Dan Andries and I have been talking, dreaming and working on films since we met in 1976. The reason for working together on this film started with Dan telling me about the forthcoming documentary he was about to make. I was bitching about being broke and not having any work coming up. Dan had his budget for the project sitting in front of him and said, "Let me see if there's a music budget." There was.
I spent the next few months occasionally dropping by to look at the raw footage of each of the subjects stories, trying to get a sense of intersection between the artists that I could draw on to help glue it together. Around the same time that Dan began to weave their stories, I started realizing that the unifying force between each of the artists that kept them pushing towards perfection was a faith in their vision as something greater than themselves.
On a recent family vacation to Texas, Alejandro Escovedo, knowing my love for Gospel, had recently turned me on to a 1920's gospel musician named Washington Philips. His hammered dulcimer playing reminded of the santori playing found in the 20's Rembetiko music of Greece. Both music's reaching for guidance and salvation in a troubled world.
I found these same qualities in each of the subjects' lives in the film. Each life a prayer or wish for the future. A perfect line. A phrase. The higher poetry that exists inside a work of art its author only realizes after the work is completed. The bet we all take when creating something, in that it will reveal a thing greater than our mere mortal selves.
I told Dan I thought I'd found the approach. He agreed immediately, as it was a soundtrack based on what we, as director and composer, were striving for ourselves.
As the music reflected the intent of the artists and was not scene specific as a way of scoring, I never took a piece of film home with me. I preferred to let it live in my head, rather than time it to the action. It seemed to both of us better for the music to overlap each scene rather than separate the characters from one another.
It should be said that Dan placed full confidence in what I was doing, not fearing in a result outside his own scope, but welcomed another voice into the story. This is why it worked so well and also why ninety percent of the stuff out there sounds so "middle of the road" crappy. You have to let the people you work with climb their own mountains; otherwise all you'll get is a bad impersonation of yourself.
I'm grateful to Dan Andries for letting me tag along for the ride.