Post #2 from Cantab Tango
From Novel #9 of The Sequoia Saga
Thanks so much for your patience. It's been over two weeks since I sent out my first post when I'd hoped to send another post earlier. I'm not sure if my post selections will go out biweekly or bi-coastal or non-monthly—but I'll figure that all out as I go. The writing of my next novel has resumed with a vengeance (that's actually a part of the plot) and that's taken my energy, too. Mostly it's the newness of becoming a publisher like this and learning the ropes and the tropes and the tech of it. But here's another post. Enjoy.
Pudding Creek Haiku
Strings of sea weed and seal laughs
mix into seven sea gull filled waves
until fog hides our eyes from us.
EXCERPT #2 from Cantab Tango
“Watch Tony show off for you,” I say to Satchmo, “while I’m jonesing for a fat spliff of ganja—or let's call the whole thing off.”
Tony gives me a dirty look. Satchmo sighs.
“As a matter of fact,” Tony says, “it’d be best to stack a minor 6th chord on top of your tonic, then flat the fifth, and add a 13th over that—it’s so musically insane, it’s perfect. Especially since it becomes a great way to end it—so up in the air and unresolved, you know—like the lyrics imply.”
I answer by throwing my hands around like they explode from a bomb.
“Lyrics imply, Tony? Where’d you learn to be so damn understated? That song is one hundred percent unresolved. Fuck! That's its whole idea—we should play all the chords in the world at the end with every crash cymbal and cake pan in the house banging! And fifty howling dogs in heat!”
Satchmo buzzes us with his lips. He is not impressed.
“You two should get a room and just fuck it out—I’d watch that—put it on a motherfuckin’ authorized tube video. Just fuck it out, man!”
Ouch for Tony. His eyes turn to snakes. Ouch for me, too. But funny!
Is Tony clock-watching again? Just how good does Satchmo sound? Satchmo is not impressed with us yet.
I certainly hope he will be, because no way I'm fucking it out.
We still need a good demo to succeed.
Satchmo starts to test the microphone before he sings, but first Tony has him tap his foot to a click track to keep the tempo even. Satchmo looks at me and frowns.
“Play it straight through at full speed, but keep it steady,” says Tony. “So we can get a proper reference copy. And then we can use it later to work on an arrangement and balance the levels. Tempo is the most important thing to get right.”
“Tony? Please,” I say.
Tony always thought dominating a production meeting was the most important thing to get right—but not in an audition.
“Shut up, Tone. This is a demo for a demo. Let him play free,” I say.
Satchmo warms up with a spinning dance move. He swings the guitar around his back and kicks one leg high before he plays a note. Tony narrows his eyes and checks the clock. I'm happily surprised—the first riff itself syncopates the song like Prince might. The second phrase echoes the bass part which propels the first vocal line. It's almost a short climax in itself. Then he sings:
“Well, I don't walk [beat, beat] like my daddy do . . .”
Satchmo adds a few off-beat chord scratches against the bass line that might imply horn shouts in a James Brown tune. I check Tony's face but it's hard to see a smile because he's bobbing to the beat so hard. I smile.
“. . . and I don't pray like my daddy do [scratch-beat, beat].”
I bob, too. I can hardly stay in my seat because I can't wait to tell Tony that Satchmo did not write that himself—I wrote that riff and those lyrics—and I wrote those rhythms, too [beat, beat]. I'll just wait until he overpraises Satchmo's tune, before I let his prejudice kill him with the truth about the song. Satchmo and I actually wrote it together after a rehearsal last night—so he's in on the joke. Tony always underestimates my ability to write.
“And even though I'm too cool,
you know I ain't no fool
. . . 'cause I love ya like my daddy . . .”
On the chorus Tony jumps to his feet like a club DJ—twisting imaginary dials and shoving imaginary sliders—I can tell he imagines a thundering under-bass with Latin horn shouts on top. He likes that sound. Timbales slap air. He pounds a fist down on the one-beat like James Brown might—thrusts a hip out on the two.
“But I ain't afraid of eating cliché's [shout, shout]
if they taste better than apple pie . . . [shout, shout—shout, shout]”
Tony gives me an odd look to hear that line—smells like Jack spirit doesn't it? Or is he onto our trick so soon? He's not laughing yet. Satchmo doesn't laugh—he's dead serious about increasing the funk so he rakes the guitar into double-time at the bridge then pops to a full stop before he dives into a final rave-up.
“I love ya like my daddy,
love ya like my daddy, [shout, shout]
like my daddy love Ma!”
Da dum, da dum dum—pow! The tune ends. Satchmo bows.
The crowd applauds and whistles—one of us.
Tony smiles—he's onto me now—but he also sees what Satchmo's done with it: voice, guitar, and those rhythms. He applauds Satchmo but yells at me.
“He would be in The Beatles—and he'd be the best one!”
I laugh. Satchmo looks perplexed. Beatles?
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Right in the room with you. Thanks for posting!