Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meeting Paul, Part 2

Paul and I rendezvoused at Canters Deli on Fairfax, it was the day after we first met, at the Dylan Pantages show of 1992, it was about noon. We shared a pastrami on rye and some pickles. He brought along the manuscript to a book he was working on, The One Hundred Best Singles of Rock and Roll.
It wasn't finished, but he'd already written about three quarters of it. He showed me the table of contents and had me pick out a song on the list and then proceeded to read it aloud, over sandwiches. I'd chosen the chapter on the Beach Boy's Don't Worry Baby/I Get Around, it's still one of my favorite pieces of writing by Paul. (Sadly I don't have a copy of the book around the house, or I'd quote a passage.)

Paul was really easy to talk with. He didn't have an attitude about his past and it was fun asking him about the cool stuff he'd done. We finished our lunch, paid the bill, gave a bum a pickle on our way out and then proceeded to drive through LA to Santa Monica in my 1971 VW bus. I'd just made the trek up that way a few weeks earlier with my friend Mark Fried (formerly of BMI Music). We'd driven all the way up to Malibu in my bus and visited Papa John Phillips at his place. Now Paul and I were driving up that direction and talking about the process of music making and it's spiritual ramifications, talking the whole way.

I played him a song I'd just recorded, (something that's never been released called Cindy's New York) with some of my first experiments in self production. Paul really dug it and said he could feel the Brian Wilson type producer in me arising. I was amazed he could see where I was trying to go. All this was, of course a year and a half before I recorded my first self produced album, Garage Orchestra. He shared with me a concept he had about Brian as a "primitive" that is an artist formally untrained- that feels the music, hears it in his head and then has the ability to translate it via other musicians.

That idea still fascinates me, what exactly makes one a primitive? At any rate later in the year, as Paul saw me write and process the music that was to be Garage Orchestra, he used that phrase often to explain my own way of interpreting the music running around in my head. I don't think the head of Warner Brothers, where Paul introduced me and my music to the great Lenny Waronker, understood that phrase any better than me.

We drove back to Canter's and I dropped Paul at his car, then drove the 2 hours home to San Diego. On a cloud,.... (of exhaust from my 1971 muffler).

There are times when you meet someone where you feel the future and the past in the present moment. It's where our linear idea of time breaks down, doesn't make sense. It's important to recognize these moments.

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