Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 238
Fri. Sept 7, 2012
Growing up I was never much of a nature guy. The one time during my childhood my Papi took my brothers and me camping and I threw up. That was the story of my life. It didn’t stop there, my parents would drag us out on Sundays to go to go hiking or go walking in the Botanical Gardens. I rarely wanted to go. Even on our summer road trip vacations visiting mountains, caverns, rivers, waterfalls and a plethora of national parks, I never truly appreciated it till I met my wife. I was, and in some ways still am, her high maintenance husband. I was really nervous the first time she took me camping. But it all it took was relaxing under the campfire and I was hooked. I remember watching the stars without any phone ringing, no e-mails to check and no television to watch when I truly felt home, at peace, in the comforts of nature. It was a big moment for me, as a person, to give up what I thought were my electronic essentials but I realized that letting go by recharging my natural energies is essential to my craft.
Former Verve front man Richard Ashcroft knows all about being inspired by nature. On his 2002 solo album, Human Conditions, the man formally known as “Mad Richard” had calmed his ways, finding love, getting married and spreading the good vibrations on his post Verve recordings. One of those inspiration got some spiritual assistance from Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson, Ashcroft explained to Thomas Beller how this cosmic musical collaboration came to light when he said, and “That came about through a daydream of mine in the studio. Dennis Wilson’s record “Pacific Ocean Blue” was a big influence on me, and I came out of this dream and said ‘Wouldn’t it would be great if Brian Wilson could sing on the track?’ Everybody thought I was a complete twat for thinking that he would. A few days later, someone told me Brian doesn’t know who I am, but he liked the song. He did it in LA when I was in London.”
You know what they say dream big, reach out for the heavens and your wishes will come to fruition. Richard Ashcroft daydreamed Brian Wilson was actually singing on his record and instead of dismissing it as another one of Mad Richard’s visions, Ashcroft made it happen. When asked by Beller if Richard gave Wilson any musical direction, Ashcroft replied, “Grasshopper doesn’t give advice to the master, man. Nature is the Law is about man’s arrogance, about the endless building of railroads, and I was hoping to have some sort of Aaron Copeland thing as a coda. So when the tape comes back the next day, Brian’s done one of these chants at the end. He’s got the guys building the railroad, he’s got the chants: “oh ah oh ah!” Different age, different part of the world, different period, somehow a unity; and in a song that isn’t a pastiche of the Beach Boys! He must get a lot of tapes asking him to sing on songs that sound like The Beach Boys. So that deep chant thing at the end was Brian. Basically he just connected with the tune, and went down and did it in a day.”
How did an English bloke from Wigan who wrote one of the most magnificent anthems of the 1990’s “Bittersweet Symphony” convince living Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson to sing on his album, Human Conditions? Creative determination; Never give up, that’s the lesson; even if everyone thinks you’re mad, remember Richard Ashcroft. My advice take a trip out somewhere lay by the beach, walk in the hills, camp under the stars and appreciate the wondrous awe of Nature surround you. Turn off the P.C., TV and cell and turn on your senses. Let Richard Ashcroft along with Brian Wilson be your lyrical guide. “Nature is the Law” is the soundtrack to your outside, the scent of grass, the curling of flowers, the cuddling of trees, taste the splash of the ocean and with sand on your bare feet might just spark some inspiration jubilee.
Here’s a link to Grooveshark audio clip of Richard Ashcroft’s “Nature is the Law” featuring Brian Wilson.