I was recently in Nashville to record my new album. It was a truly amazing time with some epic moments. Some of the recording days were pretty long, too. Usually each day began with me waking up a little bleary-eyed and eventually finding my way to the Frothy Monkey in Franklin, TN. I'd order a 'flat white' coffee along with a serving of 'oatmeal'.
My Australian accent has gotten me into a number of funny situations overseas. For some reason no one can understand when I order a glass of water (or 'war-tah' as us Aussies would say). A similar thing would happen when I'd order my oatmeal. I had the choice of toppings, and each time I'd order bananas, strawberries and blueberries. Even though I'd keep my order the same, it was constantly understood in a wide variety of ways by the wait staff. Over my time in Nashville, I had everything brought out to me, from bananas, strawberries and blueberries through to a variety of nuts, brown sugar, frothed milk and more.
After breakfast, I'd drive my way over to Rick Price's studio in Harpeth Trace, TN. Recording usually kicked off at 10am and often times would finish by 1 or 2am in the morning. I'd then drive the 30 minutes or so back to the basement pad where I was staying, collapse and begin it all again the following day.
At one stage, Rick realised that we'd need to buy some extra hard drives for my project and few other projects he had going. Now, Rick is a persuasive man. I'm pretty sure he used to work negotiating peace between conflicting countries as part of a special UN envoy (I could be wrong on that mind you).
As part of the recording process, I'd often have a set idea on what my song MUST sound like. As well as my copious notes, manuscript scribbles and iPhone memo recordings, I realised that I also had a lot of unspoken expectations on my songs. And so, at times, an idea would be floated during the recording process that would conflict with my initial planning. It was then that Rick would go into his 'let's talk through this' mode in a tone of voice akin to a psychiatrist at a lock-down facility.
Sometimes I'd stick to my original idea kind of like a gum boot I briefly lost in the outer mud fields of Salisbury, England. But mostly I'd find myself being persuaded by the dulcet tones of Rick's soothing voice. I'm not sure if Rick is a music producer or a stage hypnotist. But often I'd find myself drawn into his fresh idea and before I knew it, I'd be expressing it as my own idea that I'd had all along. (I just hope that Rick didn't talk me into changing my will).
So when Rick started discussing the need to pick up some hard drives the following morning, I found myself volunteering to pick them up on my morning drive into his studio. He sent me off into the night with the address of the hard drive boutique shop and a cheque with his signature on it.
The next morning, I found myself at Sam and Zoe's cafe in East Nashville, TN. I had another flat white and yet another version of oatmeal. Then, seeing that 9am was approaching, I drove off to the boutique hard drive shop.
I arrived outside the boutique hard drive shop (I like calling it that by the way), just before 9am. Once my watch said that 9am had arrived, I got out of my pickup truck and went to knock on the window. I pushed on the glass door and it opened. I went inside.
No one was immediately on hand to sell me my hard drives. I realised that they must all be out the back having a team meeting (the Americans are such team players after all). I had a quick look around and decided to sit down on a chair near the front door.
A few minutes passed and I saw a shadow move near the glass door. It was a musician-slash-engineer-looking gentleman who pushed the door open, saw me there and immediately shouted, "What are you doing here?" It was hardly the greeting I would have anticipated.
"Er... what do you mean?" I asked.
"Was the door unlocked?" he asked.
I started getting the feeling that I had somehow walked into a situation not of my own making that could turn out poorly for me.
"Was the alarm system turned on?" he followed up, pointing to an complicated keypad by the door.
I'm not sure what kind of person he thought I was. Was I the kind of person who could pick the lock, then bypass the intricate alarm system only to then proceed to sit down and wait for someone to arrive?
It also started to dawn on me that there was no team meeting happening out the back. I had unknowingly - and innocently - pushed open a door and entered the premises of this boutique hard drive shop without permission.
I started waving Rick's cheque around to give my intrusion some degree of validity. I simultaneously found myself imagining all the scenes I’d seen on TV of American homeowners and boutique hard drive shopkeepers pulling out automatic weapons to gun down unwanted intruders. I remembered an online meme I saw once that seemed linked to gun enthusiasts who came upon intruders: “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.”
I stared at the boutique hard drive shopkeeper’s hand which I think might have been moving towards some belt holster (or it might have been my overactive imagination). I used my body language to silently scream: "I'm no intruder!". I was waving that cheque around like the freedom fighters of old Gibraltar. I heard it crackle through the air like some kind of paper-based banner and realised that I might look deranged.
After I calmed myself down, I was able to apply a sense of reason to the situation. The manager realised that someone hadn't locked up the night before. The place had been open to whichever burglar or otherwise innocent Australian musician who happened to walk in.
It also helped the situation when he found Rick's details on his computer as a repeat customer.
And even more-so when I bought a bunch of hard drives with Rick's robust cheque. I even ended up buying a myself a hard drive to try to top the tree of legitimacy.
We had a brief, awkward laugh as he printed out my receipt. As he stapled the pages together, he had a far off look in his eyes, almost as if he was going through a mental list of staff members and apportioning blame for this bizarre incident.
Festooned with bulky hard drives, I calmly, yet with a sense of speed leapt in my pickup truck and in my haste might have unwittingly done a burn-out tyre spin on their gravel lot.
I sigh inwardly as this is yet another situation which has seen me thrust into a traumatic adventure (through no fault of my own) which I must now unburden myself of to you all.
At least Rick's dulcet tones went up a register when I regaled him with the tale, as I gave him his boutique store-bought hard drives.