'Love Not War Stories' SONG TWO
SONG TWO- "The Buddha's Belly"
So, I had to look back to figure out the exact story about this song... What I did recall was that it was on a trip to Cleveland with Beth Lennon where I made some joke about "scratching the Buddha's back" since I was feeling kinda portly, and she came up with the best/most important line in the song "everybody wants to rub the Buddha's belly, but nobody's scratching the Buddha's back". And a Hillis/Lennon co-write was born. This was another song-of-the-week offering, and I found the email where I handed it in that said-
"Had grand plans of recording a full on version, here's a sort of Dave Edmunds/Rockpile inspired song. I made a joke about scratching the Buddha's back & my wife came up with the best line in the song. Long weekend to Cleveland ran late so this was just recorded in the back of the car at a service area on the PA Turnpike. Cheers!"
FYI the lyric that week was "at first sight". It's there, buried deep in the song.
When it came time for the proper recording, the "Masters of Disaster" Greg Maragos & Patrick Berkery were once again the crux of the song on bass & drums respectively. Looking at my notes, we cut rhythm tracks for this, "Suicide Doors" and "Too Many Songs" in one evening. I recall the basement started smelling pretty rock 'n roll by the end of the session... once again we tried to keep it lively & loose, there were minimal punches or edits to the basic rhythm track. Pat B also played some shaker & tambourine before they guys left for the night.
I kinda held off working on the song for awhile because I wasn't sure where to go with it. I had been playing it solo at gigs for some time & getting really good response, I didn't want to turn it into a full-on rockabilly type song since that's not exactly my thing.
During our marathon beer-inspired keyboard session, Greg Maragos played some appropriately jaunty piano on the song that worked perfectly, and I was still figuring out where to go guitar-wise. I had an acoustic guitar rhythm on there but hated most everything I tried to play on electric.
BUT! Then, the always wise Beth Lennon had the great idea for me to see if Mike Molnar of The Bellfuries would be willing to play on the song. Excuse my French, but that guy is truly a motherfucker of a guitar player. Several years ago our friend Craig Fitzgerald had turned us properly on to the band & we caught them at the New England Shake Up. So good! Go buy all their records now! I chatted with Mike at a show the next time the Bellfuries passed through Philly & he said he was game to put some guitar down for the song... I sent him a rough track to cut to & he recorded a variety of parts with a friend back home in Austin TX, and sent me plenty of stuff to work with. I sorted through parts & constructed pretty much what you hear on the recording. It was tough because there were quite a few guitar takes and they were all different, but all great.
I was getting ready to put a final acoustic & vocal on and then my friendKen Herblin reminded me of the surfy riff he had played on the song at the first ever live band performance we did of it. I believe that was at Arden Gild Hall opening for Joseph Arthur (trio w/ Ritchie Rubini on drums & no bass! Greg & his wife Julie were about to have a baby). Ken put the riffy part down & it fit quite seamlessly with the other stuff that Mike had done, rounded the song out nicely.
I put some finishing touches on, mixed it & sent to Steve Turnidge for mastering. And boom! Song two was done.