Oh shit. It’s all wrong. I’m stuck. Why is it the simplest melody, the most basic lyric, can be so hard to put down in the studio. What earlier had effortlessly poured out on to the college ruled, 11 and 1/2 by what ever sized spiral notebook, then into the microphone, is now all of a sudden sticking its heels in the mud? And I mean platform heel STUCK!
Now, it feels this recording project is just work, void of glamor and late night, bedtime, make believe Grammy acceptance speeches for song of the year…stuck. Why? Because it just is. Flashback to 10th grade ceramics class with instructor/artist/bon vivant/scarf wearing/ bearded, Stan Grosse…and the 8 inch cylinder club…
Stan Grosse was a teacher first. Incredible artist of many mediums…paint, jewelry, collage, clay, photography…but in my opinion a teacher first. It was an accident that I ended up in his ceramics class in the first place, but that first day of class I immediately noticed I was in a room of older, very hip, miscreants. I instinctively knew I was in the right place. It smelled right. The rule in the class was if you wanted to make pots on the wheel you had to throw an 8″ cylinder first. Throw = take a lump of clay, center it on a spinning disc = wheel, thrust your thumbs into the center of the lump and make a hole, and then with fingers from one hand on the inside of the hole you lust made, and fingers from the other hand on the outside of the lump, you pull the spinning piece of mud up, up, up, until it has risen 8 inches. No easy thing to do first time out…but after you do it a few hundred times you can get that piece of clay to rise to the occasion. You can get that piece of mud to do wondrous things!
Having finally succeeding in mastering what I thought to be the eight inch cylinder, I quickly called Stan over. He always had his 12 inch ruler at the ready in his back pocket. Yes. My cylinder was just over 8 inches…Stan looked at me and said, “congratulations, you’re in the club.” He then looked down at my wet, 8 inch cylinder, and squashed it. Just flattened it. I was horrified! Then looking back up at me he said, ” if you can make one 8 inch cylinder, you can make a hundred.”
I was 15 at the time. Now, 42 years later, I still remember that moment, it has never left me. I probably threw a hundred or so pots in the following years of high school, and a few more in the one year of college after that, before I dropped out and moved to London to pursue music. But I still hear Stan’s voice…if you can do it one time you can do it a hundred times…
I can hear that voice now in the studio…all the grief, the anxiety and frustration, the uncertainty of undoing something only to have to redo something…well, letting all that get to you is a colossal waste of energy and time and just leaves you hanging with one foot on the edge and one foot off. Dangling over some abyss that we all are going to end up in the bottom of anyway. If I have to redo the song again then better get started now. It’s something I have to do, want to do, and it may make the song better. That’s all. Regroup and rethink…listen another way, stop holding the damn thing too tight lest it end up suffocating and withering away to a “B side” , or a K-Mart, songs of the lost decade, what ever happened to, compilation CD…let the song find it’s form again…stop standing in the way of it, stand side by side with it, and just get on with it.
You get on with it and go for broke. The changes around you don’t seem to be slowing down any and it’s not like you can wait for ever for the world to come to you. It’s you and the studio, you and the trust you have in your own belief that you can do this.
So fans, back in the studio this week, looking like I might be getting close to finishing this thing. New York City bound in June with my CD in my pocket, guitar in my hand, and great big shot of hope in my belly!
Have a wonderful Sunday everyone…