The thing people most want to do in this life, is give. They want to give of themselves, and have it be received.
All collaboration is, is: giving and receiving. Giving and receiving. Giving and receiving, over and over again. If we have done it right, no one loses themselves, only their self-consciousness; no one "disappears," they simply become an integral part of something bigger.
This subject of this week’s collaboration blog is the video, “Falling.” You can find it https://youtu.be/I1zMOkCn2NY.
One of the songwriting groups I am part of is called The Tunesmiths. We write a song to a prompt every month. In March, 2020 the prompt was “baby.”
Within the first two weeks of March 2020, the world acknowledged that it was in a pandemic. We were separated from our normal ways of doing things: how we worked. How we gathered. And one of the things that became clear to me, was that sometimes, I did not know where I stopped and where other people began. It became the song "Falling," and I turned in a version of the song just before Midnight on the last day of March.
Fast forward to May. I decided Jenny & Friends should make videos. That means we needed to produce a fully-realized song for each video. If you have been reading this blog, you know that Klem Hayes is our extraordinary producer, and is the force of nature on the bass.
I liked “Falling” enough to have it be one of the first three songs we tackled. The first two videos came out in June and July, on the schedule I had envisioned, but it took us a few months to get back to “Falling.”
While the group never played it live, I had been playing it on my live streams in the form it appeared in the July 2020 Haiku Milieu concert https://youtu.be/r9j7efapxKo.
During that time, I started feeling that the last verse did not fit with the rest of the song. I asked my friend Steve Dawson to listen, and give me his opinion. He agreed, and Klem went in and chopped off the final verse and chorus of the song for me.
From there, it took a little time to get back to the song. When we did, things were not lining up perfectly, and Klem sent a note. “Something isn’t working right. Listen to this, and see if this is a direction we can go in.”
Well, wow. Basically, Klem had rearranged my guitar and Paul’s drums, added hand percussion, and lined my voice up with it.
I was like, ALL RIGHT! Now THIS is something I would never have come up with on my own! I said, go for it. And he did.
Klem sent me the first mix when we were up in Door County, and what do you know? It started to rain. I started gathering the video: the ducks. The rain falling on the pond. The rain on the windshield, on the driver’s side window.
Then Robin Bienemann and I went out into the rain for a few takes of me singing, the ground steaming up around us as the cold rain hit the hot earth. We were shivering by the time we got back into the car, but somehow Robin kept his hands steady and you couldn’t see my teeth chattering.
Oh, and if you had not already guessed, Robin is the cinematographer of Jenny. If you like those shots of me singing, you like his sensibility, and his handiwork.
But I digress.
Klem and I knew we were close on the song, but not quite there. We turned to Andon Davis, who came up with a definitive guitar part, complete with a descending line that epitomizes the song title, “Falling.” Klem and I kept turning guitar up in the mix until it sits right where you hear it now. Done and done!
Now, the song and the footage went to Bianca Bee. My original idea was to orbit around the idea of vertical stripes, sort of like the rain falling down a window. I was also having visions of the Jenny & Friends band having fun with the handclaps and bubbles.
With basically no more direction than that and a lot of raw footage to wade through, Bianca brought every finely-honed tool in her toolbox out to play, and worked her magic until the video is as you see it here. You can follow Bianca's Facebook and Instagram accounts, where she gives more detail on her own process.
Let's see, by my count, this little 4-minute video took the collaboration of, what, 12 people to bring to life?
12 people giving and receiving, giving and receiving.
And now you, who got to the end of the blog and maybe have even clicked the links, have given your attention to this endeavor. That makes you an integral part of our collaboration.
What a way to live.