July 26th, 2004


Musical: Recording "Listen To You"

Well, I have another demo to post, but I'm a bit more reluctant on this one. I've been working on this recording of "Listen To You" on and off for a month now, and it's been far and away the hardest of the lot so far. After an obsessive last three days, I guess it's done, but "done" only in the sense that I don't know that I can do particularly better at it by myself, at least not yet. So this is the most "demo-y" of the demos: I don't think it's as close to what I've got in my head as I'd like, and definitely needs the entire creativity of the band and perhaps all the recording resources of Nashville to fully come alive.

"Listen To You" was written for my students in the spring semester of 2002, my last year teaching at St. Joe before starting grad work. It is strange for being written backwards, more or less. I can remember coming up with the last verse first, maybe during the Christmas break and singing it to myself. And then I remember thinking of the lines for what became the fourth verse outside St. Joe Hall walking to or from Mark Lang's car one winter night, and stopping under the bare trees along the drive and thinking it through, watching my breath float up and away from me, and then singing the two verses to Mark, and receiving his blessing for keeping at them. Then at the beginning of April, when I was at Kate Fagan Taylor's place in Victoria, I wrote the first verse after she and I had spent the afternoon walking along the Pacific coast, down at the base of a forest of gigantic evergreens some 30 miles upcoast from the city. I then wrote the three verses out on different slips of paper, put them on the coffee table and tried to arrange them. Moving them around, I only then realized that my first, second, and third verses were in fact verses 5, 4, and 1 of a song that now needed verses 2, 3, and a chorus, if not a bridge, too (although that didn't happen). With that arc in my mind, I was able to "fill in" the missing pieces of what it seemed I was trying to say. My visit with Kate provided some more imagery for verse 2, and the whole seemed to sum up the feeling of "farewell" and "graduation" that I was feeling as I planned to leave the school along with the senior class that year, although I tried to make the lyrics more universal to human experience than my specific situation.

So, here is "Listen To You" for you to listen to. :-)

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