For the 6th Bloomistry album I turned, as so often before and after, to the poets to get my ideas. To be or not to be, that was the question. And the answer was “Let’s be, and let’s make another album.”
But I didn’t want to make just another Bloomistry record. So I indulged every crazy idea, the crazier the better. I recorded twenty-minute songs, atonal compositions, and tunes with invented time signatures. I filled the studio with things that I banged together, in an attempt to make music without conventional instruments. Some of it was pretty interesting, at least to me, but other than Arrow of Time (which was my attempt to sound like the band Califone) the weirder stuff didn’t make it to the record.
Some of the songs, like Feet On the Mountain and Medley, were in fact ground-breaking for me. I don’t think there’s anything like it on the earlier records. And Never Gonna Nadia was the first Bloomistry song I could imagine hearing on the radio—and then one day, in Montreal, I did hear it on the radio. That and High Beam, a clearly Lennon-esque song—though I didn’t consciously intend that—were in college radio rotation for a time.
The 2008 recession was digging in, and To Be was a record about the rot of politics and rogue capitalism. The song Roses was dedicated to Anne Rogovin and its lyrics alluded to Rose Schneiderman as well as to the poem “Bread and Roses.” I was not very happy at this time, for a lot of reasons, most of them having to do with living in a staid bureaucratic city (as I saw it) where it seemed to be winter ten months a year. Maybe that’s why this record bogged down.
I’ve never been able to decide whether or not these songs are any good, or whether they work as a whole. The middle section—Wine and Women, On Top of the World, and To The Bottom—were taken from another project, Laketown. I call this section of the record the Tape Hiss Trio (listen and you’ll know what I mean) and it bothers me to this day that it’s there. Still, this is the most polished of my records, and I did a lot of interesting trickery in the studio to pull it off.
Simon Meilleur overdubbed the drums on Never Gonna Nadia and The Wars. I was never a strong drummer (I learned to play drums as I made these records!) so there was always timing issues. His contribution took things to a new level. And Edith Boucher’s artwork for this record was the first time I actually thought about such things in a serious way. So this is also my best-looking album.
On February 16, 2009, I started recording The Gutter and the Gut, as it was called. Phil Bova mixed the album on August 12–13 and we mastered on September 22, two weeks after I had mixed Laketown with Dave Draves. I took three songs off that record and substituted them on To Be. The rest is history.
1. High Beam
2. A Crack in my Cup
3. Four Leaf Clover
4. Wine and Women
5. On Top of the World
6. To the Bottom
7. Never Gonna Nadia
8. Feet on the Mountain
9. Broken (Medley)
10. Arrow of Time
12. The Wars