to the Jim Jarmusch film,
"A Night on Earth"
In 1992 I got a call from Tom Waits. I'd been recommended by my friend
Matt Brubeck (Dave's youngest son), who was living in the Bay Area at
the time, and had played cello with Waits previously. I sent Tom a
recording from a gig I was doing, and he liked it. We played and
recorded together for two weeks at Prairie Sun Studios in Petaluma.
This became the soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film "A Night on
Earth," with Winona Ryder and Roberto Benigni, later released on
Joe Gore played guitar (and banjo), Matt was on cello, Josef
Brinckmann on accordion, and Ralph Carney on a smorgasbord of reeds
and brass. Tom played percussion and, as I recall, at least some of
his vocals were done live with the band.
At one point after doing a take of a waltz, Waits listened to the
playback, then came back into the studio and said to us "Could you
make it a limp a little more, boys?" and he pantomimed someone with a
clubfoot. On another occasion, he said to Ralph Carney "Sounds good,
Ralph, sounds good, but you could you make it a little more
antisocial?" So something I learned from the session was the value of
directing a band theatrically.
My favorite scene in the film depicts Benigni giving his confession to
a bishop he picks up while driving a cab through Rome at midnight.
Benigni's confession gets more and more lurid as Benigni drives faster
and faster. The Bishop has a heart attack, and Benigni is forced to
dispose of the body (this is "Dragging a Dead Priest") We did this the
old-fashioned way, playing along in the studio with the projected
Bass Player magazine unexpectedly reviewed the soundtrack and said
that I "Swaggered" my way through the proceedings, or something like
that. I am proud of the fact that the first thing you hear as the film
starts is the bowed bass. There are these explosive rhythmic bursts. I
threw all my training out the window to get the sound Waits wanted, a
kind of Gypsy thing. I pointed out the difference between the way you
usually hold the bow, and what I was doing. Waits approved, said "Now
you're fisting that bass."
The Island recording has gotten hard to find. These recordings are not
to be uploaded or distributed, please. They're just to share a rather
special chapter in my bass playing life.
Director, Berkeley Jazz Workshop
1.Back In the Good Old World
2.Los Angeles Mood
4.New York Mood
5.New York Theme
6.Baby I'm Not a Baby Anymore
9.On The Other Side Of The World
10.Good Old World
12.Dragging a Dead Priest
14.Carnival Bob's Confession
15.Good Old World
16.On The Other Side Of The World