While I was in Vancouver visiting my good friend Chris, one day we took B.C. Ferries out to Bowen Island. It was a rare, clear winter’s day–cold, but beautiful. A lush temperate rainforest surrounded by water and nearby fjords was our landscape. At the end of our hike, as we sat by the water, waiting for the ferry back, the only sound was of a man bringing his ax down upon logs outside his house by the water. We sat in silence, reflecting upon our day, as it began to drizzle.
I’m not sure when exactly it began, but by the time I was on the plane back to SFO the next evening, I had something of a thought in my head: I need to create a song that captures this place. This thought was still in my head when I opened up the newspaper three days later, and saw that Kaki King was playing that very night in SF. The last and only time I had seen her play was a whole 9 years ago, in L.A., the night before I had left for my big Europe trip. At that time, she was just starting her career, and far fewer people were aware of her. I remember her talking about Doestoevsky, being funny, and generally thinking, “I would like to play guitar with this person, and also be friends with her, I think we would get along.”
The recent show here was great, held at an intimate, somewhat faded venue–upstairs at the Swedish American Hall–and as anyone who was there could attest to, the promoters seemed to be compensating for the profits derived from the small crowd size by not spending any money on heating, as it was only slightly warmer than outside.
Part way through her set, I was completely shocked as she was introducing the next tune, and said, “this one is called ‘Bowen Island’.”
Apparently we had had the same inspiration! I can say she beat me to the punch, since the album it appeared on was released over a year ago, but the timing of it was uncanny. After that, I felt that I definitely had to make my own interpretation of Bowen.
I had a few ideas and motifs I was playing with. Finally, I woke up the other morning and just decided to record something in the early light of consciousness, feeling that it was the right moment. Still imperfect, but here’s my own semi-improv intepretation of Bowen Island, a magical place, recorded with my $100 Blue mic and some reverb added to capture some of that penetrating sustain that I always feel in such environments, massive trees stretching wild roots, cm by cm over hundreds of years. The world of underground tree-competition is brutal.