That night was the night I had the nightmare about Ziggy leaping off a building. He had wings on so he didn’t fall but I still scared myself so much I woke up in a cold sweat. And then realized I had fallen asleep with the air conditioner on so no wonder I was cold.
The next time I woke up I was too hot, because it was midday and I’d turned the AC off. Having AC was clearly going to take some getting used to.
I got together with Chris in the afternoon to pick up heavy things and put them down again, and then we called Bart and made ourselves a rehearsal schedule for our own stuff. Because if we were going to be the opening act we needed to figure our shit out about that, too.
And I still couldn’t remember that I was the singer. In fact when we first went down to the basement for that first rehearsal I had this weird moment where I couldn’t even remember anything we played.
“What’s this band called again?” I asked aloud.
Chris and Bart answered in unison, “We’re waiting for you to figure that out.”
“Working title on the album is ‘Surprise,’ though,” Chris reminded me, as he set up some stuff.
“Right.” I tuned up the Ovation while Bart did the same with a cello, trying not to listen to each other.
I sat on a stool facing the two of them and literally could not think of where to start. “What do you guys want to do first?” I still hadn’t really brought any of the songs to mind yet.
They both looked at each other, and then at me, and laughed.
“Yeah, okay,” I waved at them to stop. “I just…You know. Trying to figure out the dynamic here.”
“The dynamic is what it always was, D.,” Bart said. “You tell us what to do. We do it. Pretty simple really.”
“Oh, come on, this is a lot more collaborative project than Moondog Three was.”
“Musically, maybe,” Bart said. “Maybe.”
“Okay, okay, just trying to make this not so much like all about Me,” I said.
“Daron, it’s okay, you can be the singer and the guitarist and not be, like, taxed for hogging all the creative energy,” Bart said with a laugh. “If you hadn’t noticed, you’re actually the main creative force here.”
“Yeah, okay.” I guess I really had a bit of a complex about not wanting to seem like a diva. I ran ,y fingers over the strings and a song finally floated into my memory banks. I noodled through the chord progression reminding myself. “Did we really record ‘Shape of Space’?”
“We did,” Bart affirmed. “You first played it for us when you got back from Spain, remember? And that was when I was first fucking around with the cello.”
“Right.” Somehow I had never intended to be the one who sang it, other than those times when I sang it to Spanish tourists when I was filling between our “official” flamenco sets in the park in Seville. “It should be easy enough to warm up with that one.”
So we edged through it a few measures at a time, because one of the things we’d worked on when we recorded it with Jordan was a fairly long instrumental opening segment. And then we worked on the main parts of the song but without me singing. I just wasn’t ready to, I guess. Bart and Chris had no comment about this.
The thing is, I try to write songs that have a certain amount of, well, obscurity in them. Like you might not even realize what the actual subject of the song is, or you have the freedom to interpret it as about something else entirely. The notes and style of playing is there to evoke a mood, maybe even provoke a response, but I dislike being to obvious about communicating an idea or a story. Which isn’t to say that my songs don’t do that. Sometimes I write simple, straightforward stuff. But in my mind the more obscure ones are better.
“Shape of Space,” when recorded with cello and dumbek and synths and Spanish-inflected guitar actually was sort of Bowie-esque musically, complicated and multilayered. So I was sort of embarassed how obvious I felt the lyrics were.
Here, read them for yourselves:
of the space
Next to me
Is the shape
that is where
in the place
in the air
of the place
There’s nothing there
Just empty air
There’s no one there
in the empty air
There’s a hole in my world
and I don’t know what to do
The shape of the space
is the shape of you
I’m not sure but that might have been the song that made Ziggy cry when he listened to the rough mix at Jordan’s that night (or was it daytime?) after we’d finished. Or maybe it was one of the other ones that was really obviously about him being gone or me being heartbroken. There were a lot of those and so it’s not unlikely.
That night Carynne came over with pizza and a lawsuit update. Without getting too technical, the good news was that some of the money we were supposed to be getting as part of the deal that Ziggy had cut had started to show up about seven months later than it was supposed to–essentially just long enough to fuck with us royally but once it started to come was it worth trying to sue them over being late? Probably not. But the thing was that wasn’t what we were suing them for, and they knew that, but they still acted like maybe we were only suing them to be a nuisance until they paid us when actually I really wanted to be right about some things but at the same time I didn’t want to be right so much that we spent all the money on lawyers to prove it.
So. Megastar continued to be sporadic and slow to pay, claiming that as the merger was being settled and departments merged and that sort of thing, they had various holdups in processing but that none of it was malicious…and we probably couldn’t prove it even if it was. That was only one of the legal fights going on, but it was the one I focused on. It meant my stress level about money went down a little, anyway.
“What I’ve got to figure out, though, is when to move,” Carynne said.
She rapped her knuckles on my head gently but sarcastically. “New York, to work in the WTA offices, remember?”
“Oh. It hadn’t occurred to me you’d need to move for that.”
“Well, truth be told, we discussed whether I should keep a base of operations here, but I’m not attached to my apartment really and I’m going to be on the road a lot of the time, too. If I’m going to keep a place it might as well be there. Although maybe somewhere cheaper like Fort Lee.”
We were sitting side by side on the couch with the pizza boxes on the coffee table in the middle of the living room. “Fort Lee.” I blinked at her. “You’d willingly move to New Jersey.”
“You don’t have to move,” she said placatingly. “I’m looking at Queens, too, if that makes you feel better.”
“Marginally.” I decided to keep to safe subjects for a bit. “Who else do we know who’s a drummer? Auditions are June 3rd, down there.”
“I’ll spread the word.”
“Horns, too.” I’d already talked to the guys about us working a couple of song arrangements during our rehearsal time. That way we could have something we knew how to play already while auditioning people.
“Got it, honey bunches of oats.”
“And think of a name for our three-piece while you’re at it.”
So we brainstormed names for a while and didn’t come up with anything the four of us liked. I wanted something that said something musical, maybe a reference to the guitar or the vibrating string but not necessarily. I wanted something, I realized, that was a word that sounded in my head like it matched aesthetically with the feeling I’d had on New Year’s Eve in Australia that time on acid.
Maybe the problem was there wasn’t a word for that.
(Whoa, jeez, you guys, now we’re only $18 from a Saturday post being triggered. Remember we’re starting a Kickstarter in a couple of weeks, though, so don’t forget to save some pennies for that, eh? Meanwhile, I’ve owed you guys a liner note forever, but in the meantime, make sure you read the February Fanworks! Three posts on threesomes/moresomes! Check them out: https://daron.ceciliatan.com/archives/category/fanworks-2 -ctan)