Now That I Know (Ted Lucas)
In remembrance of record stores — for some of us, deep sanctuaries of time wonderfully lost in reflective escape.
My first experience was as a ten-year-old in The Twin Cities, as they were called — Marysville & Yuba City CA — separated by the Feather River. I lived in either town on & off and wasn’t aware of the more popular pair in MN. Marysville was named after a survivor of The Donner Party and known as "California's Oldest Little City" while Yuba City was simply deemed "The Worst City in the U.S." by Rand McNally. But, it's where I found Purple Hog Leathers — a stripmall incense cloud that sold motorcycle apparel, bongs & music. I'd cruise my no-speed pedal-brake across a bridge to lose myself.
Nearly forty years later, my last musing haunt would be Other Music NYC — a dearly missed retreat that folded in 2016. You could trust its vast array. Many of my lasting favorites were discovered while studying their staff picks. It's where I found the 2010 reissue of The OM Album by Ted Lucas.
The liner notes of the 1975 release — sketching out its artwork legend, how the music was recorded over years in an attic & Ted Lucas' life itself — are fascinating & mysterious enough, but I was drawn to Now That I Know at first listen particularly for its contrasts of optimistic autoharp chiming beneath pining thoughts sung like thick, fragile smoke. I covered it a few times at shows & then recorded my own version at home in 2011 for no reason other than to lose myself deeper into a song that already held me. I don't play it live anymore but still love the Lucas recording — its lyrics of longing for something gone & the song's beautifully dual resolution to live-on, fastened "to a brief but open sky".
My version of Now That I Know was recorded in 2011 at home in upstate NY on a Roland 2480 I got in 2000 in Edmonton AB. I used a UPS delivery-dented metal marching drum pounded with a blue-yarned mallet, a garage sale floor tom tapped with a red rubber ball on a stick, a gifted Boss Slicer pedal set to a ping-pong stereo pattern bouncing a Wurlitzer electric piano I somehow got for cheap in Ann Arbor MI just because all it needed was a new fuse, then melody-lined the Wurli through a locally thrift-stored tube reel to reel recorder that no longer reeled but had an 8" speaker I hypercardioided with an Oktava MC012, slid a Bronson squareneck from somewhere tuned to CECECE with an also-blue heart-shaped metal slide mic'd by a Shure SM81 over four tracks — either going down or up & over each other, section-strummed a Silvertone acoustic 12-string found in Portland OR that was 10-strung on recording day & mic'd with an AT4033 on one track & nine-volt piezo plugged-in with a Boss PN2 pan tremolo from who-knows-where on another track because I didn't want to use an autoharp like the original Lucas version even though I had one I rehabbed with pushpins filling in missing buttons & given to me in the mid-nineties by a guy in Houston TX who I'd let into my shows for free when he wasn't in jail,
& lastly, I recorded the vocals using a borrowed Neumann U48 — saved from a NYC recording studio IRS raid — that I found out, after ten years of recording with it, that I'd had turned in the wrong direction on about four albums I DIY'd. All 21 tracks of this song except the stereo ping-pongs were recorded one at a time through a single-channel Grace mic pre-amp I Canadian-dollared & once laundered on U.S. soil using strips of typing paper soaked in rubbing alcohol & stuck into a dirty Hi-Z.
The EXTRACTIONS mix I offer is the original rough I made in 2011 because the 2480 is now on its deathbed & holding out with my last ten years of unreleased songs in its gut & won't cough them up, but will let me platonically listen back like old friends who no longer fuck.
I still have the marching drum, floor tom, Slicer, Bronson & autoharp, but the last time I plugged in the unreeling reel-to-reel it started screaming like a dying rabbit, so now, too cool-looking to simply throw away, it speakers nothing from a closet shelf mausoleum of other obstinate or obsolete artifacts. The Wurlitzer was sold while it was still in tune & worth a mortgage payment, and the Silvertone was traded in for a pristine 1964 Harmony 12-string acoustic that was broken in half while being setup by a professional luthier before I could professionally break it myself. I can still sing, but just not as high as I could in 2011.
It's a lot, I know, but now that you know all that, I invite you to a listen of my version of Now That I Know, & end with Ted Lucas' suggestion "Now that I know / I think I'll say goodbye".