Saturday, September 3, 2016

Jim Carroll Workshop - 7 (American Express and Shape Shifter)


Jim Carroll's songwriting workshop continues

See here. hereherehere  here, and here

JC: It ["Sherlock Holmes"] - has a real long fade I don't want to subject you to it, you know…. But this one is a regular...this is not the same song now  - obviously, but this is called... no.. wait a minute.. this is called…"Shake"? - no, this is called "American Express". 
This is a better mix, it's an engineer mix, and I think it's just...
[to Student/Technician - Is it going yet? - No, no, wait a minute. Let me… Shake..   do the lyric, you think?..Okay, I'll do the lyrics]

This is kind of..  This was kind of a fun thing too. We wrote it at the last minute, because he [Ray Manzarek] had the music for… for all of these. I gave him the lyrics first and then he wrote the music (which is unusual for me). This one, we kind of worked at together which I found is much easier when you're working together than three thousand miles apart. 

But, how does this start? - oh - 
"In France, I've been to France,/ lots of rude people and tongue-tied romance/ I met artificial punks into artificial junk/and a bunch of Anglo Harvard-educated Buddhist monks/ They all shaved their hair/in France, no, I didn't find much there/ Amsterdam, in Amsterdam,/ it could make you believe that The Second Coming's at hand/With those blonde kids smoking hash/And the red-light district trash/Let's go down to the Milky Way/It's surrounded by the bay/The drawbridge down with busted hinges,/get over-the-counter fresh syringes/ Too much sweat, too much blow/Down at the Para-dis-io/That's where Herman and the wild boys go" - And then, there's a little break there where it gets melodic, and then it says, "Except for Van Gogh's chair/and his mad Self-Portrait's stare/No, I didn't find much there, I didn't find much there/ And it's too much foreign food , my sound-man's wearing a dress/Lord, this tour, this whole tour is a mess/ - I've got.. I've got..the something.. I've got the something xenophobic stress/I love writing care of American Express/My dear, please write me care of American Express/and I love writing you care of American Express'".
So, it's got a pretty good swinging sound to it, actually, I think.  

[To Student/technical assistant - Which one's this? -  JC plays recording of the Manzarek-Carroll composition,  "American Express"]

                                                        [Ray Manzarek]
               
                                                                    [Jim Carroll]

Student: Did you write the tune for that one?

JC: No, actually, I wrote that when I was out there, when we were rehearsing for the demos. Actually, I think those two songs we wrote, you know, within a day, when we had all the other songs ready. Let me see, there's another (one)..  Is it tiresome to listen to these?

Student(s): No

JC:  I mean it's easier than talking about them, for me, I think.

[To Student/technical assistant - Do you have that tape? Oh good - Student: It's a transfer   from.. - JC: Well, fuck that!... do you want a hand?]

This is an interesting lyric. It's kind of ambitious but it doesn't have the band, well, it has a 
a LinnDrum and (Ray) Manzarek's playing all the parts on the synthesizers. It's called "Shape Shifter" but I..  It's "Shift to crow hear the carrion cry.." - (You know that movie Wolfen, I liked a lot, where they.. (where) the guy could shape-shift into not just a werewolf, but anything) - "Shift to crow hear the carrior cry/Shift to driftwood smooth and dry/Throw me on the fire/I shift to flame/ I've got ten thousand shapes/I've got shapes that have no name" - Then, let's see.  "Shift down to stone/Feel the water's danger" - and then there's a pause there - "I'm so alone/Every change a stranger" "I'm a shape shifter from the Lower East Side/Up on the bridge I dance, beneath the water, I slide" (and then it's got this little "beneath the water I sli-ii-de"   And then "Shift on.." - I think you can hear the lyrics after that, but you got the gist of it there shifting to different objects, in various forms…
But, actually, I'd rather play this song "Cops Talk", which is a more minimal song and does have some guitar on it but..  No, I'll play this one, what the hell… 

[JC plays a recording of  Shape Shifter (at approximately sixty-three minutes in)]   



The thing I noticed about that (I thought about this before ) is that part "I'm part wolf, I'm part dove, I'm the horror, I'm the horror of.. -  and then  I hold the note - "love" - and  I fucked up - like, I did… like, I could do like I did in the other song and get back-up singers to hold it with me, like "paradis-i-o" - But I think it'll be much better like - there I could hear right now the idea of.. you know..  I can extend, like, instead of going "I am the horror of (love), holding that, that's not what I could do. I mean I could say "I-am-the-horror-of... love!", you know, like, just let the pause.. I think could do a lot more, you know. "I am the horror of.." and then let the synthesizer... That's the good thing about working with a keyboard player like..like on the albums I've always worked mainly with guitar music (which I like more in a way, but more…)  I mean. you can sing better with a synthesizer or a keyboard because you can, of course just, like, hang your vocals on that steady, you know, like, rise, it's like a control, and so it's easy to stay on key, but I think the phrasing, like, that's an example where the phrasing would be just intuitively better if you, like, paused  instead..

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately fifty-four-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-nine minutes in]  

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