John blogs on contribution

A couple of months ago the folks at GIVE asked me if the Long Winters could drum up a song for their benefit project, and it put us in a tough spot. We didn’t have a finished track from our new record, but we DID want to contribute something. I’d been playing a couple of new songs live during a short tour I did with Jay Ferrar and Ben Gibbard–trying out different endings, messing around with the feel–so I suggested recording a song in raw form. GIVE liked the idea and doubled down, offering to help make a video to go with the track.

Luckily my good friend, Toronto’s Kathleen Edwards, was visiting me at the time, so the two of us popped down to the studios at Clatter and Din and recorded the song in a couple of takes. I couldn’t resist playing a little piano on it too, because I’m a sissy who likes sad piano on everything.

The next day we camped out at Creature, an ad agency on Capitol Hill, whose extra-talented staff had conceived a fast-motion interpretation of the lyrics. Everyone was donating their time and expertise, and the video-shoot lasted until the wee hours. I play myself: a slouchy, half-asleep indie rocker with a missing tooth who doesn’t make eye-contact, use coasters, shave, or comb his hair.

Fortunately, my co-star, the lovely Angela Morgan, was a whirlwind of energy who quite accurately captured the spirit of a young woman in transition. Kathleen was with us for the video shoot but was flying home to Canada that morning and didn’t end up in front of the camera. Only later did I learn that Angela is a fan of Kathleen’s music. She didn’t realize Kathleen was THAT Kathleen until after the shoot was through.

This recording of Not Moving to Portland captures a moment in time, a winter weekend with a bunch of creative friends. The final version on our upcoming album will sound very different, swingy, with tambourines and a bassline. And a little sad piano.

Watch the video now on our video page.
Read more about GIVE.

-John R.