November 17, 2013
by Tjeerd van Erve
‘Loosen The Knot’, a hit song in my little world. One that kicks in, rough and raw, recorded almost in the process of writing it is pure emotion captured on tape. Even though the whole song is played in a major key and the small fingerpicking theme even has a little dancing motion to it, it feels disruptive, dark and dense with an urgency of escape. Like Gerton Govers has found his last resort, a save haven in a tempest.
“I wrote this song when I had really hit rock bottom”, says Govers sipping on his fresh lemonade. “I was obsessively trying to fill an emptiness and started to feel I was stuck, when I realised it was time to set things to a change. It was either change or going on as I was doing. But then I’d best could just finish it of at that moment. L’oosen The Knot’ marks that moment and the beginning of the road back up.”
We’re enjoying the nice summer afternoon breeze in Gerton’s backyard. The garden doors open so we can hear Big Star play their perfect pop songs. Or at least perfect pop songs according to the singer songwriter behind The Light Brigade. He has a love for power pop, Big Star and Teenage Fanclub being pearls in his record collection, but also has a heart for soul and country. Musical influences that have reached his own work, which borders on all three styles.
But Gover’s tastes go further then these genres, one of the reasons why he had started the 52X project, almost a year ago now. Fifty-two consecutive weeks another song recorded on film, all played with different musicians. Musicians that he deliberately seeks outside of his comfort zone or just because he likes what they do or actually just like them. The reason why I am sitting in the garden of Gover’s house, this Indian summer afternoon.
It is not until a month later that we meet up again. This time joined by Roel van Oosterhout of Izah (bringers of doom), who dusted off his banjo for the occassion. As I did my guitar. We’ve decided to play ‘Still Around’, a cover of Tammy Wynette. My pick. Not because I’m such a big Wynette fan – though I love the way she managed to put a broken heart in ever word she sang. But it was Jason Molina who introduced me to the song, something like 15 years ago. Gerton liked it too, was touched the first time he heard it. Already a powerful song in the hands of Tammy Wynette, Songs: Ohia made it bleed, cut skin deep. Hard to ever get to that level, but both artists deserved an ode.
Which does lead to a discussion when Roel, Gerton and I meet in his attic room. Which version are we going to follow, use as guideline? We come to the conclusion that Molina’s version fits best with us, but we do choose to take the full lyrics, including the somewhat erotical lines that might sound strange from the mouth of a man. Koen de Gussem spreads cameras through out the room, while we practiced for number 40 in the series. Before us Gerton had sessions with Vincent Koreman, covered songs of Alex Chilton (Big Star), provided soundstracks with poetry and played Black Flags ‘Wasted’. All filmed and edited by Koen, with whom Gerton shares this project. A diverse field, musically as widely spread as the musicians that have participated. Well, hell! You can even risk the life of your guitar in a swimming pool….
And we’ll record number 40 tonight, a prog-doom-guitarist on banjo, a singer-songwriter and a music critic. And for some reason the music critic thought it would we a great idea to play slide guitar. Not that I have any experience in that area, but I think it fits the country feel and it will hide that I actually can’t play guitar at all. So I practiced at home, playing along with both versions and came up with a simple but effective line. Simple and whining, to emphasise the tears that lay behind the words. So when we finally start recording I sit back and start moving the glass over my neck. “Weeeheeeeeeeheeeee-grrrrrrr-plop……”
After three runs practicing my guitar plug leaves the world of the living and disappears in body of my guitar. Two minutes later, second take starts. Me holding an absolutely unfamiliar guitar on my lap. But that at least gives me an excuse why I sound like a dying cat with a punk attitude. I’d say, focus on Roel van Oosterhout and Gerton Govers, real talented guys that deserve your full attention. Not only in this song. Which is that second take. If you listen close enough you can actually hear my cry over my guitar that had just died, Some where, still around.
Listen to more of the 52X project or other recordings of The Light Brigade on soundcloud.