Americana Highways brings you this premiere of Ordinary Elephant’s song “Let Me Tell You What I Think,” due to be available on October 30. “Let Me Tell You What I Think” is Crystal Hariu-Damore on vocals and guitar; Pete Damore on octave mandolin and vocals; it was recorded and mixed by Clay Parker.
The songwriting process on this one by Ordinary Elephant explains why it strikes the chord of an inner chakra. There’s something spiritual in their songs, from the lyrics through the music and the production quality, and this one is no exception.
We didn’t sit down with an intention to write this song. It found its way out through a songwriting exercise we sometimes use called the translitic process, which is essentially a way to tap into your subconscious. You start with a piece of poetry in a language foreign to you and the first step is to “translate” it, but not in the traditional sense. You don’t try to guess what the words actually mean, instead you take it line by line and write down what first comes to mind based on how the words look and how you think they sound. You end up with a page of dream-like stream of consciousness nonsense when taken as a whole, but there are flecks of phrases that shine like a mirror among the mess. And as you work through the drafts, continuing to rewrite one to the next without looking back at previous versions, what’s been in the folds of your mind starts coming into focus. And this time it was the state of our country and our democracy.
The final edits only recently fell into place, and then we felt the call to share this song in a wider way, in hopes of encouraging action that can create change. So we headed to the home studio of our friend Clay Parker whose intuitive artistry and musicianship are at the foundation of his work. In an analog world that he is well-versed in, but is new to us, we tracked straight to tape. No punch-ins, no comping, just the one take that we all felt best actualizes the song. In a time when things feel hidden and pulled apart and pieced together into parallel narratives, it felt good to use such an unbroken and linear process to create something. — Crystal Hariu-Damore
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