Blog entry

Happy New Year's


Your definition: 

A slight taste or knowledge of something
John Hiatt

The great 2008. Gateless gate. Weightless weight. Stateless state.

Of all the New Year's Eve's I've had in this, last night was probably my favorite. Just me and my wife. Quiet dinner for two. Conversation, absolutely fantastic food (thanks Trilogy!). I felt like dining on the light side. Had a cheese plate, some bruschetta, a hot pastry stuffed with brie. Exceptional at every turn. Marci had a four course meal including some of the best pasta and thai rolls I've ever had. We made our New Year's resolutions.

I am filled with such an immense feeling of gratitude and wonder at 2007! Before I move on from it, I want to give it such a big bow of love and thanks. 2007 highlights:

*My daughters changed in ways that put a bittersweet ache in my belly again and again. In 2007 I was guided by my girls into new rooms of love. Every day they crack a new combination, and another vault inside me swings open.

*My wife and I became closer and stronger than ever. We made it through a wall of white noise. White noise is white light unrecognized.

*Alex Gibson and I finished my new album, Something Simple. I got to be the person who was there as he evolved from great producer to a Master of the Art form. No lie, no exaggeration. On my album, this summer, I experienced Alex transform before my eyes. It was like watching a horse become a Unicorn. Two month gestation period. Womb of sound. At the end of the summer he turned in an album so perfect and undeniable I felt like we suddenly had a magical sphere around us. Like we had something fortified with X factor. We can go anywhere with it. Do anything with it. Ride it like a magic carpet! It dissolves walls! It fixes leaks! Shine it like a beacon! Apply it to wounds! It's important not to get to grandiose about projects, I know. But sometimes you get to be a part of something that's time has come. It's not a rush of Napoleonic delusion. It's an emergent Presence who's time has come. The atmosphere assembles anew around it. It transfigures. It has a way of dispelling struggling, demystifying the puzzle. And somewhere in the making of this album, that quality began to define everything about it. The album kept showing us over and over that it was *CHARMED*. It started when:

*Steve Brill let me write a song for his new movie Drill Bit Taylor. He sent me ten minutes of footage from the end of the film, and asked me to try writing some things. I put together a song. He said "It's catchy, but... what's that humming? I like that humming thing you do at the beginning." I re-wrote the song around that humming. It became Already Free. I wrote the whole thing watching Owen Wilson's character in those last scenes. Seeing his part and the female lead (Leslie Mann, I believe), I was hit by Relationship as the Way. The way we wake each other up. Enlightenment through family, love, relationship. And something simple and new sparked in me. I saw all those years of Zen meditation and retreats and esoteric practices as an audition for an even deeper form of practice. Family. Kids. Wife. And the song came from that place. My wife, my family, mandala of Mystery.

Steve liked it. He put it in the film. It was time to make the rest of the album. The day I landed in L.A., Steve called me and said 'come to the lot'. I drove from LAX to the Paramount lot, walked into a cavernous theater where Steve and a half dozen people were finishing up the movie. They had my song cued up with the movie, and I watched and listened as Already Free played on an absolutely gigantic screen and piped through a surround sound system. They were mixing it on a board that was literally the largest console I've ever seen in my life. It looked like a 400 channel mixing console, it went from one side of the room to the other. Watching the footage with my song was one of the great milestones of my entire career. It hit me, at that moment, that things were about to change. A lot. Sounds romantic but it's true. Not just the movie, but what that situation represented. I was on the Paramount lot watching my song in a major motion picture. I definitely felt a shift. That was the first definite sign the album was charmed.

*But the signs kept coming. For instance. We were recording at Henson Studios, an enormous lot which is sort of the epicenter of rock 'n roll in Hollywood. It's about a dozen studios on one lot, plus sound stages, video and film production facilities. Virtually any act or producer you can think of has worked there. U2 to Karen Carpenter. Legends are always walking around, that's not unusual for that kind of facility in showbiz. It's a lot. But what is different about Henson is the community. There really is actually a community feeling there, and the artist support each other and interact. That is VERY unusual in my experience. Usually getting rock 'n roll egos to co-operate is like herding cats. But at Henson, it's different.

For instance, one day John Shanks (grammy winning producer, has sold some 50 million plus albums in recent years) was taking a lunch break from his Celine Dion project. He goes "what are you guys working on?" We tell him. He says to let him know if we'd like him to play some guitars. We look at each other and smile YES! We get out our calendars. When would be a good time? He shrugs. "How about now?" We jump up, scramble, get our gear, head over to his studio (which is next door) and John spends the night laying down all the electric guitar tracks on the song, and they are SO good.

It was CHARMED. Fairy dust. SURREAL. But that kind of thing happened over and over. Eddie Kowalczyk came in and spent the day recording gorgeous vocals for Miracle. A highlight of my life to working with that Bodhisattva. He's an exemplar for musical agents in the Mystery if there ever was one. Wendy Melvoin came in and put guitars on Sugar Bullets. Brendan Obrien played guitar on Already Free, and in one of my favorite moments of my career, I got to hear Alex Gibson and Brendan Obrien cutting heads on guitar solos (Already Free). Dave Levita absolutely hit Twisted Mystery and Wand out of the park. At every turn people arrived and sprinkled LOVE on this project. It was that kind of summer. Alex would be on the lot, he'd see Randy Jackson. Randy would say "what are you working on, Alex?" This new album. "Oh, come on up. Let's talk about it." None of it was planned or pushed, it all just came together in a series of perfect surprises.

2007 blew my mind. I cannot wait to see what wonders will come in 2008. I have some incredibly strong intuitions...

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