It is Wicker Park just after the turn of the millennium and the cameras of MTV’s The Real World are chasing their stars across Milwaukee and North Ave. complete with stylists and portable lights, and the resident young, gentrifying hipsters are chasing the crews with shouts and pickets, scared that the nationwide exposure will make rents go up past hipster levels and they would all be forced to move up the Blue Line to Logan Square.

But, before we all had to move up the Blue Line to Logan Square, I had a tiny little studio apartment where I recorded some tunes near the L. Very Near. The cover photo is the train passing outside my window.

This is Flowers from Red Line and Blue recorded in Wicker Park, Chicago in 2001.

I had spent years chasing a “wall of sound” production. Even in the previous two releases comprised of much more direct, acoustic based folk songs than anything I had done previously, I couldn’t resist the urge to layer. Why just have one acoustic guitar when you could have six, amiright?

This group of recordings was the start of stripping things down. It isn’t just one guitar and vocal yet, for sure (that would come in just a few years, though). But the idea was there. Most of the guitar takes were basically done live. This was both out of design and necessity; after all, they had to be recorded before the next train came by.

I also notice that many of the songs in the collection mention plant species prominently. I think this was recorded just before I started getting into bonsai.

If the video is slow to load you can find it on youtube HERE.


Once again the morning flares
In dirty tenement window glares
In rattled trains the mornings pass
The bouquet of daises will not last.

From empty days to drying rice
When no order shall suffice
Visions fade through skies of blue
The bouquet of lilies fading, too.

The busy day wears ice from streets
Tired calls and quick retreats
Coffee streams in clouds of scent
The bouquet of lilacs nearly spent.

The evening fades with sterile sound
From garden paths to concrete ground
And still the separation reigns
The bouquet of roses slowly wanes.