You Can’t Win by Dolorean (album cover photo by Gus Van Sant)
I recently was sent a copy of Dolorean’s fantastic new album, You Can’t Win. On the Yep Roc Records website, Al James speaks about the making of the album:
We’d become overly predictable when we entered the studio, so I did my best to change things up. I stole an idea that I came across in Jimmy McDonough’s Neil Young biography Shakey. Neil used to book studio time and shows for himself and Crazy Horse without rehearsing new songs with the band. I knew that we’d be up for a similar challenge so I booked three shows in three weeks during February. In between the second and third shows I booked three days at a local studio. I didn’t leave the band completely in the dark, but I didn’t reveal much. I had almost a dozen new songs and we went over the changes a couple times before the first show. The performances were raw, passionate, and loose – everything that we hadn’t been able to capture on previous recordings.
It is hard for solo artists to foster this kind of looseness, but it must be much more difficult in an ensemble setting. Orson Welles said that his job was to “preside over accidents.”
One of the greatest examples of this approach is Werner Herzog. His entire library is built on the idea of presiding over accidents. He once described it this way:
Coincidences always happen if you keep your mind open, while storyboards remain the instruments of cowards who do not trust in their own imagination and who are slaves of a matrix.