My First Studio Recording.
Eno is a nice name. even nicer backwards. One.
on three occasions I've worked with eno in the role of producer.
laurie anderson's big red
and talking heads' remain in light.
but the very first record I made with eno was
david bowie's lodger.
it happened to be my first studio record ever*.
eno was producing along with Tony Visconti
and david was...well, being brilliant.
but before I get into the making of lodger I should give you a colorful background of where the deed was done.
in Lake Geneva, Switzerland there was a popular lakeside casino which sometimes featured name bands in concert. one such event was Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention. long before I worked with frank, they played a show at the casino. as the story goes, someone with a flare gun shot a flare into the ceiling while frank was playing, the ceiling caught on fire, and the casino burnt to the ground.
frank told me after they evacuated the building he and his band walked around the lake to their hotel where they sat and watched the place burn down with all their gear and instruments inside. the next day there was nothing left. even the cymbals had melted.
this is of course the story which prompted the song smoke on the water by Deep Purple. the casino was re-built and expanded to include a recording studio. it's where the Montreux Jazz Festival is held each year**.
at the newly-built studio we recorded lodger in late 1978.
we stayed in a nice big swiss hotel right on the lake.
my room had a large canopy bed with thick wooden posts.
it was the most comfortable bed I'd ever slept in.
a set of french doors opened out onto a small balcony
overlooking beautiful lake geneva with the mountains in the background
and the real 12th century Chillon Castle down the end of the lake.
looked like a postcard.
Tony Visconti was married at the time to the irish folk singer Mary Hopkin.
she had a hit song called those were the days produced by Sir Paul.
mary was visiting while I was there. tony and mary's room was next door to mine.
mary had a habit of singing in the morning, exercising her voice I suppose.
she would sing these lovely old folk songs and I could hear them.
they would wake me up.
the hotel served the most delicious hot chocolate I've ever had.
so I'd wake up in the morning,
order a pot of hot chocolate from room service,
and drink it on my balcony overlooking lake geneva
while mary hopkins serenaded.
I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
now to the making of the record:
the new studio/casino was built out of thick concrete.
it looked like a world war II bunker.
no more fires.
the strangest feature of the studio was this:
the control room was on the first floor and the recording room
was up the stairs on the second floor above it.
usually you can see the producer, engineer, etc.
through a glass window but in this case you could not see them,
but they could see you through a closed circuit tv screen.
by the time I was brought in there were supposedly 20 tracks to work on.
I was very anxious to hear them but david and eno
patiently explained their concept.
the record was to be called planned accidents and so they wanted
to capture my accidental responses to the songs by not allowing me
to hear them beforehand!
so I would go upstairs into the recording room, put on my headphones,
look into the closed circuit camera and say,
"what key would this one be in?"
I'd hear a disconnected voice,
"don't worry about the key, when you hear the count off
just start playing something."
I would be allowed perhaps 3 tries and then we'd move on.
just about the time I knew the key.
later david, eno, and tony would "piece together" their favorite
bits from whatever I'd managed to play.
that's how we did I am a DJ, boys keep swingin', and red sails
to name a few of my favorites.
years later david told me boys keep swingin' was written with me in mind.
*my first record ever was frank zappa's sheik yerbouti, but my parts were all recorded live, not in the studio.
**a few years ago king crimson played at the same place for the Montreux Jazz Festival.