I drove down to NYC on Friday, dropped Will off in Bushwick, ate at his excellent local cantina, left the car with him (free street parking) and took a cab to the Wall St Andaz hotel (Priceline bargain) where I’ll stay three nights. It is surprisingly good, vile bar excepted. It’s well run, and the room is near perfect. Which is good. I’m exhausted. My back went into minor spasm just before the drive. I sleep reasonably, but the back wakes me a few times. I take two Alleve in the morning and head to the Magic Shop. The yellow subway is near the hotel.
Joan emailed to tell us she was sick, there was brief panic but she assures me she will make it, just maybe not at 11. I get in around 10 and meet Geoff Sanoff – our engineer, and Kabir – The Magic Shop engineer who will assist. We decide to use my hard drive as the recording drive. Geoff imports the stems I made and we’re ready 10 minutes early. I quiz Kabir on Bowie. He’s been secretly recording at the Magic Shop the last two years. The first song “Where are we now?” was just released. No great revelations but good to hear DB seems perfectly well and the sessions were great. The only difficulty being that Kabir couldn’t tell anyone about them. For two years! Earl Slick is apparently a sweetie.
Dave arrives at 11 and naturally only wants to talk about football, he’s a Spurs fan. Joan arrives before noon and we start with No Truck – very simple stuff – they back up my ‘mmm, mmm’s at the verse conclusions.
Joan is still sick, and weak, but she is in fine voice. We add harmony vocals to the mid section of Blue like Mars, the ‘longer you were gone’s in Myrtle & Rose, various bits of Kids Today (Will drops by and I have him add his voice to the ‘rage against’s) and It’s Late. Joan is tiring around 6. I ask her to play tambourine on Diminished Ex. I have this idea to create a track like that on Like A Rolling Stone where the tambourine is less of a rhythm instrument, more of an melody accent… Joan records one run through which is exactly what I’d hoped for and something no-one else I know could have done. Maybe 40% could be used. I ask Dave to do the same and then I record two safety tracks. I’ll comp the takes into one in MA.
It is still early and I decide I want to try to play piano on Women’s Studies. The Magic Shop piano is a great Baldwin baby grand. But I haven’t made stems. I make one and realise I don’t have my guitar tracks. I email Mark at Sonelab. I try for a while but my technique is too bad. Geoff calls Adan Schlessinger but he’s not around and we decide to see if Joan can do it in the morning.
I think I might be able to add some simple piano to Blair’s parts (Kurzweil) on California Earthquake (CA EQ) to give the song more of a live feel, and, for once I am right and I can play it (if I only use one hand and stay in the same octave I can sort of play piano).
It’s 8. I call it a day. We grab beer and sausages around the corner and a couple of Maker’s Marks and I’m asleep before 11.

Next day Joan starts on Piano and I think I may no longer be worried about Women’s Studies. She plays something inbetween Venus in Furs and All The Way From Memphis and as she is playing Mark emails a file link for the guitars. We download them and import them. It still isn’t perfect but it is a lot closer.

We add harmonies to CA EQ and Opposites Day, which takes a while, and by late afternoon we’re done with my record.

Dave has asked Joan and I to see if we can duet on a Grammercy Arms song he’s working on – Beautiful Disguise. It’s a great song – R’n’B pop, I suppose. Dave says my references are Boys and Girls Ferry, and my Pay For It. It is difficult for me coming to a melody, which isn’t mine, cold. And I feel painfully slow working through it. My range feels like it’s smaller than ever. But we get a decent track, I think. Then Joan adds her parts which are gorgeous. She is much quicker than me… Pizza is ordered. Joan says her goodbyes and we do hard drive back up over Jamesons.