Thanks to my good friend, Josh Kaplan, Blue Sky Riders now have their first "time-line video" of the writing of a song, in this case "Already Sayin' Goodbye."
It's a fascinating thing to watch how three highly opinionated songwriters navigate the tricky waters of collaboration, and I have to say it's been rather smooth going so far. When I watch this video it still amazes me to see just how aesthetically in sync the three of us are. We all seem to know when we have a big fish on the line, or at least one that isn't stinkin' to high heaven. And even subtle word or melodic changes shift in and out of the process with nary a ripple in the waters.
This has not always been my collaborative experience, by any means, so I thank my lucky stars. Collaboration can be a mine-field, and all too often the final product turns out to be a series of unfortunate compromises that equals much less than any of the individuals could have done alone. But as you can see from this "Josh Kaplan Joint," that is hardly the case here.
The original verse melody goes back to a tune I made up almost 21 years ago, when Julia and I were first dating. Sometime in 1990, we met an amazing "transformational" painter named Susan Sedon Boulet, and I commissioned her to do a painting of the two of us, as she might imagine our inner "power animals" to be, within the scope of her incredibly unique style.
Ms. Boulet had become well-known for her interpretations of the Native American Shaman, and her style was to show a glimpse of what "inner power" she imagined that individual held, using the metaphor of certain animals from that culture, almost invisibly appearing within the forms of the primary subject.
What I found most interesting about Susan Boulet was that she was a rather proper English woman, and confessed to me she had never studied Native American culture or art. All her work came from dreams and visions! And yet, she had become the preeminant interpreter of what seemed to be an almost ancient-style of "American art."
Of course I was fascinated, and very curious to see how she would interpret Julia's and my connection. The primary "power animal" that she painted to represent Julia was a deer, emerging from behind her, as if an accompanying spirit (No, Gary, my "power animal" was not a gerbil)
As I recall, she painted mine as two animals, both an eagle and a wolf, but then again, I was holding the checkbook, so who really knows, eh? But from that experience came my nick name for Julia so long ago, "Wind-Deer Woman," and thus the first line of this now 20-year-later song was formed.
To me now, looking back, the most fascinating thing about this song was that as the melody emerged, in my imagination I clearly saw her standing at the bow of a ship, looking out to sea, running away from our relationship, but seemingly not too sure exactly why she was. I "saw" her as sad, confused, and moving into a very unsure future, totally alone. Bizarre how a song can be so prophetic! I confess, as much as I loved the melody, I couldn't wrap my head around the emotion of the lyric way back then, and I put it on a shelf, sort of tucked away as "a cool melody that got away." I honestly didn't believe it would ever see the light of day again.
But when Georgia, Gary and I sat down to write again at my house in SB, that melody suddenly jumped out at me after all these years; and you can see in the video how quickly Gary grabbed a-hold of it and almost effortlessly wrote the chorus melody right on the spot. It was amazing to feel it finally happening, and even more amazing for me to watch it come down on the home video.
So I thought it would be fun for you to see this process from soup to nuts:
1) The time-line video:
2) A piece of the demo we made as we were writing the song
3) The first demo we made of it, now called "Already Sayin' Goodbye," at the engineer, Nathaniel Kunkel's home -- just the three of us on his couch with a single mic.
4) A much more filled in demo I started in Ojai with Jason Mariani, and filled in later by Gary and Georgia in Nashville.
Now, I just want to take a second here to warn you all about a common "disease" in our business called "Demo-it is." That is the trap of getting so used to the way the demo goes and sounds, it becomes difficult to let the Master version (our final recorded version) "in," to become the one that defines your writers' vision of the finished song. Ironically, the danger of our sharing each step of our creative process with all you eavesdroppers, is the potential for you catching a bad case of demo-itis. That's why I love this time-line thing we've got here. This way you can see how the song evolves into a finished product, one step at a time, a view of the process you may not have had till now. So there ya go ... be careful... keep an open mind ... and know that everything you hear on this website is likely to change.
This is a fantastic period of growth, and I'm really glad you finally get to come along for the ride.
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