I have been alone before but never this alone before
sometimes when the sun is shining, all I feel is rain
it’s impossible to know just how far I’ll let this go
letting well known chemicals seep into my brain.
and I said
I love my family, but not enough to stop this bleeding.
I know it’s only me – give me peace, and give me freedom.
I have a little handheld voice recorder that I carry around with me, I use it to record songs, ideas, lyrics, etc. When I was living in LA, I was working at the Grove in Hollywood, and I would park my car on Orange Grove drive and walk to work. One day, I was parking, and I checked my recorder. A song started playing, one that I had no recollection of ever recording. I had never heard the melody before, and I loved it; I listened to it as I walked down Orange Grove drive. Clearly, I had recorded it, because no one used my little recorder except me. It was the melody that would turn into the song Orange Grove.
Later that same evening, I worked out the hammer-ons and pull-offs section, making the song more complex and intricate. I love that hammer-on and pull-off technique.
The lyrics are true enough: I was very addicted to pain killers; I was drinking and doing a lot of drugs, frequently thinking of killing myself, and trying to hold it together because I didn’t want to hurt my family. The song recognizes that true change can only come from within, and with a conscious decision to better yourself — there is really no other way, and resisting negative conditions in order to save someone else from hurt can only sustain you for so long. There is an underlying glimmer of hope in the song, though, one that would eventually come to fruition years later.
The song was recorded live at Timewarp Records in Los Angeles for my 2013 album “Desperate Times.” If you listen closely to the very end of the song, you can hear a siren in the distance, and Brian, the engineer and my good friend, can be heard saying “Not bad.”
Years later, close to three years later, I would be back living in Northern California, finally sober and healthy for once in my life. I had been working on two separate writing projects, I had put together a recording studio in my house, and I was making music videos using professional film editing software on my laptop. The year before, I had heard about NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest from my friend Meg in Sunnyvale. She encouraged me to do it, and the year before, I sent in some bullshit video that kind of had a desk in it or something. It was more so I could just say that I had submitted, with lack of time and effort. This year was different: I had met Ali Adhami, the cinematographer from my unreleased music video “Pasadena.” Ali was the one who showed me how to use Final Cut Pro, and with his help I was able to do my projects like The Lorax and Surf Zombies!
I sent Ali the song Orange Grove, because I knew it was short and I knew what I wanted the video to look like in my head, and I knew that Ali had a real knack for angles and shots. We got together and discussed the project, and on a Weds afternoon he came over to my house with his girlfriend Asal and we shot the song for about an hour. Then Ali put the shots onto my laptop and left, and I was left with about an hour worth of footage that I would need to cut and condense into a two and a half minute song. This project only took me about five hours, which is not very long, considering that the Lorax took around thirty. I studied each shot that Ali had taken, and then cut the ones that I wanted to use and went from there, placing the shots in order. The finished video is simple and beautiful; there’s recurring shots of writing, playing music, and a picture. The picture is my youngest sister and I on the beach. It was taken nearly six years ago in Sand City, California.
Regardless of the outcome of the NPR contest, this was an excellent experience that allowed me to maintain complete control of the project, from start to finish. I’d like to thank Ali Adhami and Asal Poursorkh for their outstanding work and professionalism, and thank you to my friends who watch and share this video.
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