by Jack Norton
I, Jack Norton, am an Emmy Award winning singer-songwriter performing hokum blues and vaudeville folk music. Based in the United States, I recorded my most recent album “Busker’s Blues” in a cabin in a remote part of Manitoba, Canada. Armed only with a mic, a guitar and a week in the woods, the following is a journal kept by me while recording…
Listen to the album while reading the text.
fuck me. i/m insane. why the hell did i think this was a good idea? arrived in *** late. the flight was late, delayed for snow (of course). thankfully i just have backpack w/ all gear & guitar so didn/t lose any luggage. it/s pretty much what the pix online appeared to be. a cabin. very basic. not much else to it, really. outhouse deep in the woods about 1/2 city block away. really annoying. my asscheeks will prolly stick to the toilet. it/s so cold. way worse than minnesota. but i/m here. gonna get this done.
wish i had my typerwriter. didn/t think i/d need it. have this notebook. sketching out a list of tunes that i think would be good for this record. have a list of about 30 songs so far. just thinking about what to do / what album should sound like / etc. inspo is dave van ronk’s first album GAMBERS BLUES. fuck that was such a solid record. just dave & a his guitar. so raw. want this to sound raw. want it to sound pure. mistakes. warts. everything. woods should creep in through the drafty windows & the forest wind should make it/s way onto the album. foot stomps. LOTS of foot stomps.
third day of seeing no one / talking to no one / no internet or phone. fucking beautiful, it is. i/d spend more time in the cabin but it/s too beautiful outside. spending most of the day just alone in woods / wondering / heard creatures in the forest but did not see them / finally have cabin warmed up to the point of blood boiling / the change of temps between hell & heaven is perfection / i stay outside until the point i think i may pass out from the cold, go inside & entire body melts. only thinking about recording, haven’t done any…yet.
list of songs complete / decided if things go well to cut the list into two albums. i had 44 tunes listed. i cut it down to 30. then i set up mic & did test recordings around the cabin to get sound i like best. moved around 6 or 7 times. i keep thinking about the cover art of the original LP album of robert johnson sitting in a hotel room making his recordings – back to the engineer & facing a corner. they say he used to play gigs like that too…so no one could steal his guitar technique. i call that bullshit! hahahahaha. ok, i/m going a bit crazy. gonna start to record in a bit…
recorded 18 songs today / each tune average 3 or 4 takes. some i cut in one. very few. i think only 2 or so? i was surprised how ILL KILL YOUR SOUL & DARE YOUR SPIRIT TO MOVE came out. i cut 16 takes & ended up using first take ((after listening to playbacks)). lol x 1 million! ahha. ok so if i have 18 done & 30 listed i can easily get this album done & turn it into 2 albums. 3 songs on the list of 30 sucked & will get cut. but that/s why i had so many written down. also added I AINT GOT NOBODY & REEFER SONG just because they are worth cutting. didn/t have them on the list. it will all work out, me thinks.
6 days of total tranquility & isolation. the creative process is one of pure isolationism, or at least it should be. collaboration is for the weak & easily distracted. it/s just an excuse for social time. it took me a long time to learn that. i think this record sounds lonely – but relaxing. like this strange mix of emotions: you can be alone, & you can be fine w/ that. most ppl don/t realize this. especially now. has been nice not knowing what is going on in the world. just me / guitar / mic. incredibly easy & breezed thru all tunes before noon.
will do a first mix down & then wander in woods listening to mixes late tonight. hopefully i won/t get mauled by a bear or possessed by a wendigo.
two albums are done. i think album 1 is slightly stronger than album 2, but only by 2% or so. the songs are all good. just my faves of the busker era. calling album 1 BUSKER’S BLUES and album 2 ((will come later in yr, obvi)) gonna call TAKE ME BACK. can change that later if doesn/t stick. makes sense for now. basic mixes are ok, but will need to work a lot when home on mixes/mastering. was glorious walking thru woods & listening to album as sun set casting long shadows like demons fighting for salvation in the pure white snow.
long story short
i finished. i didn/t go crazy ((ier)) & i didn/t need no body. it/s also a refreshing reminder of how all you need is time / space to create. nothing fancy. tools are just distractions. one last walk & then i get picked up to go to airport. hope driver is late or forgets me altogether…
semper ad meliora…
Jack Norton, Category: Artist, Albums: Busker’s Blues, Old Songs: The Arts High School Sessions, Top Tracks: Are You Ready for a Miracle?, O, Dem Golden Slippers!, Naked In The Afternoon, Rock ‘n’ Roll Music and Why I Preach Against It, No Matter How She Done It, Monthly Listeners: 103, Where People Listen: Seattle, Johanneshov, São Paulo, Lisbon, Auckland