In 1994, halfway through the recording of my third CD ALCHEMY TATTOO, I came down with an illness that kept me in bed for nearly six months. It was a strange affliction, one in which I became hypersensitive to everything—particularly sound. Human voices, no matter how soft, were more than I could tolerate. For that reason, I remained for its duration in self-imposed isolation. Little by little, though, I encouraged myself to take short walks outside where I could get some fresh air and quietly sit beneath the shade of a Japanese Privet tree in my backyard. Prior to being ill, I was not much interested in nature. Or, at least, I appreciated it from a distance, as though it was some lovely, separate thing. As I got better, I took a closer look and discovered it, and I, were not separate at all. Nature’s nature and my nature were profoundly interwoven, as were the natures of all beings. As obvious as that now sounds, it was a life-altering realization for me, and the songs on this record and subsequent records reflect my changed perspective.
In Christian mythology, God has a scroll. A certain “lamb” opens the scroll, which contains seven symbolic seals. Upon opening each seal, the lamb releases the wrath of God in the form of four symbolically attired beasts who arrive atop four symbolically colored horses. The myth is an instructive affair foretelling the Last Judgment by way of an apocalypse (Greek for “lifting the veil” on something hidden from the rest of mankind).
The first horse is white, and his rider holds a bow and wears a victor’s crown. He is associated with, among other things, military conquest.
The second horse is fiery red, his rider holds a large sword and he’s all about violence and war.
The third horse is black, and his rider holds a pair of scales which represents the way bread would have been weighed back in the day and he symbolizes famine.
The fourth and final horse is pale green. His rider isn’t carrying anything, but he’s followed by Hades and is named “Death”.
In this legend, these nasty creatures in their symbolic form foretell the havoc that is to be wrecked upon mankind. While it has been the daunting task of Christian scholars to speculate and debate their return, we may consider ourselves lucky that these galloping meanies have chosen an antiquated, and relatively slow mode of transportation.
Following the break-up of my band in 1994, I began writing what would become my third CD ALCHEMY TATTOO. The idea, in terms of songwriting, was to write a record that was a bit edgier than my usual. In the process, I roughed up more than my music. Halfway through the project I found myself sidelined by an illness that left me out-of-commission for six months. When I returned, my producer, David Houston had finished recording most of the basic tracks. Guitarist Ralph Stover added the lead noodling, Paul Knutsen (who would play on each of my subsequent CD’s) thumped about on bass, and Renee Gromacki contributed vocal harmonies. All in all, I felt a bit detached from the making of ALCHEMY TATTOO, largely because I was sick for so much of it. Though as time has gone by, I can listen to it as a stranger might and appreciate its highlights.