Rags called Joe and I over to his remote Joshua Tree compound to discuss the next three songs he wanted to record. He explained to Joe and I that he wanted to complete this project before he was obligated to move from the compound; Rags and his wife, Catherine, were putting the compound up for sale. The conversation revolved around how important a role his residence had played in the development of his songs. He recorded all the demos in a small office type studio on the grounds. The little office had wood floors and a warm sound. There was a small window looking out onto the open desert. Rags dog, Steinbeck, was always either sleeping on the floor, or the couch when Rags let him get up there. Although the three songs slated for the EP all dealt with memories of Rag's father and Rag's own Southern California upbringing, the Joshua Tree compound and it's little studio was just as present in the music, even if that wasn't reflected in the lyrics of the songs. Perhaps it was the solitude at Rag's compound that encouraged the reflective period in Rags life that produced these songs?
Rags told Joe and I about the three songs slated for the album. He mentioned the sentimentality he was feeling about potentially moving from the compound. Rags initial plan was to do all of the tracking at my Solar Powered Cabin. But after hearing both the stories behind California Bound, Drive and Foothill Boulevard as well as Rag's feelings about putting the compound up for sale, Joe and I both had the same reaction. We both said to Rags, "You should do the tracking right here, in your studio." I told Rags that the room had a sound. And then I pointed out how nice it would be to hear that sound on these songs. It would always remind him of the compound.
Rags was surprised but he agreed that it was a great idea. The initial plan was to try and track basics of acoustic guitar, vocal and upright bass live. But that plan quickly morphed into the method Rags is more accustomed to working; we first tracked Rags acoustic guitar to a click, and then we added a lead vocal track over that. Bass was sent out to Baba Elefante in Los Angeles. He sent his tracks to me through the web. Bobby Furgo and Lisa Mednick Powell came way out to my Solar Powered Cabin for violin and accordion overdubs. Tim Chinnock also came out to the cabin for some drums and percussion overdubs. Tim, Faith Chinnock and Atermis all recorded backing vocals with Rags over at his studio. And Gar Robertson recorded pedal steel down at his Morongo Valley studio, Red Barn Recorders. I did the mixing at my Solar Powered Cabin and Dennis Moody handled the mastering. This was the second project I got to work on with Dennis, The Resolectrics being the first.
I'm very happy with the vibe we achieved on these three songs. Rags voice sounds intimate and clear. I can hear Rags place in these tracks. I hear the desert and I hear a good friend expressing beautiful sentiments in these three songs. As a producer, this hit the bullseye for me. Joe Garcia deserves a special mention too as he helped water the original seed.
Take a listen. Come visit the desert by giving yourself up to these songs.