A quick update from New York… they don’t call this place Gotham City for nothing! While George Takei from Star Trek was in the building (yes, another day, another crew member from the Starship!) the muse took me strongly and swiftly, yea stealthily, and a song arose… ‘Roses‘
Oh, and I’ve been guerrilla gardening in Manhattan, sowing seeds and planting pumpkins all over the Big Apple.
I’m in New York at the Baryshnikov Arts Center for the project with Eric Lindley and all the amazing multimedia artists. But of course, this doesn’t mean the Coldwater Project is in any way on the side. Because musicians thrive on high quality beauty and like-minded souls, and Eric’s songs, while being very different from my own, also have an affinity. They’re bleak and yearning, achingly striped down and intimate. His world is consciously thought through, tiny inflections magnified, great cadences held back and sublimated. And so while much of my day is focused on the work at hand, the hours either side of the project will be spent crafting and re-crafting the Coldwater songs, imagining new instrumentations, new qualities, new unexplored areas of soreness and beauty. I’m focused on music and beauty, gentle ones, and this focus is only strengthened through my current New York adventure.
My world is suddenly full of theatre! Over the years I have worked on many fabulous theatre projects, including a new work commissioned by the English National Opera, an extraordinary music theatre dance work presented by Peter Sellars at the Venice Biennale, and last year a Vanessa Beecroft performance in Germany for which I composed, performed and sang the entire score wearing nothing but a pair of red stilettos and a wig.
While my forthcoming theatrical projects don’t require such minimal costuming, they are every bit as exciting, innovative and daring…
Firstly, David J‘s fabulous production of The Chanteuse and the Devil’s Muse inches ever closer. Watch David’s Kickstarter video now, he talks about the project and will inspire you to help make it happen as beautifully as his brilliant imagination envisions.
As for my current theatrical project, today was the first day in New York of a two week run creating a new work at the Baryshnikov Arts Center on Broadway. It’s a collaboration between artists of many shades, with the songs of Eric Lindley illustrated through puppetry, animation, dance, acting, serious lighting and super hi-fi electronic triggering majiggery from the interactive video game technology world.
Expect fragile, delicate sadness cracked with bleak aching beauty, made smaller and all the more naive against our expansive skyscraper-encrusted background.
We’ll be experimenting together for the next two weeks, with Baryshnikov himself swinging by, and before I return to Los Angeles we’ll record a one-off performance as part of the plan to bring it to a theatre near you…
It’s around midnight, and I’m feeling the gentle joy that comes with finding the turn of phrase coupled with a simplicity of chord to express an emotion. It’s so pure, so still, when I close my eyes it’s there, as solid as the emerald I wear on my finger, a familiar truth that’s impossible to speak of, but as real and undeniable as the stars above and the earth below.
This weekend saw Scorpio in the moon and an old friend in town, a dear old friend from another land, another time, another love. A lover from nearly 20 years ago! How can it be?! And yet how fresh the wounds and the gladness of such familiarity, of family in town.
Tonight I express my current emotions maybe more fluidly with this inspiration, but for sure with the sureness of knowing, that it is a very different emotion in the present, freed from the past. Softly I sing ‘Jellyfish’, a song that I wrote in 2005, and which was first recorded with a harpist in my first Hollywood apartment at the Villa Elaine, that rare hotel that has housed every wayward traveler’s first nights in this town, from Marilyn Monroe to Man Ray.
And now after all these years, ‘Jellyfish‘ is worked and re-worked and refined and sculpted and now played tonight for my audience of angels with a clarity, depth, truth and spirit that simply pleases me like medicine to a sore heart. It’s a relief, after a few wobbly days of emotional jelly and lost fish reality. That’s where these songs come from, you know… it’s all real.
Very pleased about tonight’s session with my pal Tony Green, an upright bass player who plays with accuracy, grittiness and grace. He was given the perhaps unenviable task of playing the bass guitar part of a cover version of a hugely successful and widely adored song, which I am going to simply refer to as
‘Mystery Song’ for now.
The original bass line is played by one of the world’s most extraordinary musicians, a man who plays pretty much every instrument with such technical and emotional clarity that Tony was slightly perspiring throughout the session. Luckily for me, he managed to play the line with just the balance of respect for the original, but difference in tone that I had hoped for.