Ok so, The Night Country… Well first things first the title comes from a book that I read back in time, by Lauren Eiseley, where the night is described as a boundary we can imagine and sense but not quite cross into, the place outside the porch light, that we can feel the allure of when alone, that we always could cross into.
Just a little disclaimer: you could pick this idea apart, the irony is rich, but I actually don’t really like talking about what an album is “about” (‘what’s it all about… man?) but I like having a dialogue with YOU so here we are.
This album is very much a continuation of The Faraway. Most of the songs were written during a time in my life where I had made a leap from the small town to the city, very much wanting to prove through my own life and to myself and to the woman I love that a dream can be followed all the way through to the end. Optimism and defiance, which in a way sums up the voice of most of the songs I’ve ever written, maybe.
It has really been a long struggle to let this album go. It has been a frustrating time for my music career, to be honest. And so I think I have been making it take longer than necessary, I think maybe I don’t want to let go of that place, where you lay down your cards and proclaim that win or lose you are triumphant, that that can’t be taken away.
Meaning: the process of finishing (not beginning) these albums has been a reckoning with who I was and not who I am. I guess that’s always true but there are versions of you that you want to hold onto… In my case I respect the defiant optimism still in these songs, and even though that stubborn and wide eyed phase has passed naturally, letting this album go is a form of moving forward that is difficult but necessary.
Big deal right? Here’s where you come in… All of these songs are can be read “as let go, set off, and the journey will sort itself out.” If that’s what you need. Whatever you need, you might find it in there, I know I ran the gamut myself.
It’s necessary musically… I’ve never harkened to any era or leaned on nostalgia so much as I did while recording these. I didn’t harken to the 60s or some other musical bullshit like that, but I harkened to the forever idealized version of my musician self that wailed inconsolably and banged on guitar strings violently and lived in a woodsy bubble removed from coolness without knowing or caring that I was removed. Making music in a vacuum, purposefully not tapping into the endless stream of new, not referencing anything directly, and seeing where all these years of songwriting take me.
And these songs are a foundation and I will move forward gladly, now, but in a way they do justice to the albums I always wanted to make, back when the idea of recording a pretty good sounding album was a distant romantic vision. This one is getting closer (though infinitely far away) to my platonic ideal of an album (Nebraska or Astral Weeks are others for me.)
I’ve nothing to lose with my music, which is liberating. And so there might be some balance here.
And the music should speak for itself and it will, regardless, but I thought I’d write this out and take note of how this particular time and this particular longing was especially tough to unveil. And I hope it speaks to your change and to your resistance to change and to the struggle to reconcile the past that is always present and I hope that what comes through is that that process also yields something beautiful in its own way, even if on the surface it is gnarled and dusty and heavy, inside maybe it’s the light that is easy to carry that reminds you who you are. No big deal, just that. Just the you that approaches the edge of night, the scary territory, that knows you can turn back but does not turn back.
And this time for real!
I can’t wait for y’all to hear this album which has been coming together for so long. I literally am going to go back to bed and sleep until February 3.
It’s been since Redwood Summer since I put out a more acoustic album, and since never that I’ve done an album that I feel so strong about all the way through.
Listen to three pre-release tracks for yourself…
And thank you.
Last night joined Shar and Nisha and the whole workings of You Follow to watch the first public screening of their documentary.
The story, of an adopted woman looking for her birth mother in India, is moving, and making a few pieces for it was a really amazing experience. Especially seeing it, and hearing it, all together last night.
One of my favorite moments was running into one of the women interviewed for the film… I created some music to go with her very emotional story about finding her mom, and so I had spent hours watching her face and cue-ing musical moments to her words… It was surreal to see her in person.
Great times, great group of people, makes me realize how much I love the endless energy of Los Angeles.
And makes me realize how very much I want to continue to make music for moving pictures…
Here’s some of the music writ for it…
Came across this early version of “You Can Get Far” (video from the album REDWOOD SUMMER here).
And it reminded me of when I recorded it, at Canyonlands National Park, sitting up on a cliff’s edge. As you can hear not a lot is different in the studio version, just perhaps a nicer mic and the absence of the sounds of rocks scraping underneath my shifting weight. And the view I had was incredible.
I’m happy to report my first gig since landing in Los Angeles, this Friday, January 15th at Pehrspace. 8pm (ish). It will be a lot of fun, and gives a chance to air some stuff out. I’ve been wrapped up in cords, connecting drum machines and effects, working on the set. And that’s about all I’ve been up to, so, life is good.
OK so I’ve been talking about this for a while but now the album is getting mastered this Friday!
I’d really like to have any and all of your voices on the backup vocals for the chorus (just the chorus… easy!) of my song ‘True North’
The lyrics are simple and maybe cheesy, but whatevs. They are:
“Start a great fire
start a great fire
start a great fire
in your hearth
turn a blind eye
turn a blind eye
turn a blind eye
to the lie”
The way I envision you being able to do this is to simply open up any audio recording program on your computer (garageband on mac, audacity on PC), put headphones on in another program (say, itunes) press play on “true north”, press record on your audio program and sing along during the chorus into the computer’s mic. Yup, that mic is fine. It’s ok if it sounds treble-y, it will create a roomy ambience, it is the easiest option, and I will fit it in the mix however it goes. I don’t care if you sing it amazingly or not. I want the sound of many voices. If you have a better mic that is fine too.
Then you press stop on the audio program. Save the file as pretty much any audio format, and email it to me. No, I won’t hear the rest of the song because you had your headphones on, but don’t clip it down to just the chorus or anything like that so that it is easier to line up with the recording.
If you have time that is more than great. If you don’t, I understand. But please just take 5 minutes to do it if you want/can! You will be immortalized forever and most likely a radio signal will send your voice into space. Most likely. You will get credit on the album. You will be irrevocably awesome.
Let me know if you think you will. I need it by thurs at the absolute latest (Sorry for the late notice… )
The mp3 is noted here. If it doesn’t show up in this facebook post, go to http://midnightdoor.com/word/?p=467
So I have gone ahead and done my 1500th revision of my website. Someday I will leave it be. Someday. It seems like since the beginning I have needed to “improve” the site, make it easier to frequently update. Like this. And this.
But now I’ve found it maybe!
I want it to be such that new visitors will be able to quickly hear the music and get the feel for what I do. And I want it to be such that returning visitors like yourself get to this page, and that perhaps I’m a little bit more free with my commentary and posts on the blog. Bookmark this page!
Let me know what you think of the new design… MidnightDoor.com/LukeJanela
I’m super excited to report that I’m gonna get to play a show with someone I’ve admired musically for a long time!
Chuck Ragan is a member of the hugely influential band Hot Water Music. He has released two solo albums recently, which are excellent. A couple months ago we recorded; I played cello on a few tracks on his upcoming album, he sang on a track on my upcoming album.
The show is this Friday, July 10, 2009 at 9pm at the Blue Lamp in Sacramento, CA. Tickets are $12 at the door.
Just got back from the most epic and amazing trip I’ve ever taken. The Azores are incredible, and my month spent there was truly inspiring and beyond words and pictures.
I had the great privilege of seeing some traditional Azorian music, and am happy to say I think I’ve found some influential roots… more to come on that front.
For now, some pictures: