Bridges Album Cover

Bridges Album Cover

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Girl on the Highwire

The opening song to "Bridges" is one that I wrote in two separate places when I was 19. I wrote the first verses in my parents' living room in Watchung, New Jersey, and I wrote the bridge in one of the piano rooms (with little old uprights) at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. I recorded a fairly elaborate bass, drums, piano, guitar and vocals demo on weekends home from college, but then decided to return to a simple solo piano and voice recording that I did with my own money at a place called "Century Sound" in Sayreville N.J. It was a tiny little hole in the wall off RT 35 that apparently Bon Jovi used to record demos. But that place had an incredible piano, a Baldwin baby grand, and with a Neumann vocal mic that's all one really needs if the song is there. When I had my first meeting with David Spinozza at a little bistro near his apartment in the east 70s, I remember him telling me he only listened to that one song before he turned off the (reel to reel in those days) tape recorder. His take was that was all he needed to hear to know that he would produce me. I would think of that later as we convened for the 12 piece string session at a studio in Manhattan called "Counterpoint." Hearing his arrangement for the first time was like settling back into a favorite easy chair, and I hadn't been sure of how I was going to react- for a control freak like me the string arrangement is a huge thing to give away to someone else- I can see why Randy Newman and Jimmy Webb have always done their own. But after asking him to change one very minor detail I was thrilled with how it turned out. (At the age of 25 I was so inexperienced that I really didn't understand to a full extent how brilliant the players were- I wish I had written down all of their names.)
The original tracking session at The House of Music in West Orange, N.J. had been me on piano, Jay Leonhart on bass, and Chris Parker on drums. The song goes into "ad lib" (rubato) time at the end of the bridge, and I remember that Spinozza came out in the studio and conducted us (with a drumstick as a baton) like a mini orchestra. I don't remember how many takes we did but I'm sure it was under ten- I think the final take was around five or six. Spinozza later overdubbed his beautiful and famous old 50s Telecaster, and also did the very in the pocket acoustic strumming. My recollection is that we borrowed John Tropea's new Martin M-30- I don't think David had his go-to Guild D-40 with him that day. (The D-40 is heard on Paul McCartney's "Another Day, " among many other records- and sadly is no longer in existence.) I added background vocals at "Counterpoint," and we mixed it in West Orange sometime in early to mid 1979.
Even though, as a lonely, socially awkward teenager, I wrote it about a real person, it never became popular enough to provoke any "You're So Vain," "who's it about" kind of mystery- nobody's asked and I've never told.

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