all songs written and arranged by Cody Weathers or *Cat Mayhugh/Cody Weathers, (c)(p)2008, all rights reserved.La Musique Naïve written and arranged by Cat Mayhugh/Cara, Hadley, and Cody Weathers, (c)(p)2008, all rights reserved.
The world is hungry for new images.The world is hungry for ecstatic truths.Or… at least I hope that this is true.Instead, I’m afraid, we as a species tend to get bogged down in the biological imperatives that have dictated our survival since the beginning of life.Eat, sleep, procreate.Hmm…is there more?How much have we, as a species, actually changed in the last thousand years?
Well, quite a bit…in a way.
New emergent technologies now, gradually and inevitably, are being integrated into these tradition-laden organic systems.The prospect is both promising and terrifying.I’m not sure we will make it work, but there seems to be no going back.
Art, as a profession, is a meaningless and ridiculous endeavor in the framework of survival.Perhaps it aids in mating…but what else?And is art as a seductive tool any more sensible than female swallows selecting for males with large tails? No. But art is mystical, art is cerebral and spiritual. Art is part of the answer to, "why do we exist?" even if it is a partial and incomplete answer.
Enter Werner Herzog…or perhaps more importantly, as far as my own small universe is concerned (and reader, you have entered a very small and personal universe, indeed)enter Cody Weathers.Ten years ago, Cody forced me to watch Aguirre, the Wrath of God.Cody and I have collaborated, in one way or another, for close to 20 years (music, film, photography, and yes, even lab partners back in Chemistry).And so, I watched Aguirre.And I hated it.Hated it so much that I went out of my way to find every Werner Herzog film I could get my hands on and watch each of them.I’ve only hated and loved one other artist as much, and that's Bresson.
Ten years later and I think I’ve seen just about every Herzog film that is readily available to view.The man is a genius—and there are but a handful of artists (in any medium) who I can say I admire as much.Far from flawless, it’s Herzog’s passion that distinguishes him.
And specifically, it’s his passion to both expand the medium, but also, to seek out redemption and humanity in the most remote and bizarre nooks that distinguishes Herzog’s films (and sometimes, there is no redemption, although there is always ecstatic redemption in the crafting of another beautiful film).
In 2002 I approached Cody with a simple premise—let’s do an album based on the films of Herzog.I knew that he was similarly affected by the films and I thought the project made sense.My original plan was to make the album and show up at the Aspen film festival drunk and wildly yelling, “Herzog! Herzog!” (I still think Werner would have enjoyed the frenzied Kinski-esque confrontation…especially as it would end with me handing him an album of music based on his films, but we all get older and wiser).
The idea was simple, but as with so many artistic journeys, the execution has proven less than simple.
Hot off of our success with Sunhouse Branch, the plan was that I would write a series of lyrics, Cody would provide the music, and we would figure out a way to produce the album.Lyrically, I approached the pieces using imagery almost entirely lifted from Herzog or Blake.All of the poems pose the same question, “Who’s steering the ship?”And in a very real way (straight from Herzog’s jungle film Fitzcarraldo), the answer is that nobody is, and we’re headed straight towards murderous rapids and waterfalls.Science and technology allow us to drag ships over mountains, but it’s our mystical tendencies that cut loose those ship to satisfy angry spirits.Will we survive?
The lyrics were fairly simple.I wrote the four core songs in about two months.Getting the music, together, however, has proven a much more daunting task.Cody stalled on the project (apparently writing and re-writing for over three years).Eventually, he produced counter-lyrics to my lyrics, and we agreed to use those lyrics as additional songs.In the meantime, I wrote a small, experimental song about love (which has also been included, and is counterpointed with his own lyrical equivalent).
In the end, Cody decided not to use any of the music he produced (which, by his accounts, could seemingly be used to write several Mahleresque symphonies and or musicals).Instead, he proposed (and I accepted) and alternate compositional and recording method.Using the same musicians that we had employed for Sunhouse Branch, the musicians were brought it, one by one, and given one part from one of Cody’s many musical thoughts, to sight read.Cody insisted, and I consented, that it was imperative that none of the musicians communicate with each other.He also insisted that we hypnotize each of the players to produce performances devoid of any musical affect (which has not been easy as neither of us are particularly good at hypnotizing people—we conceded in the case of the percusssionist by letting him “wrestle” with an imaginary bear for an hour and then performing the part).The performances, once produced, have then been “stiched” together to synthesize what Cody calls an “Edited Cinematic Polyphonic Score.”
And so, another two years have passed in this elaborate process.As we near the end of the project I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed it, despite delays, as I’m sure has Cody.“Eat, sleep, procreate” is little more than process, and artistic process, despite sometime lacking a distant attractor to guide it, is one of the more enjoyable tasks to set oneself on.
I'm glad this thing is over, and I can get back to eating fried-egg bacon cheeseburgers, taking naps, and pestering the nasty out of my better half.I'm freakin' exhausted, tell you what.I'm not even sure what the thing's about anymore.
It's easiest to talk about how we manufactured the performances this time out, seeing as how the musicians wanted nothing to do with us.Contrary to popular gallophobic belief, it's actually quite difficult to trick the French.Having written the score, we constructed an elaborate cover story that it was "the book" for an upcoming experimental Broadway Musical "Herzog Follies: Saving One Bullet For Myself."We had theatrical agents contact each of the players independently and arrange for them to "audition."It was of the utmost importance that their suspicions not be aroused by an overly-ambitious first day, so we invited them to a callback and then a final callback, wherein we harvested the trap.At that final callback, we queued up a click track [a recorded metronome] and had each of the musicians sight-read [play written music without prior rehearsal or knowledge of the music] their entire continuous part from the score.Keep in mind, this score makes extensive use of odd- and mixed-meters [unusual cycles of underlying "heartbeats" instead of the standard 4 or 3 beats per "sentence"] and metric modulation [changes in underlying, rather than overlaying speed].As if that weren't difficult enough, Cat insisted that the players be hypnotized.Apparently that's something in "Heart of Glass."I didn't want to admit that I hadn't seen the film, so I championed the idea --mostly because I was pretty sure that nobody on the floor was actually capable of inducing proper hypnosis and it wouldn't matter anyway.Of course, I didn't count on Elementary Penguin being so into altered consciousness to begin with, and his own enthusiastic para-ursine grappling fixation.That was a freaky day, and one I'll not soon choose to repeat.And remember, Cat and I had to hide behind mirrored glass, so I was reduced to helplessly watching this display of what I would normally call highly-delusional writhing, just hoping it wouldn't end with somebody incapacitated.Fortunately, these guys are waaaaaaaay better players than we had any right to expect, and somehow, they all got through it and I was able to synchronize all the parts together later and make something reasonably cohesive.Oh yeah, then we called them all back and said that they didn't get the gig.But they totally would have if it had been a real show.Mission accomplished, say I, and all great men before me.
The lyrics were a pain in the ass.I really wanted to avoid watching the films that Cat suggested, but he kept pressuring me to thematically unify our ideas.So it was either watch the films or lie to my collaborator.And as Kaptain Karl says, ultimately art is a lie baby, so in that light, I think I was all but ethically obligated to go ahead and fib in order to leave the artistic fiber of our emerging work unruptured.For the most part, I just stole key words from his songs and masked my style under the broad header of "songs inspired by...."I mean, it's not like I haven't pulled the same trick before (see Flame Cow: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).Somehow, I convinced him I was legit, and just wrote whatever I was able to.Musically, I was very excited by the idea of structuring the song cycle as a mirror image of modular concepts and utilizing odd- and mixed-meter exclusively with a real hard rock edge.That's probably not particularly resonant to Herzog's naturalistic ideals, but I have trouble getting into his thing, so, you know, it's open to interpretation.
When I first called Cat about doing a second Sunhouse Branch album, I mostly just wanted him to write some more lyrics so I could escape my rut.You know, it was nice last time to have a solid piece of wordcraft like "Absinthe Drinkers" in your hand rather than have to piece every little thing together. He does his thing, I do mine, and having him on board is like having a navigator after so many solo voyages: it just makes steering the ship that much easier.
The idea was simple, but as with so many artistic journeys, the execution has proven less than simple.
Then he comes back with his premise: "let’s do an album based on the films of Herzog."The proposal confused me, since I knew that he was similarly affected by Herzog's films --namely I thought we both agreed not to watch those anymore.But he just wouldn't let go of it, calling me drunk and screaming "Herzog!Herzog!" until I relented.
And specifically it’s his passion to both expand the medium, but also, to seek out redemption and humanity in the most remote and bizarre nooks that distinguishes Cat's ideas from those of other collaborators (yet sometimes it feels there is no redemption, although there is always ecstatic redemption in the crafting of another lucrative album).
But my problem remained that Cat had seen just about every Herzog film that is readily available to view, and even some that are only available on 8mm in the German archive.The man is driven, and frankly, I'm completely yang to that ying --the more he encouraged me to research, the more I resisted devoting three evenings to watching the additional films he cited in his lyrics.
Ten years ago, I forced him to watch Aguirre, the Wrath of God.And I hated it.Hated it so much that I went out of my way to look up every Werner Herzog film ever made and write them down on a list to specifically avoid.There was no freaking way I was watching them, even if it meant constructing a second elaborate ruse to deceive Cat.So I told him all kinds of lies.I picked up on his cues and I fed his enthusiasms a steady diet of baloney for the past two years.I've alternately claimed to be writing in a "hypna-gogo" trance, interviewing POWs, temporarily lobotomizing myself, and unlearning my social cues while building a transcontinental steamboat.It's been a very meaningless and ridiculous endeavor, I'll tell you what.
I got into rock music to get girls.I wanted to meet cute girls and have something interesting to say.I wanted a tool of seduction to augment my normal strategy of unflinching tall tales.Will this album make my wife a little extra zesty?No.She is utterly mystified by my participation in this overly-cerebral affair."Why are you doing this?" she questions.And I can't even summon a partial answer to that.
Fortunately for me, new recording technologies have integrated themselves into the traditional writer's toolkit, and I was able to phone my part of this in easier than ever before and move on to other, more personal projects that will hopefully get the missus all weak in the knees once again.The prospect of listening to the final mix is both promising and terrifying.I’m not sure we made it work, but there's no going back.
Well, not much, anyway.
The world is hungry for new sounds.The world is desperate for ecstatic ideas.Or…at least I wish that were true.Instead, I’m afraid, we as a species tend to get bogged down in our daily lives, and ultimately lose sight of our abstract intellectual pursuits in favor of the biological imperatives that have dictated our survival since the beginning of life.East, sleep, diddle each other.For so many of us, that's the passage of time.We can only hope that in some unfolding increment or dazzling sequence of sprints between dormancy, our collective consciousness can embrace something new in this, the next thousand years.
Kaspar Hauser: Cold sit still take fist take foot kick me so cold so eyes don't blink. Set free to die teach me to walk to walk and slip and fall and die. I walk I find a small warm fire sit still one spark can grow and grow. One heart can be as big as big one mind one heart can learn to walk one heart can fall and still get up to slip and fall not die but free to love and live to know the sun to know the cold is not the end. To know the sun and warmth and hope to walk and fall but rise and walk. To love the sun and clear blue sky. You hit and hate I live and learn to walk, to love, to stand and try. My heart is big and yours is small. My feet can take the road I walk my boots are like a pair of wings. My thoughts have grown and so have I. My thoughts have grown and so have I.
Wrath: There was nothing at the end. The last arrow saved one day at most from fate's appointed hour. And for nothing in the heat and endless flood, two by two our Noah drowned us. I think of home and Isabel, my love --the kinder fate I might have chosen, the way I might have died. CH: Oh wrath, forgetting Grace upon me. Mistakes in battle, fallen soldiers lie. And I, the blessed hero wounded. Oh wrath, my pride has let me die. And in her eyes and in a bed we'd share a thousand blessed pleasures. Sanctity, love, and warm grace fill our home. Our children loved and raised in faith surround me, which I forgot and took for granted here --turned my back on all I loved for gold. (CH) All metal tastes of blood, and my regret is true. My wealth dilute spills from my wound into the mighty dragging river and Isabel now cannot even widow be, though she shall be my final resting thought. Would I were with her in this sleep.
Cold Lessons: I am weaker than I thought, I'm despicable in my way. My feet on sand, I can be bought --a whore for pennies, curds and whey. This the hour to stand tall, I sit and watch beside the fray, and when the dust and blood is done, I grimace but slink away. It's not that I know not the choice were I a man I should've made, but simply I ignored the word --slipped inch by inch astray. CH: All my warmth comes from the sun, the fire that my sweetness tends, the food we grow, the love we make, the blood I promised to defend. I am fraught with petty doubt, I let fear decide the day. Panic fills my every step, each honor I betray. How did I become this wretch: how did I become this way? Would my missteps would be undone, my heart embrace that day....
Glass Hearted: Fragile pieces fit together, held in place with ribbon. Strong but brittle, hard but weak, a flaw of composition. Risk, reward, and consequence, the endless stakes of living. Love cannot be taken --love is only given. CH: Fill my heart with love, cup me in both hands. Never let me go, I am yours at last. Dormant passions rise --take this heart of glass. Fill it to the brim. I am yours at last. Magic touch creates a bond replenished in the quiet. Clutched and needed, desperate feasting passion's healthy diet. Appetites may wax and wane but balance wins the day. Love and honor, cherish you in love's resplendent way.
Heart of Glass: Ruby plates are broken and secrets are ruined. The prophets and shepherds fight invisible bruins. Where you goin'? Sonambulatin'? Skellig Michael? The local prison? CH: I like you, you have a heart of glass. (Guitar) Whatcha' doin' hypnotized? Firing a glass horse, laughing and dancing. CH. One falls and one falls, the first to fall dies. The monks here now gathered are nothing but spies. Where you been? All tranced up? Rearranging icons? Slashing at cushions? CH. The future's been lived, the future is past. Your blood can't make circles when it's made of glass. Don't know nothin', starin' at your cards. Don't do time in winter. Don't forget to feel.
Lessons in Darkness: CH: Lessons in darkness, lessons in largesse, lessons in madness, smoke in the sky. Who then, can talk after the torture? Who then can walk on oil that's water? Why can't the fires be stopped by the rain? Why can explosions stop fires with sound? Lift me up with music, let me soar through darkened clouds. Gather every raindrop, every veil of blood and doubt. (CH) What now, will you do with all of this oil? What now will you think when the snake starts to coil? Two towers fall, cards bring great change. Lovers are parted and crossbones are blamed. (CH) Let me down with music, let me wallow in the sea. Blood and oil floating on the ocean drowning me.
Wrath of God: CH: All around in the dark forest, one dark voice singing its chorus. Who then, now, does the chorus laud? Who then, now, is the Wrath of God? Look at this little sloth, my dear, he lives his life sleeping, unfamiliar with fear, now he struggles, now he's dreaming. How your worries disappear --compare you to his tired being. Unfamiliar with tears, now he struggles, now he's dreaming. See this stone made like a face? Trampled footsteps mark the place --footstep, footstep left by slaves; their restless zombies have no graves. (CH) Drifting cold in rapids white, wheels in wheels with no respite. All my friends are monkey men who scramble on and squeal in fright.
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser: CH: A question's no question if no answer's received. An answer's no answer if it can't be believed. How can one learn to write words of love, sacred names so very late, late in life never taught rules or games? How can one learn to think when stories end in empty dreams and Saharan days, days and nights, reason drowned in brackish streams? How can one learn to ask when trees are men as lies are true, knit like notes, hummed like tunes, neither purpose, thought or use? CH II: Bureaucrats care to do nothing but ponder. Ravens eat snow when they must have water. Kittens can't walk on only two legs. The unknowable child will die stealing eggs. Canon: Morning, cat so white, sit I by your side. Nice young girl so fair, sit you, stay you there. Slap, slap, I like milk, slap, slap, smooth as silk. How can one learn to live taught by mad and pitied beasts? Have they nothing more to give 'side the whip at my tongue?
Magic Box 4-5-6: Strange, this way I've moved the masses. All this frenzy grips with glue of chance. These small towns, they have their ways. They listen to the box for FBI romance. CH: Magic Box, I don't want to die for how I look or what the program said. In the shed I hear them planning. "Raped a toddler, we'll teach him," they say. "Maybe we should get the cops?" "But who respects a radar gun these days?" CH. Pepper could have thrown these dogs, but as it is, I make my final stand. Bramble arms and cutlass eyes, they beat me blue then shot me when I ran.
You Can Wait: Misty are the edges which tomorrow will snap clear. Will you remember? Can you forgive me? Distance is the cushion from the blade of my embrace. Will you remember I could've hurt you? Solace in the evening in your secret little space. I can still hear you. I know you're crying. Thunder is the curtain on the breaking of each tear. Will you remember how much you loved me? CH: You can wait, but I think you'd better leave me in the rain. Memory is the watchdog for the courage that I crave. Will you remember? Will you forgive me? Fragile is the moment of the breaking of your heart. Will you remember? Can you forgive me? I could only scar you with my hand upon your skin. I know it sounds like I don't remember. Sad and so familiar is the mirror of your face. I hope you know that I won't forget you. CH. Distant the horizon, and the champion of your heart. You will embrace him. He will adore you. Shadows of a journey, and a dream that speaks my name. Will you remember? Will you forgive me?
Kaspar Hauser 2: Sits waits long night blood rot mouth cry hiss p*** s*** rot eat sleep cry cold blood sick air horse s*** fly good air bad ear rot fear sky
Each: We each us all we walk we wish we walked not on in heat and rain and weighed with steel we each we wish despair the truth. We walk this road to die and nor a trade to make. This road is truly closing now, we walk some more we wish we each. We want to have the choice once more we want we each. We want again the choice of which to try we want to die a better day. We want to cling to life we each surprised we each have seen the shock in dead men's eyes and never each we knew the man who pointed us this lie. We each we wish we each despair the truth, we walk this road to die. We each will die one way. We plant the flag, we lose the flag we win the fight and fight some more, we fight until the die is cast. We walk this road to die. And you, ask I, if you were I, if you among us each, which cobble would your headstone be? We walk until we die.
Northern Star: Well, I left my home, struck out on my own driving on a dream, just my guts and me. Well, I headed west, struggled, failed at best. And I lost myself. And I lost the way. CH: Northern star, northern lights, and I put my life in the wild. Northern sea, carry me to the edge of an untamed maze. Well, I found my voice and I made my choice, and I filled my sails with storms. Well, I kept my word; lived among my herd, and I blessed the endless days. CH. (Inst. Br.) Well, it had to end --all things must, my friend-- on a day like any other day. But I lived my heart, and I found my part, and I hope she can forgive me....
Personal Mythology/La Musique Naïve: Love is the answer, love is my pillar. Bathe me in lightning, bathe me in thunder. Banish my weakness, rend it asunder. Drown my sorrow and sate my hunger. O light, most fair, redeemer of hearts, blazing softly, blazing brightly --warm embrace of solar fire. Ignite my wounds and dry them up. Grace, Grace, the grapeshot hope. All these teachers never taught me, never showed me the slippery slope. When you wish for love, fix your light to the wish, bind your words to your dreams and cast the net. Half the time, you hang yourself by your own rope.