Meeting Place – Jamie McPherson’s debut CD
Meeting Place is more than a place. It is a state of mind. Every time you think fondly of a friend or a loved on, that is Dail Chuinnidh. That is Meeting Place.
Meeting Place is also the title of my new CD. And it is on sale now at www.jamiemcpherson.com.au
Yes, after three years of hard work, I finally have the CD in my hot little hands and it’s on sale now. It’s been a hard slog but also a great learning curve and has been very rewarding. This CD has represented a lifelong dream and it’s been a wonderful experience writing, composing, arranging and recording. Many hours spent in the studio learning new recording techniques, writing instrument scores, trying to get tracks right, wrestling with vocal takes and then countless hours of late nights and wee hour mixing tracks and then mastering. And on top of that, all the legal jargon and law one has to learn with copyright both in Australia and the USA, organising artwork and CD production as well as the sales process. But I got there in the end. And I loved every minute of it!
The first thing you’ll notice in looking at the CD is the fantastic cover. One of my dearest friends and one of this country’s finest photographers, Jeremy Watson, did all the photography for the album. I’ve looked at all his photos for the shoot many times in order to pick the shots for the album and to approve the proofs from the design company, and I have to say I still get excited every time I see them. He is a true master of his craft. For the album shoot, we got into Jeremy’s Land Rover with his equally talented assistant, Astrid Innes, and headed up to a wonderful property called Saunders Gorge. It is a mixture of wilderness area and sheep grazing land on the rugged Eastern slopes of the Adelaide hills, overlooking the Murray River flood plain. It was a fantastic day full of photography, 4 wheel driving, good cuppas and plenty of laughs. The cover was shot in an old ruin down in a valley by a wonderful creek. As you can see, this shot just screamed to me “Album cover!”. Jeremy has a great sense of capturing the spirit of any person or project and when I gave him a brief on the concept of Meeting Place, he just ran with it. Normally I would be quite controlling with something like this given my background as a film maker, but having Jeremy as the photographer, I felt very comfortable in leaving it 100% in his hands. I just told him that it’s his shoot and his eye and I wanted his vision to come out as the artist. As you can see, it was the right course of action to take. I didn’t even dream of a cover shot so good!
When you open it up and look at the left inside cover, you see yet another of Jeremy’s great shots. This shot was truly magical and gives a great sense of a meeting place. Sitting by a cairn high on a plateau. It gives a sense of a place of magic and age. This could have been a meeting place for hundreds of years and here it is being used by myself, maybe waiting for someone. He captured it so well, and the original shot looks even better than the one on the album after the designers reworked the background colour so one could read the text. This is one of my favourites! And it also appeals to my Highlander blood!
The third shot of Jeremy’s is the inside left, where the plastic tray is. This was also done high on the plateau by an old stone wall. I thought this was a great shot of me addressing the camera and I do love old stone walls. And it is the perfect segue into the back cover of the album. Stone wall to stone wall.
The back cover is a wonderful painting by my beautiful wife and very talented artist, Tikarma Vodicka. She did such a brilliant job with this painting, and it now hangs proudly in my studio. As you can see, it is two pannikins on a stone wall. To me, this adds a bit of mystery to the album art. So far, all’s you have seen is me at various meeting places, but now with the two mugs, you know that someone else has been there with me. And just seeing the pannikins only, it still captures that sense of isolation in the landscape, as now we don’t see anyone at all. I gave Tikarma the concept, took a few photos so she could see what I was trying to describe and out of her paintbrush came this very beautiful painting. I was just completely blown away! This is Tikarma’s second painting that has ended up on a CD cover and one can see why. She is such a great talent.
But enough of these talented people. Let’s talk about me, or more importantly, the songs on the CD.
Track One – A Midsummer in a Southern Land
It’s a bit ironic that the first track on the CD is actually the last track recorded. I decided to go with this as the opening track as it gives a sense of place. I wrote this song on a Midsummers day out in my patio. As usual, I had spent the morning with Tikarma, drinking cups of tea and watching the wildlife come into our back yard in Strathalbyn. It was so wonderful and varied that I had to put it into song there and then. All these birds and animals going about their daily life was a story in itself. I wanted the verses to be nice and intimate and capture my little part of the world, but I wanted the chorus to be an anthem, proclaiming with pride that this is my land and home. Tikarma provided the backing vocals on the chorus, as I just didn’t want this to me my song, but everybody’s that loves this land and all that dwell in it. This is my tribute to a country I love so dearly.
Track Two – Don’t Cry Me a River Murray
This song is one about a very serious issue in Australia, particularly in South Australia. We have a very ancient river system that has been a part of our lives ever since our Aboriginal brothers settled in the region during ancient times. When the first white explorers set their eyes on her only a couple of hundred years ago, it was still in a pristine condition with dolphins swimming all the way from the sea up to Mannum. But a couple of hundred years of irrigation seems to have destroyed this beautiful river beyond full recovery. If we act now, it will recover a great deal, but never to its once pristine condition. Hence my words “It’s too late for sorry…”. It is so saddening to see the damage that has been done to the Lower Lakes and the Coorong just on my back door. The river system including the lakes and Coorong have always played a magical part in my life and it does bring me to tears thinking about it. I do not think of this song as being political as such. To me it is more about myself and my connection to this river.
Track Three – I Don’t Care
This song just started out as a guitar riff, with the concept for the lyrics popping in my head as I played it. It reminded me of that crazy guy you see on the street and got me thinking as to what his story was. Maybe his joyous eccentricity was a way of hiding behind a deeper hurt he could not confront. I imagined him losing the love of his life, so in order to feel happiness, he created his own mad delusion, so as to never feel pain again. I put in some organ in this song to give it a bit more of a carnival feel, being reminded of the hurdy-gurdy at Semaphore Beach. I wanted us to feel his delusion of happiness. I recorded a fragility on the vocals that tell his story and then came in strong on the vocals for the voice of society to distinguish between the strength of the every day against the delicate fragility of one man trying to just hang on.
Track Four – Road of Bones
Road of Bones is about death being a part of life. As one grows older, one sees death all around them. This song is essentially about myself and my acceptance of that. Over the years I have been touched by death many times and now I know it is for me to accept that it is a part of my life. It doesn’t mean my grief is any less as a loved one passes on, but that I accept that this is a part of life and all things must pass. You may notice on listening to this track that it sounds like it has been recorded live. Let me assure you that this is in fact studio trickery. My “Bennie and the Jets” moment. As I was writing and recording this song, I kept on thinking how rocking this song would be to do live. So, I decided to capture that in the studio. I especially love the keyboards on this one, which is an old clavichord run through a phaser to give that great effect.
Track Five – You’re My Only Vice
This is the start of my love song suite for the album, even though it is very tongue in cheek.Tikarma kept on joking that everyone likes me, so I imagined writing this song as someone with a huge ego. I may be the saviour of the world, but she is my only vice. It is about ego and love. This is definitely one of my favourite tracks and one I am very proud of musically. I love the blending of styles from country, blues and do-wop. I had a lot of fun arranging and recording this song and was chuffed with being able to blow a bit of harp at the end along with the organ solo and the theremin. I hope you enjoy listening to this song as much as I enjoyed making it.
Track Six – Doing Serious Time
This is my “Me and the Devil” song. It is about the folly of youth and growing up when one finds the love of their life. This song is very much about me. I left the recklessness of youth behind when I saw a better life with the one I love. It is about the Devil coming along and saying “What the hell has happened to you? You’ve changed man!”. The argument ensues and in the end the Devil concedes that he can not compete with her. Love trumps every time. As this song is more a story, I recorded it live in the studio in one take. Just me and my guitar and then some harmonica dubbed in afterwards at the start and end. I didn’t want the music to overshadow the story at all. I think this is a story that many a man could tell and hopefully many find a truth in it.
Track Seven – Be My Valentine
The funny thing about this song is that it started out as a Valentine Day card. I wrote a few of the words on a card to Tikarma and she commented that it sounded like a song. Well, that’s just like a red flag to a bull. The next thing I know I was in the studio and writing a love song. I wanted to do a classic love song of an older era, simple structure and melody, where the sentiments are all in the lyrics. It is about celebrating love through all the holidays and asking for a commitment of love. I kept the instruments on this a bit old school too, with the piano being the main instrument along with organ and violin and strings fading in as the song progresses.
Track Eight – Dail Chuinnidh (Meeting Place)
This is where it all began. With this one song. Dail Chuinnidh is a place in the Highlands of Scotland where my family comes from. The translation from Gaidlhig is “Meeting Place”. I wrote this song during a very happy time in our lives when Tikarma was pregnant with our son Alexander. I was thinking of my favourite whiskey one day when the words “With heather and honey and fine Highland peat” popped into my head. All of a sudden I had the love song I always promised Tikarma I would write for her. It is about love, life and the joy of family set in the Scottish Highlands. The lyrics of this song is a celebration. If you notice a bit of sadness to the recording, it is because our little Alexander did not survive childbirth. This was the most horrible time of our lives and something we will never get over. I had finished the recording on the first anniversary of his death, and I suppose as an acknowledgement of our grief and sadness I recorded the vocals and violin a bit sadder to reflect our loss. Also you will notice Tikarma’s backing vocal on it that has such a wonderful etherial quality to it. It just makes the song. This song is a turning point in both of our lives, both good and bad, but an important turning point no less. This will always be my gift to my two greatest loves, Tikarma and Alexander, with love always. We will always meet in love and life
Track Nine – No Expectations
This Rolling Stones classic is my one cover song for the album and rounds off my love song suite. It is a song of love lossed and I thought it was a good way to close off this part of the album. It was in fact the second track I recorded as it is a song I have always enjoyed playing and always wanted to record it in my own style. I loved putting in the organ and building the song up a bit slowly with the drums and then the piano to add a bit of colour. I am happy with the way it came out and how it sits in the album.
Track Ten – 12 Bar Odyssey in B flat
The final track on the album. This is my second simple song of just vocal and guitar. I wanted to write a song about what it is all about to me. The music. I have noticed that a lot of the albums I love often finish with something simple and basic and decided to do the same. I wrote the lyrics with archetypal images of blues and rock music that many of us can relate to and give a sense of place in music. I do love the way the vocal sounds on this song. I hope you enjoy it too.
Well, that is my new album, Meeting Place. I hope this blog gives you a sense of the CD and where it comes from. To find out more, you can go to my website at www.jamiemcpherson.com.au and even purchase a copy there.
To view Tikarma’s fantastic paintings or even read some of her wonderful poetry, please visit www.angelfire.com/poetry/twistinggoldenthread
To go to Jeremy Watson’s website and look at more of this man’s amazing talent, please visit www.jeremywatson.com.au
Below, for those of you that may struggle trying to read small print, is a copy of the album credits –
1 A Midsummer in a Southern Land [5:45]
2 Don’t Cry Me A River Murray [3:41]
3 I Don’t Care [4:38]
4 Road of Bones [4:01]
5 You’re My Only Vice [4:49]
6 Doing Serious Time [4:11]
7 Be My Valentine [3:16]
8 Dail Chuinnidh (Meeting Place) [7:06]
9 No Expectations [4:25]
10 12 Bar Odyssey in Bb [3:31]
Total Running Time 45:44
Jamie McPherson – vocals, 12 string guitar, harmonica, keyboards, arrangements and drum programming
Tikarma Vodicka-McPherson – backing vocals on Dail Chuinnidh (Meeting Place) and A Midsummer in a Southern Land
All songs written and arranged by Jamie McPherson Copyright © 2010 except No Expectations by Jagger/Richards
Recorded, engineered, mastered and produced by Jamie McPherson at Ravenwood Studios, Strathalbyn, South Australia
Cover and album photography by Jeremy Watson © 2010 Jeremy Watson Photography
Photography Assistant Astrid Innes
Back cover painting “Meeting Place” by Tikarma Vodicka © 2010 Tikarma Vodicka
Photographed by Jeremy Watson
This album is dedicated to Tikarma and Alexander, with love always and forever.
A very special thank you to Tikarma Vodicka. Your support, encouragement, inspiration and love made this album happen.
Special thanks – Jeremy Watson, Tim Inglis, Tim Wright & Wright Guitars, Tristan Newsome, Matt Reiner, Rob McDade, Elizabeth Reid, Matt Swayne, Kyle Fiske, Tim Buck, Robin Willhite, Peter McIver, Quiet Pop, Music SA, APRA, Disk Makers, Kym & Mike Kuijpers, Mum & Dad, Vera, Bob, Stan & Pietra and all the brilliant musicians I have had the pleasure of playing with and all the punters who came along.
This recording Copyright © 2010 Jamie McPherson
All rights reserved
Thank you for reading, and for all those that purchase a copy of the CD, many thanks and happy listening.