We’d been playing songs all night — Joe’s songs, other people’s songs — and to be honest, things were getting fuzzy and the hour was getting late. The cats had long since gone off to bed, and we’d fondly recalled Greg Alexander’s spectacular chair gymnastics at least three times, belly laughs and all. The conversation moved toward the door, and as I pulled on my boots, Joe gestured towards a CD on the coffee table. Beneath the jewel case was a recent edition of USA Today, with a headline that read, “…or the terrorists win.” The tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks was a week away, we were reminded. Joe was in the midst of planning and recording not one but two albums of original music to debut in the fall, and suddenly a third project began to take form in the wee hours of a Friday night. He would make an album of all original material in a week. No, we would make this album. Seven days or the terrorists win, we mused (albeit darkly). We agreed to rendez-vous in the coming nights, same time same place, and sealed the deal with a high five.
Over the next week, something interesting happened. Call it a muse, call it a catalyst, blame it on the approaching autumnal equinox — songs were brought forth ‘round the kitchen table. Joe leaned back in his chair, eyes closed, vamping a yearning chord progression; I scribbled and then whispered and then wailed a phrase about a voice coming from nowhere. There it was: Will, the first song.
“Name a place you’ve never been,” I said to Joe.
Enter song number two.
A few nights earlier, while we were jamming on some Leonard Cohen (or possibly Tom Waits or The Rolling Stones), a downstairs neighbor had knocked on the door to inquire whether Joe had a rockin’ chair that was causing the constant thumping above his head. It was really my boot, tapping in rhythm, but that’s neither here nor there. The “Rockin’ Chair Incident,” as it shall go down in history, was yet another source of belly laughs and inspiration. Joe wrote a sassy, bluesy little ditty about the whole thing, and I sprinkled some soulful harmonies onto the fire.
That first night, we recorded demos of three new songs.
The next day, it rained. It was cold. So, I was eating pie and drinking coffee at Muddy Waters, reading a book I’d picked up at the used bookstore. Not a biography or musical critique, but rather one woman’s attempt to sort through all the Billie Holidays that history and society have created from myth and mystery and get back to the woman herself. Who was Billie, to me? Besides the sad voice crying from my mother’s cassettes, how do I know Lady Day? I put down my fork and scratched in my notebook, “Billie pins a flower in her hair.” There, a glimpse. Later, Joe strummed a deep mellow phrase and the rest of Billie’s story poured out of me, scene by scene. There she was, and now I know.
In July 2010, Joe took a trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to see the treasures and trappings of Bruce Springsteen. While others flocked to marvel at the clothes of the man who sang Born to Run, Joe was drawn to a glass case set back and apart from the rest. He was pulled to her side like a magnet: Honey. He had just spent what felt like forever learning and performing a cover of Springsteen’s classic Nebraska, and to see the humble, delicate instrument behind it all felt like a homecoming. He gazed at her lines and her curves, enraptured by the same power that swayed Springsteen and yet unable to touch her. So that day he wrote her a love letter, Honey, not to resurface until this September.
Windward is my letter to 100 Windward Road, my grandparents’ 18th century farmhouse in Wilmington, Delaware. Change in the Air and A Quick Reveal come from periods of transition in Joe’s life, moments when he found himself on the cusp.
So here it is and there you have it. At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of this crazy journey, we release this plain and simple, singer-songwriter collection. Joe uses words like “heartbreak” and “honesty,” and I like to think of it as the blues with a heart of gold. Anyway, the cats seem to have made their peace with it.
released September 20, 2011
Produced & recorded by Joe Adler. Lyrics & Music composed by Emily Rozanski & Joe Adler (noted on individual tracks). Written (except Change In The Air & A Quick Reveal) & recorded (with love) in September 2011 on N. Williams St, Burlington, Vermont.
Burlington, Vermont based singer/songwriter who draws on influences that range from the blues, folk, and experimental
tendencies of Tom Waits, to the poetic leanings of Leonard Cohen. Adler has collaborated on stage live with such notables as Brad Barr (The Slip), Russ Lawton (Trey Anastasio), Marco Benevento, Yah Yah Abdel-Majid (Sun Ra Arkestra), Craig Myers (Barika), and Dave Dreiwitz (Ween)....more