Here is a very cool dialog I’d thought I’d share here that happened on my Facebook page last week:
Mark Zimmerman – Hi Circe, Which song that you have recorded stands out as most satisfying to you? Which one makes you say to yourself “I really nailed that one.”, everything from the band to the vocals,the song itself to the production etc. was just perfect?
Christian Nesmith – As Circe‘s partner, producer and co-writer I thought I’d jump in on this one. It’s the age old question for artists, isn’t it? And it prompts the age old response – which is your favorite child? Circe has always been emphatic about following her muse where it leads her. That can yield enormously varied results from haunting blues to playful jazz to straight up roots rock and roll. We’ve also been developing a couple of musicals which takes it in to a completely new area. It’s a joke among musicians that your latest work is “the best thing I’ve ever done!” And, if one is truly trying to grow in expression, that’s usually true even if the fans are off put by a change in genre and mood. Additionally, one is never completely satisfied with their art. It can always be tweaked until the end of time. But, as the adage goes, art it never finished only abandoned. So, if I were forced to give an answer (and I think I can safely speak for Circe here) there are a few examples that come to mind. The title track to California Kid for its long epic arc and great execution by the band. One Drop Of Poison for its lyrical playfulness, great upright bass work by Ian Walker and musical simplicity. You Are The Stars for its vocal arrangement. Hit Me, Paint The Town Red and Sorrow for Three are also among our favs. We also have been so fortunate enough to have outstanding guest players on the records (too many to mention) and they all have brought incredible life and uniqueness to their respective tracks. Overall, it is a discussion that could be had at length for each and every song on every album but I hope this answers your question to some degree of satisfaction.
Circe Link – I need to ruminate on this question, Christian Nesmith is right on with how it’s almost impossible to choose….I wonder if Debra Tala, Laura Drew, Christopher Allis, Jason Chesney, Michael Sherwood would be willing to chime in here..?
Mark Zimmerman – I think it’s a great response. Thanks.
Mark Zimmerman – I can only compare with photography, which is a hobby of mine. When asked which picture is my best, I can never seem to pick one. I can show you thousands that are not though.
Christian Nesmith – Don’t listen to Jason, Mark. He is one of the most outstanding, thoughtful and melodic bass players (let alone musicians) I’ve ever known.
Mark Zimmerman – If that’s him on Circe’s albums, I agree. Not having any hard copies (All bought digital at itunes and Amazon) I haven’t been able to read any credits. Also, I just discovered Circe through you Christian, a couple of months ago. I’m glad I did. Loving all the music you two, and whoever else is playing, have done so far!
Christian Nesmith – In response to your photography comparison, I’ve always felt that because performance – music, acting, musicals, movies, juggling – is a bit different because in a weird way it isn’t art or ANYTHING for that matter unless it is actually hap…pening, occurring. A picture or painting or other forms of “static” art remain art when they are hanging on your wall even if your not looking at it. Though that could be argued as well. If a painting hangs on a tree that falls in a forest and there’s nobody there to appreciate it does it still give forth the artist’s existential introspection and bold use of color?
Christian Nesmith – Boy, I worded THAT horribly but I think you get what I mean.
Debra Tala – I have favorites on each and every Circe Link album. It’s hard to choose. One of my favorite CDs of hers is “Live in Japan” because I love hearing the vibe of those live performances.
Christopher Allis – A more thoughtful response is forthcoming from this humble drummer… I’m thinking about which tact to take on this topic. : )
Michael Sherwood – It’s “Falling on Knives and you know it!.. ;
Laura Drew – How do you pick a favorite? There are all so different and wonderful in their own ways – and so fun to sing! There is no disputing that you are one badass songwriter, Circe. I will say that, if pressed, I am with Shecky. Falling on Knives may be my favorite.
Debra Tala -What about “Paper Dragon” and “Clemancy”? There’s two of my favorites from past CDs.
Michael Sherwood - (In My Best John Cleese Voice)..”What you have here is something WE DOCTORS call An Embarrassment Of Riches”..
Michael Sherwood – Seriously, how do you pick? Ludvig’s Violin solo alone on Can’t Make The Rain…I could take that to a desert island and do just fine…
Michael Sherwood – And don’t get me started on the stuff in the hopper
Circe Link – Thanks Mark Zimmerman for asking such a wonderful question. For me I have to say Falling On Knives is of of my all time favorites but I’m not sure I knew it in the studio. Much of what happens in the process happens in the mixing/vocal arranging/post session and that’s where some of the finest aspects of a song can develop at the hands of one of the best ears I know, Christian Nesmith.
Circe Link – On Hobo, from California Kid, there was a magical moment when Christopher Allis heard something in his head and asked if he could take another pass which of course we agreed. The result is the evocative drum and bass relationship you hear t…hrough out the song, especially on the bridge where Jason Chesney on Bass met the match of what was being laid down by Christopher with a beautiful lyricism. I knew immediately that for me, that song was perfect.
Circe Link - @ Debra Tala … Clemency has a special place in my heart because when Stanley Behrens came in and did his One Take Jake on the solo Christian and I were picking up our jaws of the ground for days!
Michael Sherwood – Falling on Knives made Audra Mae cry on first listening..And that was “after” the Doctors Without Heat Lamps gig! Ha…
Debra Tala – Which begs the question, wonder what’s next?? Circe, the mad scientist of song.
Mark Kascle – So perhaps there are two Mozarts in the sea of Salieris?
Mark Kascle – A little thanks to Lotus for that comment…
Kathy Hessler – Love this Post, It’s an AwEsOmE Read ♥
Stanley Behrens – I guess I have to say something here. First, I always felt honored just to be part of any songs Circe created. Second, I’m flattered that two of the songs mentioned I played on. Even though it was only a flute flutter on Falling On Knives. …Last, the song Hobo was inspired by my daughter Chloe who chose to live that life style. A very adventurous little girl my daughter is. I love all of Circe Link’s songs. Also Christian Nesmith is a fantastic producer.
Michael Sherwood – Don’t think for a minute that your Ian Andersonian flute trills wern’t on my mind..
Michael Sherwood – Trills Flutters whatevs..
Stanley Behrens – Thanks Michael………
Christopher Allis – So, it seems I finally have an opportunity to opine about this very interesting question. First off: Paul, thanks for asking. Second off: Circe, thanks for asking for my input!
Christopher Allis – Crap… let’s try that again… Paul, you mentioned photography as a hobby of yours, so let’s use that as the frame of reference. With photography you’re dealing with light and shade, color balance, framing, all things that make the pictu…re you take a little closer to what was in your mind’s eye originally. You’re also taking into consideration the camera and film that are being used. The tools as well as the inspiration and idea all feed that final result. The same holds true for music. When you look at a picture you’ve taken… sometimes you see something that you never saw or thought of before. The art shows itself anew to you when you look with open eyes. The same holds true for music. What you compose on informs the song in a particular way. Who you compose with informs the song in a particular way. What you’re feeling on that day also informs the song in a particular way. My feeling is that a favorite song IS a possibility to pick, but it is more ephemeral because it is based on a time and place and space that you are in. Sometimes you feel like song x really is the most inspiring thing you’ve ever heard or been part of, the next moment it’s song y. With Circe, I think that the writing process has a number of possible paths it can take given her natural inquisitive nature. Labels/genre classifications aside, what you have is someone that can shift from one style to the next and find a through line that connects with what she has done in the past. Even if the songs are vastly different in arc or subject matter, there are certain things innate in what Circe writes. Just as there are certain things innate in the pictures you create. While I did say earlier that it IS possible to pick a favorite song, it is also very hard to do because ours is not an objective position. We were there at a certain moment in the creation of the work. That said, there are songs that evoke certain memories or certain feelings that linger on the brain like a beautiful sunset you were able to capture on film. Those that I’ve been able to be part of with Circe include the following: “Falling on Knives” (off of Moody Girl). Most everyone has picked it and there’s good reason. That song has such a spirit and evokes such a wild set of emotions. For me personally, it was an opportunity to take this song and dress it up in a certain rhythmic and textural way to make it not just an album track, but the musical event that I think Circe knew it could be, even if it wasn’t known at the time. “Every Blessing’s A Curse In Disguise” (off of More Songs). I just love the dirgey grind of this song. You feel as if you are watching this being move slowly along the road. “Little Hobo” (off of California Kid). Circe referenced this in one of her comments. I had an idea that I wanted to follow and they let me go for it and I think it brought something else to that song. A certain rolling feel that made me think of being on a train… of movement. It was a beautiful moment in the studio. “Went and Fell In Love” (off of One Drop of Poison) was just pure fun to record and I remember being all smiles about how it turned out. It makes me happy whenever I hear it. “Armageddon” (off of Let’s Go Together). This was the last song of the session (literally) and I recall all of us being a bit exhausted… but this song just has a certain something that I still feel a pull toward. Finally, there is the entirety of the album “Vonnegut’s Wife”. I picked this whole album because it is kind of like when you get a new lens, or a new camera body, or you’re trying out new techniques and don’t necessarily know where things are going to go. I think the cycle of songs that made up “Vonnegut” really saw Circe trying different things and wanting to evoke certain vibes that may be well travelled, but stand the test of time because if there’s one thing that I think an inquisitive listening audience likes just as much as good songs, it’s a unique way of hearing/experiencing those songs. “Vonnegut” was all about taking a step away from what was done previously: of taking a left turn. The pre-production process was different. The recording process was different. The vibe was different from soup to nuts and you can tell when you listen that this is a departure and a lovely one at that. There’s my 3 cents. Dig?
Mark Zimmerman – Wow! What a great response this question has received. Thanks for the in-depth reply Christopher. All I know is when I hit play on a Circe album, I never hit skip. It’s a musical experience I’ve never been on before and I love it. So, What’s next and when is it coming out?
Michael Sherwood – Well I’m glad you asked…Circe and I have 12 songs in the hopper…Time to open that hopper finish recording and mix..All composition and most arrangement is done..The working title is Dystopia..It is a Jazzy Lemon Pie. Ok then
Circe Link - @ Stanley Behrens…Thanks for joining in the conversation Stan! It’s always a treat to have you on anything we do, it’s just as much of an honor for us to be sure. And how cool that you are on quite a few of the songs mentioned! Guess I better get you in on the next record!
Circe Link - @ Christopher Allis….Such an insightful and wonderful response, coming from you I expected nothing less. I read your blog ya know…;)
Circe Link – @ Mark Zimmerman…Yes it’s true Michael Sherwood and I are working on a record that we wrote together while Christian was on the road and of course co writing with Michael was effortless, joyful, and produced some tunes that will probably be some of my best work.
Circe Link - @ Mark Zimmerman…and thanks Lotus for me but it is I who is surrounded by a sea of Mozarts. Each of of these players are extraordinary artists.
Mark Zimmerman – You got that right. What a great sound you all make. I love almost all music, but haven’t heard anything real new or fresh sounding to me until Christian posted some of your videos. After seeing and listening to them, I bought all your albums and have been in music heaven. Let me know when the new album comes out. I’m ready for more!
Circe Link – Thanks everyone for such a wonderful discussion!