lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: scooter boys

1997-05-31: hey kind friend, creative loafing:

according to amy, that first week or so in the studio is "always scary," until she and emily start working up the songs and planning arrangements. "but this time it was really - " amy pauses. "mine and emily's songs on this album are radically different." and although they had david leonard holding things together, they were basically doing it themselves. and in a lot of cases, doing it live. so, with nobody directing the give-and-take, it was up to emily and amy to voluntarily go places they wouldn't normally go.

"i said [to emily], 'i'm going to ask you to play a certain way and do a certain thing," amy recalls. "like in 'don't give that girl a gun,' i wanted her to play electric guitar in a way she wouldn't normally do, and she really ended up being more herself. it's inside her, and she knows how to do it, and so we would do a song like 'scooter boys,' and she wasn't even in the right tuning, she was just hooked up and messing around. i started playing the song, we learned it in 10 minutes and then we recorded it. that was it. we kept that take."


and what about amy's "scooter boys," with its unmistakable similarity to midnight oil's "beds are burning"? was that a mistake? "i was down in new orleans hanging out," amy explains, "and midnight oil was recording at kingsway with daniel lanois, and i had a long conversation with peter [garrett] about politics and stuff. when i finished writing "scooter boys," i was singing it like he would have sung it - not as a joke, but thinking of peter, because i love him, he's got such a distinctive voice." and they kept that take, too. they kept lyrics and songs that, as emily puts it, "teeter on the edge." they just went with it.


amy ray quote from 1997-09: no boundaries - indigos girls cut loose, acoustic guitar:

"with 'scooter boys,' the whole song's live - no overdubs except for one guitar."


amy ray and emily saliers quote from 1997-09: no boundaries - indigos girls cut loose, acoustic guitar:

ar: "sometimes we come up with all these different tunings that sound good with each other, and then we forget what we've decided. like in 'scooter boys,' i don't know what tuning you were in..."

es: "e minor (e b e g b e)."

ar: "and i had the (low) e string dropped to d. our tunings don't match at all for that, there's discord notes all over the place. i had to listen to the tape to figure out what we were doing."

es: "there's even parts of that that i can't figure out what i did, 'cause it happened so spur-of-the-moment. i was in e-minor tuning because we were getting ready to work on a different song, and then amy started jamming on the song and andy (stochansky, from ani difranco's band) started playing the drums and sara was playing bass. so, i said, 'oh well, i don't have time to change my tuning, i'll just stick in this tuning and see what i can find.' "


1997-12: indigo girls - amy ray, curve:

"well, 'scooter boys' was a really important moment for me. it was completely improv. i hadn't finished the song, emily didn't know it at all, andy stochansky (ani's drummer) was playing drum with us that day and had never heard it. we just started playing and all of a sudden we got into this groove. i said, 'turn the tape recorder on' and we recorded it - that's the song you hear on the album. so there are sentimental reasons why that song is really close to me."


2014-12-02: es.1996, official indigo girls "a year a month blog" on tumblr:

in 1996, we started recording shaming of the sun and ended up working on it in nashville (woodland studios), atlanta (southern tracks), and austin (hit shack, arlyn studios). we were in a period of growth, change and experimentation. although we'd had great success and experience with scott litt and peter collins as producers, amy and i decided to co-produce shaming with david leonard who had engineered swamp ophelia. taking on the role of co-producers was indicative of our desire to stretch.

i wanted to play more electric guitar and then, as now, i wanted to break out of my natural instinct to write a ballad or a mid-tempo pop song. one of the many great things about working with amy is that she has an innate ability to rock, and i got to live my desire to play rock music through some of her songs. she continued in that rock vein on shaming with songs like "cut it out," which was blistering and raw, and "scooter boys," a fierce commentary on colonialism. i got to play electric guitar on both. even though "it's alright" is musically sunny in nature, i was writing about hatred in the world, and it was a song of self-empowerment ("i know i'm small in a way, but i know i'm strong"). i played slide electric guitar on the track to give it all the bite i could muster. when we played the song live, i used a hamer duotone guitar that switched back and forth from acoustic to electric. i could play the body of the song in acoustic mode and switch to electric mode for the slide solo; picked that trick up from michelle malone!

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