Just a quick news update to say two things:


1) This week, I've finally been able to get a functional livestream situation going in the studio. I'm doing this via Instagram Live for now, though that may change in the future. These are less formal and less planned sessions than the "Guest Room" series, and will generally be me just winging it and trying out new ideas and/or rare songs and covers in the moment. I've added an "Instagram Live Archive" link under the website's Videos tab and will be occasionally posting after-the-fact clips from the livestreams there, but I won't be releasing all the video or separate audio tracks for these sessions on the site. For the most part, you'll either see and hear the session when it happens, or you won't.


I've done two livestreams so far. The first one was a bit of a wash (or, as we call it in the business, "a learning experience"), but I posted an electric version of "Blackbird Girl" from that session to the site, because I liked how it turned out. I went live for an hour or so again yesterday and really enjoyed the whole setlist, so I've posted the whole set as well as a standalone clip of "The Light" which features a new loop-based outro jam that I've been experimenting with recently.


The TL;DR is to expect more livestreams to be popping up on Instagram (@theghostpines) in the near future!


2) I've been wanting to get livestreams up and running for awhile, and part of the reason I finally made time to sit down and figure it out this week is because fall term is starting up again, which means way less time for any fun stuff, let alone arranging/recording/uploading more "Guest Room" sessions. I have two more planned (to round the set of sessions out at six total), but it's probably going to be awhile until I get to them. In the meantime, the livestreams will hopefully keep me on my toes and practiced up through the busy parts of fall, so that when I do get some free time again I can lay down "Live From The Guest Room" #5 and #6 quickly. I've already written the setlists for these and am excited to get them out there.


Anyway, that's all for now! I hope to see you drop into a livestream at some point!

A quick update to let everyone know: I got a little carried away with the "Live From The Guest Room" concept and have already recorded four sessions. They're all up on the website now, under the "Videos" tab. You can also stream and download the audio only (for free!) under the "Live" tab.


A reminder that these sessions (both audio and video) are only available directly from the site (or YouTube, in the case of video) and so you won't find them on my Bandcamp page.


I also made a few small cosmetic changes to the site since the last update, mostly to style it after the Wilderness Amen cover art instead of the Fire and Rain art, partially because it makes some things on the site easier to see and read, and partially because I just personally like it better.


I didn't really intend to create such a deluge of content so quickly after putting up the new albums, but a) wildfire smoke has trapped me in the house for nearly a month at this point and b) I underestimated how fun these are to make, especially when I'm on break from work and there isn't really anything else I can do.


I have two more sessions planned for the near future, but I'm hoping those will actually be delayed for a bit as I want to get out into the world somewhere if there's anywhere that doesn't have endless smoke in the west and spend some time on the road and out in nature before another nonstop nine months of work starts in mid-September.


Anyway, we'll see how that all turns out...for now, here are the setlists for the third and fourth sessions. Info on the first and second sessions can be found in my previous news update.


Guest Room Sessions #3

8/13/21

Recorded Live in the Guest Room


Audio by The Ghost Pines

Video by The Ghost Pines

Mixing and Mastering by The Ghost Pines


Audio Source: 2 MXL Condenser 990 Mics > Behringer Eurorack UB1202 > HP Lappy Soundcard


Video Source: Pixel 3 Video Camera (1080p) on a tripod


Lineage: Audacity 2.3.3 > WAV > FLAC > Ultra Quality VBR MP3


8/13/21 SETLIST:

01 Intro

02 California* >

03 Not California*@

04 She and Me

05 Jack-a-Roe#

06 Winter Song$

07 Invocation% >

08 Isis (Bob Dylan)^ ->

09 Caroline ->

10 Jam& ->

11 Isis

12 Bright Girl (Hey There) ->

13 Ways To Fly

14 Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)~

15 Dreams ->

16 Invocation+


* w/ harmonica

@ w/ "Wish You Were Here" introduction

# w/ Badlands teases

$ first time played live (or "live"), with extended outro

% unfinished

^ w/ Caroline teases

& w/ Caroline and Neal's Jam teases

~ new fingerpicking arrangment

+ outro only, "completing" the version from earlier in the set



Guest Room Sessions #4

8/16/21

Recorded Live in the Guest Room


Audio by The Ghost Pines

Video by The Ghost Pines

Mixing and Mastering by The Ghost Pines


Audio Source: 2 MXL Condenser 990 Mics > Behringer Eurorack UB1202 > HP Lappy Soundcard


Video Source: Pixel 3 Video Camera (1080p) on a tripod


Lineage: Audacity 2.3.3 > WAV > FLAC > Ultra Quality VBR MP3


8/16/21 SETLIST:

01 Intro

02 Badlands*

03 Ghosts Of The Highway ->

04 Ice On The Mountain@

05 The Ghost Of Tom Joad (Bruce Springsteen)*

06 Fear >

07 Long Black Veil (Traditional)

08 I Love You (Or The Mountains)

09 Trains

10 Amie

11 Autumnsong*#

12 Ways To Fly (Part II)

13 Loving Cup (The Rolling Stones)


* w/ harmonica

@ w/ "Ghosts Of The Highway"-style intro

# new arrangement, with new intro and outro

Last but not least, I'll write a bit here about the creation of Fire and Rain. This is the final album in the cycle, the "winter" one. I wanted to end with an album that felt like winter, like a loss of hope and a sacrifice of the sunlight of summer to darkness...but that also acknowledged that, in the end, the wheel will come back around. It's a cycle, remember? Not a line.


So, that was part of the inspiration behind this album. The other part was Ryan Adams' album 29. I've sort of personally "cancelled" Ryan Adams from my musical cosmology, for reasons that I've written about on this site before, but that you can also read about in the New York Times. But, way back when, at the height of my Ryan Adams fandom in 2005, he released three albums in one year, and that trilogy ended with 29, a massive tonal and sonic departure from the other albums he'd released that year (and, arguably, anything else he'd ever released). Even by Ryan Adams' standards, 29 is dark, like, really dark, stylistically inconsistent, and badly in need of some trimming. But that's why I love(d) it. Ever since, I've wanted to make an album like it, and for better and worse, with Fire and Rain, that's what I did. I consciously kept from editing myself on this album, unlike on the others, to the point that I'd planned a twelve-minute album closer which, upon recording, ballooned to twenty-nine minutes, and I just left it that way. That's not to say there wasn't quality control or thought put into the album, but just that I wanted to make sure the usual, sensible limitations I put on a song or album wouldn't hold me back from seeing how dark I could go.


If that makes you want to hear the album, you'll probably love it. If it makes you want to never listen to the album, you'll probably hate it.


Stylistically, I'd say it shares the most DNA with Ride, actually: there are a lot of jammy, instrumental passages, weird sonic experiments, and the like. I struggled sometimes recording Ride while trying to keep track of all of the separate tracks bouncing around in my Audacity projects, but the size of the project files on a few of the Fire and Rain tracks were absolutely enormous compared to the Ride songs. There's a lot going on sonically here, at least by my standards.


And did I mention lots of the songs are weird? Like, pretty weird? There are only three songs here that sound to me like anything else I've written, and two of those ("Please Don't Let Me Go" and "Blackbird Girl") are the saddest breakup songs I've come up with, ever, while the third one ("Fire and Rain") is nineteen minutes long. I'm lucky if I can play a third of the songs off of this album without having to look up the chords and lyrics as a reminder first. That said, while I feel like I've grown immensely as a songwriter, guitarist, and producer through the process of making all of the albums I've put out this year, Fire and Rain is the one that has had the most impact on me, and makes me the most excited for what I'll write next. Coming through the darkness and finding yourself on the other side definitely allows you to see the world in a new way, though that's about all I can say to recommend the experience.


Anyway, to the song notes!


I got it into my head at some point that I wanted to write a story song about a haunted ghost train and a battle between good and evil where evil wins. I mentioned a mariachi band in the lyrics, and then thought "What if I actually played the mariachi band's song within the other song?" Suddenly, "Badlands" was nine minutes long and felt like the perfect way to open this ridiculously long and convoluted album.


In my head, "Ghosts Of The Highway" and "Fear" have some sort of strange, symbiotic relationship. This existed before the fuzzed-out static that punctuates both songs was added; in fact, it's why it was added. "Ghosts" is a new song, written during the Triptych sessions. "Fear" is a song I adapted from a poem that I found in an old notebook during the sessions. A decent amount of the Triptych songs were initially written over snippets of music and chord progressions I'd written and/or recorded without lyrics randomly over the last fifteen years, but "Fear" is the odd song where the lyrics existed first and about fifteen years after I'd written them, I sat down and wrote music to go with them. I really like the way it worked out, and should probably try writing more songs this way in the future...


"Neal's Jam" used to be called "Crazy Stairs," and was renamed as a tribute to guitarist Neal Casal, who is a huge influence of mine and who passed away while I was recording the album. The main riff in the jam is actually paraphrased from a riff he played during a version of The Cardinals' "Off Broadway" performed live in 2009. So, it's "Neal's Jam" in more ways than one, I suppose. The jam has always been paired with "Enemy," which is a song about how bad things can get when you don't get out of your own way.


"Blackbird Girl" was a phrase and an image that came to me while out on a run (where a lot of song ideas come to me, strangely enough). I wrote this song from the perspective of someone who might have cause to address it to their own "blackbird girl," who had flown away and never returned. It was called "Haunted Heart" at one point and "Blackbird Song" at another.


"Ice On The Mountain" came from a dumb idea I had to inspire a new song: I wanted to try to write a song called "Ice On The Mountain" because it was the opposite of "Fire On The Mountain." This is the song that resulted, inspired in part by an accident I'd recently experienced while out mountaineering.


"Amie" was, weirdly, the first song I wrote after writing "The Light" in 2016. It didn't make it onto to Asphalt Ghosts, though, because it didn't fit with the rest of the material and because the picking pattern was really hard for me to play reliably at first. So it got shelved until this album came along, when I resurrected it, rewrote some of the lyrics, got the picking pattern down, and changed the title from "Salmon" to "Amie," a reference to the nigh-unattainable woman in Chretien de Troyes' medieval romance "Lanval." This story has some parallels to that one.


"Kurzweil Transmissions" is named for the scientist who first conceptualized the AI singularity, but this is basically just a brief instrumental written in A that randomly finds its way into the middle of songs like "Caroline" and "Palace," as well as covers like Bob Dylan's "Isis" from time to time.


The "Not The One" > "Fire and Rain" > "(Rise)" sequence certainly has enough lyrics and music to speak for itself, but if you're interested in my thought process behind putting it together the way I did, here's an excerpt of an email I wrote to a friend a few weeks ago attempting to explain it: "I feel like I've been in an apocalyptic mood since March of 2020, and only now, as I'm hitting summer break in 2021, with COVID not quite the looming specter it once was, and a little time to do something other than work in my office, am I able to look back on the last sixteen or so months with anything approaching objectivity. I feel like it was/is the most dystopian time I've ever lived through: massive systemic failures of our corroded institutions, collapsing of personal relationships, deaths of friends and family...you know, all the hits, but all at once and with the overwhelming sense that all of this is in all likelihood just the beginning of something even bigger, rather than an isolated string of "bad luck." I think we'll be forced to de-industrialize, de-technocratize, and de-globalize whether we choose to or not, after much longer. One of the more indulgent portions of the huge pile of new music I dumped onto my website the other day is actually about this...sort of? You might enjoy it, you might find it a bit too meandering, but it's the only real sonic monument to the last sixteen months that I've recorded so far, so maybe that will serve as a better response than my hammering away at these keys for five or six more paragraphs..."

And that's the best I can do to sum up Fire and Rain.