The Story of Comfort Series #2
I don't really know how any of my songs begin—a half remembered phrase plucked from a book, or billboard, or something a friend said. A strange chord strummed in reaction to a creative dead end. I don't remember where this song sprouted. What I do remember is that it grew on the road.
In 2006 I went on tour for a long time. First a full six week U.S. tour alone with electric guitars, big amps, analog synthesizer, and a wide array of effects pedals, and then moving onto a two month long adventure around Europe. Five shows in two months with nothing but an acoustic guitar and an overloaded backpack.
I do remember banging out the intro verse of this song on a glockenspiel next to the campfire while camping in the wilderness of Montana on a night off from tour. I have a muffled tape recording of this somewhere. The next time I can remember really working on it was in Italy. I was playing a show at a venue in Tarcento, Italy—a beautiful small town at the base of the Dolomites that's built along one of the clearest rivers I've ever seen. I got picked up from the desolate train station there by a guy named Alejandro, who helped run the venue. He apologized for being late, explaining that he had had to cover the plants at his family's farm from to protect them from, as he put it, “ice balls falling from sky.”
He immediately took me to a farm where they ran a little restaurant on the property where everything they served was either produced on the farm or traded with neighbors who produced said item. That night I heard about some large waterfalls upriver a bit from where my hotel was. They had trouble explaining how to get there, but I remembered that they said if I followed the river upstream I'd find it.
The next day I used my only pair of shoes to walk in the rocky river the two miles or so upstream to the falls. Quite a site and a quite a day. I made my way back to my hotel after my river trek and worked on this song as well as others. I think I finished another song that I played for the first time that night as part of my performance.
From Tarcento I went to Florence where I had some friends enrolled in an NYU affiliated video production class. I made friends with one of their instructors and ended up staying in Florence for two or three weeks, sharing the flat where she was staying. During the days I would work on music there while she was teaching. From Florence I ended up going to a small series of five towns on the Mediterranean called Cinque Terre. There are hiking trails that run between all of the villages. I couldn't really afford to stay anywhere so I hiked around all day with my big backpack and guitar until I found a little spot up from the trail where I could sleep and wouldn't be seen. Not very legal, but very beautiful. A big bright moon, a warm sea breeze, and I could hear the waves lapping against the rocks below. I slept great.
In the morning I walked into town and got some breakfast and set out to hike to the next carless village. The hike quickly turned into a steep vertical climb, and I celebrated my youth, testing my physical limits with my heavy backpack and guitar through this steep rocky terrain.
Stops in France and Spain concluded the European leg of my trip, and I ended up in Brooklyn, New York for about two weeks. I was playing a few shows and just hanging out.
I was staying with a friend who had a great basement in Brooklyn in the house he shared. While he was at work I'd work on music. I believe I finished this song in that basement. If I didn't completely finish it, I finished it enough to debut it a couple nights later at a show I played.
This nine minute song is both a part of and a partial retelling of a pretty epic journey that solidified the importance of this style of travel to my creative pursuits.