Austin, Day Twelve
Monday is just beautiful. If summer days in Glasgow were like this I’d start believing in God. So thank fuck they’re damp and freezing because that would be a chore. Not to say deeply embarrassing.
There are some large chestnut type objects falling from the trees around here, somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball. They hit the tin roof of my bedroom with a wet thud and roll off sounding not unlike a squirrel beheading. I have yet to be hit by one. I calculate the odds as being fairly slim so will regard it as extraordinary good fortune should I be struck. Only then will I bother to find out what they are.
Monday and Tuesday are listening days, figuring out some edits and mutes and what remains to be overdubbed. Things sound good, things sound American and that is the desired outcome. I hear that warm low end you get from US studios that’s so impossible to reproduce in Europe. I suspect US voltage has a lot to do with it when you’re using so much vintage analogue gear but Mr. McC is a true master of that big fat sound. I realise how good the musicians are from this more relaxed perspective where I’m not listening with paranoid intensity to figure out what the hell they’re doing but just sitting back and enjoying the vibe. Making records is the weirdest thing. The mood you’re in when you listen to stuff is so critical to your evaluation. In the past I’ve spent days and days tracking vocals on one song and done comp after comp only to decide it’s all shit. Then later I’ll let it ride and the thing I hated ends up on the album and it sounds fine. After recording Revolver, Paul McCartney went on holiday with the tapes and decided it was all out of time and out of tune. I try to remember that. I try to make sure it’s all out of time and out of tune.
There’s another presidential debate tonight and after weeks of liberal hand-wringing over Obama’s limp performance in the first round, all eyes are on the president. They want him to be more aggressive, take the initiative, get negative. Me, I want him to do what he does. Keep looking and sounding reasonable and wait for Romney to blow it, which he will. It’s the Andy Murray strategy. Either that or just slowly cross the podium before the first question and slap him four times across both cheeks with a fine leather glove: “You. Suck. Satan’s. Cock.”
News from home reaches me that Scotland are losing to Belgium. This has the equivalent effect on me as hearing that a pensioner has been hit by a taxi in Middlesborough. A vague ache of mild disappointment in the inevitable.
The rain drips outside the bunker like melancholy. Texas is moist and moody. We beaver away within, bathing in the synthetic glow of a computer screen lost inside the madcap laboratory of sound.
21 Responses to “Austin, Day Twelve”
Oddly, I seemed to have escaped the ‘depression’ element of this double-edged sword. I had a big one between ’83/86 when I realised everything my parents taught me about ‘reality’ and life was a complete lie, and if so, what was the truth?
I threw myself out into the world to learn alternatives (I spent six years meandering through Europe and the Middle East), and only came back when I knew who I was – who I chose to be.
I guess by going off on my own for so long I created an anchor for myself back there, but I remain fatally flawed, and a contradiction, even to myself.
Still, it’s been an honour and a privilege to be this hungry, driven thing that I am.
Here is a contentious concept: even as a child I always wondered why I had this alive thing in me…it sprung from me yet seemed not to be ‘of’ me. I didn’t know how I could draw so furiously, so powerfully, how I ‘knew’ how to..yet didn’t. And how I was so shy and mousy and scared and bullied, and stuttered (and knew self-shame – that was the gift my parents gave me), yet had this defiant fist in me that spoke of epic landscapes. Where did this come from, how did it come to live in me? (this is my child mind wondering).
The soul craves expression, it must have an outlet. I was the daughter of a misogynist and a sadist mother. I was not allowed a voice – not allowed to speak or question or have any sense of identity/individuality.
My theory is this: when your normal neuron pathways are blocked, your consciousness forges new paths, just to stay alive. And an artistic temperament is a mutation, an adaptation of this desperate attempt to survive.
We did the most ingenious, the most magical thing we could have under the circumstances – not consciously – we could have landed on so many worse paths: schizophrenia, psychosis – shit, we could have landed anywhere, but we landed here.
Which means – if my theory has any substance, that all us ‘artists’ suffered some psychic trauma early on – that we can trace this drive in us back to some blockage and had to compensate to survive.
So yes, there may be a correlation between intense creativity and ‘insanity’ – we have a high mortality rate that seems to bear this out.
Judgement before knowing, inexpensive chatter, puppy tails dance. Always amusing.
“manly? You wouldn’t know if they crawled up your
skirt and built houses, your husband looks like a girl’
Would love to see and hear Obama do that. Has the album got a name yet, and will it be released this year or next?
They came damn close to the bitch slap let me tell you. Romney is so slick and phoney and women in this country are not buying his b.s. and are not going to vote for him, let alone gay people.
Oh and lest I forget legal immigrants won’t be voting for him either with his compassionate immigration policy. I’m paraphrasing but not by much: “Well we won’t round them all up like cattle or anything but when they can’t a job and things are going badly for them here…well they can just fuck off”. America is a country of immigrants. ALL OF US. The only real Americans are the Native American Indians and don’t get me started on that one!
I’m feeling moist and moody…… do you want to come and beaver away with me?
I’m sorry I couldn’t resist!!!! ;-)
Could the falling objects be black walnuts? Do they have a green tennis-ballish covering?
I think so too Rosie.
While in the film industry, I was advised to ‘Keep your mouth shut!’ As my level of self criticism was such that I felt compelled to point out the flaws in my work before anyone else could – pre-emptive defence? Neurotic self sabotage? Fuck it. It takes hind-sight to accept that what you imagined; what you realised at the time still kicked arse, regardless of any flaws. If it’s any consolation, it’s the self critical perfectionists who go the extra mile and push beyond the acceptable requirements. They’re the ones who set the bar. Just having that mind-set gives you a couple of extra gears for your engine – it’s just a question of knowing when to let your babies go. There is such a thing as OVER nurturing. And I’m still that neurotic and self-doubting, and there are moments when I’m convinced everything that comes from me is just a pile of shite and that I should give up and go work as a check-out girl. And even after collecting a second degree (this time in literature) I still can’t fucking spell. Never enough. I’ll never be ‘enough’. Tis the nature of the beast. The contradiction and paradox of it. Do it regardless.
No wonder you’re never the bride.
I passed by a sign outside a church on the edge of town on Sunday. It said “You’ll never be good enough…”
In giant fucking letters. This is our mantra!
lol! How positive right? I would take that as a sign that you will always be good enough. Take it from whence it cometh. xxx
And yet we strive in spite of this lie that keeps us manageable.
Every time I start to speak, a whole thesis tumbles out. And this isn’t my site, so I’ve left out almost everything that was in me to say on the subject.
Excellent work, on every level.
Let it tumble out M…it’s a pleasure to read and useful experience.
We are not the people, and we wont ever rule.
But you’re out there, and if you’re alive, and you’re still trying, then maybe thats the point, it’s enough.
I commend you to the house
Ok, let’s play.
Go find ingredients to stir in the pot:
King Leopold of Belgium to Queen Victoria: ‘…dealings with artists, for instance, require great prudence; they are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that reason dangerous; they are hardly ever satisfied, and when you have too much to do with them, you are sure to have des ennuis’ 10 October 1845.
“When I was a younger man, art was a lonely thing – no galleries, collectors, no critics, no money. Yet it was a golden age, for we had nothing to lose and a vision to gain.
Today it is not the same. It is a time of tons of verbiage, activity, consumption. Which condition is better for the world at large, I will not venture to discuss; but I do know that many of those who were driven to this life are desperately searching for those pockets of silence where we can root and grow. We must all hope we find them.”
“And yet we strive in spite of this lie that keeps us manageable”.
Far from being ‘not enough’, there are fuckers abroad commonly known as ‘artists’: bastards who think they have some innate right to document the human condition in all it’s loves, griefs and rages – just because they themselves see too much, feel too much, and taste too much of life to contain within their thin skins.
Being permeable makes you dangerous to yourself and the system. You need a reliable anchor, when your pendulum has this wide an arc.
All the risks we took in youth, and all the deaths we could have met, yet we’re still here. Fortunate, fortunate us.
But trade it all for ‘sanity’?
I don’t even know what that means.
Were we ‘driven’ to this life (as Rothko would have it), or was it a career choice?
Sorry to take up so much room navel gazing here, but having taken a sabbatical from theatre/film production, I’ve found myself preoccupied with this subject, and taking stock of the life I’ve led so far.
My conclusion? I STILL choose my ‘insanity’.
Thank you M. Lots of insight and wisdom and so much that rings true to me. Especially about choosing your ‘insanity’ over the so called normal, dumbed down, antidepressant numb masses. Most creative people are very sensitive, feel things very deeply and are prone to depression. It just seems to be that way. Imagine Beethoven on zoloft? His passion, his fire would have been extinguished by the antidepressants and the world would have been deprived of his masterpieces.
Ooooooo PLEASE have that as a back drop at your gigs! I giant fucking letters!!
You are a consummate professional to cut an entire album in less than two weeks. You must be exhausted. I think everyone is pretty critical of their work. Some more than others admittedly, but that can make all the difference sometimes if it’s not a neurosis. I can believe that about Macca and Revolver. Good job he had people around to talk him out of his temporary insanity. Sometimes you’re just too close to it. If you think it sounds good now, I’m sure that when you let it sit awhile and listen again with fresh ears you’re gonna love it. And so are we! :-D
I never thought of the voltage having an effect on the sound! That’s so cool. There is simply no substitute for the sonic warmth and quality of analogue. I hope you press a few on vinyl for us as well.
A squirrel beheading! LOL! I think that might be a walnut tree. If they’re green, and as you say, the size of golf ball. My grandfather got hit in the eye with one as he happened to glance up under a walnut tree one day and it damaged his vision so please do be careful!
I’d pay good money to see Obama bitch slap Romney! lol Should be interesting tonight. Lets get ready to rumble!!!
Sorry about the football Justin.
Great photos as well…as they say in Liverpool…I’m made up about this record! xxxxxxx