Ishmael

 After attending Steve Earle’s “Camp Copperhead” I wanted to go home and write a “Copperhead Road” type of song as an homage to the experience.  Steve Earle uses “Drop D” tuning quite often in his songs so, that’s what I started with when I began to create this song. This tuning lent itself quite well towards developing the two main guitar “riffs” that are used throughout the song which in turn give it, it’s Outlaw Country/Deliverance feel.  Next, I needed to come up with a song idea. I wanted to write an Epic. One of the major epics in literature is Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”.  So, I thought about writing a song that would parallel this story and at the same time allow me the ability to utilize different characters, analogies, interpretations in a similar way throughout  the song. At the same time, I was reading an article about  Mexican Cartels and learned that the smuggling of exotic animals was a very large business for them. So, I decided this would be a great subject to base my song on. “Call Me Ishmael” is one of the most famous opening lines in literature so, I wanted to open the song with the same line in order to immediately give the listener the “Moby Dick” story I was about to tell.  However, here is where I decided to throw my first curve ball. The narrator named “Ishmael” in my song is actually a Parrot that is captured by the cartel. The entire song is told from his perspective. I provided several clues to this with the drawing of “Ishmael the Parrot” on the back of the CD Jacket as well as the CD itself. I then decided to throw a second curve in the story and make a Jungle Cat named Jesus the Moby Dick character in the story.  I wanted the listeners think that Ishmael’s faith is what had him standing strong during his capture when Ishmael says: “Jesus is watching, Jesus is near, in the heart of the jungle I stand strong with no fear”. But it’s because he knows that Jesus “the Jungle Cat” has his back and is lurking in the high grass for just the right moment to attack the smugglers camp and rescue the captured animals (Law of the Jungle type of thing). Again, the drawing of Jesus and Ishmael are presented prominently on the back of the CD, as I wanted the story’s main characters to be portrayed on the CD Jacket in plain sight. Once the cartel/smugglers are asleep, Jesus attacks and destroys the camp setting Ishmael and the other captured animals free.  The Captain Ahab/Pablo Escobar swears he will chase Jesus “to the gates of hell” (Same as in Moby Dick, the villains never change). I had a lot of fun both musically and lyrically throughout the song. I’m a big fan of 70’s PROG Music, and so I wrote a PROG style bridge to represent the time when Jesus attacks the camp. Ethan Sherman on Steel Guitar and Mandolin brought this section alive. This was the part of the song that led me to claim the creation of a new Music Genre “Outlaw Country Prog”. Since this song was an 8-minute epic and the closing song we wanted to have a grand ending with a Huge Gong smash to end it.. Stephen and Brett went out on a “snipe hunt” to find the elusive gong to end the song and album with, but in the end the never did find one and we had to make do with some well mic’d symbols and magical editing. This is one of those songs we just didn’t want to end. In addition to myself on all guitar parts the musicians on this song included: Stephen Haaker, Drums; Rob Hall, Bass; Bonnie Brooksbank, violin; Fabian Chavez, Percussion; and Ethan Sherman on Mandolin and Steel Guitar .Diana Ortiz, Harrison Crenshaw, and Phoebe Crenshaw  are on backing vocals. Engineering and Production was done by Brett Grossman and Stephen Haaker. and we recorded this song at Perfect Sound Studio's  in Frogtown CA.

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