Heading to the studio, they wound their way along the curves of Pacific Coast Highway past sunning sea lions, surfers bobbing at Point Dume, shithawks—seagulls—bombing the pier. Fiona watched Dennis ogling a busty brunette astride a Palomino stallion bareback, galloping through roiling surf.
“You can see the gray whales during migration.” He told them smugglers used to run liquor, opium and Chinese labor through the area.
The studio sat under the lee of the mountains, a veritable citadel by the sea. The massive foyer, a circle of mahogany pillars, opened teepee-like, rays of sun warming the slate floor.
“Hey Virgins, it’s your first time!” joked Dennis. “In a studio.”
Producer Dan Foley ambled in, gently gruff in a RECOVERING CATHOLIC t-shirt, black jeans, lizard skin cowboy boots. He sat, Virgins arranging their bums on a bank of white couches.
“Okay, so what kind of a production values are you going for?” he asked, voice like sandpaper.
“Don’t you know?” Jackie clung to her guitar case.
“It’s your music. You tell me.”
Fiona knew. “Raw. Gritty.”
“Right,” said Rita. “And we want it tight.”
“Monster bass!” said Jackie. “I play bass like no one, melodically, but with a lot of guts.”
“Describe your sound. As a band I mean.”
Gawd. I wish we had a manager. “We sound like the Virgin Marries. Our drummer is a walking, talking, sonic boom. Our bass player is an original. Dolores plays her Les Paul like a band saw. It rips! We write excellent songs. The singer can actually sing. I have great stage presence too. We all do. Right, girls?” They nodded. “We’re talented. Fucking brilliant in fact.”
Dan feigned ducking, as if to avoid a blow. “Alright then. We have a band in the studio. Who’s responsible for the arrangements?”
Dolores groaned. “Arranging is for wimps. We don’t arrange our stuff.”
Rita brandished her drumsticks. “Yes we do! We don’t want a ton of effects, Linn drums, or a million overdubs.”
“No cowbells!” said Fiona. “I hate fucking cowbells. Let the farmers have ‘em.”
“Or synthesizers,” said Dolores.
“I hate saxophones almost as much as I hate cowbells. And flutes! I hate the flute. It reminds me of beatniks. And hippies.”
Dan stood at the window looking out over the mist-shrouded hills. “Okay, so you know what you don’t want. I will venture to say I think you need a clean sound. Organic. Unrestrained. Untainted.”
“Organic?” bleated Jackie.
“Yeah. Organic, as in authentic. Virginal. Pure. Virgin Marries, doing what comes natural.”
“Er, yeah, okay.” Jackie feigned gagging. “But we are not hippies!”
The cowboy led his horse to water
The horse refused to drink
The cowboy roped a steer one day
The steer was full of sawdust
The cowboy saw a sign in the sky
Revolving neon stars
Dudes in white fringes live here now
Dudes in pink sombreros are here to stay
The cows are lowing, the myth is dying
This land can break my heart
I have no place to go
Beyond my wild whisky dreams
“How about piano?”
“Gimme a break! Do you want us to sound like the Eagles?”
Rita glared at Fiona. “We couldn’t sound like the Eagles if we tried!”
“It is a ballad,” said Dan.
“Yeah, it’s a ballad,” said Fiona, “but it’s a cowboy song. I hear guitars.”
“Guitar yes, of course, but this song, a wonderful song by the way, should be played on acoustic. Just the rhythm parts.”
“Acoustic!” yelped Dolores.
“Yes. Acoustic will make it a classic. Showcase the vocals. A little piano in the bridge.” Dan leveled his eyes at Fiona. “And another thing. Hit songs do not have minor chords.”
Let’s hit you. Fiona sighed.
“I thought you were tired of Continue reading