The band celebrated their 21st anniversary with sold-out shows for the release of their 7th record, LOST IN THE CITY, at both Joe’s Pub in NYC and the deej in Washington DC. In NYC they were joined by special guest Antoine Silverman who played soaring gypsy fiddle on two of the songs, Walk Of Shame and I Don’t Regret. Rave reviews for the new record produced by Riley McMahon and also for the Joe’s Pub concert will be posted on the Press Page.
Paste Magazine has chosen to premiere HOBOKEN, the music video of the first song from the band’s forthcoming seventh record, LOST IN THE CITY.
Shot by Ehud Lazin in lower Manhattan, the camera follows young Spottiswoode as he strolls wistfully to the Hudson River and takes stock of his life.
Read the article and watch the video HERE.
I’m off to Copenhagen! Despite my Viking roots I’ve never been there before. Very exciting! Big thanks to Kim Holm Nielsen for making it happen.
I’ll play a top secret private concert in Copenhagen on Wednesday November 7th and then a double bill with Flemming Borby at Metronomen in Frederiksberg on Thursday November 8th. The show starts at 7:30pm and tickets can be found HERE.
The band's seventh record is due for release on iTunes on Tuesday November 27th.
LOST IN THE CITY is our most ambitious song cycle to date, a giddy brew of jazz, chanson, rock, blues and minimalism. The music reflects the raw energy and sophistication of the city the band has called home for the last two decades.
On Friday November 30th we celebrate the record's release and also our 21st anniversary at Joe's Pub in NYC. It will be our first show at the Public Theater since the release of English Dream in 2014. Doors are at 6pm, the show starts at 7pm. Find your tickets HERE. Alas, the hour-long set won't give us time to play all eighteen tracks from LOST IN THE CITY. So I'll just have to cut out the bad songs. Either that or no solos for Candace and Kevin.
The following night we head to Washington DC for a VIP backers party at the deej. Unless I'm impeached after the mid-terms.
More details and tickets on the GIGS page.
We made it!!
LOST IN THE CITY here we come!
Me and my Enemies are making our seventh record! It's our most ambitious to date. Eighteen tracks! On some songs we're joined by a string quartet, on others there's a beefed-up horn section, on others we're graced with stellar backing vocals from Martha Redbone and Alexis England. Quite a journey. And through all the hubris and heartache I'll be accompanied by my amazing IMA-winning band.
To learn how to help us build this crazy cathedral PLEASE VISIT OUR KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN HERE. The deadline is April 30th.
We need your Love! We promise to return it with interest.
Spott and the band
I wrote Night almost exactly twenty years ago. It felt quite sophisticated to me at the time and I was very proud of it. It’s a rare song in that I wrote the chords and the melody long before I wrote the lyric. I loved the way the tune sounded on guitar so I wanted the words to do it justice. But nothing I wrote seemed to fit. I gave up.
About a year later I woke up one morning shortly after dawn. I was living on the Upper West Side in a tiny studio apartment with a loft bed. I climbed down the ladder from the loft bed, picked up my guitar, played the familiar chords and wrote the lyric in a matter of minutes.
I’ve never written another song like it. It’s a tender song addressed to two women. The first verse is sung to the man’s mistress, the second verse to his wife/girlfriend. Basically it’s a love song sung by a man who has just been unfaithful.
A few weeks before I wrote the words I’d been to the Walter Reade Cinema to watch the Antonioni film, La Notte. The film, beautifully shot in black and white, stars Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau as a bourgeois married couple who end up at an all-night party thrown at an aristocrat’s mansion. Marcello wanders alone through the mansion and finds a ravishing woman - Monica Vitti - in an ornate billiard room. They flirt and soon kiss. Meanwhile Moreau rambles around looking anxious and sad. She steps past some partiers on the terrace and paces down a dewy lawn towards the woods. It’s now dawn. Marcello sees her and runs after her. Just a few minutes before he’d been kissing another woman but now he clutches his wife as if his life depended on it. But she’s somewhere very far away. In the final frame Marcello smothers Moreau on the lawn like a desperate baby clinging to its tragic mother.
Somehow, this last image stunned me. I no longer cared that I’d been bored for much of the first hour and a half. It had all been a slow-burning dream leading to this haunting revelation. I can’t really explain what that revelation is. I just got it. I fear I have more in common with Italian men than I like to think.
If none of this makes sense, please see the film. If you still don’t get it, watch L’Aventura, another Antonioni film which ends similarly and which hit me just as deeply. Okay, you may not get it after that. And this song may not be for you.
I wasn’t thinking about the film at all when I wrote the song. The connection only dawned on me once I finished it. It offered up the song’s title.
Recorded, produced and mixed by Riley McMahon at the original New Warsaw Studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for Spottiswoode & McMahon’s S&M. Treated and mastered by Ennio Galliani in his laboratory on East 7th Street. Featuring Candace DeBartolo on saxophone, Tim Vaill on drums, Riley McMahon on lap steel, Hiroko Taguchi and Mary Wooten on strings, Paul Ossola on bass, and me on Spanish guitar and vocals.
I don’t like the way I sing this song. Given the way it’s voiced on the guitar there’s only one key that’s right: A minor. But that’s a little too high for my voice or too low. In the French version I sing it an octave lower, but what might sound cool in French can sound ridiculous in English. Music is hard.
About a dozen years ago I received an e-mail from a woman I didn’t know called Olga. I can’t remember much about it except she wrote to say how much she liked UGLY LOVE, my first solo record (produced by Peter Fox). Perhaps she’d heard the song Little Girls and Little Boys in TART - a film starring Dominique Swain that was still playing on cable at the time.
I don’t get a lot of fan mail.
I sent Olga a message thanking her for the compliments. She responded by volunteering her boyfriend to shoot a music video for me. Turns out Olga lived in LA and her boyfriend, Mike, was an aspiring director. I was skeptical.
Riley and I were just finishing S&M at the time so I suggested Mike send me a treatment for NIGHT. It seemed the most cinematic of the collection. To my surprise, Mike’s treatment was very good. He also promised to shoot the whole thing on film (loose ends from reels used on commercial shoots) and to supply a top rate LA crew (all colleagues of his willing to do him a favor). My only expense would be to get myself from New York to LA…
A few months later I land at LAX, pick up a rental car and drive to Laurel Canyon where I crash at my old producer pal Peter Fox’s pad in the balmy Hollywood Hills. The next day I follow directions to a parking lot outside an industrial building in downtown LA. I remember feeling tired and self-conscious. I wouldn’t know a soul at the shoot. Still, I was going to be the star. Worse, I’d be playing the role of… well, what? The character in the song. Me, but not me. It’s one thing to sing a tune, another to embody it on camera. Once again I was confronted with a deep ambivalence about performing. I prefer to think of myself as a writer. Okay, I’d played the song at gigs on guitar and I’d recorded a version. I’d even suggested a video get made with me in it. But why? My music career? Art? Where was Mastroianni when I needed him?
I feel like such an impostor that I immediately lock my keys in the rental car. I’ve never done such a thing before or since. I suppose the timing’s good. If you’re going to be so idiotic then do it when you’re the star and there are plenty of production assistants on hand to solve the problem while you’re getting into make-up. Still, I’m clammy with embarrassment as I introduce myself to the young production manager with a request for help.
“Oh, by the way, I’m him.”
Is that a look of utter disappointment on the poor dear’s face? Or wasn’t she told my name? She tells me not to worry about the car and points me towards the set, a whole storey of an abandoned department store. I’m in awe. It’s a hive of activity - lights, big camera, a fake bedroom, actors getting into make-up, gaffers sticking electrical tape to the concrete floor, an audio guy with earmuff headphones checking levels for playback so that I can lip-sync when I need to, the DP and the young director himself checking the video assist monitor, other productive-looking folks grazing at the craft service table. I want to run away.
Allow me to self-flagellate for a second. This should be a moment to celebrate, the fruit of many year’s labor. “Los Angeles, Here I Am!!!” But I just feel awkward.
Everybody’s perfectly nice and professional. I’m soon in make-up and pyjamas lip-syncing words to a Germanic-looking actress lying next to me in bed. How much is she being paid I wonder? Or did she think this would be her big break? Pretty soon I’m going to have to fake-make out with her with my shirt off in front of a lot of strangers. I’ve watched interviews with famous actors saying how uncomfortable such scenes can be but at least they would have already had some experience in front of a camera! And they weren’t playing themselves either. This is going to be flat-out embarrassing.
When we get to the dreaded scene I do the right thing and keep it fake while obeying the director’s instructions to caress her in such and such a way. It’s never not strange for me to watch. Apologies apologies. Moving on…
They’ve got a bloody rain machine! I’m now outside in PJs and slippers running towards a fire escape beneath an artificial deluge. And now it’s evening and I’m still in pyjamas sitting in a taxi with none other than the handsome Peter Fox at the wheel. He’s been drafted in to play what should have been Riley’s role (but that would have been an extra plane ticket.) These guys know what they’re doing. Seriously.
But I haven’t said anything about the video itself. What I appreciated about Mike Goode’s treatment was that he subverted the song in a surprisingly tender way. It’s no longer the story of a man running home from his mistress to his wife. It’s the story of an old man’s dream. Far more poetic and haunting.
Final thanks go to the editor, Andrew Blackwell. To this day I don’t understand Mike’s motives for making the video. He went to so much trouble and expense but he never got around to assembling the footage. About half a year later I asked if he could send the footage to me. I passed it all on to Andrew. Nice job.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Here's the next in my series of recording reminiscences...
The compliment I like receiving most is that my music is honest. I like to think this honesty is a kind of articulated ambivalence, a recognition that we can feel many conflicting emotions at the same time, that things keep changing. But the chorus of TILL MY DYING DAY (see video HERE) doesn’t seem to jive with that philosophy:
If I’m ever gonna love you
Then you know I’m gonna love you
Till my dying day
Okay, there is a conditional there. The singer may be hedging his bets, but it doesn’t sound like it to me in the context of the song. Or am I just remembering what the lyrics were originally? When I first wrote the song the chorus was:
I’m never gonna love you
You know I’m gonna love you
Till my dying day
Truly. I had to be cryptic. I couldn’t bring myself to make a promise for a lifetime. Even in a song. Even though so many of my favorite songs by other artists do make such promises. It’s one thing to hear it from someone else, another to write it. Perhaps I should dwell longer on this point since it’s probably the most interesting cul de sac of this particular blog post but I’ll keep moving forward.
After several years of singing the awkward original chorus I began singing the song as it is on this recording from English Dream.
It just felt right.
I saw you there
In London town
Red to brown
As the sun went down
You’re an old lady
You’re a little girl
Caught you smiling
A string of pearls
As the sun went down
If I’m ever gonna love you
Then you know I’m gonna love you
Till my dying day
Someone on the radio
Is calling your name
You’re under the ground
On a Bakerloo train
Quarter to five
I bought me a ticket
My team wasn’t winning
I thought of you
As the sun went down
If I’m ever gonna love you
Then you know I’m gonna love you
Till my dying day
There are rock songs with classic arrangements that can sound just as good stripped down to the minimum. This is the opposite. The song is nothing! It may sound like a perfectly respectable singer-songwriter number to be sung in the background at an acoustic cafe but it’s too slight even for that. It’s ALL ABOUT THE TEXTURE - the echo of the guitars, the sustain of John Young’s bass, the plinkety plink of Tony’s right hand on the piano, the plate reverb on the vocals and, most of all, Tim Vaill’s brushwork. Add Candace & Kevin’s weaving horns at the end plus Riley McMahon’s sumptuous mix and voila: one of my favorite Enemies recordings.
So much so that it’s the opening track on ENGLISH DREAM. And an easy choice at that. We could easily have cut the intro down by a third but the vocal is exponentially more effective when it enters on the 25th bar rather than the 17th. Yes, I’m counting.
Once again we didn’t use the footage shot of the band at St. John’s Lutheran Church. As with Clear Your Mind we had dressed in 40s clothes and we (as in the royal WEE) looked ridiculous. And once again the archive British Council footage that Clare Elliott had edited for the background projection was simply too good.
Luckily, Clare had also shot some video of the band recording the basic tracks at the Bunker Studio. So we very occasionally dissolve in and out of the black and out world like colorful ghosts. There wasn’t any footage of Kevin from the Bunker session because the horns overdubbed their parts later but, if you pay close attention, you’ll see him make a brief appearance near the end in a waistcoat and with his hair slicked back - the only remnant of the St. John’s footage for this song.
Still, the stars of the video are two British actors from the 1940s. Who are they? They’re not even credited in the archive footage. They are now ghosts as well. They both starred in a short 1944 propaganda film called London Terminus. It’s about a postal worker taking a woman for an evening date in the wartime capital.
We’re so used to postmodern appropriation that we no longer question the morality of using people’s images for our own purposes. Legally, there’s no problem - the film is public domain and the British Council granted us permission. But is it right to slap my song on top of their faces and share it with the world? The question is already old-fashioned.
It was only recently I realized how much the video reminds me of my mother and father. They also met in London in the 1940s, just a few years after the war. My father had dark curly hair. My mother was a glamorous American. They got married at St. Martin-In-The-Fields Church off Trafalgar Square in 1950. The marriage lasted 64 years until my father’s dying day in February 2014.
This is my Valentine to them. I love you, Mum and Dad.
As we slowly gear up to release our seventh studio album I’ve started suffering from nostalgia. So I’ve decided to post some of the band’s previous recordings and videos. I’ve even made some jottings. I begin with one of our least typical songs, an upbeat ditty from English Dream called Clear Your Mind. See it HERE.
I was in Catskill NY at Old Soul Studios in early 2010 finishing off Piano 45 with the indefatigable Kenny Siegal. Kenny has a treasure trove of musical instruments in his haunted house in that spooky old town - melotrons, hammond organs, you name it - but I was drawn to a small acoustic guitar. It had a remarkably shimmery sound. Turns out it was in Nashville tuning, a tuning I was unfamiliar with till then. Nashville tuning is just like regular tuning except a few of the strings are an octave higher than usual. So you play it as normal but it sounds weird and wonderful. The closest comparison is to a twelve string guitar which also shimmers with higher octave strings. However, the six string Nashville tuning variant has a much more delicate sound. Easier on the fingers too.
So, there I am strumming the most simple chords. There’s no reason to play anything more sophisticated. A basic C major already sounds so beautiful. To match the chiminess of the guitar I start to sing in falsetto. Pretty soon I mouth the following:
Spend your life aiming for the sun
Take your time you’ve only just begun
Speak your heart and open up your mind
Lose yourself and maybe you will find
Peace and Love at the bottom of the deck
A golden sword buried with the wreck
Even now your spirit is alive
Feel it grow the deeper that you dive
Clear your mind of rain
Clear your mind of rain
Clear your mind of rain
Yes, I know. Very yoga. Not exactly Nick Cave or Tom Waits. Oh well. The song wrote itself. Or maybe it was Kenny’s guitar.
The band had performed the tune a couple of times before we went into the recording studio but it was only once we were in pre-production at Riley McMahon’s New Warsaw Studio laboratory that I played it as originally written - with a guitar in Nashville tuning. Except this time the guitar was also a Fender Strat drenched in reverb. Immediately Riley turned to me and said “I think we’ve just found the sound of the record!” He was right. Almost half the songs on English Dream are played with a my echo-y Strat tuned this way.
The band arrangement came together quickly - John Young and Tim Vaill providing rhythmic propulsion, Riley his trademark arpeggiation and Tony Lauria his florid Liberawnchy melodicism. The biggest difficulty was deciding how to sing it. I had used falsetto when I wrote the tune and it had felt essential to the song’s gentle message. But now we had a jangly rock anthem. The falsetto felt too light in context.
Fortunately, some songs benefit more than others from a studio recording. We layered the vocals. I sang the main melody with both a falsetto and a full-throated approach multiple times and we then mixed the tracks together. Likewise for the harmonies. Kevin Cordt added additional harmony tracks as well. The combination of so many high vocal tracks and a jangly electric guitar? The closest to a Byrds sound I’ve ever recorded. With a bit of Mumford thrown in for the kiddies.
But The Byrds didn’t use trumpets. Kevin played the melody for the instrumental section and then laid down his own harmony. One of my regrets about the English Dream record in general and the videos in particular is that Candace DeBartolo had a bad knee injury during that period and therefore didn’t play on a few of the songs and also had to miss the shoot entirely. But with this song I confess I like the pomp of two trumpets in harmony on the track instead of the band’s signature trumpet and sax combination.
So yes, I’m happy with the recording. But for similar reasons I don’t very much enjoy playing the song live which may explain...
All the songs on English Dream have two accompanying videos except for this one.
I asked Clare Elliott to edit together 1940s archive footage made available by the British Council to match the mood and narrative of each song. The original idea was to project the edited footage onto the band during our album release tour. But that seemed like a lot of work for only a handful of shows. Many of the clubs we played didn’t even have the projection capability. So we organized a separate video shoot at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Greenwich Village in advance of the release.
The band dressed in one of several different period costumes for each song. For Clear Your Mind we went 40s. As with all the other songs, we played our instruments and performed in front of an enormous screen with Clare’s edited footage projected onto it. The only problem was that we looked silly. More to the point, I looked silly. I don’t like watching myself at the best of times but I looked particularly ridiculous earnestly singing these lyrics with my hair greased back. Believe me.
And Clare’s assembly of the black and white British Council footage is so lovely. So, while the other songs have video versions with and without the band, for Clear Your Mind there is only a without. The films were generated as PR to celebrate the British way of life during tumultuous times. Some retro and sometimes surreal eye candy to go with a sweet little song.
About to fly back to New York not only for a Halloween Spectacular with my terrifying Enemies but also to master our next top secret record. The songs have been mixed, polished and edited in Riley McMahon's New Warsaw Studio in East Williamsburg.
Making a record is like giving birth... or maybe it isn't. It takes longer for a start and I'm still waiting for the epidural. The sound of that wailing in the distance? Early onset tinnitus? No, it's me screaming very loudly. Ah, but when it's finally finally finished it will all have been worth it.
I'll only be in New York for ten days. Then back to London for a schizophrenic change of scene: a singer-songwriter set at The Green Note on December 10th. If I'm lucky I'll have a few new piano songs under my fingers by then. Dear Joy opens. She's a wonderful Thai-Danish songwriter who sings much too beautifully. She's even agreed to sing one of my ditties. Very happy about that.
I'm hoping to redeem myself after a recent tragic set at The Salon Noir in Soho. Someone requested Humpty Dumpty but I played my noir classic Walk Of Shame instead. The same member of the audience then stormed across the stage in a fit of boredom.
Moral: NEVER INVITE YOUR 2-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER TO A GIG AND EXPECT TO TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY.
The title track of my recent solo record BLAZE OF GLORY has just won two awards in a row. First it won the Mark Award in Los Angeles for Best Underscore In a Television Show. And then it won the Production Music Award in London in the same category. The whole song was used beautifully in an episode of the DirecTV mixed martial arts drama, Kingdom. You can watch the entire clip HERE.
Many thanks to Thomas and Gregoire Kouzinier at the French label Super Pitch for commissioning the album. Thanks also to Riley McMahon, producer extraordinaire at New Warsaw Studio in Brooklyn. And further thanks to Carol Sue Baker at Ocean Park Music for pitching the song for the show.
There's a lot happening this Autumn.
On November 4th the lovely feature film A Street Cat Named Bob will be released in the UK. Two weeks after that, on November 18th, the film will be released in the US. Two of my songs are in the film. Indeed, one of my songs, Beautiful Monday, opens the picture. The second song, Still Small Voice Inside, turns into a bit of a singalong halfway through the story.
The film's star, Luke Treadaway, plays a drug-addicted London busker who ultimately gets "rescued" by a stray cat. He performs both songs along with a few by Charlie Fink of Noah and The Whale. The story is based on the international best-selling memoir by James Bowen.
How did the songs end up in the film?
Funny you should ask. Since the director's name is Roger Spottiswoode it may seem like an obvious case of nepotism. But we're not related. Roger - who has directed everything from James Bond to Tom Hanks and Sylvester Stallone movies - happened to read a couple of scripts of mine during the summer of 2015. At the time he was in the middle of pre-production for A Street Cat Named Bob. He contacted me and asked if I might have a few songs...
To celebrate the New York release, the band will play its only show of the season at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan on Saturday, November 19th.
After five scintillating East Coast spring shows with my Enemies I've retreated to Europe. Next plan: invade Germany. Playing three gigs this July, two in Berlin and one in Hildesheim. Accomplices? Matti Muller, German gypsy gentleman guitarist; Jonny Gee, lunatic Anglo bassist; Angie Stricker, beauteous Berlin siren. A debut for the quartet. Makes me very curious. Particularly regarding backing vocal harmony textures. Matti and Jonny did an excellent job in London last Christmas. Who knows what the added dimension of Ms. Stricker's steely tones will bring. A German Emmylou Harris perchance? All to be discovered soon. Check the shows page for details...
I'll be playing a show just before Christmas in my old home town at the fab and beautiful club voted Best Music Venue in London in this year's Time Out.
The Green Note
Thursday, December 17th
Doors 7pm / Show (two sets) at 8:30pm
Advance tickets here
The performance at The Green Note will be my London debut and also my first as a father!
I'll be backed up by two virtuoso friends. Matti Müller (gypsy guitar) comes all the way from Hildesheim, Germany. Jonny Gee (double bass) rolls down the hill from Archway, We promise an ecstatically mixed bag of folk, Americana, cabaret and neo-gospel songs touching liberally on themes of family and disfunction. We might even play the non-traditional singalong that I've performed many times at Christmas shows in New York with my Enemies. (Check this out for a practice.)
If you can't make it tell a London friend. And apologies in advance if there's a baby screaming several rows behind.
ENGLISH DREAM, the band's 6th record, has been nominated for an Independent Music Award. Category: Best Adult Alternative Album of 2014. Judges this year included Suzanne Vega, Michelle Ndegeocello and Amanda Palmer.
It's the band's third nomination and Spottiswoode's sixth. In 2012 the band's ballad Chariot won the IMA for Best Adult Contemporary Song. That year the band's fifth record, Wild Goosechase Expedition, also won the Vox Populi Award for Best Eclectic Album of the year.
To vote for the band in this year's Vox Populi Awards PLEASE go to the link here and make it happen. Thank you!
Congratulations to the whole band and particularly to Riley McMahon, our guitarist and producer.
I'm a wee bit chuffed about this. A song I wrote a while back will be the closing track of the closing episode of the new Netflix series, BLOODLINE, starring Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Chloe Sevigny and Sam Shepard.
I first blurted out ALL IN THE PAST in my old East Village apartment in about 2007. To this day I can't tell if it's bitter or righteous. "I was young not so long ago but that was then and you'll never know…" I took it to the band and it turned into even more of a rocker than I imagined.
A few years later we recorded it at Old Soul Studios and it became the fourth track of WILD GOOSECHASE EXPEDITION, our Independent Music Award-winning 2011 album produced by the incomparable Kenny Siegal and mixed by the sonically ingenious Tom Schick.
The band still plays the tune. In fact, it's one of the most liberating ditties in the repertoire for me to sing. I can't really explain why. I just still connect to it.
A couple of months ago Mark Wike, the BLOODLINE music supervisor, approached our LA rep Carol Sue Baker, and asked if she could find him "a dark song sung by an older dude about not being able to escape the past." Carol Sue kindly thought of me and supplied him with a few of my songs.
Completely coincidentally, one of the writers on the series is the remarkable novelist, Arthur Phillips. Arthur, a big fan of the band, had separately approached the show's producers recommending they use an Enemies track - thanks, Arthur! - but apparently by the time they were syncing the final episode they had completely forgotten his suggestion.
BLOODLINE will be released by Netflix in its entirety on Friday, March 20th. All thirteen episodes. And we're at the very end. A good excuse to binge-watch.
A brand new collection of some of my solo Americana songs has just been released on iTunes by the French soundtrack label, Super Pitch. Yes, you read that right. An Englishman makes an Americana album for a French label.
BLAZE OF GLORY is a set of ten songs produced by none other than Enemies guitarist, Riley McMahon, and commissioned and curated by future Parisian media moguls, Gregoire and ThomasCouzinier.
Primarily acoustic and full of harmonies, this is not your typical Spottiswoode record. Still, it runs through a classic jumble of emotions: heartbreak, insanity, even some uncharacteristic moments of optimism.
Many of the songs are old ditties I'd hidden away in the basement. A couple, like my personal favorite So Much To Do, I only wrote a few weeks before tracking. There's also a country duet. The extraordinary chanteuse and former Enemies backing vocalist, Jennifer Middaugh, upstages me shamelessly on Off The Merry-Go-Round and then contrives to sing the closing track on her own.
How did I let this happen? I was following orders. In fact, I barely had to make any decisions at all. Bliss.
Plus it's always fun working with Riley. We tracked one song a day. I laid down acoustic guitar and layers of vocals and then watched Riley play everything else: banjo, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, lap steel, glockenspiel, piano, drums, whatever a track required.
Thanks to Gregoire and Thomas of Super Pitch for commissioning these songs and sending them out into the universe. Their primary goal is to find placements in film and television and they've already had success. The title track was recently featured in a French television commercial for the charity, Fondation de France.
Insanity, insanity, insanity. A trek through the vineyards of upstate New York to balmy Cleveland, Ohio where we share a basement dressing room at The Beachland with a zoftig burlesque troop and later serenade Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze without knowing he's there till he introduces himself afterwards. Fall foliage twinkles and flutters and wishes us bon voyage. Columbus, Chicago, Milwaukee do the same. A blur of sets. Violently committing to songs whether the audience is enraptured, texting or simply absent. Invading the homes of friends and strangers and relying on my Enemies to charm them as I sleep and sniffle. Wonderful hosts everywhere! Angels, we call them. Angels! And somehow we have slalomed through the sun-addled cornfields to Minneapolis. A game of croquet with my brother and two of my nephews? How did that happen? No, we're in Dubuque Iowa wowing the sound man. Yes, sound men like us. And now a new motto: Not as bad as Des Moines. Not one I recommend for Presidential hopefuls.
A brief respite and then a daring foray south of the Mason Dixon Line. Still too exhausted to remember any of it. A show without our bass player in Ashland Virginia earns a standing ovation. Another ovation in Charlotte with Mr. Young back in the fold. They would have ovated in Atlanta as well but there weren't enough people to do such a thing. But the fabulous sound guy raved, yes he did. Did I mention sound guys fancy us? Birmingham Alabama, thank you for nurturing our remarkable host Charles Essington Walton IV. Oh yes, we played a show too to a wonderful crowd, but who cares about the music really? That was written a long time ago. It's the meetings with remarkable men, the diamonds in the thicket, the random celestial collisions. And how did we contrive to get to Augusta, Georgia after James Brown left the building? Turns out his soul had migrated just a few hundred miles away and possessed the undimmable Danielle Howle. Two historic sets with the Duchess of South Carolina, one in Columbia, the other in Charleston. Sandwiched between these two inexplicable events an encounter with a goat while on stage in Awendaw Green. Not as complimentary as I would have liked her to be but at least she didn't spend the song staring at her smart phone. Hello again, North Carolina. Goodbye again. A frozen night in Virginia, then swallowed up in the mid-November glow of the nation's capital. Friendly faces, raucous crowd, reinforcements from the Union in the shape of General McMahon and our bugler, Corporal Cordt. Turns out the English Dream never really materialized. The Wild Goosechase Expedition continues...
Here I am in sunny London having my nineteenth nervous breakdown, wondering what the future holds. Looking forward to some shows with Matti Muller and Angi Stricker in Germany this September and then some tours with my Enemies in the States during the autumn. After that? Well, I suppose that's plenty to think about for the time being.
There's also this strange collection of basement "Americana" songs that a French soundtrack label will be releasing very soon. It's called BLAZE OF GLORY. Nine of my songs, each produced in one day by the genius Riley McMahon. I don't have much idea about what the label, Super Pitch, wants to do with the collection. They have complete control. I'm honestly very happy about that. Don't let the monkey think too much.
What else? I've just completed the 8th draft of a thriller that has occupied me off an on for a few years. How many more drafts? Of all my deluded ambitions, being a novelist was never one of them. A New York agent put paid to that and craftily lured me into this most recent humiliation.
One of the blessings of trying to write: it's a good excuse to read. Have been on a David Mitchell binge recently. Someone who can write a sentence AND tell a story. It's so easy for him he makes things more complicated than perhaps they should be, but a master gets aways with it. I thought writing a novel might be easy. Like writing a long song. Hmm.
So, basically I'm floundering about with a wonky rudder, taking on water and not sure which way to steer. Perhaps one day we'll crash into each other?
Love from the Thames,