Winding down 2016
Sitting here today I recognize that the past 10 years have been damn good to me – despite some traumatic hiccups in the past three years. How have the past 10 years treated you? Lots of memories right? The good ones burn brighter than the bad. The latter tend to diminish to a dull pulse, never really going away… but at least softened from their blinding initial burst.
It’s weird to think of one’s self as a bad memory in the schemata of other individuals. Evidently Morrissey liked this idea. His brilliant (IMHO) song, The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get, refers to this lyrically: “I am now a central part of your mind’s landscape whether you care or do not” and, “I will creep into your thoughts like a bad debt”. Creepy indeed! I wouldn’t wish for this. I’d rather cause a smile on someone’s face rather than a pained grimace. Morrissey probably wouldn’t care about causing an incessant nagging memory - i think that's his point. You have to give it up for him; the man’s got panache ;-)
With that said, even good memories have the ability to be oddly sad. I guess this is what is meant by bittersweet. Those bittersweet memories die hard because they are a collision of diverse emotions. These emotions are tangled in and triggered by things we see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. This is part of how we compartmentalize memories in our brains and how (sometimes) they flash into our consciousness through some sort of sensory trigger. You all know what I’m talking about. A memory is triggered and for a split second we loose our selves as a movie, image, or concept flashes in our mind. This is what I think of our memories (at least in my limited experience). Those “checking out moments” are good fodder to write music – if nothing else... though obviously they remind us of things to do again and not to do again (in simplistic terms).
Today I’m releasing two more songs from my new album, Open Skies Exploding. One of them, Hard Dying Time, was initially recorded in the fall of 2012 during a free form recording session. I invited some friends over to Catapult Sound to see what would happen. This is one of those songs that simply “happened”. I remember the recording of it vividly. Jeremy Beck (a brilliant musical force) was sitting at the piano and started playing the verse chord pattern. We all fell into what you hear as the main section of this song. For the changes I called (mouthed) the changes on the fly. Everyone followed along; the song simply came together in that moment. When you listen to this song (from the moment the drums come in) you are hearing how the song was played in an inceptive moment by Paul Ramsey on drums, me on electric guitar, Ray Weston on bass, and Jeremy on piano. I think we did two takes (maybe just one, [I only have one recording of the performance]). We were all in the same room with bleed from each instrument permeating all the microphones. After the performance I immediately had Jacque Varsalona play acoustic guitar. I threw a capo on her guitar, showed her the chords, and she performed what you hear in one flawless take. This song quietly resided on my hard drive for three years before I took it out, looking for ideas for this album. Despite the time away from this recording I was blown away by the performance and knew I had to do something with it. I wrote the words and melodies, found the voice of the song, added the beginning section, and asked my friend Francis Dunnery to add a solo guitar… all the while not infringing on the initial feel of the song. I hope you like it. I think I tapped into something very pure. I know there are many triggers in this song that cause me to stare into memory.
The 2nd song, Dublin Rooftops (in no articular order), came about like many of my songs – in the moments between putting the kettle on and hearing the kettle whistle. I turn my phone recorder on and “get lost” in these moments. Like all my “phone recordings” it ended up in a playlist of ideas waiting for attention. Eventually I booked a session with Jim Hines to play drums, not sure what I was going to do. I brought over three ideas to this session; this was one of them. As soon as he played along to my acoustic guitar and vocal I knew I had a proper song. In the chorus sections are a gang of friends who sing the line “There’s a part where the rain came through the radio.” They are: Ray Weston of Echolyn, Leo Koperdraat of Fractal Mirror, and Kevin Wiggins (famous Snacks CEO). Thank you gentlemen. Thank you for singing a lyric that probably makes no sense to you and yet makes me weep with bittersweet memory.
Go check the songs out on my Bandcamp page. The album has grown to 4 songs now!
Fare thee well 2016-15. May our paths never cross again – other than in warm fleeting memory and the songs that echo it.
Brett William Kull ~ 31 December, 2016