Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A Quiet Mot-Mot Morning

view with morning coffee
Sitting on the veranda, 5:15am listening to the Mot-Mots mot-moting - yes, that's really what they say -  as I sip a cafe mocha and watch the sun come up. The Mot-Mots are bank nesters and so populate the forested gully that runs alongside the west end of the house. As you look at them it seems incredible that they can maneuver that spectacular tail in such a confined space. but, they do. It seems like such a flamboyant bird should be rare, but it's a common sight at Toucan Bluff. But let's get on with taking a look at the first CD, Bittersweet Dreams.

a Blue-crowned Mot-Mot
Having already met the "team," let's take a look at album number one, churned out as the 1st in what has to be one of the most efficient music production efforts ever. 

As explained earlier, Bittersweet Dreams was never intended to become a commercial effort but was intended to the first installment of a kind of family document. The first song (and the only one in the so far 30 songs published to use a prerecorded drum track as its base) Another One Barrel Morning, rather surprised us and tempted us to shoot for a higher goal. One Barrel, by the way, is Belize's most popular bar rum and the protagonist of the song a pretty common avatar of an "ex-pat" around here. We followed up with I Love, which features me on both Dobro and Harmonica, and is a straight forward slow-drag blues. Mostly, though, I only lay down base tracks with the Dobro or guitar to set the song and teach it to Sam. Later, Paul will eliminate those tracks, letting the "real musicians" take over.

 For this first effort we selected songs that Santos and I had played together for years and felt comfortable with. The only new songs on the album are Text Sex and Diamonds in the Sun, both of which take a lighter-hearted look at modern life and love and are intended to soften the general mood. 
original of what became the Bittersweet Dreams cover
While I don't think it hurts the overall quality of the album nor reduces its listenability, you can hear us gradually finding the sound that will come to maturity on the next album, A Quiet Man. The arrangements on Bittersweet Dreams are a bit more lush than we will subsequently come to favor, so the CD has its own special feel about it. The songs, in order of appearance are: Blood Red Moon, I Love, Another One Barrel Morning, Sweet Memory, Black Coffee and Blues, Text Sex, Wistful, The Leaver, Lost In Her Eyes, and Diamonds in the Sun.

OK, these are unashamedly the songs of an old man. The earliest of them written when in my 40s, the latest just now in my 70s. Looking back or looking around, this isn't a kid's viewpoint. Every song has grown out of a real story, has real meaning in my life. Of course, although the listener won't always understand what the song means to me, I certainly hope they can find a resonance with something in their own lives and feelings. The opening track, Blood Red Moon is about the very worst day in my life, yet, it always elicited one of the two most enthusiastic audience responses of the night. Go figure! (The other biggy was often God Loves A Naughty Girl, which sometimes elicited really quite fun responses from the young women in the crowd! That one has yet to appear on a CD)  Well, that's it. Let's move next to A Quiet Man.

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