I fell in love with his album Can You Fly, and when someone from Elektra approached me about working on the album, I jumped at the chance. I think he is an AMAZING songwriter, his lyric remind me of short stories, or the books by Cormac McCarthy.
John Siket engineered. We recorded the basics at Dreamland, a beautiful old church in upstate New York, near Bearsville. There were a lot of session players on the album, Graham Maby (from Joe Jackson's band) on bass, Frank Vilardi on drums, Marc Ribot (from Tom Wait's band), Dave Schramm, Mark Spencer, Marshall Crenshaw, and Kevin Salem on guitar. It was interesting to work with such great players, and to get their styles to fit in with Freedy's songs. I remember the band stayed in a house a few miles from the studio, and John and I stayed in a super lofi cabin. It was f**king freezing!
The last two songs we recorded were the title track, which Freedy started playing one morning at the breakfast table. I knew it was going to be a key track. The hardest part was getting the acoustic performance to feel right, and then getting Marc Ribot's overdubbed guitar to work in arrangement. I remember John Siket and I would load Marc's riffs into my Akai 1000 and fly them into the spots where I thought they would work. We were at Sear Sound then, finishing overdubs. There was one riff that prompted John and me to sing "there once was a fairy king...."
Bad Reputation also happened last minute, very quickly. The rest of the band had gone out to dinner, and Freedy started playing the song. I got on the drum kit to work out an arrangement, and John yelled through the talkback mic "this sounds great, record it right now"...so we grabbed the assistant engineer John (I'll tell Joel) Yates to play bass, even though he didn't really play bass! We cut the song in about 3 takes. By the time the band got back from dinner the basic track was finished!
Hats off to John, the album sounds gorgeous! The title track is so beautiful, it makes me cry when I hear it. Freedy played it at my wedding, and we both sobbed all the way through!
I've been using that track as my "just in case I thought I knew what I was doing, get real" track for years! When I walk into a room I don't know, or need to check a mix I've been working on, I listen to that. And then I go "f#@k I have a lot of work to do!"
Great song, but even more so its a pinnacle of the craft of recording. Thanks for that and all the other amazing work over the years.