Some short weeks after I met Paul Williams, the local weekly paper here in San Diego did a story on me and my music. It was a very ambitious time for me. I had just begun a new song-cycle and the songs came with arrangements- I could hear in my head. So, I had wood shedding sessions,
with any music friend or musician that could bare with me, and was willing to try out musical ideas I'd hum out to them.
In this photo, standing behind me, with her bass and bow is my dear friend Sharyn Fischer. She didn't really want to play arco/bow style, but she tried her best to bring forth the sounds that were swimming around my brain.
The book in my hand had the 40 minute wild ride of free verse that became U.F.O Suite. I don't know what the banana was about.
The photographer was a guy that was sent out by the San Diego Reader, his name was Randy Hoffman. Turned out Randy was a great conversationalist. So we took pictures and talked and Sharyn fiddled on the bass. Also turned out Randy was a musician, and he owned a pair of timpani drums (those tune-able drums you hear in the orchestra), they were sitting in his garage 2 blocks away.
Just a week or so earlier I'd met another musician, a cellist named Renata Bratt. Somehow I was able to con her into playing a show with me, which was all of one song. At a local music awards show in town. She and a few other string players came out to a one time practice with me and were given charts of parts I'd hummed out to our mutual friend Chris Vitas.
At any rate, Renata was intimidating. (I've seen her do that to a few people since then. A certain gift that keeps the riff-raff at arms length). But I talked her into playing music with me and Sharyn and made her play little ensemble parts that were well beneath her ability.
Then I met Randy, and something started to click. How often do you find a guy with timpani in his garage? And wood blocks and a vibraphone! The three of us got together in his garage and I made recordings of our sessions. This was the beginnings of what was to become the Garage Orchestra.
Paul was a huge supporter of what I was moving toward musically. He called me a musical primitive, and compared what I was doing to Brian Wilson, who he said heard the musical arrangements in his head. It was literally a haunting, this music, I was full of ideas and arrangements and love that needed expression.
I started calling Paul my Vision Carrier. He understood, despite whatever was musically popular at the time, despite what record executives thought, that ones work of art, needed to be brought to term and published, made available, no matter what. And that gave me hope.
Paul was writing The 100 Best Singles of Rock and Roll at the time, and he'd call me from Sonoma and read me the latest chapters. His essay on I Get Around/Don't Worry Baby completely blew my mind, he wrote what I felt when I heard those tunes. How was it someone else felt the same thing as me? All the chapters were inspired, even when it was a single I didn't really dig (like Ring My Bell) and that inspired me to keep following my musical vision
His words still do give me hope. Now, I am these many years later, in the throes of a new cycle of songs and arrangements that haunt my mind and beg to be born....this year somehow, with Paul's old words of hope to guide me and press me on, these recordings will be born.
Stay tuned because I will need your help soon, when I launch a campaign to raise the funds to make this next album, the seventh. And I have a feeling seven is a very lucky number....