I first met Cory while recording some songs in Portland a while back. The session required piano and trumpets and the engineer said he knew someone who could do both proficiently. We heard a rumble in the parking lot and from an upstairs window witnessed Cory arrive in his A Team van (in which he’d toured the whole US multiple times, as his transport and accommodation) He walked in, put a couple of beers in the fridge and greeted us cheerfully. Looking more lumberjack than maestro he placed his little moleskin notebook/sketchpad on the music flap and tested the keys. “nicely out of tune”….The songs came easy to him and his playing sounded gentle and old world; to put it in a MySpace pigeon-hole ”sentimental/showtunes”.
I’d written a few of the songs for ‘Fingertips and Mountaintops’ leaning in that direction so it seemed fated that I’d met him and that he was available to fly over to Australia and play on the recordings. He understood my ambiguous motivations for the feelings needed for the song Manilla NSW.
Me: You’re an uptight primary school teacher
Me: Yeah, you always dreamed a life on stage, touring as concert pianist. Your father, coming from a working class background, felt a capricious existence in the arts held no long term security and forced you to into something more stable. Now, years later, you”re too old to learn new tricks. Instead you feel imprisoned in a music room teaching arpeggios to them who might as well be monkeys. Although at times when rote playing the most pedestrian pieces you’re transported to your parallel thwarted fantasy life and unbridled emotion creeps into the music.
Cory: Got it
The first day Cory arrived in Australia I picked him up at the Sydney International and told him we were going to collect a piano I’d found on ebay. He had to come with me to the upper classes of the North Shore and help me lift it out of this mansion where it had lived neglected until now, with it”s owner, an American lawyers wife who told us her husband would sue if we left any marks on walls or scratched her polished cedar floor boards or marble walkway. I worried that Cory imagined he’d stepped jetlagged into a removalist nightmare as he sat in the back of the van trying hard to steady a heavy unrestrained object that could possibly squash him if I took a corner to sharp.
It made it in one piece back to our place and for the next few days Cory and the new piano became inseparable. If I left him alone in the house for a day I”d come home and he’d written and recorded (on my 4-track) entire songs. He’s a fast worker. Once in the kitchen I overheard him play a melody that to me sounded at the same time uplifting and melancholy, like any good 80’s power ballad. I asked him what it was and he said he just made it up. He said “you can have it if you want”. Wow, inspired player and song philanthropist, what a guy! This melody grew into my first real collaboration and became the song ‘Old Dream’.