Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thank Blog for Accountability

A smudged attempt at a fan T-shirt. This was where it all began. Actually, it began with my last blog entry promising the picture of said T-shirt. That's the beauty of blogs. You get something down in writing -- a promise or a wish or a goal -- and no matter how many people read it or don't read it, the fact that you've put it out there starts the wheels a-spinning.

So I wrote the previous entry last Friday, made the T-shirt on Saturday, and then decided to kick it into gear. I had the T-shirt so I may as well, right? I held off on the craigslist route, hoping that one of my pianist friends would bite the bait. After not hearing back, I thought, "Am I ready to take the craigslist gamble? Am I prepared to get bombarded by a bunch of potential lunatics who may not be right for my project or, worse yet, have no knowledge of music and are out to rape/kill me or at least get in my pants?" On the flipside, there is always the chance I'll strike gold. So I decided to go for it. Unfortunately, by that time, the weekend had passed me by. I hung out and wrote with Robert LeMoyne, rehearsed a Sam Shepard scene with Robin Thomas, and had an amazing photo shoot with Eric Chauvin. Before I knew it, it was Sunday night going on Monday morning. But I thought, "What the hey? May as well slap something up."

At 8:36 PM on Sunday, I published my ad with the subject heading "Are you a pianist that likes Joss Whedon?" At 12:33 AM, the following reply appeared:

Dear Karuna (I think that's your name, it was in the video credits...)
I saw your message on Craig's List and just watched your YouTube video. Really enjoyed it! Very clever, and you can really sing. The Good News .... I think I am the pianist for you. First, as a pianist, I'm pretty darned good. As for Joss Whedon, not only do I love his shows, I also know him... he's an alum of the same college I went to, and we have a favorite professor in common. Plus, I played a role on Angel Season 1. Now, the Bad News, I am leaving town Tuesday for the east coast and won't be back until Sept. 9th. Can you wait a bit...unless you want to meet up later today (Monday)?
David Bickford

Wow. I mean, I understand the power of manifestation, but... wow! This was too wacky to believe, and too wonderful to pass up. I called him the next morning, and we arranged to meet at 2 in the afternoon. I e-mailed him the lyrics, chords and the key I thought the song was in based on my soupy strategy of singing and matching the notes with a pitch pipe. When I got to his place in Laurel Canyon, I knew I had found my guy. His recording space was lovely, homey, and well-equipped. He was bubbling over with giddy, happy energy. We had an immediate rapport. And that was BEFORE he even played a note.

We sat side-by-side at his keyboard as he played the chords in the key I had given him. I didn't have to explain anything. The sound was rich, full, far superior to anything my imagination could've composed. I started singing along, getting giddier with each note. It was a dream come true! In fact, it was better than a dream come true. He added his own sassy spunk, which synced perfectly with the intention of the song. Not only did he get Joss Whedon; not only did he get my project; I had the strong feeling that deep down, he really got me.

Of course, we did have to tinker with the nuts and bolts. He helped me figure out the chords to the opening verse, which is in a minor key and has a campy, spooky feel. (Looking back, it reminds me of Scar from Disney's The Lion King.) We had a few kinks to work out with some of the trickier chord progressions at the end of each verse. We tossed my original idea for the bridge, which involved a key change, and came up with something much more appropriate and dramatic. (And thank goodness we ditched the key change -- it was becoming the bane of my existence!) And lastly, we came up with some delightful phrasing for the end of the song. Whatever ideas I had on my own (along with the ideas I never knew I had but were somehow buried in the undercurrents of the writing), David brought to the surface and took two whole new level. We laid down the track surprisingly quickly, listening to it, singing to it, and dancing around the room like lunatics. (I guess craigslist did in fact lead me to someone crazy, but it all worked out okay.)

At the end of our session he showed me around his house, which contained all sorts of strangeness, including a sword made out of a swordfish, a painting of elephants that was actually painted by an elephant (I kid you not!), and a life-sized replica of a rhinoceros head. I thought to myself, "How the heck did I end up here?"

An ad on craigslist. Smudges on the T-shirt. Words in a blog.

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