The Ideal Home Music Library, Vol. 2 (2009)
1. All Through The Morning
2. What Were The Chances?
3. There's A Wondrous Place Below Us
4. The Minister's Cat (Don't Stand In The Wind)
5. Ma Maison Voyageuse
6. I'm Cookies For You
7. The Garden Party
8. As I Go Forth Into Dreams
9. I Suppose I'll Always Be Alone
10. No, No, This Will Never Do!
11. Il Fait Calme
12. Up On The Orange Moon
Download the complete sheet music
Download the complete lyrics
The Story Behind the Album
The story behind the second installment of the Ideal Home Music Library dates all the way back to 2002, when I saw the film Gosford Park and heard the music of Ivor Novello. I had always wanted to write music for only piano and voice, and after I heard And Her Mother Came Too I thought "I can do that!" At that time I was working on the first Ideal Home Music Library, whose fictional back story continues in this volume. The story behind this album is that my collaborator, Dr. T. Middling, moved to Seattle after the enormous success of the first IHML and started his own research firm. He took the enormous book of old songs with him, and the two of us decided to release another collection of the songs, only, this time instead of arranging them for jazz combo, we recorded them exactly as they appeared in the book. Since this album was released online, It didn't come with a thick booklet of sheet music and composer biographies, but photographs of the composers have been unearthed, and we will be releasing the photographs along with the biographies in the near future.
The first song for the album came to me in 2004 or '05 when an artist named Mariana Tres asked me to write some music for her Master's thesis project. She'd invented a composer and created an installation piece that contained wooden museum cases loaded with her composer's personal effects: a pair of gloves, a lace fan, some sheet music, etc.. Included in the installation was a headset, through which the viewer could hear some of the composer's music. I wrote Up On The Orange Moon for that installation, but we recorded it on guitar, with no words. Mariana insisted on writing the words, but she flaked out and ended up just singing "la la la" and "loo loo loo" to the melody. Anyway, after that project I shelved the song for a while.
Then, in 2005, I wrote the beginning of what was to become Il Fait Calmeat a girl named Savannah's house while plinking out songs from the Amelie soundtrack on her Rhodes piano. After writing that song, the urge to write the album overtook me. I started writing and blogging (check out the archive blog for details) about the process until I finished the songs in early 2007. Each of these songs has an interesting story. I adapted the lyrics forMa Maison Voyageuse, for example, from an essay I wrote in my beginning French class. I lifted some lines from The Minister's Cat (Don't Stand In The Wind) from an Anna Akhmatova poem. I found inspiration from such diverse sources as Johnny Cash, the Pirates of Penzance, Erik Satie, Yves Montand, Robert Schumann, and many others. Even though the recording only features piano and vocals, you'll find it's a very colorful album.
Recording the songs was a long process. I invited my friend Jenny Conlee to play piano on the songs because we'd worked together on the first IHML. I had a wonderful time rehearsing and playing with her, but by then her band The Decemberists were extremely popular, so she was constantly touring in the beginning of 2007. She practiced the songs while on the road, however, and we squeezed in rehearsals in between lengthy legs of her tour. Because of her tour schedule, rehearsing and recording the songs took up most of 2007. In the Autumn we set up microphones in Jenny's living room and recorded the album over a long weekend. She was wonderful to work with. I then took the tracks home and overdubbed my vocals from the tiny bathroom in my apartment on 12th and Stark.
Further complications arose in early 2008 when I recruited Kaitlyn Ni Donovan to sing on Up On The Orange Moon. It wasn't her fault, of course. As it turned out the version we'd recorded was way out of her register. So I had to completely rewrite Up On The Orange Moon and rerecord it. For this, we used Scott Garred's upright piano. With Jenny out of town, I asked my friend Steve White to play the piano for the new version. Recording for the new version took place in mid 2008. Finally, Scott Garred and I mixed and mastered the album, which took a long time, and it was released online in late 2009.
Jenny Conlee – piano
Michael Johnson – vocals
Steve White – piano on Up On The Orange Moon
Kaitlyn Ni Donovan - vocals
Recorded in Jenny Conlee's living room, Scott Garred's parlor, and Michael Johnson's bathroom in Portland, Or in 2007 and 2008. Mixed and mastered by Scott Garred.
All songs: words and music by Michael Johnson
© 2008 - '09 Zubsongs, ltd.