I saw a picture I took in Paris two years ago, a picture of the Pantheon dome with the French flag flying in the foreground. For some reason I was transported back to my little Jimmy self, when I was about 10 or 11.
I used to be passionate about atlases, maps and flags, and when we travelled to Europe to live, I used to pore over the National Geographic Atlas of the World that Mom managed to lug with us. I had a collection of little European flags on sticks, and when extremely bored I tried to imagine allegiances to either the French flag – in case we stayed too long – or the British flag, because the au père that kept tabs on us turned out to be a patriotic right wing opera student from the U.K. I wonder what ever happened to her. She was never very skilled at putting on lipstick, she used too much and it seemed to flake all the time. It was literally frightening.
This might have been stirred up by my listening to the second Blood Sweat and Tears album yesterday, hoping to find some secret mixing tips. You know, the one with ‘Smiling Faces’ and ‘Spinning Wheel’. Or maybe you don’t. In any case, I was disappointed with the studio approach – the sound was kind of bland and under-produced to my discerning, ruined twentyfirst-century ears. I did hear a few old favorite horn riffs though, which may be the source of formative material in my thinking that’s part of what makes the Johnny Blazes horn work I do sound the way it sounds.
I am prepping to confront the next round of creative challenges when we drag the band back in to the studio in about a month. I want to enter the arena better prepared than last time.
There’s another thing nibbling at the corners of my temportal lobe. I’m reading Donald Fagen’s book ‘Eminent Hipsters’, a ropm through his upbringing, thinking, and tour bus journal from a low-budget pass through America he made with Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald. There’s all sorts of Cold War nostalgia and science fiction galore in that work, which speaks directly to my tail-of-the-boom inner child. Again, hoping for mixing tips or the occasional tidbit of studio wisdom, I’m instead feasting on DF’s steady diet of paranoia and mistrust of the wealthy. It’s good stuff, especially for me, but I get discouraged when I let myself think for even a moment that I am, like Donald, too old to be doing this stuff. So, forget it. Time to keep rocking.