If you’re watching the Grammy’s tonight, keep an eye out for the ad for the new Nokia N8 smartphone. The spot uses an original track I made using lyrics from the Cole Porter classic “Don’t Fence Me In” and features vocals by myself and the always-killing-it Brie Stoner. I’m really proud of this collaboration, which was done via Yessian Music / Dragon Licks and agency Wieden + Kennedy.
[UPDATE: The full length version will be available very soon!]
In my dream last night we were traveling. And since it was a dream, I was visiting dream cities, which have their own rules. In one of these cities they had a local delicacy which was like a cupcake with a bright orange, sugary lava in its center. They made this sugar lava in large vats that bubbled and churned just like the center of a volcano, but cool and in which, in one disjointed part of the dream, I took a swim. We tried them at the most successful lava cupcakes shop in town – kind of like the Starbucks of lava cupcakes, with the market cornered. Then, on the way out of town, we stopped at a smaller, boutique pastry shop for one last taste of the orange stuff. The owner served us and he was Richard Dreyfuss, of Jaws fame, only older and fatter now, completely bald on top and with white tufts of mad scientist hair shooting out the sides of his head. His teeth could have been cleaner. He looked unhinged and happy. I told him that we had just visited the bigger pastry shop, but that I liked his lava cakes just as much. He said he didn’t know who I was talking about and I replied that I found that hard to believe considering the other shop was his biggest competitor. See, he said, you’re already starting to think in profitizing terms. In the dream I was young, early 20s, and embarrassed to be called out on my superficiality. So I thought about this for a minute and, in an attempt to discern what was truly of value in this situation, asked Richard Dreyfuss if the lava itself wanted to be eaten, kind of like the way that I picture honey-making being an end in itself for bees. He said yes, the lava was happy existing just to be eaten. (I think this is the point in the dream where I took a dip in the lava vat, to try and see up close and personally what the lava’s feelings on the matter really were.) Before I left I mentioned to Richard Dreyfuss that the owner of the larger chain was the famous actor Richard Dreyfuss (this is the dream logic cracking). He said he didn’t know the person. I said, “Yeah, you know… he was in What About Bob, Close Encounters….” He listened and squinted like he was trying to picture who I was talking about but his expression told me he came up blank and he apologized and said that he hadn’t seen those movies. It wasn’t until I woke up that I realized I had been telling him about himself, and that in the dream city the men who sold the lava pastries were all the same person, split into reflections but ultimately one. Awake, I see the implications here, the cosmic moralizing about competition and the nature of true happiness being more about the truth of your nature than false comparisons. Pretty hippie stuff. I also know that this was sparked by watching a video on youtube before bed, of Chan Marshall performing live a new song that reminded me of everything I want to do with my life.
I have to admit, I didn’t really understand the hype about James Blake. I mean, I’ve been getting the EPs, if only because the thought alone of post-R’n'B is a major turnon for me. But this new record he’s about to put out is a whole new thing. He’s singing now and he sounds like one of the greats. Like Arthur Russel or Mark Hollis. I can’t get him out of my head.
Gerry Rafferty died today. I really loved his music. Some people chuckle when I say it, but I think he was one of the all time greats. His record City to City had unstoppable hit singles like ‘Right Down the Line’ and ‘Baker Street’ but the non-hits like ‘Ark’ and ‘Whatever’s Written In Your Heart’ are just as vivid.
I have a really beautiful memory from being on tour with Judah Johnson – we were finishing up a show on the east side of Washington state and packing up the van because we had to make the drive to Seattle that night in the moonlight. It was late summer. The tour had momentum then and we were all stoned on the geography, the weather and each other. It was my turn to drive and as we coasted onto the freeway I played everybody ‘Ark’ for the first time. We all felt it. It was one of the the real memories.
‘The Right Moment’ is later Rafferty, when he was more reclusive. The lyrics are simple and profound, my ideal pop. If you look past the Enya synths and shiny processing, you’ll hear something as angular, richly written and stirring as anything Thom Yorke, Elliott Smith or Robert Wyatt have done.
I loved his music for the tunes, for the harmonies, for the voice. But I also loved it because you could tell he was on a path. He could get so zen, like in this koan from ‘Whatever’s Written in Your Heart’:
you know I always set my sights too high you take the easy way and still get by
I know there ain’t no special way
we all get there anyway
Thank you, Gerry.
The Right Moment
Spinning on another wheel, goin’ round in slow motion
Caught up in another dream, driftin’ on a blue ocean
When are you gonna reach out, only you can turn your world around
When will you surrender, and wake up to the real
But you don’t want to start out just yet, you watch the seasons come and go
You remember and then you forget, all along the way.
You can make a better life, you’re just waitin’ for the right moment
You can find another way, you’re just waitin’ for the right moment
When are you gonna let go, and forget about the life you knew
When will you surrender, and wake up to the real
Now you know that it’s all borrowed time, and still you waste another day
But you watch and you wait for a sign all along the way.