A Head Full of Wishes

A Head Full of Wishes is a site for Galaxie 500, Luna, Damon & Naomi, Dean & Britta and Dean Wareham. With news, articles and lists of releases and past and future shows.

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Best of Luna sleeve notes

Best of Luna sleeve

Greg commented on my blog to remind me that Dean's Best of Luna sleeve notes never made it into the European release (although we did get a whole extra CD so I can't complain) so here they are. My OCR software did an OK job but it still required a fair amount of massaging into shape - there are probably still a few errors but I need some sleep...

Update: Thanks to "the 801" for pointing out that the Euro release did have sleeve notes including notes for the tracks not on the US version - I'll scan in and post the missing five tracks at some point.



Occasionally someone asks me who the hell Christopher Boyce is - his name is dropped in the second verse of this song. If you saw The Falcon And the Snowman, then you know the first part of his story: how he worked at TRW in the 1970s, where he discovered that the CIA was secretly working to overthrow the Australian government. Boyce began smuggling CIA secrets out of the TRW building in a potted plant and selling information to the Russians. He was soon arrested, convicted of treason, and incarcerated at Lompoc jail in California. That is where the film leaves us. But while he was locked up, the guards screened Escape from Alcatraz for the prisoners, wherein Clint Eastwood escapes by making a papier mache dummy. Boyce tried the same trick, making a dummy in arts and crafts class, which he put in his bed, fooling the guards into thinking he was asleep. In fact he was outside preparing to jump the prison fence. Boyce survived in the woods for a few months, eating nuts and berries, then made his way to the Pacific Northwest, where he earned a living robbing banks. The feds finally caught him again in 1981, and he spent the next 22 years of his life in the Leavenworth federal Penitentiary. Which doesn't begin to explain why "Moon Palace" is my favourite Luna song, but it is.

California (All the Way)

I was studying my instructional video The Legendary Guitar Of James Burton, trying to play Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool," when out popped the riff for "California: I was thinking also of Rod McKuen's "Love's Been Good To Me” and I thought about calling this one "Love's Been Bad To Me." But the story told is not taken from my own life. In the fall of 1992 Luna were touring the U.S., opening for Screaming Trees. Sean met a nice girl named A., in Dallas, and the next day she drove to Baton Rouge (all the way) to see us play there. Sean was excited. After the show there was a party in Sean's room. Which was also Stanley's room. Romance was in the air. But it fizzIed. A. had one too many drinks, went to he?, room to lie down, and promptly passed out... Sean had joined Luna right before Lunapark was released. We had placed an ad in the Village Voice and held auditions at Context rehearsal studios on Avenue A (where we would later audition Lee in 1996, and Britta in 1999). We liked Sean's guitar style, and I also remember being impressed by his white canvas Sperry Top Sliders.


In the fall of 1991 I signed a demo deal with Elektra Records. That's where they give you a few dollars to go and record a bunch of songs, and then they decide if they want to sign you to a seven record deal. "Anesthesia" was among the six songs I recorded with Wharton Tiers at fun City Studios, with Jimmy Chambers on drums. I played the guitars myself. And the bass. I quickly realized I was not fit to play the bass. When Elektra signed me up, I called the best bass player I knew, Justin Harwood, who I had met in London a couple of years before, at a Sunday-afternoon softball game in Islington, when Justin was playing with The Chills and I was still in Galaxie 500. Justin moved to New York, and we soon hooked up with drummer, Stanley Demeski, formerly the drummer in the greatest band ever to come out of New Jersey, The Feelies. "Anesthesia" is probably about the time when I visited my ex-girlfriend at New York Hospital and she had just had her appendix removed and was doped up, but she told me that I was the one who needed help.


In 1993 I received a phone call asking if we wanted to open for the Velvet Underground on their upcoming European tour. Yeah, right. A couple of months later, and there we were at the Playhouse in Edinburgh, sitting in the dressing room, eating cheese sandwiches and Scotch eggs, and listening to "Venus In Furs" through the little speakers. We had already recorded a demo of "Friendly Advice" with producer Victor Van Vugt, which we played every night on that tour, and Sterling Morrison told us that was his favorite track. We asked if he'd like to play guitar on our next album, and we were all surprised when he said yes. So far as we knew, Sterling hadn't played on anyone's record since about 1971. He was a lovely and unassuming guy, and when he passed away just two years later, I put on my headphones and listened to his transcendent guitar solo in "friendly Advice,'' and I cried.


Sean came up with this most excellent riff on the fender Jazzmaster. Producer Pat McCarthy thought the song needed a little extra something, so he rented a theremin. None of us knew how to play the theremin, but Justin volunteered. He set up a microphone stand and connected a five-foot piece of white tape from the stand to the antenna. He then made little notations on the tape and was able to hit the notes that way. Sideshow by the Seashore is a little place right on the boardwalk at Coney Island, where my friend Kim Rancourt (singer with When People Were Shorter And Lived By The Water) promoted a summer series of rock shows. I played there (probably with Galaxie 500) one Friday night, and there was a big electrical storm and the rain came down and all the people who were hanging out on the boardwalk had to come inside to watch the show.


The making of the Pup Tent album was a long day's journey into night, We would start recording around two in the afternoon and go till 4 in the morning. Justin's original demo for this song had about 12 different chords. "Too many chords” said Pat McCarthy, ordering us to remove some of them. We tracked this song late at night at the old Sear Sound studio. Actually, Lee and Justin and Sean played, while I lay on the couch and mumbled vague nothings into a little toy robot (through a little toy microphone). The robot changed the whole vibe of the song - he made me sound like a pervert making an obscene phone call. Settled into the Pachyderm studio in Minnesota, we spent much time creating a fake sample of a little guitar riff that Justin was playing, adding a little vinyl scratch to make it sound like we had stolen it from an old record. We also spent a lot of time playing Scrabble and Ping-Pong and getting annoyed with each other - this was our first experience in a residential studio. Pup Tent was our first album with drummer Lee Wall. Changing drummers was nerve-wracking, but Lee aced his audition at Context, and we knew we would be fine. Lee had also been around during the making of Penthouse - he had a job answering the phones and making coffee at RPM studios while we were mixing that album.


Soho has the boots/Noho has the crack/New England has the foliage/But I'm not going back. Hard to imagine it now, but in the early 1990s they sold crack on the streets of Noho, right in front of my Bleecker Street apartment. I guess this song was my way of saying good-bye to Boston and hello to New York. Justin came up with a great little bass intro, and additional guitar was played by Grasshopper (on loan to us from Mercury Rev.) For a short time in 1992 the Luna lineup consisted of myself, Justin, Stanley, and Grasshopper. We played shows in Hoboken and London that way.


In 1993 Howard Thompson, Elektra's head of A&R, came to Paris to see us on the V.U. tour. We hooked him up with one of our "All Access" passes for the show, but Howard was tossed out of the club by the bouncers (they caught him taking 3-D photo graphs of the show), and we were lectured by the Velvet's tour manager about loaning out our passes. My wife was visiting too, and Howard had some powdered ecstasy that we dropped into our wine at dinner, and he took us to a beautiful/sleazy club called Lily La Tigresse, in Pigalle (which. can be seen in the opening sequence of Jean-Pierre Melville's film Bob Le FIambeur). I was struck by the presence of a skinhead girl dancing topless on the bar. She became the "tiger lily girl" as I set these lyrics to a riff that Justin had written.


You're out all night/chasing girlies/you're late to work/and you go home earlies. I wrote those words about our A&R man, who was a music business character, to put it mildly. He was late to work one too many times and was let go by Elektra after we made the Penthouse album. The first thing you learn about record companies is not to get too attached to anyone who works there-they will soon be gone.


This song nearly killed us-it was certainly the most difficult thing we ever recorded. Sean had written this real nice moody piece of music, and I had some lyrics about rummaging through a girlfriend's things to figure out what went wrong. We recorded one nice version of the song for the Penthouse sessions, but it was never mixed. We Recorded it again for Pup rent. The basic tracks were recorded at Sear Sound. Then again at Pachyderm Studios in Minnesota. Then we retracked it at Baby Monster Studios on 14th Street. I think I probably did about 50 takes of the vocal, at four different studios. I'm not sure why. These were the days before everyone automatically fixed their vocals with the push of a button in ProTools. I do know that I stole the ''ooh-ooh" vocal part from "final Solution" by Pere Ubu. After weeks of recording in various New York studios, we settled in at RPM Studios on East 12th Street, our favorite place to record in New York. Sean's lead guitar tracks took a full five days to record, as he and Pat didn't exactly see eye to eye on this issue, and things were a little tense. Never mind, I love this song now. I do not hear the pain that went into recording it, only the beautiful end result.


A psychiatrist once told me that everyone has at Least ten things wrong with them. I wrote a love song listing all my girl's faults, but how I love her anyway. Justin had this chord progression he was playing with a super-heavy tremolo effect. frank London added the trumpet, and Stanley played the vibraphone. This was one of my favorite songs to play live. I would always get a thrill from Sean's guitar solo (which you can hear on Luna Live).


My sophomore year in high school I had a crush on a girl named Kristina. She was two years older than f was, and she wore sweatpants and a sweatshirt (turned inside-out, as was the fashion in 1979) every day, and she was a photographer and she teased me mercilessly. One afternoon she took me to her fancy apartment in Sutton Place. Kristin's parents must have been super-cool because they weren't even there and I had a sleepover at Kristina's and she took photographs of me with drug paraphernalia. I guess she thought it was funny to photograph a 15 year-old boy with a coke spoon. I was pretty excited about the sleepover, but she only wanted to take my photo.


In the spring of 2001 we were flying home from the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. Having misread our itinerary (l was the tour manager on this particular trip), I got us all to the airport some two hours before we had to be there. We were hanging out in the departure lounge, and Lee saw an older gentleman in a dark suit with a long grey beard, waiting to get his seat assignment. "Look" he said, "it's Billy Gibbons." We had a discussion about this, with me insisting that it was not Billy Gibbons. "We're in Austin!" said Lee, as if that proved anything. I went to get a coffee and made sure to get a close look at the disputed Gibbons. This guy looked about 70 years old-clearly he was not with ZZ Top. Lee went back to tinkering around on his Yamaha QY70, a portable music sequencer about the size of a video cassette. Lee had taken to bringing the QY70 on every trip. He would sit quietly in the back of the van, with his headphones on, composing away. On this day in Austin he was writing the music for "Astronaut." This is the only Luna song that was not tracked live in studio by the band. Lee wrote and recorded the basic tracks on the QY70 and a laptop computer. In fact, he plays the drums, keyboards, and some electric guitar. We added our own touches-a nice New Order-ish bass part from Britta, a great guitar solo from Sean, and cryptic References to Uri Geller and the Tamil Tigers from me.


In the year 2000 we found ourselves without a record company, without a manager, without Justin. Things looked bleak. But Britta joined the band and we went out on the road and did a winter tour and we were playing to more people than ever and no one was telling us what to do and it was good to be in Luna. We started work on the Romantica album with Gene Holder at his studio in Hoboken... I was struck by something Raymond Chandler wrote-there is no trap so deadly as the one you set yourself - which was the lyrical starting point for "Lovedust."


There's a great documentary about the Apollo trips to the moon called for A/I Mankind (with a soundtrack by Brian Eno). They're up there in space and the astronauts are making little Super 8 movies and talking about their feelings and one of them looks back at Earth and says that he can feel an incredible unseen love emanating from the planet. I made a note of that. Check out Stanley's cool conga pattern. We mastered this song two different ways. Some copies of Lunapark were pressed with a backward guitar solo here, some have it forward.


Penthouse was mostly recorded at Sorcerer Sound on Mercer Street, with Mario Salvati engineering. We liked the natural sound of the recent Television album that Mario had recorded. When we came to mix the song with Pat McCarthy, he rented a Mellotron, which Justin played, and then he slowed the tape down to half-speed and had Sean play these Long bends on the whammy bar, and all these little things took the song to another level.


Another benefit of working with Mario Salvati was that he convinced Tom Verlaine to play on our album. Tom was amazing; he gets this unique sound that comes straight from his fingers (without using any pedals or gadgets, just his fingers and the guitar's volume control). Naturally, after Tom played on our record, rock critics started saying that we sound like Television. 23 Minutes in Brussels is also the title of a live Suicide bootleg that documents a show they did in Belgium, opening for Elvis Costello. Suicide were booed off the stage, and Alan Vega had his microphone stolen by an angry Costello fan. We played this song at every Luna show for ten years, usually at the end of the set.

- Dean Wareham