37 (Nixon)


PowerMac G4, Tascam 788 Digital Portastudio, 1/4" Analog Tape
W. Argyle, Chicago, IL
N. Keokuk, Chicago, IL

This was a collaboration where I wrote all the words and basic outline for each song but it was really produced by Andrew Deitrich. The tension between our different skills, background, and approach to creating music developed a really interesting record.

I am listening to and writing this retrospect more than ten years later and I love The Magnificent Voice. This is classic "Maxel Toft" experimentation with banjo, homemade tape loops, and a beautiful guest performance. This is the stuff I am most proud of. And the vocalist did not want to be credited because she was currently working to become a professional opera singer and this was too weird. Andy didn't have any input on this one. This was my way of transitioning into a "produced" album. Half Full is one of the songs that I wrote during this album purposely to collaborate on. Andy compliments it perfectly. If I remember correctly, we wrote the instrumental part together. It may be one of the few things that we actually did together. Most of the time it was me recording vocals and acoustic guitar and then Andy doing the rest while I wasn't there. However, I actually played and recorded the drums for Doctors Note. And I was trying to find a replacement for Maid Marion at this time so I rushed JLAH into recording vocals for this. JLAH had never recorded before and was used to singing in choirs and I was disappointed with her performance at the time. Now it doesn't sound too bad. My vocals aren't any better. The horns are great and I wasn't even there for any of that stuff. The lyrics for The Stranger are a combination of anecdotes from my Great-Grandmother Lucy Toft and Great-Aunt Emma Toft. The music is awesome and simple like Half Full. I feel like it is a great balance of Maxel Toft and Andy and it would have been our hit single. The Word is more heavy on the Andy side. You can get a great comparison by listening to the live version on 38 and note how much he added. Why is more good producing. Again I was only there for the vocals and acoustic guitar except that I also played that electric guitar for some reason (although the CD credits say I played bass which could also be true). The Firemen's Ball was a follow up to the success of Quick Fix on 38. I wanted to write something from a female perspective that honored my grandmother. However, this is completely made up. I have now written and recorded tons of banjo folk-parody type songs and I still think this one is precious. I hated Andy's orchestral contribution at the time but similar to my feelings for everything else on this record, I now love how it is unique and doesn't quite fit and kind of works as a soundtrack piece for the credits at the end of a film. The original idea was something you could barely hear like there was a dance going on far away. It was supposed to be a kind of bookend to The Magnificent Voice and this was way too clean for me. But my idea of a muddy orchestra wasn't fair to the time and effort he put into the piece.

All I know is that I hated the production of this record at the time because these were not decisions (for example synths) that I would have made. But then over time I liked the idea of hearing another interpretation of my work. And besides, I could be lazy and just write. I would have liked to do more records like this but then who knows if I would have written all those cool banjo pieces over the last ten years . . .