Boulder, CO – “Rhinestone Roller Skates” – Buffalo Exchange – September 12, 1998

The CD release party was, phewwwwww, a big success. There were over 300 people there and we got an encore.   Jeremy and Kenny killed every song. They were so tuned into each other and I felt like I was actually playing with professionals. And Dave Rastatter! Oh my God, he was amazing.  Thank God he was available to fill in for Brian on the drums last minute.  He punctuated every tune with flare AND snare and learned all my songs in less than a week.  We sold 79 CDs after the show. The line for them wrapped around the lobby in zigzags. I shook all customer’s hands, smiled for photos, and signed each and every CD I sold.

Zuba’s lead singer, Liza Oxnard, and I got a little acoustic gig the next day singing unplugged with just a pair of guitars strapped to our backs at Buffalo Exchange (the very place slept in front of when I first got to Boulder).  Inside the second-hand store was every funky garment you could dream of wearing. When I asked if we could wear some of their garb for our sets we were told to “have at it.” 

Like kids in a candy store, we picked out rhinestone-covered roller skates for each other, bright orange boating life vests, and fleece-lined earflap hunting caps with rainbow ski goggles.  As customers shopped we traded off singing our songs and skateing through the isles having a total blast.  Liza is really sweet despite her armor-like demeanor.  No one could have such soft skin and be bad.  I love her.  She’s always been one of my musical heroes and it was an honor to play with her in my first (parking lot) home away from home.

After we strummed and sang and turned in our ski goggles and rollerskates, I walked home with a box of CDs I hadn’t managed to sell, under my arm.   I decided to drop by my post office on my way home.  The shipping center I use is located in a duplex shared with a gun shop.  Randomly, a big burly fella was aiming a shotgun at a stuffed buffalo head on the wall above my head when I walked in and nearly scared the CDs out of me.   Rick, the PO attendant who is adorable and wears nothing but plaid flannel, told me “You’ve got a lot of mail!  and it’s from all over the place!!”  I opened my box “Suite #176 ;)” to reveal 25 individual orders for Tomboy Bride!  I was shocked beyond words and got to work straight away.  I filled out all the envelopes and put little handwritten notes in each one.

I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel.  Who knew you could sell CDs on the World Wide Web?!?!

Boulder, CO – Tomboy Bride CD Release Party – The Fox Theater – September 9, 1998

Tomboy Bride’s CD release party is in two days (Sept 11).  I’m playing The Fox Theater on a double bill with Zuba (who are holding their own CD release party) and I’m nervous. 

I played last night at The Oasis, a small joint with a low ceiling, neon lights, pool tables, and no emergency exit.  You take your life into your own hands watching live music at The Oasis.  I wore my lion yellow dress and brown boots; the ones with a hole in the left sole which leave my socks perpetually wet whether it’s raining or not.  I had a discombobulating set. My guitar strap kept slipping and my mic stand kept bouncing off my lips, redistributing lipstick around my face. 

Bill Bennet, the manager of the Fox Theater, was there and when I came off the stage flustered with a lash stuck in my eye he whispered kindly: “You won’t be a secret for much longer,” which redeemed the gig entirely.

(Left to Right) Kenny Castro (Bass), Jeremy Lichter (Guitar & BGV), Brian McRae (Drums)

On Saturday Jeremy Lichter (guitar player & background vocalist) finally arrived to complete the band. and not a moment too soon.  We were lucky that the Tribes rehearsal space was available. We were able to practice a few extra nights so Jeremy could fine-tune his harmonies and guitar parts.  The band was just starting to sound tight when Brian Mcrae broke the news to me.

Brian Mcrae

“I am so sorry.  I forgot I told Sherry Jackson (another Colorado singer-songwriter) I’d play a show with her this Friday in Fort Collins.”

“Do you mean you can’t make the CD release at The Fox?” He shook his head, sucked in his breath and clenched his teeth.  Time stood frozen. I stood like a deer in the headlights, the wind knocked out of me.  Brian was terribly apologetic, making it easier to reassure him “It’s okay Bri.  Life is like that,” while promising myself never to trust another drummer.  I spent the next 24 hours calling around until I found David Rastatter, Nina Story’s drummer who said he was available and excited to play with me.  Good Lord my heart.  Managing musicians is simply the worst.

On Monday I made my way out to Spruce and 13th where I’d rented Jeremy a condo to make his transition to Boulder easier.  I showed up at our appointed time, 4 pm, to sign over the lease but Jeremy was a no-show and the landlord had other meetings and couldn’t wait for him.  I sat in a skinny patch of grass in the middle of the parking lot with the sun’s last rays on my face, bile rising in my throat.  Jeremy didn’t arrive until after 5:30.  As he swaggered out of his car in his aviators laughing I tried to imagine he had a good excuse for standing me up. But instead, he had the audacity to tell me he’d been out looking at rehearsal spaces for a side band he planned on starting.

“Get back in your car and drive back east,” I pointed in the general direction “I’m not gonna put up with your shit.  I’m not your babysitter and I’m not your mother.  I’m your boss!  And I’m the one doing YOU the favors here so show some fucking respect.”  Now, something you might not know about me is, I rarely get mad.  I’m 90% good-natured and of the 10% of me that’s ruffleable, 9% is resourced enough to self-soothe and get on with the show.  However, there is 1% of me few have seen and it comes out when I’ve got nothing left to lose.

As I pointed east and put my foot down and stuck my chin out and squinted in disbelief and hit my forehead with the palm of my hand I could see curtains fluttering out of the corner of my eye. Neighbors were trying to catch a glance at what was being thrown down in their parking lot. 

“Now,” I continued, unperturbed “I don’t know where you get off telling me you’re gonna start your own band here in Boulder after I brought you out to be part of mine, but if you think you’re gonna flake on me you better damn well tell me now and let me get on with the business of hiring a serious player ‘cause  I don’t have time for this crap.”

I was done and breathing hard and Jeremy was scared as shit and ready to fly to the moon if I asked him to.  He shook his head and then shook my hand and assured me with an authentic sigh “I promise. I promise you, Sally Taylor, I am your guitar player and nothing is going to get in the way of that.”  I looked for his pupils behind his aviators and wondered if I could trust him as far as I could throw him.

“Cause, I need a serious band ya know?  Don’t make me regret this Jeremy.” I said catching my breath.  The fire was out, the bridge hadn’t burned irreparably.  The condo residents released their curtains and went back to their post-work bong hits and cleaning out their cat litter boxes and I drove back home with my own eyes watching me from 800 CDs in the trunk.

Boulder, CO – “Musician or Star” – Tribes Rehearsal Space – September 3, 1998

Once upon a time I believed I needed to be a star to be important, to be loved, to be loveable but in the process, I stopped loving myself and started loving an image of myself.

“The music business is harsh,” Mama said, “the closer you get to #1 the greater the insecurity.  The more success you get, the more you feel you’ve got something to prove.  You can never rest.  Your next album has always got to be better…” and all I can think as she speaks and I unintentionally strangle the receiver is:  ‘This is not me.  This is not who I am.  I am a musician.  I am not a ‘star.’  Thank God I am not signed to a label.’  Yet here I am in this little parked car with 800 CDs in the trunk.  I sold a few in the mail this week which I packaged and sent off with little handwritten thank-you notes.  I also got an order from a record store in Japan which I think is pretty cool and wild.

I rehearsed for the upcoming Tomboy Bride gigs with Kenny Castro (bass) and Brian McRae (drums) last night at Tribes Drums headquarters.  Tribes is a major upgrade from the Doppler Circus garage space.  It has an actual heating system, a soundboard that doesn’t crackle and threaten electrocution, and looks out over the mountains where the sky blushes at sunset.  Brian and Kenny are AWESOME and have agreed to be my rhythm section (Thank God!).  They showed up to our first rehearsal with bells on, and my songs memorized and ready to be counted off.  But my guitar player of choice, Jeremy Lichter from Martha’s Vineyard has been flakier than a chemical peel.   It’s a terrible sign that he’s still not here in Boulder two weeks after his due date and he hasn’t even called me.  I just have to pray he’ll be here soon and know the material. 

As I returned to my apartment the sky was chock full of stars and I could feel autumn in the air.  ‘This is the first Fall I won’t be returning to school in my LIFE’ it occurred to me.  But I reassured myself that this next chapter will still be an education for me; a musical education.  No matter what, Fall always feels to me like a new beginning, like the first dunk into a cool pool, a baptism.

Nantucket, MA – “Ecstasy, Goldschlager & The Naked Show” – The Muse – August 25, 1998

I went back home to Massachusetts to play a doubleheader with my old disco band “The Boogies.”  I dusted off my old twelve-inch tall, hot pink, patent leather platforms and shoehorned myself into my old rubber catsuit, the one with the black studded sequins.  This weekend I’d hold nothing back I told myself.  The Boogies have always turned outrageous up to 11.  Once, we closed out a season with a “naked” show.

On the eve of our last summer concert, I bought 40 pairs of nude pantyhose and we shellacked ourselves with multiple layers.  We cut crotches and feet off half of them and wore them as shirts.  Realizing how androgynous we looked in our Barbie and Ken get-ups, we drew on various private parts to make ourselves look more believably naked and I covered my nipples with beer caps.  The guys in the band took advantage of excess stocking feet to endow themselves with unreasonably large and awkwardly lumpy appendages. 

Before the stage call, we covered our stocking outfits with customary pink and teal uniforms.  When it came time to sing our last song, we gave each other a nod and casually stripped off our clothing to reveal our faux-nakedness.  Every mouth dropped to the floor.  The air went out of the building.  The audience was so stunned they couldn’t dance.  We were thrilled and giddy and jumped around the stage singing “YMCA.”

Abandoning our clothes on stage, we ran into the green room where a friend from the crowd found us.

“I can’t believe you guys played NAKED!!!!!!” He said breathlessly

“Ha! Ha!” We said  “Joke’s on you!  We weren’t naked. We had these stockings on!”

“No No.” Said our friend “Joke’s on YOU! The stage lights shone straight through those things.”  We rolled on the floor laughing.  President Clinton’s Secret Service team had been at the show and offered us a gig the following week at the President’s press party.  That wound up being an even wilder night. But that’s a show for a different time.

So, back to my patent leather platforms and rubber sequin catsuit…. After ensuring everything still fit, I packed my outfit “neatly” into a ball, threw 10 plastic rings and a canister of glitter into a backpack and hitched a ride on a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard’s sister island, Nantucket.  “The Boogies were booked for two shows back-to-back at the hottest club on the island – The Muse. 

The Boogies and various Boogie girlfriends congealed in “the band house,” on The Muse campus. Having played there 3 summers running, we knew what to expect: A splinter-happy plywood floor, a pound of beach sand littered around each room, 2X4 indestructible bunk beds adorned with band graffitied penis’ and your run-of-the-mill island slander, couches so used they threatened to get you pregnant if you sat on ‘um too long, chipped mugs stolen from chipped diners and cracked mirrors on cracked walls.   

Though the 10 of us hadn’t played together in a year, the guys reassured me we didn’t need a rehearsal.  “The songs’ll just come back to you,” they said handing me a tab of ecstasy.  While I’d always been a strong advocate of our pre-show Goldschlager shot, this was a horse of a different color.  But it took me all of a second before that pill was chased down my throat by some Lemon Shnapps.   

With my catsuit on and glitter both inside and out (thanks to Goldschlager still playing a part in pre-game tradition) we marched through the woods to the stage.  It’s easy to believe an audience loves you when you’re tripping on ecstasy.  The bubbles that meandered from ceiling to floor felt like kisses blown directly to me by the adoring crowd.  The dancing floor, full of drunks looked magically choreographed somehow and everyone at the bar looked like they’d just walked off a modeling shoot.  Of course, this was MY onstage ecstasy experience.  Not everyone was having such a euphoric time.   Two of our three backup singers got sick before the 3rd song. Our bass player, who’d taken two hits, was too whammied to keep his eyes open and our guitarist kept sidling up to me mid-song convinced the audience was trying to put a spell on him!  He was inconsolable.  There were no intros or outros or cues between songs, it all just flowed like an orange tangerine taffy kaleidoscope. And two things became abundantly clear #1 I should NEVER do ecstasy on stage again and #2 The guys were right, those songs did come right back to me.

Los Angeles, CA – “The Ego Petting Zoo” – August 18, 1998

This whole week was like being at an ego petting zoo.

I got to play another show with Dad in LA, this time with Carol King at the famous Hollywood Bowl.  My nerves weren’t as bad as the ones at Fiddler’s Green despite a crowd I knew was chock full of famous industry people.  Backstage, after the show, there were amazing artists and actors with compliments and gifts and hugs and tears in their eyes that they credited to my song.  But swimming in the same waters were sharks on the prowl. They asked me in hushed tones, like drug dealers, if I’d signed a deal yet and could they get me in to discuss a record proposal this week.   I declined with humility but clarity. 

I took a meeting with an entertainment lawyer the next day just off Rodeo Drive.  Fred’s office was strung with some of the most beautiful guitars I’d ever seen strumming silent chords to welcome me.  Fred said he loved my songwriting and voice “It’s not like either of your parents.  It’s something all its own.”  He suggested we get some record company money behind it and that he’d help me.  But this trip out to LA has made me sure of one thing: I want to go this CD alone.  I need time to develop myself outside of the spotlight.  I want to build a relationship with my audience and figure out what I really want from the inside out rather than the outside in. 

Fred was surprisingly supportive.  He offered this advice — “Figure out where you want to be in 5 years from now and what you need in 2 years to get you there.” At this, he took a guitar off the wall and asked me to play him a song.  As I sang, in the eternity between chords, I became clear about where I don’t want to be in 5 years:

  • Scared I’ll fail if I don’t get a ‘hit.’
  • Scared of getting old or undesirable
  • Bossy
  • Hungry
  • Inauthentic
  • Manipulative
  • Egocentric
  • Lonely
  • In a career that accommodates or alleviates my fears

While I know this is not the destiny of every signed artist, I think I know myself well enough to say it’s the course I would take.  I don’t think I’ll know what I want until I start touring.  I’ll cut my own path once I get there. 

Steamboat, CO – Old Town Pub – August 7, 1998

I’ve heard having a resentment is akin to lighting yourself on fire and hoping the smoke will bother the person you’re pissed at.  I played a gig in Steamboat over the weekend cursed with wretched mic feedback that screeched like a banshee every few songs and threatened to chase away my crowd.  I know it’s not saying much, but, between loud shrieks, I felt like the small audience really listened. 

My boyfriend was drunk and stoned and rushed around the crowd like a whirling dervish doing squat thrusts and challenging people to wrestle.  I could hear him shouting over the music and felt embarrassed.  The ride back to Boulder was full of silence, hours of heart-shattering mountain beauty, and spitting resentment. 

Greenwood, CO – Fiddler’s Green with Dad – July 28, 1998

Dad was coming to town.  He called Thursday to say he was at the international airport in Denver and, would I be interested in playing “Sign of Rain” at his sold-out 18,000 Fidler’s Green Amphitheater show over the weekend.    

His call came in as I was packing up after a terrible, nerve-wracking gig opening for a local gal named Lee Nestor.  I clutched my new cell phone between my shoulder and my ear as I repeatedly stabbed my guitar into my trunk trying to tetris it between a mic stand and amplifier.   The night was cool. A low garland of clouds stood sentinel around the foot of the Flatiron lit by the moon. 

“What Dad?!?” 

“Do you want to play one of your songs at my gig at Fiddler’s this weekend?”

“Yes, Of course, I want to Dad!  God, thank you so much for asking.”

“Sure my Sal.  I really love that song.” I was terrified and thrilled. 

“Let’s meet up before the show and work out some parts.”

“Yeah, sure, of course,” I said absentmindedly, consumed by fear at the prospect. How was I going to play for 18,000 people when I’d just come from an audience of 20 shaking from head to toe?

Dad and I met up backstage at Fiddler’s Green on the day of the show in the Kraft services room which was peppered with processed meats, chips and sugar cookies.  I grazed nervously on pineapple slices skewered un-consentually with grapes on flimsy toothpicks.  Dad fisted handfuls of mixed nuts, tossing them around in his palm like a percussion instrument waiting to finish his last mouthful. It was great and relieving to see him.  We sat on red pleather couches and worked up some harmonies. He complimented my voice which made my confidence soar. 

But after sound check and vocal exercises and the last pineapple kabob, I began to get nervous in a way I’ve never before experienced.  I had to put a towel over my head and lie down on the couch in Dad’s dressing room.  I found myself choking on heartbeats stuck in my throat. 

When I told Dad how scared I was, he reassured me sweetly, “You know, I still get nervous going on stage too Sal.”  I was pretty sure this was untrue but his warm hand on my shoulder was gentle and calming and even when he left me in the shadow, stage left, to enter the blinding lights on stage, I could still feel his hand there, letting me know it’d be ok.

I don’t think I moved, let alone took a full breath between that moment and the time he introduced me.  But as he said into the mic “I’d like to introduce my own flesh and blood, Sally Taylor.” I pulled my spirit back into my belly with a full laugh and a toss of my giant hair. I leaned into every one of those knife-like nerves knowing they had enough voltage to electrocute me.  I didn’t squint into the light, I let it burn me alive and as I plucked the first 3 strings, I was connected to Source by 36,000 eyes.  This was AMAZING and miraculously, as I went into the chorus “Maybe it’s a sign of rain..” the heavens opened up and it started to rain a warm, relieving, summer rain on the crowd. I could hear an audible “ahh –“ and when I turned to look at Dad, his eyes were glowing like sapphires, full of pride.

My song.  MY song.  MY SONG!  Vibrating through all those hearts. 

And here is what I learned — The nervousness I felt, was my body’s reaction to resisting the love trying to come through me, meant for the audience.  It was so hard to hold all the love the universe had in store for that giant crowd.  I didn’t trust I could deliver it.  I felt like a congested pen desperate to deliver ink to a brilliant thought.   I realized that perhaps that is the job of the artist. Dancers, writers, painters, perfumers, singers, we strive, less to create than to remove obstacles that stand in the way of people receiving the love always meant for them.  We attempt to transcribe universal love into the language of the human heart.  We are conduits, vessels, and postmen. are pens, not the ink.

Thank you Dad.  What an amazing opportunity.  Thank you Fiddler’s Green.  Thank you Rain.

New York City – Donald Fagen is Producing My Song – July 12, 1998

I’m in the studio with one of my all-time favorite musicians, Donald Fagen (Of Steely Dan) and he’s about to produce my song.  How did I get here? 

My mom’s naughtiest running partner and oldest friend, Libby Titus, happens to be married to Donald and somehow my cheep little demo tape with my hedgehog, Fatty J’s scratchings on it, wound up in his cassette player and he had feedback about my song “When We’re Together.”

“The performance isn’t completely sure of itself and there are some pitchy notes,” I cringed as Mom and I hung on his every word, sharing the receiver between us.  “But overall, you’re a great singer and you have a really original thing going on.”  Oh phew, I thought! “I think you have two options,” he continued “#1 You let it be.  It’s a great song and you can leave it as is.  #2 You re-record it and you let me produce it.  I’m free tomorrow and Friday.”

What What What?!?!? How could I turn down that offer?!?!?  

But… I was terrified.  I didn’t know if I could sing the song any better and feared making a fool of myself in front of one of the great musical legends.  “I’m so honored Donald.  I mean, I can’t believe I’m saying this but I am not sure I can make it to New York that soon.”

“Don’t be a fool!” Libby grabbed the receiver giving away her position, “Go to New York tomorrow and let Donald produce this track.”  In a girlish teasing fun-loving way, Mom repeated all Libby’s sentiments ganging up on me  “You’re a fool to turn this down.” “What have you got to lose?” “Don’t you want Donald to do your track?” as my mom and Libby’s voices tangled into a dance around my heart I admitted my insecurities just to stop their love heckling. 

“You know, I am so completely flabbergasted” (yes, I said flabbergasted) “by the opportunity but honestly, I’m insecure about whether or not I can actually do it better.”  This statement only baited the girls into greater peer pressure:

“You CAN do it better.”  They insisted “You’re a fool.”  “You’ll regret this.”  “Come down to New York.” “Why don’t you want to do this?” and suddenly Pheobe Snow was on the phone too (where did she come from?!) joining in on the girl chorus with “It’s a great song, Sally.  You go girl.  Come record with Donald.”

And the matter was settled. 

I flew from Martha’s Vineyard to New York on Friday.  I did vocal exercises for an hour and then practiced the song over and over and over until the bass distorted the speakers. Finally, shaking like a leaf, I hailed a taxi to River Sound Studio on East 95th.  When I pulled up, the driver didn’t have change for my $20 so I ran into a Chinese laundromat where I was promptly turned away.  But miraculously, the driver told me not to worry about it!  Even when I insisted I pay him he drove away apologizing to ME for not having change. 

Donald was walking up the street as I was walking into his studio.  I kissed his cheek in a knee-jerk nervous reaction and he laughed.  He introduced me to Phil, his engineer, and showed me around his phenomenal space filled with Asian rugs and gold records and a punching bag called “Slam-Man” who I deduced was used to de-stress between difficult takes.  As Donald and Phil set up I admitted to them I was nervous.

“Aw, don’t be,” said Donald “I spent years in this studio creating badly pitched tracks.”  It was kind of him to say but did little to alleviate my shaking.

It took 12 takes.  The whole song.  Only 12 takes.  “From that, we have enough to create the perfect track,” said Donald.  He complimented me a lot, probably because he knew how worried I was about the whole thing.   “I love your voice,” he said, and “Man, this song is really a winner,” he said, and “You’ve got great pitch” and “I think you’re going about making this CD the right and smart way.”  And then he said “You can’t pay me for this session.  I really enjoyed doing this for you.”

And when the night was wrung dry, and the perfect track had been mixed, Donald held his breath for a moment, turned to me, and said “There’s just one thing missing.”  There in the wee hours of New York City morning, Donald Fagen donned a pair of headphones, entered the sound booth, and lay down a track of wind chimes.  “Now it’s complete.”

“Do you mind if I call in my partner Walter Becker in to give it a listen with fresh ears?” asked Donald. Are you kidding? Of course I was ok with that! Steely Dan’s other half walked in with blue and white corner store coffee in hand. He gave me a little hug and a smile and then turned his attention to the song.

“Is this your song?” Walter asked

“Yeah,” I replied.

“It’s really great,” he said. 

Together, Steely Dan punched and mixed and replayed my song over and over like it was a piece of molten gold that needed to be washed of impurities. When the song was done we walked down the 5 flights of stairs. We said our goodbyes as the night bled into a new day. Donald ceremoniously handed me our track on a tiny cassette and Walter, as he walked away called over his shoulder “Call me when it goes gold.”

Genius!  Thank you, Walter. Thank you, Libby.  Thank you, mama.  Thank you, Donald.

Vail, CO – “Let’s Rodeo” – The Catacombs & State Bridge – July 2, 1998

The CD is mastered!  I have in my hand one shiny, polished, bouncing baby CD. I hold it in my hands and look through the donut hole in the center staring into my future.  This is the CD from which all other Tomboy Bride CDs will be copied.  It scares the shit out of me.  Now I feel like I truly understand the saying “Fruits of your labor.”  This music production is not for the weak-hearted I am exhausted and completely freaked out.  How on earth did I end up with this thing that seems to breathe without me and yet IS me?  Listening to it on the car speakers on my way home from mastering is unbearable.  Each note sounds off somehow yet I know  I’m just too close to it to hear it without all my insecurities clapping my ears like a schoolyard bully. 

I played “Catacombs” this week with The Women From Mars, a collection of local gals who get together monthly despite where they are in their tour cycles.  We play together to benefit breast cancer research.  The night was vibrant and it was healing to be surrounded by my mountain sisters; Wendy Woo, Jude, Nicole Jamrose, Liza Oxnard, and Libby Kirkpatrick to name a few. We strung guitars and tried each other’s gloss and essential oils in the green room. We nicknamed our backstage “the womb” and we bonded, listening to each other’s latest strummings and celebrating our girl power.

I returned home to a call from Phil Ramone (of The Ramones!). He told me he’d loved my tape. “You’ve got a lot of nice stuff here Sally. Send me the CD when it’s done. I want to present it to Music Boulevard,” he said. I was thrilled and flattered.

Kipp asked me to open up for Zuba (the awesome band he manages) for a strand of Colorado gigs.  I was grateful for the opportunity but after our first gig at “State Bridge” outside Vail, standing up under a sign that read “Let’s Rodeo,” singing with my little acoustic guitar for cowboys and Hell’s Angels I realized I’d gotten in over my head.  Kipp and I scored a top bunk in the band house.   The night was cold and every two hours a train passed through the yard so loud it might’ve raised the dead.   The following day Zuba did a radio interview where the drummer, Wallace introduced himself as: “Hi, I’m stoned.”  I’m going to see if Kipp will excuse me from the rest of the dates.

New York City – Mom’s Birthday – June 26, 1998

It was Mom’s birthday yesterday.  She sits so tenderly inside my soul these days.  I can feel her hand on my hand guiding me tenderly into this scary world of music.  She took me into the living room in the early morning light, overlooking Central Park.  She told me she was proud to watch me producing my own record saying “You have to pass the torch on at some point, you know.”  Her eyes twinkled with restrained emotion. The fabric of her, I cradled in my arms.  How can this brilliant, pioneering, sweet angelic spirit be part of my makeup I thought.  She asked me if she could play me one of her new songs and when I said “Of Course mama!” she sat me down on the red velvet couch, fiddled with the dat recording device, and made unnecessary disclaimers about the sound quality and vocal performance before sitting beside me and holding my hand.  Of course, the song was beautiful. It was deep and soulful.  I felt so close to her and feeling close to her I felt closer to the sky.

Ben made focaccia bread birthday cake and lit a votive candle. We sang Happy Birthday which Mama couldn’t help but sing along to in harmony.  By mid-day, I had to get down to BootsTown Studio to finish up mixing with Wendy and Michael. When I got there they gave me the bad news:  “We’re not going to be able to finish all 11 songs.  You got to cut one.”  They recommended “In My Mind”  saying it just didn’t sound as “quality” as the rest of the tracks.

I asked for a moment to think and went into the drum booth to reclaim my stolen breath.  I was confused.  I felt so attached to “In My Mind” being on this record.  Who knows if I’ll ever make a second one, this might be its only chance to shine.  I walked back into the windowless control booth and announced “I want ‘In My Mind on there.  Let’s do what we need to to get it done.”  I felt the wind knocked out of my colleagues who’ve been killing themselves with 18-hour days to get these tracks done.  My guilt at their herculean efforts led to my relenting ½ way through the mix, “Maybe you’re right. Maybe the song’s not worth it.” I said.  “We’re all tired.”  I felt sick to my stomach leaving the song dead like roadkill on the battleground of the studio floor. It seemed to yelp as it joined the other discarded 2-inch tape on the chopping block.  By 3 am I was home looking through old drawings from 1979.  In the morning  I met up with Wendy on a park bench near a hot dog vendor.  “I’m afraid we might have to—“

She knew what I was going to say.  “Whatever Sal.  We’ll do whatever you want.”  I could have kissed her on the mouth.  We returned to the studio where Michael threw a silent fit but finished “In My Mind” in only an hour and a half.  Ahhhhhhhh.  I feel so much better.

Mixing is completed