Luke returns for today's #wirehousedaily with a song and a short write up about when it was conceived. Enjoy ELECTRIC LEAVES.
We're paring it with Sarah Blood's art piece titled LUNA FOSSIL IV.
I wrote this song in a journal when I was going to San Jose State—I think. I was reading a lot of Joyce and Li-Young Lee, Kerouac, Plath, Ginsberg, WS Merwin. I was smoking black cloves and listening to AFI. It was the early stages (for me) of learning coffee shops were my people. At one of them on campus I convinced the baristas to play a CD mix of DO MAKE SAY THINK, Broken Social Scene, along with maybe some Hella and other instrumental bands that would pass their manager’s instrumental jazz test and let those of us studying and smoking under the overhang of the Criminal Justice building to feel deep and dark and cool.
Most mornings I bused to school and sat in the large square in the center of the campus and studied a strange array of kids and bums and neighborhood people doing a mash-up of casual stretching and Tai Chi.
It was a time when I kept a journal. That felt important.
I think it was a semester or two toward the end when I was getting to see writers like Studs Terkel, Merwin, and even Neil Gaiman, who came through, punk as shit, Chucks, a black leather jacket, cool, perfectly-torn jeans, being nice and honest and hopeful about everything.
I also met JM Coetzee during this time. He'd recently won the Nobel.
When I met Coetzee I was wearing cargo shorts and a dirtbag hoodie and an oversized backpack on account I was usually in it for 10-plus hours of classes those days. A lot of the rest of the people at the reception in suits and drinking wine and understanding the cheeses that were out. I had my copy of his book Youth. That’s what I was there. Coetzee was perfect and awkward. I told him what his book had meant to me and he looked like he wanted to rip his skin off but signed my book and smiled and I moved out of the way for other people in line. \
At the time I didn't know how prophetic that book was or that in a way I’d try and rewrite my own tamed-down version some day, as I’m doing now, today.
I didn't understand how ununderstanding your twenties and early thirties can be. I guess I drawn to his blue-black aesthetic before I understood what it was he was saying. The way he talked about wanting something you couldn’t identify (maybe). There was also, as in Joyce, the notion you had to leave home to grow.
So this song, ELECTRIC LEAVES, it's from those days, I believe.
It’s one of the fastest songs I've written or recorded or put out. For any of the music-types here, this was all first-takes, no computer plug-ins, and recorded into a version of Cubase that only allowed a single layer of undo. And, I recorded, mixed, and "mastered" this one in my little sister's bedroom. She’d moved out before me. She was smart and rebellious and cooler than I was. I had opted to stay at home and make music downstairs in her room, which, at least in memory, was Prince purple.