Paul Heinz

Original Fiction, Music and Essays

The palisades(2016)

Tracking and mastering by Glen West
Overdubs engineered by Paul Heinz
Written, Arranged, Mixed and Produced by Paul Heinz

Tony Meadors – Bass
Brian Collins – Drums and percussion
Sam Heinz – drums on “You”
Russ Adkins – guitar on “Why Can’t You Be More Like They Are?” and “Brown Eyes”
Paul Heinz – keyboards, vocals, guitar, extra percussion, distorted bass on “You,” baritone horn on “Why Can’t You Be More Like They Are?”
Jessica Heinz, Tatum Langley and Kais Ali – backup vocals on “One Big Love”
Sara Vettraino – Violin on “One Big Love”
Gayle Bisesi – vocals on “Why Can’t You Be More Like They Are?”
Glen West – Tenor Sax on “Why Can’t You Be More Like They Are?”
Tom Mason – Trumpet on “Why Can’t You Be More Like They Are?”
Sarah Heinz – French Horn on “Each Passing Year”
Jessica Heinz and Tatum Langley – vocal interlude at the end of "The Palisades" 
John Hibler – Clarinet on “My Gal, Al”
Robert Honig – Tuba on “My Gal, Al”

In additional to thanking all the musicians, I’d like to thank Brad Showalter of Kiwi Studios for his easy-going nature and fabulous facility; Jan Widmaier for once again lending me her beautiful Martin acoustic; Dad and Marion for lending me their living room for an afternoon session; and Bruce Hook for lending me his ear.  Thanks also to my kids for being involved in this project, and to Alice for inspiring it all.

After completing Warts and All, I updated my computer and software only to sit on my laurels (when it came to recording) for a number of years.  I admit that the new software didn’t help; suddenly the thought of recording a few basic tracks felt like a burden as I’d have to overcome a new learning curve. But sometime in late 2014 or so, I had the idea of recording an album called The Palisades.  Why that title?  My name is Paul.  My wife’s name is Alice.  I wanted to create an album about the two of us, and our names – if combined – sound something like “Palace.”  Palace became Palisades. I liked the title so much that I decided I should write a song with the same name. In January of 2015 I began to take a chord progression I’d composed probably fifteen years earlier but could never fit to a lyric (in fact, the chord progression appears on my album Pause as an instrumental) and finally found a way to make it work.  It wasn’t an easy code to crack, but the solution was a simple one: rather than force a lyric over the chord sequence I decided to use the chords as an introduction and then move on.  From that point, the lyrics of the first two verses and the chorus came easily.  I would struggle for the next nine months or so to complete the essential third verse, but the result was what I believe to be among the best things I’ve ever written.  It only took a decade and a half!

In the fall of 2015 I decided to take the plunge with one major goal in mind: to record an album that my wife Alice would like from beginning to end.  With that end in mind, I began to write down titles of songs that I’d already finished or that I’d written part of, and I began to put them in piles. I knew that an album of ten or eleven happy-go-lucky songs would be a drag to listen to.  There needed to be an arch to the story, so to speak, so I gradually came up with a rough story line that included a couple of songs that touched on the difficulties of being in a relationship but were ultimately positive. By October, I began to record rough demos.

“One Big Love” was just a vague idea with a chorus when I started recording that fall, but soon it began to take shape, even though the lyrics weren’t solidified until I sang them in the spring.  I’d written “Why Can’t You Be More Like They Are” years earlier but never completed it.  The key to this tune was writing an intro which soon morphed into a much-needed bridge.  “Each Passing Year” is a new title to an old tune: this is the song I sang to Alice when I proposed to her on July 1, 1994, and what’s really cool is my daughter Sarah recorded French horn on it!  “Long Day” had been written a “long” time ago but had never fit in well on an earlier project.  “Press Reset for Us” had been formed probably six years earlier but never completed, and the process of recording forced me to complete the last verse, a stickler much like the last verse of “The Palisades.”  I’d not only written “Powerful Day” several years earlier, I’d actually recorded it and gave it to Alice to listen to.  It sat unnoticed ever since and needed a little freshening up, not to mention lowering it a whole tone, the signs of an aging voice.  The first verse of “Nail the Landing” came to me in a dream, sung by none other than James Taylor, and just a few days later a cheesy chorus came to me.  If only I could have gotten JT to sing it!  When it came time to record the tune, it changed into a more jazzy piano song, mostly because of my own limitation playing guitar.  “My Gal, Al” is another old song that never made the cut, and I’m happy to finally include it in this project.

As always happen, once I delve into a project the wheels start turning and I inevitably compose a few new songs that make the cut, a happy result of devoting about nine months into a somewhat grueling pursuit.  In December I woke up early in the morning and composed almost all of “You” before scampering downstairs and scribbling all the lyrics down.  This was nearly effortless.  Equally effortless was the song “Brown Eyes,” which I composed the majority of in about twenty minutes on a January afternoon while hanging out in the back room of my home.  What began as a sort of romantic song turned into an ode of two brown-eyed ladies who happen to share my bed (or whose bed I share, more accurately).

In January I distributed demos to three musicians whose efforts made The Palisades what it is:  drummer Brian Collins, bassist Tony Meadors, and engineer Glen West.  We set a date to record at Kiwi Audio Recording Studio in Batavia, Illinois, owned by Brad Showalter.  Two rehearsals with the musicians led to a full day of recording on February 27, and the day couldn’t have been more productive.  The easy-going and good-natured qualities of all involved made the day fulfilling and enjoyable.  Even cooler, my son Sam spent the day with me and not only helped with equipment and various tasks, but played drums on the song “You” in only two takes! 

I went home with a few thumb drives of digital files and began to lay down my final piano and vocal tracks, along with guitar and extra percussion.  I then had to coax a multitude of musicians to assist me in my efforts, all of whom made a huge contribution and who I’m indebted to.  By the end of June, I was finally ready to start mixing, a rather laborious process filled with starts and stops and self-doubt. Luckily, Glen West lent me his ear and not only helped guide me to a decent mix, but mastered my mixes into a terrific-sounding final product.

In August I spent literally 15 minutes painting a canvas in my back yard with the help of my daughter Sarah. We then placed rocks on the painting and voila, there was the cover of my album. Who said abstract art is difficult?

So all in all this project took about ten months time, a little longer than I’d hoped. I’m toying with the idea of doing my next project in about two days – all in the studio with a live band. A guy can dream, can’t he?

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