I’ve just finished reading Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter by Alyn Shipton. I’ve been fascinated with the man’s work this year and wanted to glean more insights into the making of his finer albums. The big eye opener for a DYI “bedroom artist” like myself was the sheer amount of manpower and money funneled into his records. The studio, the big name producer, the well-regarded arranger, the top notch engineers, and a small army of fantastic studio musicians who were all brought to bear on Nilsson’s work. And when the book describes the personnel required for symphonic backing tracks: “a forty-piece orchestra and twenty-four singers” I’m just floored.
I’m not even sure albums are made like this much anymore except by the biggest acts. I have to admit it makes me a bit envious. What kind of record could I make with that sort of backing? If I could focus solely on my singing and songwriting how much better would they be?
I can’t see the answer arriving anytime soon. That dream seems very far away. As much as I’d love to work with a Richard Perry, a Alan Parsons, or Tony Visconti I have a very hard time imagining how that would happen in the near future.
Anyhow, for an inside look at how records used to be made and the hijinks of one of the 70s great singer songwriters I heartily recommend this book.
I finally saw the synthpop band Synful Pleasure a couple of weeks ago and they were really good. They took the stage with two keyboardist, one drummer with an electroic kit, and a tenor singer – not a guitar in sight. They played exclusively covers from the 80s (Safety Dance, West End Girls, et. al. ) and did a really solid job. They stayed focused on danceable tracks and had the audience up and on the floor.
It was interesting hearing them in contrast to normal rock bands. The drums and bass were HUGE and filled out the low end in a way you normally don’t hear. This did end up compromising the mid range a bit as it was squeezed from below but the singer’s tone was light and high enough to soar above it all even if some middle range synth riffs were buried.
Good stuff. Catch them if you can.
As pre normal I snapped a LOT of pictures on the trip. Here are my favorite 20 in no particular order:
The Cartoosa Whale
Probably my favorite thing on the whole trip. A giant whale that used to serve as a platform for swimming. It has no purpose or reason, it just is and I love it.
The U Drop Inn
Gorgeous art deco building in Texas. Probably one of the best pieces of architecture I saw on the whole trip. It’s a pity the dinner inside it closed in the 90s.
A store with a tepee entrance? I’m so there. It doesn’t get much more “Route 66″ than this.
Thunderbird Lounge Sign
Just great looking. I wish I’d seen it at night when it was lit up.
The Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Part
The petrified wood was very cool but it was the badlands and painted deserts that really were the big sights to see.
Rainbow Rock Store
A bunch of cheesy dinosaurs stood outside this store, well, for no real reason I guess. But I loved photographing them.
The Wigwam Motel
Motel rooms in the shape of tepees.
Daniel and His Mom Daniel was SO happy to see his mom again and I love this picture of them together.
Arcosanti Arch The retro-futurist “city” was fascinating to visit. I’ll do a whole blog post on it sometime.
We almost missed seeing this place and the crazy 150+ corvette rally that descended upon it shortly after we arrived. Good times!
This pic sums up a lot of our Route 66 experience. Daniel under the sign and my Honda Element (the Gingernaut) in the background).
A monstrous robot at Burning Man. Two people could climb inside and control it’s movements and make it spit fire.
I’m not sure this huge icosahedron was actually intended to be the iconic “20-sided die” but I like to imagine it that way.
Seeing what was seen.
A super cool art car that crawled like a crab across the playa.
Climbable and lit up at night.
The clouds and neon make this one of my favorite pictures.
Colorful translucent cubes.
Fitz and Daniel
My second favorite picture of Daniel and I at the burn. I’d post the favorite but we’re naked taking a shower in a giant flower.
This was a companion peice to the spider above made by the same artist.
A very large art piece that housed a sleeping area in its abdomen.