A rock and roll honeymoon.
On the first Monday after our Saturday wedding, Catherine and I hit the road to Palm Springs, where we would check into the Viceroy for TWO WEEKS. But before we got there, we stopped for the night in Santa Barbara, right smack in the middle of Montecito, which would be engulfed in flames about 12 days later. Not sure whether our hotel survived unscathed, but from what I can gather on google, it's still standing. Sure hope so. It was a beautiful place staffed by very nice people.
After our night in Santa Barbara, we drove on to Palm Springs, and along the way we treated ourselves to the second McDonald's meal of our 'moon (we also stopped at the Mighty Micky D's in on the way to SB), and did our best not to get stressed out as we navigated through LA's freeway maze. Several hours later, we pulled into the Viceroy, ordered room service and proceeded to live like Hollywood elite (well, maybe more like D-listers) for the next 14 days.
There were so many highlights, but since this blog is supposed to be about music, I'll focus on the Viceroy's single best feature for songwriters: a balcony. I can't begin to describe what a luxury it was to sit outside in warm air, a slight breeze, coffee to drink in the morning, wine at dusk, a Gibson 336 in my lap and pen at the ready. Songwriting is a lonely art -- at least for me -- and to be able to do it outside, with voices wafting up from a pool below and the feeling of being close to my surroundings but still apart enough to write was bliss. Having my Gibson with me didn't hurt, either. Unlike my Steinberger, which is the guitar I normally travel with, since I can place it in an overhead bin on a plane without a problem, my Gibson is semi-hollow body, which means it's considerably louder than the Steiny, key for working out vocal melodies. I also just like playing the Gibson more and find its beautiful woods and mellow vibe inspirational. The Steinberger is a tech marvel, but a touch soulless.
My routine was to sit at the balcony table in the morning, guitar in hand, coffee within easy reach, and jot lyrics that captured the essence of what I was after; then I would head to the pool to hone my lyrics and kill clichés; then it was back up to the room, where I would test out the refined lyrics against the guitar. Obviously, I wasn't super hardcore about this schedule -- hey, I was on vacation and my honeymoon! -- but I did follow it enough to finish one good tune, the lyrics to which I posted earlier (I've since tweaked them a bit, but not much).
Thinking back on my days at the Viceroy, I now understand better than ever why writers -- of songs and books -- spend so much time thinking about WHERE they write. Writers talk endlessly of their rooms, the places where they are convinced the best ideas lie waiting to be snatched from the ether. I’ve never had such a room or a place; there are a few coffee shops here in SF that are good, but most days I just don’t have the time to troop off to a coffee shop; equally important, I’d feel like one pretentious mofo sitting in a coffee shop with my guitar, and to really work out a tune, I need a guitar. The balcony of our room at the Viceroy, however, has become “my writing place”, even though I’ll be lucky if I can spend more than a few days a year there.
Unless, of course, I become a pop sensation.