Bombay Spleen…

A long time ago I met Tanuja Desai Hidier.  She wasn’t Desai Hidier yet.  Just Desai.  I placed an ad in the Village Voice looking for a singer.  I met 56 singers.  Tanuja was the 57th.  I knew Tanuja was going to be the singer when we shook hands.  I had known a few people before whom I have had musical chemistry with and I knew what it felt like.  Tanuja and I were bound for a colorful and chaotic collaboration.  io

It started with Io.  The band I needed a singer for.  Io was a confused band.  Fighting between early eighties post punk and seventies arena rock.  Our shows were blitzes of frenetic rhythms, distorted open chords and Tanuja screaming to be heard above the fray.  Then, we added a violinist.  Io lasted about fifteen months before Tanuja married and became Desai Hidier and moved to London.

The rock star pursuit of my life ended and I built a recording studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn opening for business in 2004.  Just as that was happening, Tanuja published her first novel Born Confused and contacted me about helping to record a booktrack for it.

When We Were Twins was released the same year.  Five of the albums fourteen tracks were written by Tanuja and I under our new title T&A.

Since that time, T&A has written and recorded whenever the ocean between us closed enough to bring us together.  One of our projects, and my personal favorite, is the Ferocious Love EP from 2010.

But Tanuja has been a busy bee since then writing a new novel that was released this week.  Bombay Blues continues the story of her character Dimple Lala as she heads to Bombay for a family wedding.

tanujadesaihidierAnd once again, T&A wrote six songs for the book’s accompanying booktrack.  Produced by Dave Sharma, Bombay Spleen was released this week along with the book.

Out of all the work Tanuja and I have created over the past twelve years, these songs are the ones I am most proud of.  So far.  Many thanks and congratulations to Dave Sharma for doing a magnificent job on production and to all of the other songwriters and musicians who worked on the album.  I am grateful to have been a part of this energetic collaboration and look forward to the next.

I Don’t Remember…(Peter Gabriel Cover)

I have a Pro Tools folder full of cover songs in various stages of incompleteness.

There’s a Prince song, a Janet Jackson song, a Eurythmics one, and yes, there’s even a Rod Stewart song.

My philosophy on cover songs is simple:

– if the remake is going to closely mirror the original, then the remake should be far superior
– if the remake is going to deviate from the original, it should be almost unrecognizable

It’s been these two basic rules that keep me from finishing the songs.

But sometimes, if you can put just enough of a twist on it, those two rules don’t have to apply.

A few weeks ago I was going to finish up the Prince cover. It’s the one song that was the farthest along and quite honestly sounded the best. I was remixing what I had already tracked, took a break and opened up my iTunes and started playing Peter Gabriel’s Shaking the Tree album.

That’s when I Don’t Remember started playing. There was always something about this song that bothered me. First of all, it sounds as if it could far apart at any moment. Tony Levin’s bass barely keeps it together. The drums all so behind the beat and hopelessly teetering that collapse is inevitable. It’s so raw and primal that it’s impossible to wrap your head around the fact that it’s suppose to be a pop song with an incredibly catchy hook.

And then there’s the way that Peter is singing the lead vocal. I’ve always envisioned him in the vocal booth singing a song about imprisonment, interrogation and possible torture with a big smile on his face. As if the protagonist had already lost his mind and in fact, remembered nothing at all. Even himself.

(I should note that there are two versions of I Don’t Remember. I’m speaking of the version on the Shaking the Tree album.)

The song is a jarring experience. It succeeds on so many levels that to even consider remaking it seems like sacrilege. But then I thought of the twist. What if the protagonist hadn’t lost his mind. What if he fought his interrogators every step of the way. Not only retaining himself but possible lying about not remembering. Then the music would need to be tighter and more exact. Instead of primal sparseness, a wall of revolution.

I have been a life long Peter Gabriel fan. I humbly produced this track with respect and most importantly, for the fun of it. My wife Jeannie Kim supplied the violin and Ed Littman, my go to mastering guy, put the finishing touches to it.