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“There’s a beautiful silence that occurs in the control room when something goes right. David and I let the moment pass. We might listen back. We might move on. We might take a break.
In the last session, three songs were recorded. “There’s A Train,” a song I started writing for my grandfather when I got the call from my mom (her father), the 4 am call, that he had just passed away. I never recorded the song. Sam Lorber helped me finish it, but that was seven years ago. Out of the blue I start to sing it. David presses record. This was a moment in time. I still have not played it back yet. I suppose I will when we finalize the sequence and song selection.
My grandfather gave me my first instrument, a Stradolin mandolin. I taught myself. It’s the one I still play. I’ve added a pickup and have drawings on it by Ralph (“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”) Steadman. I also got Keith Richards to autograph it for me when I backed him up as part of the Sin City All Stars during a Gram Parsons tribute. Out of the mandolins I have, this one is my favorite. My grandfather was the first person to turn me on to country music. Cash, Lynn and Liz Anderson, Buck. My grandparents (in their mid-eighties) would come see Lone Justice. “How’d you like the show, Zayde?” (That’s what I called him). He didn’t go for the ballads. “I like it loud and I like it fast.” He was born in Lodz, Poland. He smuggled himself throughout Europe without a passport, and landed in the Middle East when England was the occupier of Palestine. Saved my grandmother’s life by bringing her to Palestine, before there was an Israel. My grandmother’s family was all slaughtered in the war. The passing of time, brings an end to an era of human beings like my Nana and Zayde.
Back to the session. Then I started playing “Miss This World.” Once recorded by the Williams Brothers, their version was a verse short of my original. Then I cut a guitar version of “Bob Dylan Is Dead” in D. It’s a bit low, so I have recut since with mandolin and choir in G, co-produced by Willie Aron (my Holy Brother). Oh yeah, David is David Vaught. Co-producer, chief engineer, mixer. Really, without David, this album would not have been. He started as a painter, artist, then joined a surf band, playing bass at 13. Played with everyone from Tom Waits to Helen Reddy. He doesn’t play much bass these days, mostly behind a console. Usually his 1969 Daniel Flickenger board.
The session ended. I drove home knowing that this was now becoming a double album. The way double albums used to be made. With four sides. Anyone can do what they like with their iPods, and iTunes, but I’Il play a vinyl copy of an album I dig any time. As I write this, McCartney has a new album coming out to compete with his own Sgt. Pepper anniversary of 40 years. Good luck topping that one Sir Paul. While the donkeys and elephants are making asses out of all of us, I still believe it wasn’t Reagan who brought down the Soviet Union, it was The White Album. That’s what the people wanted more than anything. An artist can change the hearts and minds of a culture. A terrorist shouldn’t be tortured. He should be given front row seats to a Beethoven performance. If Hitler had been given encouragement to be a better artist, the world would be a different place. If he was born later, he might have gone to San Francisco to be a Deadhead. Later still a punk in London. Okay how about this plan? Instead of armies, the government should send orchestras to foreign countries and just have them start playing in the middle of the city or desert. See what happens. Let’s take over the world one song, one brushstroke, one painting, one frame, one film, one symphony, one double album at a time.”
Listen to the tune “Grapes of Wrath” with John Doe on Rolling Stone: