May 22, 2013

Mamas Cooking, See The Flow.

Mama's cooking on the big piano
Been cooking on the big piano
Come back home and that's where I found her
She's knows I should be sleeping but to stop she'd need a better reason
Mama's cooking on the big piano
Ny mama she's a lovely teaser, way she's banging I'd love to please her



Live vs Record. Everything changes. Writing for either takes a different approaches. Mama's Cooking was originally written for Loud Is The Night. There is a version recorded from that session, different from the one on Big Red and Barbacoa.



It was a mistake to leave it off the first record. If I could go back that might be one change I would make. Live, this song was already a staple of our show, often working as the closer on the set. Getting bigger and louder the more we played. Becoming a sweat soaked rampage capable of blowing down the garage rock door. It didn't start that way.

It was written as an acoustic song. I wanted to be sort of a weird White Album earthy drone. When I was first working it out, we weren't playing a lot of shows so I was more focused on sounds. But as time between writing the song and recording increased, and more shows were played, the sound evolved.

Three in the morning and the neighbor's calling
Ain't no peace when we start balling
Dogs all bay and the dead start waking, she's got soul that can't be faking
Three in the morning and the neighbor's calling
Better stop before the cops come over, but me and my baby gonna play it all night

There are some bands with live shows sounding exactly like their records. Some completely different. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. Great records can sound like they were recorded live. I've only rarely been a fan of live records though.

I've always liked treating them as different but maybe that's changing. I love the sound of a band planning together, but not listening to uncontrolled jams. As a musician I love to jam, but as a record listener I don't have the patience for it. It's not that I think songs need to be short. I just like the song to be thoughtful in it's progression.

The wildness of experimentation easily wears thin on me. My patience can be extended for a live show. The experience, the energy, the visuals all permit the song to travel, to breath, and to live beyond the length and precision of the record. I can watch that journey. It is a story. To see the faces...Is it fluid? Is it a fight? Are they worried about where to go? Are they happy when they got there? It's all over their bodies.

When you are that involved in music, you can't hide frustration, joy, or terror. It just broadcasts. Seeing that keeps the jam interesting for me. On record everything seems purposeful. It's too easy to say -I meant to do that. Making it less of a trip.



The second version of Mama's Cooking was done all live in one room including vocals. Probably not too different from an early Little Richard, or Elvis track. The first version we did featured Dan on Background vocals singing harmony with me, how cool is that... I love hearing the double kick stomp to kick it off. The bass line is furious. I always play it hard, like I'm attacking the strings. I know I've had strong performance when my right hand bleeds a little bit, usually from the index.



In a live show, I look for moments where we can reach out beyond the song. To interact with the audience. To say- this is happening only tonight. That type of playing and arranging can sound flat on record, without a good audience to interact with. So it becomes about building flow. It's hard to say if what you are recording will work at all. There is not that initial reaction from the audience. Just like the faces of the musicians give away how they feel about a song, so does the face of the crowd.

Keys are flying, and the walls are shaking
ain't gonna stop till the whole place breaking
doors are banging and the phone keeps ringing
Keys are flying and walls are shaking
Me and my baby go for bacon fat, don't you know we're always down for that

 
Recently we've been narrowing our sound. For the first time we have a sound that is cohesive. More focused. We are going to keep the sound of playing together in the studio. Drums and bass have to be locked in. No other way about it.




The best way for me to lock in with kick is to track my bass while watching the drummer. I keep my eye on the movements. Watch the energy. See the flow. It's not anticipation, but co-operation.That is enough to give a track life. I don't know if we will record another song all live with vocals. But never say never, right?

Mama's Cooking sounds live, because it is. It also makes it stand alone a bit. It's also the only song written from Loud Is The Night onto a later album. Anyway you cut it, it is one of my proudest songs. It is rock and roll thru and thru.
The old star-eaten sky
sends no safety
means no harm.
Night waits,
wanting to be used.
His eagerness
persists in the air
like breathing late-Saturday
atmosphere. Not to offend
the next, once her edge drops a bit.
-The night'll go where you go.


-rene