Friday, August 21, 2009

Six band songs to track in Nashvegas in October

Poetry Scores has settled upon The Luminary for our 2009 Art Invitational, which is devoted to the poem The Sydney Highrise Variations by the great Australian poet Les Murray. The date of the invitational is set for Friday, November 13, which makes that our deadline to have copies of the CD to our poetry score back from the printer.

It's going to be a blur, getting from here to there; but we are committed to getting there.

Large chunks of the score are finished or close to finished, thanks to a wildly successful tracking session in Nashville and several nights working with archival materials in Adam Long's St. Louis studio. But we still have six band songs to track from scratch, in addition to quite a bit of overdubbing and mixing.

Here are sketches of those last six songs, with notes on how we might arrange them (the titles open to mp3s).


"The new city standing on its haze"

This sketch is a pretty good indicator of what the final track should sound like: the poet reading over slide guitar with Lij humming over his guitar part. In the best of all possible worlds, Lij will work this up on his own in advance, then we can just overdub Dave Melson's bass when we get to Nashville for our final October 16-18 session; not convinced we need drums on this one.


"Repeat their lines"

This, however, needs to be a full-blown rock band song. Here are the lyrics from Les' poem:

Ingots of sheer
affluence poles
bomb-drawing grid
of columnar profit
tunnels in the sky
high window printouts
repeat their lines
repeat their lines
credit conductors
repeat their lines
bar graphs on blue
glass tubes of boom
in concrete wicker
each trade Polaris
government Agena
fine print insurrected
tall things on a tray
The poet has already provided the hook here, "repeat their lines," and as elegant as it is to have precisely the number of repetitions he uses in the poem, the temptation is strong to repeat the hook many more times, almost after every line. The melody I have in mind for this text is closer to rap than to song, so we may end up chopping and screwing the poet's reading for most of this and just singing the hook, "repeat their lines".


"The peajacket era"

This song also comes across in the sketch pretty close to what we need to achieve, though Matt and I hear a simple band backup to the acoustic guitar figure that the poet reads over. On the phone today Matt and I agreed this is one we might farm out, to make our final Nashville session more achievable; I could do a good enough job with Tim McAvin.


"A mulch of faded flags"

When you hear me blurt the title of this song over Lij's slide guitar sketch, that's not an indication of how we will use the phrase from the poem; it's just me noting the use I wanted to make of the music as I was flipping through songwriting tapes. On the final track, we will sing the phrase repeatedly. I am hoping for an effect like what The Lettuce Heads can achieve with multiple male voices. In fact, this is another one we might farm out, if Mike Burgett and Carl Pandolfi and company can be persuaded to help us.


"Might end and mutate and persist"

Another full-bore, full-band rocker. On the sketch I am just feeling my way around with the melody, but this comes pretty close to working.


This song has a spoken word part by the poet that I didn't drop onto the sketch, which only has the sung text, the very last bit. Here is the complete lyrics for the piece:
The sun, that is always catching up
with night and day and month and year,
blazes from its scrolled bare face: To be
solar, I must be nuclear
Another rock band song, for sure.


This post was mostly intended as working notes for the various musicians who will be helping to complete these songs, but anyone making plans to attend The Sydney Highrise Variations CD release and Art Invitational should note that The Luminary Center for the Arts is located right across the street from Tower Grove Park, Reber Place at Kingshighway, a short walk from The Royale, where we will repair for the afterparty following the event on Friday, Nov. 13.


The photo is of Dave Melson, Matt Fuller and Lij tracking in Lij's studio The Toy Box during our previous Nashville session for the score.

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