Chris Robley Week: Faulkner's South
This sad little number is a favorite of mine because I was able to almost entirely recreate the sound and mood I had in my mind when I first wrote it (a comparative description would read something like Randy Newman lyrics with a Burt Bacharach melody performed by Harvest-era Neil Young). There is always some distance between intent and reality when it comes to the recording process. Some songs benefit from this distance. Some suffer. But rarely do they resemble the original idea in any recognizable way. So I'm proud that in this case I closed the distance near entirely.
I remember being stuck in some awful traffic on the I-405 bridge in Portland for about 30 minutes and coming up with the lyrics while staring at the Willamette River below. I don't know what that has to do with the lyrics other than it being a vivid memory. But anyways. The story is basically a person addressing an abusive father on his death bed.
The narrator's grief is a bit shielded by some protective ambivalence. They keep noticing the commonplace, everyday, mundane nature of this final farewell, and how it would be so much more heightened and romantic were they characters in a book by Faulkner.
I put the acoustic guitar and vocals down first on 24 track tape, with Adam Selzer engineering at Type Foundry. Then I had Arthur Parker come in to play standup bass. Then drums. This is actually my favorite drum part on the whole album, played superbly, subtly, and softly by John Stewart. Adam and I worked with John to strip away Everything from the drum part except the barest essentials so it has that ultra-dry snare and kick sound from the early 70's.
Steve Keeley and Amanda Lawrence (of Loch Lomond) played the string arrangement (which we later looped in reverse to open the album). Paul Brainard played about 6 tracks of pedal steel which we left going all at once, drenched in reverb, to begin and end the song. I finished it off with a few spare touches of Wurlitzer and harmonica. Of course, no self-respecting Harvest homage would fly without harmonica!
Learn more about the CD, listen to the songs and more right here!