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Music for Films and Forests
Part I of New York Trilogy, performed at the Bottom Line, NYC
From Jane Siberry
Trailer, northern Canada, cathedral. Listening to stories of spine as turning in the dark trees, night, nervous. The paintings falling over each other. This extending into first thoughts of what would gather for Tree. No. Water. Water as seen from dark forests. And films. Songs that had already been in films. But water. Open-ness. Green? No. Blue. Both. Both mixing but not blending as I walked the New York streets, bought, chopped, cooked, loved. And musicians, asking, auditioning, watching the other musicians respond, deciding. Rehearsing. Three days. Most never having heard any of the material. Three days, fast-working, hard-working musicians relaxed, excellent. Much laughing. Disconcert. Knowing some would not understand how I work. Perhaps down the road. Doesn't matter. Music first, friends later. Window opening up as I, wandering home after rehearsing. Strings, brass, hearing other music differently. Classical. Orchestrations. Did the window stay open? I can't tell now. Three shows. One is a line, two is an intersection, three is a map. Key. Footsteps in apartment. Love there.
-- Jane Siberry, August 1999
From James Bessman
Jane Siberry had barely launched her independent label SHEEBA Records when, in the autumn of 1996, she conceived 'Siberry Three Wednesdays,' an ambitious series of three entirely different monthly performances at New York's premiere showcase club, The Bottom Line. Alan Pepper, the club's owner and a longtime Jane Siberry fan and supporter, had asked her if she wanted to play, upon which she saw an opportunity to work with new musicians, particularly string and brass players.
For each of the three different shows, there would be four performances to choose from: two per night over two evenings - following three days of rehearsals. Jane figured on recording and releasing the final performance of each of the presentations - the last presumably being the best - though she recorded all of them just in case! What she hadn't figured on, though, was how enormously difficult it would be to start up SHEEBA and begin putting out her own records as quickly as she originally intended. So it wasn't until a year later that the two-disc Child (Music For The Christmas Season), which was the last of the three sets of shows, became the first of the three to be released - showing that the fledgling music business mogul at least knew she should get her Christmas album out in time for the holiday music shoppers!
But Jane would need still more time to get her one-woman operation together enough to release the other 'Siberry Three Wednesday' performances. Only now does Tree (Music For Films And Forests) - the first of the trilogy shows, which took place at the Bottom Line on October 23 and 24, 1996 - become the second of the three 'Wednesdays' to be released. As she noted parenthetically on the lovely special invitations sent out to media, the program would consist musically of "vocals, brass, strings, [and] sustains" to convey a lush, natural sound corresponding to the title - though by showtime, her set list, in addition to music for films, was heavier on "water" songs rather than woods.
Many of the songs, too, were older ones long requested by fans, like 'Up The Loggin' Road' and 'Goin' Down The River.' Others were new, like 'Burning Ship,' based on a true story, and the beautifully surreal 'When Last I Was A Fisherman.' Jane's own film music was represented by 'Slow Tango,' from Faraway, So Close, Wim Wenders' 1993 sequel to Wings Of Desire, his 1988 movie following the exploits of two angels. The first film, which was recently remade in America as City Of Angels, included Jane's great 'Calling All Angels' duet with k.d. lang, which she performed here too, but did not include on the recording.
But Tree does include a very rare live performance of 'It Can't Rain All The Time,' the only song written expressly for the soundtrack of The Crow. Unbearably poignant, it was written after the haunting movie's tragic star Brandon Lee died during the ill-fated production; Jane had actually spiritually sought Lee's aide in writing it after being handed the evocative title - which she softened in the lyrics to 'It Won't Rain All The Time.' It has since become another of her most-requested songs, and one that has introduced her music to a larger audience. Regrettably, Jane's wonderful version of the theme to 'Bambi' had to be omitted because she was unable to get the necessary permission. Jane had more or less rewritten the lovely song from memory, having learned it as a child from a Nestle's Quik premium record starring Shirley Temple Jane's rendition featured a delightful singing and spoken-word interplay between herself and backup vocalists Rebecca Campbell and Lisa Lindo, half of which closely approximated the original recording, with the rest being Jane's whimsical continuation.
I mention 'Bambi' only because it was such a highlight of the Tree shows - and one that brings to mind one of my favorite early Siberry song lyrics, from 'Empty City' - "Hope you have a camera, hope you have some paper, because if no one gets this down then it's gone forever." For all those who were unable to attend these shows, then at least, the tape machine was working so that we all can continue to enjoy this CD record of an unforgettable Jane Siberry concert, the missing 'Bambi' notwithstanding!
-- James Bessman, July 1999
Jane Siberry -- vocals, piano on part of 2 , guitar in 6,9
Tim Ray -- piano, organ
Rebecca Campbell -- vocals
Catherine Russell -- vocals
Lisa Lindo -- vocals
Rebecca Jenkins -- guest vocals on 2,7,8
Evan Richey -- cello
David Travers-Smith -- trumpet
Peter Kiesewalter -- clarinet, sax, accordion
Dean Sharp -- drums
Vinni Nobile -- trombone
Debra Robinson -- bass
Lisa Gutkin -- violin
Recorded at the Bottom Line Club, New York City October 23 and 24, 1996.
Created and produced by Siberry.
Live recording and mixing: David Travers-Smith
Show Production Assistance: Rebecca Campbell
Live Sound: Peter Keppler
Artwork Design: Siberry
Cover photo: Siberry
Graphic Production and Design: Marc LaFoy / Screen Images
Mastering: Stevin McNamara, Doante Panicke Productions
'When Last I Was A Fisherman' is from the LIPS performance and includes Debbie Knapper and Larry Baeder on guitars, Gail Ann Dorsey on bass, Dean Sharp on drums.
All songs written by Siberry (C Wing-It Music, SOCAN) except: 'I Paddle My Canoe' lyrics by Siberry, music by Siberry, Tim Ray, David Travers-Smith & 'It Can't Rain All The Time' by Siberry/Graeme Revell (BMI / SOCAN)
Songs for films
'Slow Tango' (Far Away So Close by Wim Wenders)
'It Can't Rain All The Time' (The Crow)
'Calling All Angels' (Until The End of the World by Wim Wenders)
(in concert but not on this recording)
'Bambi' (in concert but not on this recording)
'Adam And Eve' (for a film in Jane's head)
All of them, really.
Songs for forests
The rest of them. So... all of them, then.
'In My Dream' (in concert but not on this recording)
Some of the lyrics changed due to the nature of the live performance. This is why printed lyrics are sometimes different from what one hears.