The Making of Cardboard Boat DVD
We recorded Cardboard Boat in the ramshackle adobe studio of Jono Manson up in Chupadero, New Mexico. To get there, you drive north from Santa Fe and progress onto smaller and smaller roads until you arrive at his awesome little studio in the mountains. I brought my team of musicians to me to make this record. Bill Titus, Jordan Katz, Will Robertson and Matthias Kunzli. Matthias was the only new addition. The other guys had become family to me. I had also long been working with a videographer named Ehud Lazin. He had documented many of my concerts and pulled me away to film countless sessions for his One-on-One series. We brought Ehud out for two days to document our recording process.
Ehud set up five or six cameras all over the studio and rolled the tape as we tracked all the songs. He conducted interviews with all the players and with Jono, and he got us to do a few stripped down versions of the songs. Apart from the song “Broken Crown,” all the versions Ehud filmed proved to be alternate takes. And this is the only place to hear these versions.
This DVD is cool for a number of reasons. The biggest, in my opinion, is that it is fascinating to watch musicians record, to see their focus and personality under that kind of pressure. Recording is very different than preforming. Every touch of the strings or the keys is magnified and amplified. It is sterile and artificial, and yet the performance has to be authentic and emotive. Each of us look and feel different while recording, and the camera captures that. Also, as mentioned above, these versions of the songs are only captured here. We didn’t produce them at all beyond what you see on film, and so you hear the core of the tune before all sorts of layers are added. For some people, I’m sure, these versions will resonate more than the finished versions on the album. That is interesting and totally fine with me. Also, our minds play cool tricks on us, and when the camera zooms in on one musician, we hear his part clearer. This isn’t because that part is louder at that moment in the mix, it’s just because we’re getting two senses instead of just the one. That is fascinating, and it allows us to hear different parts with more clarity.
There is one more reason to check out this DVD. The back cover pairs the track list with the pictures of the characters in The Free Brontosaurus. As hopefully you know by now, all the songs on Cardboard Boat were written for one of the characters in Brontosaurus. But I do not sequence the songs and stories in the same order. And nowhere is there a key or code to help you match them…except here. The back over the DVD shows you the key. So if you need some help figuring out which songs goes with which story, look no further.