I'm making a record
I am making a record. I call it a concept album, thinking mostly of Quadrophenia: the way songs adhere around a loose narrative, but also (with much humility) of Schummann's Heine Lieder, particularly the Poor Peter songs. I'm scarcely a composer and certainly no Schumann, nor do I have no bad-ass guitarist writing songs for me, so my inspiration is not musical but structural: the way a story is held in a nest of songs.
The record is called these fountains rare here. That phrase is a line from a very long Victorian poem carved on the friezes of the many buildings that are part of the Roosevelt Spa and bath houses in Saratoga. I visited Saratoga Springs on a trip for work, while recovering from a tediously long and draining illness.
Have you been to this spa? It is of another time. Pale green walls, black and white tile, old clinical water fountains and huge 1930's style porcelain tubs with four faucets for hot and cold clear water or rust-colored sulfur-smelling spring water. This is a state bath-house built for medicinal purposes--not a luxury spa but a clinical respite.
The poem carved on the building is one of those quintessentially American mash-ups of romantic ode and scientific endeavor. Here's a stanza:
Later, I find an 1860's travel guide:
It catalogs the springs and their "propertyies", details luncheon menus at the grand hotels, and provides a typical "routine for a lady" come to "take the waters" ...
...meanwhile, I move into middle-age ill, my body failing for the first time. That physical state houses the imagination that's engaged with this historical place and time. I write a lot of stuff about fevers, failed youth, water and deer. I don't know how to shape it.
I decide to voice it, not shape it. I make songs, other sound-oddities. I realize it's not a play or a poem or a radio-play, but a concept album.
I always wanted to be in a band.
these fountains rare here is about a woman who is ill. she goes to a spa to quiet her body in a mineral bath. During an afternoon fever, she meets a 17th century explorer who praises an ancient healing spring. She decides to search for the spring to restore youth, strength and health. Down the drain she goes, into a mythical forest of wolves, hunting horns, and eerie nymphs of the springs with antlered heads. The beatific expressives of feasting ladyies draw her into the Moon's lake house, where bones are cast, and choices made.
Here, some terrible but beloved images from my first trip to Saratoga:
So, that's what's up lately...