Ennis, Jack, and Groucho
Word. Saturday morning. Johannes, Kari, and Teemu are packing things up in the studio and in the control room. The sessions are done for now, and we leave back for Helsinki in about an hour. Yesterday's fifth and final day lasted a total of 18 hours, from about 11 AM to 5 AM. The first part of the day was spent working on "Tex", but in the afternoon we switched to some more swinging country, one of Kari's compositions that goes by the working title "Dirt". I spent most of the day in my own recording booth writing and trying out lyrics for it. I had an idea for a chorus and two nearly finished verses for it from before, and managed to quickly put together a third as well as fix some of the previous bits. The text has had a pretty strong cinematic feel to it from the start, and it's turning into a sort of an ode to old and bitterly proud men.
At first, the visual image of the narrator was of someone sort of like the dying old man who played Julianne Moore's husband and Tom Cruise's dad in "Magnolia". But in the course of writing, more images came to mind. One of them was of an interview with Groucho Marx on BBC (I think), done sometime in the 70's. The aged comedian was asked if he had any regrets or if he wished he had done anything differently, and his response was an unwavering: "No. I was great." I also thought of a next door neighbor from my childhood, an old retired architect, who always swore he would poison the apple tree he had in his front yard after the neighborhood kids had been picking his apples. He was also adamant about the fact that he would one day shoot our adorable but slightly simple-minded cat Topi with his shotgun. Johannes also suggested I add the name John Ross to the text, as a tribute of sorts to the one and only JR. Which sounded like a perfect name for my fictional narrator. So... whether it sounds credible or not, the song has turned into a first person account by an old man approaching the final hour with both of his middle fingers held high.
While I was immersed in the writing, some beautiful things were taking place in the studio. Johannes added some saloon-type piano takes, and Kari was recorded playing the snare drum with some dish brushes. But by far the sweetest moment was walking into the control room only to see assistant producer T-mu Korpipää playing some old time country bass with pieces of foamed plastic stuck in between the strings. What began as a really stripped down acoustic tune has quickly bloomed into a very traditional sounding country song, the closest thing we've ever done to a Johnny Cash tune. Sort of. While working on the track, we were also listening to all kinds of different country music to pick up some good sound references. And, almost as a quirky twist of fate, "Brokeback Mountain" was on tv that very same night. I couldn't help thinking to myself — while tossing some more logs into fire under the sauna stove — that the stars seemed to be perfectly aligned for making country music.
After Kari had spent a good two-three hours on alternative guitar takes, we finally got around to recording some vocals as well. Starting around two or three AM. Among some more serious efforts, we even tried what country music would sound like if sung with a distinctly British accent. Very funny, if not quite something to put on a real record.
So the first five day stint here is through. We will be coming back for another one once Juuso and Tero have returned tanned and well-rehearsed from their percussion winter escape to Cuba. It feels like we've done tons here this past week, but on the other hand, a daunting task still lies ahead... The number of tracks still in the works is, well, pretty ridiculous. A lot of tough decisions and a lot of editing needed.
Time to step on over to the control room to listen to some fresh versions. Father Metro signing off. Peace.
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