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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Communion

Greenland didn't last very long. I think we were together for about a year and a half total, but during that time we came out with a seven-song EP, made two music videos, played a bunch of shows, and got flown to NYC for a brief appearance on Good Morning America. I got to meet Diane Sawyer and she kind of almost looked at me once. I almost ran full-on into Jeff Gordon, the very small in stature race car driver, in the Green(land) room, and we were given spray-painted mouses (mice?) as the prize for winning Best Video in the YouTube Underground contest. It was a special year and a half.

However musically workmanlike Greenland was, the band always lacked the sort of X-factor spark that sends other bands to the tippy-top of the hit parade. In all honesty we just weren't that good of friends. Certainly we liked each other and enjoyed our time together, but we were a band formed of several fathers and husbands and serious boyfriends and dudes who had real jobs and bills to pay. We didn't have much free time and what free time we had we spent practicing, so we didn't get a lot of time to hang out and get to know each other really well. Perhaps this wouldn't have seemed unsatisfying to me if I hadn't just emerged from the crazy drunken intense fraternity of Oblivion, but since I had, it did.

Nonetheless, about a year after Greenland broke up and Patrick and I had gone off to form Noble Three, our drummer Michael was proffered via MySpace by a producer who was interested in recording some of Greenland's tracks. Since all of us still harbored very real desires to break into the music industry, despite the non-rock-star realities of our lives, we leaped at the opportunity to take one last stab at it. We met with the producer, he was nice, we told little white lies about the amount of time we'd spent not playing together, and then we ended up in his studio laying down a track of mine that had heretofore been a red-headed stepchild of our live set.

The song was called "The Communion" and it had been kicking around in our live set for nearly the whole time the band had been together. But like Rodney Dangerfield, the song never quite got the respect I'd always felt it deserved. That was until the producer came in a handpicked it to be the test song for our new relationship. I would be lying if I said that I didn't feel a bit vindicated. After all, I'd written "The Communion" almost three years previous, while I was still living in Ann Arbor, and it had always been a very important song to me lyrically.

The recording went smoothly. We were all professionals with lots of studio experience between us, so we were able to hammer out the principal tracks and all overdubs in a few nights. Most of the tracks (the drums, bass, piano, and backing guitars) were all recorded live, at the same time, though we were all isolated in our own booths which made the whole experience feel a little like playing karaoke on a song you know really really well. Then we all went home and in a few weeks the producer and his team had mixed what became the single most professional-sounding recording I was ever a part of.

It was also pretty much the last. A few weeks later I got married, found out my wife was pregnant and a few months after that we moved to Atlanta. Thus ended the two year saga of Greenland, not on a grand note but a small whiff of dust as the book closed. Maybe I'm too hard on my time in Greenland, surely I am, but most of the time the recordings we produced seem to me like well-made manufactured goods. We were good and experienced enough that we could dial it in a little bit, toss off quality goods without nearly the effort or heart the guys in Oblivion had to put in. We were too entrenched in our growing familial and work-related responsibilities to put enough into the band. Rock n' roll is a young man's game, and we were getting older, getting passed up by early-20-somethings who could drop it all and hop in a van and sleep on floors and drink enough whisky to get them through the cold and the concrete surfaces.

Or rather that's how I look at it now. Maybe it's an excuse. Patrick and Michael are both older than me and have found far more success and brilliance after Greenland than before. They love the music they make and that love propels them forward even though the industry tells them they ain't young enough. I guess love is what it really takes to make it, the same way love keeps marriages from falling apart, or keeps us from eating our kids. Love. Maybe it was me. Maybe I just wasn't in love with music anymore. Maybe.

"The Communion" was the last song I wrote in Ann Arbor before leaving for Nashville, and it was the last song I recorded in Nashville before leaving for Atlanta. It's a song about leaving. Go fig. It also features a left-field reference to Stephen King's Dark Tower novel Wolves of the Calla for no other reason than I really liked the sound of the word "calla" at the time I wrote it. I still remember sitting on the cold floor of the basement of the government subsidized townhouse I lived in at the time. My feet hurt from sitting Indian-style on cement for hours. My fingers hurt. My throat hurt. But damn! I needed to get this out of me. I knew I was leaving at that point, even if the stuff that needed to happen for me to go hadn't happened yet. I didn't know they were going to happen, but I knew I was leaving. So I sung it out.

The Communion
Words and Music by Tres Crow

I could say it with a straight face
that I was over you.
But you were there and you know me better.
Maybe better than I know myself

Baby’s breaths are holding my stem.
Leaves wrapped up in all of them.
Great divide wants ancient heartaches.
A little of you is all it takes.

Calla Calla
If I can feel I know you can

There without a motive.

Lyrics reprinted courtesy of Shire Reckoning Publishing House.


Patrick said...

I love it that we ended Greenland with this one. A darn good recording for as quickly as we did it. Always one of my favorite tunes.

I appreciate your candid look back; no sense in pointing fingers or assigning any blame. Just five guys in too many different places.

It's nice to look at where Michael and I are these days; we're involved in projects that really suit us. I'll always be thankful for the lessons and experience garnered in the Greenland years.

PS - "The Road" makes its live debut tonight w/ prattle on, rick. Now four TC songs in the por set.

Tres Crow said...

That's awesome about "The Road," P. Yeah, I'm trying to tell the stories as best I remember them even if it means being a little bald about the details. I'm excited about the music you're making right now. The monthly songs are in constant rotation in my "writing" mix.