Thursday, January 20, 2005

Visit with 1 Giant Leap, New Orleans, LA, USA: DAY 3

Thursday, 20 January 2005 New Orleans, LA

The following morning, Jody, Ken and I met for breakfast and contacted Jamie to find out when my interview might take place. He told me that we would be meeting Speech and his wife Yolanda at Tipitina’s in the afternoon to write lyrics. He suggested that I come to Tipitina’s between 2 and 3 to do my interview, figuring that by then, he and Speech would be ready for a break from song writing. So, Ken, Jody and I set out for the French Quarter to do the tourist thing.

We arrived at Jackson Square and saw all the tarot card readers and the palmists there. One gay palmist offered to read my future, but I declined, telling him that some things are better left unknown. We continued around the Square until we came to Decatur Street and a huge demonstration called the Funeral for Democracy to commemorate the inauguration of George W. Bush for his second term as US President. Jody took a ton of excellent photographs and I collected protest dollars….slightly larger than a US $1 bill, they offered the bearer "ONE DECEPTION".

After beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde, we continued looking around the city. At one point, we tried to contact Jamie again by calling Tipitina’s but that meant finding a phone book and we ended up on the 11th floor of the Wyndham Hotel where the hotel lobby overlooks a huge bend in the Mississippi River. We were not able to find Jamie, but the view was spectacular.

Because I had seen plans change rather rapidly and significantly, I was hesitant to take a cab out to Tipitina’s by myself in case I would find the place locked up, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to get a cab back. I no longer remember where we ate lunch that day, but eventually, I reached Jamie and learned that they were indeed at Tipitina’s. I took a cab over and knocked on the door.

The door was open, so I walked inside to see Jamie, Duncan and Ben and on the couch writing lyrics on his laptop was Speech seated next to his wife Yolanda. I had already stepped up to introduce myself before I actually realized whom I was greeting! For the next hour or so, I watched as Duncan, Jamie and Speech worked out the lyrics to a song about "Gloss" Culture. I remember that it was about the conflict of being the breadwinner in a family who rarely sees his family and the difference between the material things in life and the time that one would like to spend with their spouse and kids. There was one line in particular that was problematic and I got the courage to suggest the use of the words "role that you play" and the guys took it and played it around. I don’t remember if it made it in the final cut or not, but it was really cool to feel like part of the song writing team.

After the lyrics were polished up, Ben had set up the camera in front of a fireplace for Speech to do his recordings. The shot was framed with Speech in the left third quadrant and his wife in the background on the right…perfect for the lyrics that were just written. At this point, it got really interesting for me. I was needed to hold the laptop computer just beside the microphone and camera so that Speech could read his lyrics and perform the song. One by one, I watched him do his takes, some perfect from go, some with errors that he then would retake and get right. I was so unbelievably astonished to be so close that I could almost claim to have done a dental exam on the man! It is so very cool to be there in a recording session and see the process. One track for the basic melody is then augmented with a couple or more tracks of harmony or the same melody in different keys. Then there is the punching up of certain words to add emphasis…..I tell you folks, there will be excellent singles coming off the new CD. And I can attest to the infectious smile that Speech wears while he sings. He obviously loves what he does and is very good at it.

Meanwhile, I was still wondering when I might do my interview and was hoping to get it out of the way because the more I thought about it the more the anxiety of being on camera built up in me. It didn’t happen that day, but the experience of watching the process of the magic with a vocalist was fantastic.

At some point, I learned that Josh had gone to the airport to pick up some folks. I heard Jamie say something about having kept this secret since December 10th and asked him what he was up to. He then told me that he had been planning a surprise for Jess’ birthday and had arranged to fly in four of her best friends from London. When we finished up the session, Josh arrived from the airport with Monique, Karen, Soph, Antonia (Antski Doodle) and Adriana, Duncan’s friend from Brazil who now lives in London. We all piled into the van and started toward the hotel where Jess was waiting for us to go to dinner. We had met very briefly and I didn’t really realize that Antski was Antski until someone called her by that name…and so I said "So you are Antski Doodle" and she said "Yes" at which point someone realized that I was Ron Hudson and said "Oh wow, you are THE Ron". It made me laugh out loud to be "THE" anything.

When we arrived at the hotel, Jamie distracted Jess for a minute and whisked the girls upstairs to a room before taking Jess in for a reunion with her friends. I decided then that it would be a good time for me to take my leave and spend some time with Jody and Ken on their last night in the city. We were all checking out of the Renaissance in the morning and they were returning to Wisconsin. So, I took a cab back across town to my hotel and had dinner alone in the Bistro before meeting Jody and Ken downstairs in the bar for after-dinner coffee and dessert. Once again, I told them all about what had happened that day and how surreal it had been for me.

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