Killing The Blues – Video
We’re twenty minutes into the “Invention of Everything Else” recording session when we start hearing a loud, arrhythmic clicking sound in our headphones.
Travis stops rolling.
“Ok,” he says. “Who’s got the bum cable?”
Chris and I aren’t plugged in. Tony protests.
“I checked everything before we started,” he says.
Chris and I are mic’d.
There are four microscopic screws between a bass and its nine volt. This was gonna’ take a sec. Given that I was gunning to record at least eight tunes in as many hours, we didn’t have much time to kill.
“You mind if I chip away at one of the solo tracks?” I ask.
“Rock,” Travis replies.
Five aborted takes of John Prine’s (by way of Shawn Colvin, Allison Krause and Robert Plant) “Killing The Blues” later, it’s pretty apparent that I’m not getting the take. It’s early. I’m jittery. The song doesn’t sound right: too loud, too fast, too forced.
Still, I don’t want to give up. After a dozen or more years, the song found me again recently, and has come to mean something. I want it on the record. And I’ve convinced jazz chanteuse Jamie Leonhart to sing and play harmonium on it.
‘The sun hasn’t even set yet,’ I think to myself. ‘How can I possibly feign the blues!?!’
Tony plus back in. The train’s back on the tracks. I give up.
Right around midnight, though, when pounding on the cajone for a few hours has left Ryan’s hands in sore need of a rest, I ask Chris and Tony to do me a solid. It’s late. We’re exhausted. But the clock is ticking, and our eyes — strained from the beers and the half light — can still find their way around a guitar.
“Will you guys try ‘Killing The Blues’ with me?” I ask. “It’s three chords: DAG.”
With nary a sigh or hurled beer can, my friends oblige, finding their way through a song they don’t know, and have never heard. In the middle of it, as Chris arpegiates a haunted, lilting solo, I feel goose bumps rising on my arm. Afterwards, we stumble out of our respective iso booths, and pat each other on the back.
“Thanks,” I say. “You’re the best.”