AMANDA PALMER – FLOATING IN A COCKTAIL GLASS

— AN OFFICIAL PATRON-SUPPORTED RELEASE, JANUARY 31st, 2016  —

HOLA COMRADES.

here’s a beautiful Thing from the Crypt…kinda literally.

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i’ve been holding onto this one for a while waiting for a moment in time where it felt right to release it.
and this mid-winter, post-election, as we all try to drown our sorrows in various vices of one type or another….well, it felt high (no pun) time.

it’s a long-ass story, which is part of why it’s taken so long to unleash.

i always like telling the whole story, so here it is, the whole yarn behind this bizarre-but-beautiful little song (and even more bizarre little video).

and of course…feel free to listen to the song while you read.

here it is, on bandcamp.

please wear headphones, and imagine you are drowning in a sea of champagne on a sunny day…

my friend jason webley lives in a town called everett, washington. i was there to visit him back in may of 2013, long before i was pregnant, and i asked him, innocently, why so many things in everett seemed to bear the name “rucker”. there was rucker street. there was rucker everything. he said he didn’t know.

but it inspired him to take me to the cemetery that night, where a giant pyramid crypt bearing the name RUCKER across it was looming in the dark.

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here it is…in the light.

in the dark it looks much more menacing.

we climbed it. it was a bit scary, i must admit. the next day, we flew together to san francisco to play at our mutual hero robyn hitchcock’s 60th birthday party.
while he was in town, jason stayed with his friend Chicken John.

Jason’s going to tell the story from here, because he’ll tell it better…take it away, Jason:

Chicken and I were walking down the street with his wife Eileen and I mentioned that I was fixing up this old house in Everett. When he heard the name he froze and said “Everett? Wait, you live in Everett? I need to show you something, there’s somebody you need to meet.”

On the way back to his house he told me how twenty years before he was digging around in a dumpster – why he was doing that is another story {you need to hear this story it’s amazing – your editor, amanda} – and found this beautiful antique handmade scrapbook with a worn leather cover. It was the story of a woman’s life — beginning with her birth certificate and ending with obituary — all told in old sepia photos, documents, and newspaper clippings. He sort of fell in love with her and her poetry — she was a poet.

Here are a few images from the scrapbook….

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Sunlight-SCRAPBOOK4Sunlight-SCRABOOK6Sunlight - SCRAPBOOK3Sunlight-SCRAPBOOK5Sunlight - SCRABOOK8 ObitThe woman was, of course, born in my hometown of Everett, Washington. But that wasn’t the big coincidence. Her name was Margaret Rucker.

I told Chicken that I had been standing on her grave just 36 hours ago because Amanda had asked “who are the Ruckers?”

It turns out Margaret was the daughter of Bethel Rucker, one of the two brothers who pretty much founded the town of Everett. When I got home and started sharing this with local historians, residents, fellow musicians everyone sort of fell in love with this woman, and with her poetry.

I invited a bunch of songwriters from the area and around the county to write new songs about Margaret’s story and setting her poems to music.

On April 11th, 2014 we put on a one night sold out show at the Historic Everett Theater. At the end of the concert, we all marched to the cemetery and lit the pyramid with candles. It was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever been a part of.

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(look! it’s jherek bischoff! in the tie.)

Sunlight - NIGHT PYRAMID

hi it’s amanda again.
….thanks jason, you awesome weirdo.

so anyway. then, people kept asking jason if he was going to release the music from the show.
so he did what any weirdo musician in 2014 would have done, and he launched a kickstarter to fund the recording of all the music and he got super into the project of making a really beautiful artifact out of all the margaret material – a CD, a little book, a capturing of the whole beautiful story. the kickstarter goal was a humble $11,000, the goal was reached in just a few hours, and in a month over 1,800 people had spent over $70k in pre-ordering the record and mini-margaret-book.

here’s jason’s kickstarter video:

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and while we’re delving deep….
my personal favorite of this batch of songs is called “pyramid”. if you want some serious goosebumps, watch jason playing it live with the orchestra:

midway into the kickstarter campaign, which i was helping plug on twitter and so forth, i asked if there was anything i could contribute. jason had already been thinking to release a second CD of demos & live recordings from the concert, and he asked if i could maybe do something with that….there was one leftover poem that hadn’t been set to music, called “Sunlight”:

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i couldn’t believe that nobody had chosen to set this poem to music….

….but perhaps i am the darkest of the goth.

knowing what i knew about margaret (you’ll need to read the book, my friends, which you can still order copies of, here: http://www.jasonwebley.com/store.html), i could feel the beautiful desperation of this poem – an alcoholic suicide note wrapping in a glistening champagne package.

i sat down in my apartment in boston at the cloud club (this was, again, all before i was pregnant with ash) to just come up with some pretty tinkly piano under which to read the poem.
but a song came out. i hate it when that happens. i love it when that happens. the song kept coming, so i just said fuck it and wrote it.

and then I went into record it all at Mad Oak studios for the same session in which I recorded “The Thing About Things” and “Bigger on the Inside”.

It was a fantastic session, because the song wanted to be drowned in vocals – I spent a good amount of time doing piano overdubs (layering) and vocal overdubs, and trying to create the feeling of being sonically happy and drunk and….drowning.

i’ve never really embodied something quite so….insane…for a song before. it was delicious.

i mixed it with my engineer, benny, and i bopped it over to jason a week later.

here’s jason again:

My understanding was that it was going to be a “tone poem” that amanda was going to improvise something on the piano….and read the poem over the top. But I was pleasantly surprised when she sent me the track and it was a fully-formed, really….good song. It seemed a shame that it was just getting relegated to the “Bonus disc.”

And for a moment I thought I should stretch the project and reformat the book to make it fit. I seriously looked at doing that. But everything was too close to done at that point, and the style of the recording didn’t really match the other songs on the album, so I had to, reluctantly, continue with the original plan to just include the songs that were written for the concert.

….so i chatted with Jason about it and I told him I’d just hang onto it and maybe do something weird with it someday.

that day is NOW.

well….actually, not really. that day was this past spring, when I went to a public pool in manhattan and a bar in brooklyn.

let me back up.

so there i was, and i had a song with no home. i was going to just, you know, put it out on the internet, but i was really proud of it.

the patreon had just sprung into existence, and so i put this song as a secret weapon that i had in my back-pocket…

i thought it might be fun to create some kind of impressionistic video, something inspired by the theme.
y’know. alcoholism. suicide. the fun stuff.

…so i called my burlesque performer friend julie atlas muz.

(pictured here, underwater, of course:

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julie is incredible. she does things like THIS (NSFW, but very beautiful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXJ6A_A5Tpw).

i was also, off topic, a zombie bridesmaid at her wedding to mat fraser:

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(me, superkate, and alina, as zombie bridesmaids)

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(and that’s veronica varlow, who….wait, am i allowed to get this off topic? just go follow the link.)

i sent her the song and gave her carte blanche to come up with a video, and many months later (in april of 2015, when ash was about 6 or 7 months old), we met up for a two-day video shoot in manhattan and brooklyn with her film director friend karl giant and some incredible new york actors/performers. i got some glam makeup done and floated around dead in a pool.

there was a fish.

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the fish was not harmed in the making of the video, and was given to krys fox, our beloved photographer who also came to shoot the behind-the-scenes. he named the fish “prince amanda” and texted me just now, sadly, that prince amanda is no more. RIP prince amanda.

and…i took this one. it’s julie, at the pool, and ida, my midwife joanne’s daughter, holding ash. he was on site for the entire shoot, wondering what the hell his mom was doing, drowning:

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and here are some of the behind-scenes shots from krys: 

afpdophere’s julie’s co-director karl at work

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the footage was edited together by michael mcquilken.

enjoy the video…enjoy the song…and may you drown your sorrows wisely this season.

thank you again for making it possible for me to support so many strange visions and so many artists.

thank you especially to jason, who was the genesis of all of this… and thanks to margaret rucker, for her poem and for her life, both of which inspired this song in equal measure.

TO MY PATRONS: your patronage paid for the studio, the engineers, all the film production crew, all the editing, and…what goddamn label would tolerate such antics, especially
on such an insane timeline? i don’t think so.

i fuckin love you.

floating,

AFP

p.s. i just showed this entire post to neil and asked if he had any thoughts or additions. he did, but not one i was expecting. he suggested i include a link to some numbers for suicide hotlines.
“isn’t that a little overkill?l”, i asked. “not for a song with the phrase ‘perhaps now i will die’ in it.” he replied. and i figured, good point. and i figured, if there’s even one person out there who starts thinking about offing themselves and me posting a helpful number here could be helpful…goddamn it, of course. so here, if you’re feeling you may need it: here’s a list of suicide hotlines around the world. and if it really is that bad, here’s a message from me to you…stick around. we love you. no, we do. link: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

-A WORD FROM JULIE-

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When Amanda called me up to ask me to make this music video, I was very surprised.  I had never before made a real music video, but have spent the much of my artistic life thus far creating and performing short format acts for nightclubs, circuses and beyond.  In reflecting on making this video a Patti Smith quote from the book Please Kill Me, the Uncensored Oral History of Punk keeps coming to my mind. “Patti Smith: Physical presentation in performing is more important than what you are saying. Quality comes through of course, but if your quality of intellect is high and your love of the audience is evident, and you have a strong physical presence, you can get away with anything.”   Amanda truly loves her audience with a passion and clarity that is astounding.  I value her trust in me, and am honored to be a part of her creative process.  - Julie Atlas Muz

-THE CREDITS-

Co-directed by Julie Atlas Muz and Karl Giant
Edited by Michael McQuilken

Featuring:
Amanda Palmer with Pamela Enz
Daphne Sumtimez
Julie Atlas Muz
Lola RocknRolla
T-Boy

Nails by Jenny Pierce

Special Thanks Super Kate, Autumn Costner, Basil Twist & Tommy Ho
VERY SPECIAL THANKS to the Seahorse Swim Club and the Metropolitan Bar