She Never Wanted it This Way
December 1, 2017
…..way back where she comes from, the sun goes down in flame
And when she shuts her eyes she sees it all again
She brings her brush down to paint
I circle LAX once again, here to pick up Jay on the eve of Superbowl 51.
Eyes peeled for that familiar tangle of crimson hair and insouciant jawline.
It’s a tricky task though, as the usually insane avenues of the International Terminal are now overflowing with protesters of Trump’s latest threats to humane Immigration Policy.
And just days earlier, he had let loose this gem:
You got that? You know it’s VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT IS TYPED IN ALL CAPS!
Nothing like a little insane non-information to set our anxiety levels to nuclear.
I imagine him lying on his princess bed, typing out these babies on a Hello Kitty clamshell while Melania braids his hair: Our Leader.
Anyway, the thrum of the Drum Circles and war cries of the hijab wearing masses gives the arriving travelers a glimpse of this Blade Runnery, dystopioid, really cool Los Angeles if it were not also really terrifying.
Jay finally crosses the Police Line and jumps into the Ford Focus and can only say what anyone would.
What the Fuck?
When we reported to the spare Brian Elliott Studios in North Hollywood to lay down the Fear of Life Record– I’m thinkin, what?, 1958? Posh Boy had sent Jay Lansford down to keep an eye on things.
We were a bit intimidated of course, Jay being the very epitome of LA cool rocker in those days.
Oh, he had done his time in the punk trenches, with the legendary Simpletones as well as with a dozen other acts that formed and broke up while we were still lip syncing Starz songs in the mirror.
By the time we were ready to set the punky rocky world on its pierced ear, he had already burnt out of those days and was now nipping at PopRock stardom with the awesome Stepmothers.
But we hit it off right away, and he famously filled in as bassist on the Lights Out Summer tour 1983, and blah blah, you know the rest. What am I, fuckin’ Wikipedia over here? Do your own homework kid!
But yeah, we shared the same pop sensibilities, always suckers for melody and not afraid to dip our toes into the cheese vat, if not too a bit too often for the hardcore crowd.
When it was time to get back to work on this record, it was only natural we bring it back to its wobbly roots and have Jay as producer.
We wove our way out of the packed airport and onto the packed 405, and caught up on all the insanity of his former home.
Jay had successfully escaped to a fine Germanic lifestyle decades before, and I could tell he was attacked now, lights too bright and voices too loud. We made a pinky promise to not bring up the T word the rest of the week, and to get to business of the Rock at hand.
A quick dinner and bed, for a full week of work lay before us.
After a fitful night of sleep, we got Jay up on a rainy Superbowl Sunday and headed over to Nick’s rehearsal room in Signal Hill.
It was Nick’s first time meeting Jay, though they had communicated almost telepathically through the song clips bouncing back and forth over the Atlantic this past month.
Ant, he knew Jay from European tours past. And Kimm, hell, Jay probably still has some of his underwear, borrowed from 1984.
Pre production seems to come down to editing really.
That really cool idea for a 4th verse? can it.
A bridge there, solo here? nah.
We’d learned through the years that our listener had a short attention span and even shorter temper for our hijinks, so we made each song a quick punch and weave.
Intro and done before the listener even had a chance to move a lazy finger hit NEXT: Beat ya to it bub!
We broke down the songs to just drum and bass, now pinpointing downbeat to downstroke, then got into the very color of rhythm guitar.
A small resolve here and there, some key changes on a track that was charmingly out of my old man vocal range.
Two tracks left untitled and unplayed.
Countdown to tracking: 75 hours.
There was one track that we didn’t really have a handle on yet, but we knew it was the pop song.
But it just wouldn’t spark just yet, and was in danger of being tossed aside for something else.
Late in the day we chopped up the verses to give it some breathing room, and it all fell into place.
Nice when that happens!
We left the room exhausted at sundown, ears ringing and fingers grooved by steel string.
A light rain still fell and the industrial streets of Signal Hill now glittered like an abandoned outlying arrondissement in Paris. I had to wonder, did Jay regret leaving his Safe European Home for this?
What would you think, to come back to the cultural, political, black smoke cauldron we have become?
I accompanied Jay over to King Neptunes to catch the game in progress with his brother, former Rams place kicker Mike Lansford.
I’d met Mike a few times before, once notably at a pre season bash he threw in the Anaheim Hills when they played at the Big A down below. Hell, I could’ve gotten a selfie & autographed Wilson from Eric Dickerson, but was far too interested in the ignored keg of beer in the landscaped backyard to pay attention to the NFL Royalty inside.
The bar is packed with the usual Superbowl suspects, all flashing Bud Lite visors and Jagermeister beads, conversations shouted over the blaring televisions. Enormous amounts of greasy treats are washed down by watery beers, burps are encouraged and judged by tone and volume.
The locals howl at the commercials, repeating the inane punchlines to each other with jabs to the ribs. And now here comes Lady Gaga, floating down into the stadium suspended by a Goodyear Blimp that is being towed by a Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk.
I truly anticipate her tremendous tits to now shoot red white and blue laser beams into the sky, bringing a bald eagle down in a flaming ball on the 50 yard line.
Somewhere in the bar, someone starts up a chant to make America Great!….Again!
I look over at Jay who now clutches 32 ounces of shitty American lager while a girl in a Falcons jersey tries to stick her tongue in his ear. It is as if he is being force-fed AMERICA in one terrible sitting.
We may have allowed you to leave once, but we will always have you!
I left them there with the Pats trailing 28 to 9–nine! I mean, who comes back from that?
I went home to work on the lyrics a bit more, get ready for a full day of guitar and drum work with Jay and Nick.
But when I got home, the game was still on, overtime now, with those goddamn Patriots coming back with 19 unanswered points in the fourth.
And as they embraced the most cliché of all Hollywood endings, rode the very atmosphere of triumph into a stunning victory, I shut off the TV and thought of the project ahead.
A success in the face of impossible odds, after all.
That was all we were asking for as well.