Sunday, March 11, 2007

Postcard From Holland (demo)

postcard from holland (demo)
volume 4 number 8
this painting was my tenth.
done on august 11, 2002.
rarely do I try to make my paintings actually look like something.
but in this case you should be able to make out the crumbling cookie, the cafe' au lait, the postcard of a Van Gogh, and a stubby pencil.
the ingredients mentioned in the following lyric:

in holland there is a table
in front of me
with cafe' au lait
and some kind of cookie.
outside the window
there's a wide and gentle canal.
two swans swim in it,
in their mirror images,
they must be in love.
the handsome holland people ride ecological bikes.
or sometimes their dogs might take them along for a hike.
I stood by the tall ships
and stepped in some old dutch dog shit.
it began to rain a strange enchanted mist.
and I love the cookies here, I could live forever here with you.

those are the words I wrote on a postcard to my girlfriend martha in 1990
while on the david bowie sound and vision tour.
I was in the habit of writing long letters on a typewriter I lugged around
but at the time I was sitting with a pencil at a table near a harbor.

some time later while riding in the bowie tour bus
safely tucked into my comfy bunk
I began to imagine the music and melody for the song,
just as I had done with lone rhino.
as the bus rolled across the euro countryside
I laid there memorizing it as though it was a record playing over and over.

it wasn't until august 10, 1992 that noah* and I recorded
a vocal demo of the ideas for the cello and french horn parts
I had heard in my head on that bus ride.
why a vocal demo?
it's quicker than working out cello parts
only to realize they're not what you want.
the vocal demo makes up the first half of this download.
the "bah bah bah" bits were meant to be cellos.

back in the dreadful seventies when I had no work
except to play drums in a Holiday Inn band I had
purchased my first decidedly cheap-o-cello.
cello ranks high on my list of favorite things.
the first ELO records had a guy named Roy Wood
who played most of the instruments including cello
and I figured with enough practice I could hack away
at a cello about as well as he had.

those were the real hard times for me.
when "The Sound Assembly" didn't work
I literally alone lived in my van.
shaving in the mornings at rest areas and state parks.
I remember practicing cello on a bench in Devou Park
not far from where I grew up in northern kentucky.
I had worked out the lines from Eleanor Rigby.

by the second half of our download,
recorded on march 27, 1993,
I must have realized the key (A furnished flat) was yucky
and so changed it to the key of F.
the cello parts I ended up playing were different
(good thing I did that vocal demo).
and french horns? they're a cinch to imitate with a guitar synth.
the second half is the backing track for the complete version
found on my little beatle record here.

*points of interest: if you look on the fold out inside the here record you can see noah going into the kitchen area. (and it was a photo he took!) gary platt and ken latchney mastered here at Full Sail, which was the first time I ever worked with ken.

instruments and vocals: adrian
recorded at home in Williams Bay, Wisconsin
engineer: Noah Evens
length: 2:55


  1. Lovely details behind a lovely song, and now a loverly painting to boot.

  2. i love your paintings. it's certainly a tasty looking cookie. :)

  3. Another great anecdote about cellos and young musicians destined for greatness:

    When The Who were in the studio working on Pete Townshend's mini-opera "A Quick One (While He's Away)," they wanted to use a cello during one of the many bits connecting the various parts of the story line.

    Problem was, no one in the band could play the cello. And they couldn't afford to hire a cellist to do it. So they just sang the part instead:

    "Cello cello cello cello,
    Cello cello cello cello..."

  4. Adrian, if you chose one ELO song to cover on a solo or tribute album, which one would it be?

  5. Beautiful painting Adrian! Thanks for this weeks DL. Such a great choice after all the suggestions (yeah, like there would be one that I didn't think was great.* sssshhh)

    Living in the van. Too familiar - only without shaving. :0

  6. Hey Ade,
    You are fast becoming El Maximum Blogger! But are those "here"s supposed to be links? If so, something's not quite right in HTMLville, or I'm losing it. Not sure about the latter.

    The painting is killer!

    Loved the Beatles tales too.

  7. "But are those 'here's supposed to be links?"

    He's referring to his album entitled Here. And a lovely album it is, too... :)

  8. doh. They were bold, so I thought.. nevermind.

  9. Wow, this is proof that you should try more often to make your paintings "look like something".
    I tend to be abstract with a brush.

  10. Hmm.

    Do you ever find humming ideas over and over to yourself that you begin to doubt how good the part actually is? And you know you liked it when it came to you, but now you're not quite sure 'cause you've been "listening" to it in your head over and over again like that? And it may be that you're sick of it, it may be that you have a clearer perspective, etc...

    That's what happens to me. :(

  11. it's a very nice painting - i especially like the postcard and the pencil, with the shadow of the pencil on the postcard.

    another interesting blog - i've re-listened to "here" and found noah in the record sleeve. it's all sounds just as good as ever, maybe even better.

  12. Really enjoy the insight to the songs and your "process."

    Very nice painting/drawing too! Cover art?

    I just saw a show listed for ST.L in May. I'll be there (again).