How Can I Hold (collaboration with Genus Capra)

How Can I Hold

Not a whole lot of work got done on the Arc CDs since I last spoke to/at you, gentle readers. I should clarify: January was fairly productive, and I believe most of the tracks are ready to go; I’m awaiting final contributions from a couple of people.

February, on the other hand, turned out to be less so, for a very important reason. I’ll clarify that too: Pete did lay down some tasty 12-string work for Season Song from the first Arc CD, and we began work on Maze Of Mirrors from the second.

But most of my month was spent in collaboration: an outside project. At the start of the month, I was merely looking for a diversion from the Arc CDs; by the end of the month, I was thinking that this was very possibly the nicest February in recent memory (you all know my feelings about winter).

I’ve mentioned the wondrous Elaine DiMasi a couple of times in the last several blog posts; she sometimes operates under the pseudonym Genus Capra. We met several years ago; a flurry of e-mails, an exchange of our CDs via snail mail (we became fans), and then met her at an ice skating rink in Queens, where aside from lively conversation (largely hers—she’ll talk the sun out of the sky, but enthrallingly), I mostly remember very nearly taking her head off as she glided gracefully past, as I struggled to stay upright by waving my arms wantonly like semaphore on speed. I think I was back on terra firma by the time we hit the Guggenheim for a Kandinsky exhibit.

Last year, I somehow made CAPE appealing enough for her to want to sign on for it. Along with a team of individuals from such exotic places as New Zealand, Ottawa, the Far North Of New England, one of the Carolinas, and Austria—this team being christened Team Jericho Walls—she wrote and we tracked and produced our team’s song, Ordinary People (which reminds me, I should get that and a few other CAPE things up here now that I have a clue how to work with this new-fangled media player). She even contributed the voices of the angels on that; I’ve always felt that one of the more striking characteristics of her own albums is the backing harmonies, and I wanted that sonority somewhere in OP.

In January, we’d been going back and forth about spiritual topics, among them the soul’s journey, specifically the slippery slope of how that journey changes you—when you were happy with how you were before, but knowing that continuing to be that way stifles you and keeps you from having the things you want. Then, realizing that February was coming fast upon us, we decided to table our work on Season Song—and then she suggested: how about doing a FAWM song with me?

February Album Writing Month challenges professional and (mostly) amateur songwriters from all over the world to complete 14 songs in 28 days. They don’t necessarily have to be good songs (though invariably, Elaine’s are); they merely need to be songs. The concept doesn’t lend itself to my own compositional style for obvious reasons, but it’s fun to watch as the songs pile up.

So she suggested that while she was writing her thirteen other songs throughout the month (she made that target this year, by the way), she and I would work on one longer-form piece. “We’ll FAWM-ify you, and prog-rockify me..” was how she put it. When someone this talented offers me an opportunity like this, I think refusal is not an option. I’d been wanting to work one-on-one (she might say mano-a-mano) with her anyway since I heard her first album some years before.

You can hear the result of our work in the (now-operational) media player just above this text. Maybe that’s a misnomer.. it really didn’t feel like work; to me, by the end it felt like something bigger than both of us was emerging from the sky and all we had to do was observe, take notes, and try to replicate that.

In case you need them—you shouldn’t—the lyrics are here.

We’re already talking about The Next One.. but with the Arc deadline approaching and for other reasons I won’t divulge yet, that might need to wait a few months. I find myself chomping at the bit.. and very glad I didn’t wind up taking her head off at that skating rink.


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