as long as possible.

I can smell and feel the air, the light. See the cot and the floor with stuff strewn around before they went either in the garbage, recycling bin or some bag or box. But mainly it’s the feeling in my heart. The emotional turmoil of abandoning this guitar, the physical exhaustion of a month where every minute was spent emptying a 3 storey house where I had lived 8 years of another life with someone who left me, where the dog had died and where I made this decision to just sell everything and go.

Tears run down my face. I love this instrument and the indifference I tried to maintain just melts down. A strange feeling of loneliness, eternity, time and space expanding and contracting. I put it on my lap and cry quietly.

It’s just stuff. I know it. It’s only worth what we decide to put in them. What we invest them with.

I opened the case with the pedals and the same thing happened : more pictures of this recent past that seem so damn far away, tears and the feelings tied to these little metal boxes, the meaning they had, the stories they tell me about me, about what I was doing. It’s as if they are all magic lanterns that you can extract stories out of.

Now I’ll have to carry those around, protect them, little anchors in the material world.

Back to the music, it took a couple of days to go through all the songs, 14 to start with, I’ve already dumped one deemed not ready and in need of restructuring so 13 now. So we listened through them all tweaking, assessing, evaluating, adding some quick acoustic guitar parts played on the “found” guitars, some electric parts. We found the perfect microphone, microphone set up and room for the vocals, the perfect set up for the acoustic guitar recording. Now we will dive deep into getting these songs done.

After going through all the songs I have my little schematic of what is needed on what song. Got 13 days before I fly back to California. 12 work days. In theory that means completing one song a day.

Deep breath.




6 Responses to “Zssswwwwooooosh…”

  1. Alan Says:

    “I long for the coast, the ocean, the end of the world on that West coast and feel utterly lost for a brief moment…..I find comfort in the junction of earth and waves. Knowing that the end of the continent is right there. There is an end, a start, a space with the idea of infinity, a sense of the ocean’s mystery and unknown depths. A place where the land ends a space that humans stop occupying. No fences. All space. A beautifully defined line, no confusion.”

    Actually, my sentiments exactly…this is a profound concept.

    Part of the reason I’m in Hollywood is Griffith Park (52 miles of hiking, trails, biggest urban park in the U.S.)….it’s at the very end of the Santa Monica mountain range.

    And Hollywood itself is mystifyingly unique in an energy sort of way. A business friend moved from here to Laguna Beach 2 weeks ago and is already feeling withdrawal symptoms….basically said you can feel the creative energy in Hollywood, it’s an in-the-air kinda thing.

    BTW, thanx to the (fun) distraction of your blog, I’m finally (after many years of knowing I should’ve done so sooner) getting mine together. And the same friend who moved to Laguna got on my case for not having one.

    Have fun over yonder !

    Quantum Leap Unlimited

    Onward, Upward

    • salonunidad Says:

      While I was looking for a funky photo of Danielle’s bike I hovered over your comment and read it….interesting and astute ….I have never been to Hollywood, California or Los Angeles….

      I think creative energy is a palpable thing, it defies words yet the presence of it is often unmistakable

      I relate to the Hummingbird, so one day soon when I get my credit card re-actived I would like to buy the Hummingbird magnet…

      Congrats on getting your blog going, endless fun and distraction awaits you….


  2. Madeleine Says:

    Je suis toujours remuée, boulversée,…tu as ce don d’accoler les mots aux émotions!
    Je t’aime,
    Mawie xxx

  3. steveslaughter Says:

    We are all taking a deep breath and leaping behind you, knowing the fear/excitement of the falling toward the water – and the relief in its coolness.

    (this IS cool)

  4. steveslaughter Says:

    The omen: Super Harvest Moon – you now have the UNIVERSE’S accompaniment to your music.

  5. John Doheny Says:

    It’s just stuff. I know it.

    Maybe this is different for guitar players, but I could never think of my horn as just ‘stuff.’

    12 work days. In theory that means completing one song a day.

    You should be able to do that. I just did seven of the eight tunes on the “Jasper” CD in one day. I know that’s a different kind of recording, but still…

    BTW, don’t expect much out of that Walmart air mattress, 12 days are about all those things are good for.

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