As the title reveals, “Les Damnés” was a track that I wrote for my band Nous Non Plus during a dark time in my life when I was living in New York and working in the restaurant industry by day and the music industry by night. It was an extremely productive time for me but a very unhappy one…
When I brought it to my dear friend and writing partner Verena (aka Céline Dijon), she brought her own darkness to the song, writing about traitorous lovers “damned” to an unhappy existence.
Her performance on the recording, superbly produced by Dan (aka Jean-Luc Retard) who forms the troika of our writing équipe, is as stirring to me now as it was that day, many moons ago, in an Eagle Rock recording studio.
For its pathos, it’s one of the songs that I’m the most proud of and it also features an amazing drum solo by our friend Joachim Cooder (who played on the entire album, Ménagerie, Aeronaut, 2009).
To listen to it now still brings chills to my marrow but it also reminds me that from darkness can come light… post tenebras lux…
“Les Damnés” will be featured on the new HBO show Girls on Sunday, April 22, episode 2, “Vagina Panic.”
Texas is home to some of the greatest (some would say the greatest) barbecue in the country (world). Unfortunately, as with any great world cuisine, commercialization to often rears its scurfy head and colonizes what was once honest and pure.
That’s one of the reasons that you need to move outside the major urban centers to find the truly great expressions of barbecue in the Lone Star State.
On a tight schedule with writing, rehearsing, and recording, I didn’t have time to take the band to Llano or Lockhart, Texas, and so I took the “lads and lass” to the only bbq joint where I spend my money in the town of Austin, Sam’s. That’s simpatico owner Willie Mays and his son in the photo with Morris, Céline, and Jean-Luc (from left).
What to pair with smoked brisket, pork ribs, chicken, and Sam’s specialty, smoked mutton?
Champagne, the breakfast of champions and the ideal food-friendly wine. In this case, some NV 100% Chardonnay by Henriot.
It’s so exciting to be writing and recording again with my band and it’s such a joy to hear music played in our home.
Here’s a little taste of a song that won’t appear on the album but is part of a special and dear-to-my-heart project that you’ll hear about later this year. Video by Tracie P, who wins the award for the greatest, most patient, most loving, and most beautiful wife that any man could wish for (and the girl can cook!). Thank you, Picci Wicci, I love you so much and you make me the best man I could ever be…
Yesterday, she cooked a pork shoulder for seven hours in our Crock-Pot with chiles and chocolate. They were served topped with homemade slaw, avocados, and fresh salsa and wrapped in corn tortillas from a local tortilleria. The 06 Montbourgeau made for a fantastic pairing.
While in New York City, I spent some intense sessions writing songs with my super good friend and writing partner Verena, aka Céline Dijon of our band Nous Non Plus. She and I began writing together in 2000 (!) and if you watch TV and/or movies or listen to college radio, you might have heard some of the songs we’ve written and recorded together with our bandmates.
These days, I write so much: for my own blog, for VinoWire, and for so many other blogs to which I contribute openly or anonymously as a ghost writer. Everything I write is published almost immediately.
The process of songwriting is the exact opposite: we come up with an idea, we play around with it, we improvise melodies and discuss the subject, and we flesh out the lyrics. In our case, I usually have a riff or a song structure and then Verena writes the melodies and lyrics. But that’s just the BEGINNING of the process. We then record the demo and start fine tuning it. If we decide that we want to release a given song, we will rerecord it and then set into motion all the elements that go into a release: rehearsing, recording, mixing, mastering, artwork for the album, and ultimately a new record — a process that takes months and months. In the meantime, these works are just nowhere songs for nobody (although I always play them for Tracie P).
Recording technology is so accessible these days. All you need is a decent computer and relatively inexpensive software and hardware (a tube-powered microphone preamp, a digital-to-analog interface, and a decent microphone). When I started working the recording arts at 19 years old (some 24 years ago), we used expensive 24-track tape machines that used 2-inch-wide reels of tape!
We took a break from the intense process of songwriting for a visit from the newest member of the Nous Non Plus family, Vivian, with her dad (and NN+ drummer) Harry Covert.
Above: A view from the stage. My bandmate Céline Dijon (Verena Wiesendanger, right) was in a super good mood last night at our show at Rickshaw Stop (hint: a fan was buying her Jameson). The show was a blast and we did three encores. Thanks again to Waldo of Rickshaw for letting us rehearse at the club: enjoy the Clos Roche Blanche Cot we gave you!
Among them were my virtual and now real friends Cory Cartwright (author of Saignée) and his delightful wife Emily. We shared a bottle of the enigmatic 2002 Ribolla Gialla by Gravner. One blogger, who prefers to remain anonymous, noted (and I concur) that the Gravner is an “abstract” wine, a wine (in a certain sense) that you cannot drink. There’s no question that Gravner’s wines are fascinating, thought-provoking, and intriguing: as the wine aerated it revealed a remarkable array of fruit aromas — think dried and moldy apricot (but in the mouth, it still felt to me like the wood dominated). Owners Dagan Ministero and Luc Ertoran were on hand as well, and a lively discussion of “orange wine” ensued and they generously tasted us on a number of bottlings (including Ca’ de Noci and Damijan). Virtual friends Slaton Lipscomb and Simona (author of Briciole) were there, too, and Clark Terry of Kermit Lynch blog fame also joined up at the show.
The most interesting and unique wine of the evening was the Natural Process Alliance skin-fermented Chardonnay (above), sold only in reusable stainless-steel containers. (Spume has written about this wine as has Alice.) This wine is as stinky and cloudy as it gets and it is 100% delicious (maybe not for everyone but just right for yours truly). Slaton noted that it tastes slightly different every time because its malolactic fermentation has not completed when it ships. You can only get locally and I highly recommend it.
The crowd was fantastic last night and we did three encores, closing with a rocking version of “Ca Plane Pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand. Tonight we play at an all-ages club in San Jose and I’m just passing time until tomorrow when I get to be reunited with my Tracie B, who’s flying in to visit with her girlfriends and see our show at Spaceland.
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go ’round and ’round
You’re on my mind
Sleep alone tonight
Sendin’ all my love
Along the wire