Irene Young is hard to get these days; as you may know, she’s a renowned photographer who is currently writing a book about her 50+ year career photographing musicians and artists. As luck would have it, she was able to join us for LUISA and after the multi-cam shoot, she edited a video that we’re thrilled to share with the world. It captures our day at Bird and Egg studio where Julie Wolf engineered, produced and mixed while all of us (Vicki Randle, Shelley Doty and I) played, improvised, and beckoned the song LUISA to become itself, again, in this singular setting.
When I first wrote LUISA, I was thinking about one of the characters in the new Disney movie Encanto. When I saw her in the film, something got stirred in me — identification? admiration? curiosity? empathy? All of the above. I remembered being a kid and feeling some of the same kind of internal pressure that Luisa sings about. I remember wanting to use my muscles and do “strong” things, but not knowing if it was okay, as a girl, to do so. My parents let me dress how I liked (thankfully!) but I remember clearly when my music teacher told me I had to wear a dress (while playing the cello!) to the school concert even though I never wore dresses and didn’t want to. These things were swirling in my mind when I wrote Luisa.
From the newsletter: I like a song that can show up in different settings and become itself over and over again, absorbing and being in exchange with whatever kind of energy and people fill the room. I wrote Luisa alone in my closet-office after watching Encanto with my COVID-ridden kid, then brought it to L.A. and jammed on it with co-conspirator Jonny Flaugher during an all-night writing and recording session. A few weeks later, I played it live at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. The house-band (including some of my long-time pals) spontaneously joined in. After the show, electric-guitar player Shelley Doty suggested that we gather at the recording studio promptly to “put it down” the way we just played it.