by Anil Prasad
Copyright © 2012 Anil Prasad. All rights reserved.
With thousands of sessions to his credit, bassist Tony Levin is one of most ubiquitous presences of the last four decades of music. Just a handful of the superstar performers he’s worked with include David Bowie, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, James Taylor, Paul Simon, and Yes. He’s also renowned for his role in multiple incarnations of King Crimson, one of the most important and uncompromising progressive rock acts in the history of the genre.
Since 1996, Levin has pursued a parallel solo career alongside his voluminous session work. He’s released six solo albums to date, including four wildly diverse efforts for the Narada label between 2000 and 2006: Waters of Eden, Pieces of the Sun, Double Espresso, and Resonator. The discs showcase Levin’s spectrum of interests, including ethereal soundscapes, prog-rock instrumentals, fierce rock jams, and even his singer-songwriter side.
Levin returned to the indie universe with his 2007 solo album Stick Man. It focuses on expansive, prog-leaning compositions built around the Stick, a unique two-handed tapping instrument he helped popularize worldwide. The Stick enables players to play bass and melodic lines simultaneously, as well as explore broad chordal and textural possibilities.
Stick Man begat Stick Men, a trio with King Crimson colleague Pat Mastelotto on drums and Markus Reuter on touch guitar. The band was initially created to perform the complex Stick Man pieces live. It has since evolved into a force of its own with two EPs, 2009’s Stick Men and 2011’s Absalom, and 2010’s full-length album Soup. The band is currently working on its second long-form release and is in the midst of the coast-to-coast “2 of a Perfect Trio” US tour, co-headlining with the Adrian Belew Power Trio.
Levin is also part of Levin Torn White, another unique trio featuring guitarist David Torn and drummer Alan White. Levin previously played with Torn in a variety of other contexts, including Torn’s groundbreaking 1987 ECM recording Cloud About Mercury, and across several discs and tours as part of BLUE (Bruford Levin Upper Extremities). Helmed by producer Scott Schorr, the new self-titled album is an animated, raucous affair firmly situated in the progressive-fusion universe. The album came together in a highly unconventional way as Levin revealed at the beginning of this career-spanning conversation.
Describe how the Levin Torn White album came together.
There are all kinds of ways to make a record and I like to experiment with different approaches. This was like a high-tech version of improv in which one guy improvs and then another guy plays on top of that. From there, things are recompiled and then it’s passed back to the first guy or the third guy. And that’s how we did most of this record. It’s really quite new territory for me. I do lots of records, but not this way. Everyone on this album loves processes that open them up and make them react differently than they usually do. I like to try and keep growing as a player.
The album was Scott Schorr’s idea. He produced it. Scott has a label called Lazy Bones and wanted to do something with me and Alan. We thought together about who the third guy should be—and if there should be more than three guys. We ended up feeling David Torn was the best fit. Alan White started most of the tracks with just drums and I played not just bass to them, but all my basses. I did multiple takes, using different ideas. Scott spent a long time wading through the stuff I did to find what would be good to combine. After the results came back to me, they then went to David Torn for his input. So, you have the elements of improv, with a little bit of structure going on.
A situation like this puts me on the line. There was no harmonic information in what I got from Alan. The rhythmic information was also dense and complex. For me to try and find something interesting and coherent to provide from the bass was an interesting challenge. And then to find something else later and recombine all of that was unique. I think this album is an example of three guys really pushing themselves.
Where was the album recorded?
Initially, the recordings took place in Alan’s home studio in Seattle. I did the majority my bass parts in Scott’s studio in New Zealand, and then I did quite a few bass overdubs in my home studio in Kingston, New York. Then we finished up in David Torn’s home studio in Woodstock, New York. I’ve done a lot of great work in David’s studio, so it was a pleasure to go back there, even though I wasn’t playing, but rather watching him do his stuff.
Did you interact with White during the making of the album?
No, not at all. I wasn’t able to be there when Alan did his tracks. It’s not every drummer that would want to write a whole album of stuff just on drums, so a lot credit goes to him for being very creative and doing something very unusual. Scott had a hand in recompiling what Alan had done. I never really heard the original material from Alan. I heard the compiled, finished versions of each track and played to them in as creative a way as I could. In everyone’s case, there was some pretty outrageous music that was adventurous, both harmonically and rhythmically to react to.
Tell me what Torn brought to the table.
I knew David’s musicality and that he reacts to music in a very creative way. That’s why we had him onboard. This isn’t music that just anybody could jump in and play. David took it to a whole different place. My main thought while he was recording is he was doing great stuff, using multiple approaches on each piece. Scott had a massive job ahead of him after that. It wouldn’t surprise me if he spent 50 days doing nothing but working on this project, wading through all the different parts, determining which he could combine together.
Give me some insight into Schorr’s involvement and how you both worked together.
First of all, we talked a lot about the project and the aim of it. We decided it would be best if Scott worked with Alan first and then with me. Scott and I have worked together a lot, particularly on my Stick Man album. He lets me go wild and I’m good at doing that and I like doing that. He doesn’t put any parameters on me. Generally, I’ll react to a track in a certain way and pick an instrument for it and play something. Then he’ll say “Okay, let’s do something else on this.” Then I’ll do a second thing with different instruments and then a third. I’d say we ended up with 10-20 bass parts on each track. When I say “bass parts,” I’m including the Stick; the top of the Stick; upright bass with a bow; freaked-out, fuzzed-out cello; low bass stuff; and things in different keys.
I just put on my creative hat, buzzed through the music and left Scott with the job of dealing with all these bass parts for each track, which aren’t even all in the same key or time signature. He went through all of it meticulously and added his musical sense to things, which frankly, is an integral part of this project—his perceptions of what works and what doesn’t. Scott comes up with ways of combining things I never would have thought of combining, and that’s part of the reason I enjoy working with him. My years of musical training and playing kind of boxes me into systems I’m comfortable with. I liked being busted out of those boxes. I would never do one take in the key of E and a second in B flat and combine the two. But Scott does that and if it sounds good to him, he bounces it back to me and says “What about this?” We’ve done that for a number of albums and each time, I say “Wow, that’s wild. I have to admit, it works—even though the rules I generally go by say it won’t.” [laughs] I’d say he’s done that 1,000 times over the albums we’ve done together, and I don’t think I’ve ever said to him “No, that doesn’t work.”
It was challenging to work at the stage when there were only time signatures and no harmonic information. The hard part was locking in with Alan on mysterious time signatures which didn’t necessarily repeat. I had to learn them by writing them down and figuring them out. So, I had to break the code. That was just the beginning, because what I really wanted to do Is go someplace interesting with the material, not just doubling everything the drums do. That was a big challenge for me, but it’s the kind of challenge I like. It was a lot of fun. I imagine some words passed between me and Scott about our different opinions on what the time signatures were. [laughs] It was a good, creative, pushing beyond boundaries experience.
You have a co-production credit on the album. Tell me about your involvement on that side.
It was Scott’s idea. We powwowed for many months on the direction of the album, so I was part of it. I think of him as the producer of the album, but I had a hand in it, so he kindly decided I should have that credit. But he completely produced the drum parts with Alan. From then on, we both had a hand in everything.
Schorr and Torn worked on determining how the melodic components and repeating motifs manifested themselves on the album. Did you have a say in that as well?
I was aware that was happening, but I stayed out of that one. I work in a lot of bands with three or four guys. I usually feel if I don’t have a strong opinion about something, I stay away and let the other guys who have strong feelings about those things work it out between them. I pipe in if something’s important to me. So, the melodic stuff is great and I felt it was important, but I knew the two of them could handle that.
What do you make of the final version of the album?
There were so many versions, revisions and adjustments, so it’s not as if the last version was a sudden arrival at some place. Everything had been looked at with a magnifying glass for some time, with slight tweaks made here and there. The mixes were sent to me one at a time to check. Because Tony Lash, the guy who mixed the album, does such a great job, I knew I would like his mixes better than the ones I heard before his involvement. That was indeed the case. With mastering, it was the same situation. Larry DeVivo mastered the album. Scott and I have used him before and he’s great at bringing a few things out that needed to be brought out, as well as overcoming some sonic issues that made it hard to hear what’s going on. As one would hope and expect, things kept getting better and better as things were tweaked across the mixing and mastering processes. I think it came out fine. Hopefully, it’s valid, interesting and unusual music. It’s a pretty progressive and adventurous project for all of us.
You’ve worked with both Yes drummers. Can you contrast their styles?
All I’ve done with Alan is this project, which is so far from the norm. We weren’t in the same room together. I feel really good about the playing he did on the album, but I don’t have the experience of working with him on a piece that’s been written, in which we’re both reacting to it together. With Bill Bruford, I had 10-20 years of doing exactly that. They’re both great drummers and influential in the progressive rock sphere, which is where I live. I’m very pleased and honored to have played with both of them.
The self-titled 1989 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album you played bass on was just reissued as a deluxe edition. How do you look back at the sessions?
I did one-and-a-half albums with them. The first one was made in Montserrat. It was great to kind of carve out new territory. I was new to playing with most of them. We were doing the album without everyone there. Rick Wakeman wasn’t present. Steve Howe had already done his parts. It was mostly me and Bill Bruford. It was great fun. I felt Jon Anderson was very much directing that album and that was a good feeling. I have a lot of respect for Jon’s musicality. Years later, after touring a lot, we did what became part of Yes’ Union album in Southern France. By that time, things were easier. There was less exploring to do, at least for me, because I had played with them for a few years and we knew where we were going. I think a lot of recording experiences hinge on the quality of the writing and how ready things are when you begin. Jon and Steve had taken care of business. They had good material ready to play. So, it’s a pretty easy process when stuff is good to go, so you can play it right early on, and fine tune it from there. Things are much harder when the feel isn’t there or nobody has a sense of what tempo works with a piece. Then you have to do that searching and R&D thing, which takes a lot longer. Sometimes you go off in the wrong direction when you do that. Both albums were pleasant experiences.
In an interview with Henry Potts, session guitarist Jimmy Haun said he re-did some of your bass parts on “Shock to the System” from Union. You had left your bass in the studio, so he was able to replicate your exact sound. How do you feel about that?
I didn’t know about that, but that sort of thing happens a lot to me.
Yeah. Generally, I’m part of the rhythm section in the early stage of an album. Then I go home or off to do another album or tour. That album may take a year to finish and they’re doing all kinds of things, including maybe bringing in another bass player. They might need me back, but I’m busy, so they get somebody who’s in the next studio to come in and play a few notes. That happens a lot. I don’t take it personally or as a musical affront to my playing if I don’t end up on the record or all of the record. That’s happened a number of times over the years. Most notably, I’ve done many albums with Peter Gabriel. I’ve spent so many months in his studio that if I didn’t learn the lesson in other situations, I’ve learned it with Peter. It can literally be two years after I do a bass part for him when he asks for a little change. I’ll be busy, so I won’t be there and he’ll do it himself, or get somebody around the studio to play it. Then another couple of years later, lo and behold, the record comes out, I hear it and realize “Hey, that’s not me.” [laughs] So, I’m used to that feeling and experience.
Has Gabriel’s camp been in touch with you about any future rock-based projects?
No. I wish I could say they have. I think Peter is pretty immersed in the orchestral thing. He has a new album coming out this fall, but it’s not with the band or something I’m involved with.
Talk to me about the original concept for Stick Men.
It began with the album Stick Man that Scott produced. It’s an album on which I was focused more on Stick playing, rather than bass playing with overdubbed Stick. I did multiple Stick parts and I liked the way the music came out. I wanted to tour the music, but couldn’t because I wouldn’t be able to play all the Stick parts at the same time. That led me to thinking “Boy, if I had Pat Mastelotto, the drummer on that album, and one more Stick player, we could cover most of that material.” That was an interesting idea and it led me to getting together with Michael Bernier, an excellent Stick player who lives right in my hometown of Kingston, New York. It was quite coincidental that I heard him play. We got together to share ideas and unsurprisingly, that grew into writing some new material and deciding to form a band. Oddly, our first tour was in Poland, after writing a lot of new stuff.
We didn’t finish the first Stick Men album for quite awhile, but the basis of starting out was the Stick Man material. We quickly added material of our own and for me, a high point came when we undertook arranging Stravinsky’s “Firebird” on the road. We put together a few movements of that and really got serious and pushed ourselves to see how deep and complete we could make it with three guys. The interesting thing with the Stick and other tap-type instruments is you can essentially play two parts each, so it’s not quite like a regular trio. I can be the bass player and the guitar player, and so could Michael. Pat also doesn’t just play acoustic drums. He plays electronics and handles a lot of sampling and looping. If there’s a part like a big note I think is really important that I can’t hit, I’ll give him the sample and let him hit it at the show. We can cover a lot more ground than just three regular instruments could. That covers the first few years of the band.
We did a lot of touring and some recording. We made an EP and then a finished album called Soup that I’m very proud of. I think we did a great job on it. But the essence of the band is the live show we do. We toured a lot in Europe, Russia and South America—and the least in the US. I felt we solidified ourselves as a band. In August 2010, we reached a place a band doesn’t want to reach. Michael was having trouble going out on tour as much as Pat and I wanted to, because of family things. We had to face the difficult situation of hardly touring or making a change in the band. We chose to make a change and brought in Markus Reuter, who doesn’t play the Stick, but a touch guitar he designed himself. Markus very capably took over and learned all the parts. We thought it was very important to write new material right away and not have Markus playing parts he hadn’t written for a year of touring. We went right into the studio and started writing an album that we haven’t finished yet. In the interim, we’ve released an EP of some of that material called Absalom.
How has the addition of Reuter influenced the group?
It changed a lot. Any two touch guitar players will be extremely different because there are so many techniques and things you can do on the instruments. Markus is a wizard at learning things. He approaches the music in a King Crimson style. He was Robert Fripp’s student at one point and that probably influenced him a lot. He’s intimately familiar with the whole King Crimson catalog, including way before I was in the band. When he joined the band, we brought some old King Crimson things into our repertoire. That meant Pat and I had to relearn them with Markus having the extraordinary job of covering Robert’s parts—and maybe another part too. He’s really great at that. Markus also reminded me of a Robert piece from the Exposure album called “Breathless.” Even though I played on that record, I forgot about the piece until I heard it again. Markus suggested we do it live and I think it might never have been done live until we started playing it on a South America tour. It was an interesting and significant addition to our repertoire.
You’ve said Stick Men represents a “reawakening to the possibilities of the Stick.” Elaborate on that.
That’s true. For the last few years, this band has had me practicing Stick and trying out new techniques like I used to, which is a good thing. I feel like I’m still pretty lame at being a soloist on the Stick, in terms of playing a guitar-type solo, so I’m trying to get a little better at it. It’s not something I’ve become great at yet. I’d like to think I’ll get better at it. There are techniques for playing two parts at once that are quite different from one another. I hear a lot of Stick players who are good at them. I haven’t been so good at them. Most of my career, I’ve focused on playing the Stick as a bass, just playing the bass side. There’s plenty to do there. Stravinsky’s “Firebird” will break you out of that. With Stravinsky, you have to play busy stuff on the bass side and different stuff on the guitar side. It’s been very good for me. It’s been enlarging for my musicality. It’s a lot easier for me to write material now because I have more techniques to choose from. I’ve got a glimpse of more directions I can go in on the Stick through a lot work and practice.
What can you tell me about the new Stick Men album in progress?
I think we’ll call it Big Dog and it will hopefully be out next spring. I want to keep the band very hard-edged, sonically, which is something we’ve been pretty much able to do. If I can go further in that direction and get better, raunchier sounds, then we’ll go for that. We’ve also experimented with going further with interpretations of classical music. We’re delving into some Shostakovich, but it’s at the stage where I’m unsure it’ll make it to the final record. It probably won’t. Maybe it’ll make it on a couple of records from now. Sometimes you’ll take something on that’s too hard to finish in one album or one year. Hopefully you can keep chipping away at it and it gets used later—or sometimes you give up on it. I don’t know what will happen with that piece.
How did the concept for the “2 of a Perfect Trio” tour come about?
It’s a very cool, exciting idea that Adrian Belew came up with. He travels a lot with his power trio. He was aware of Stick Men. At one point, we did the math and also realized if we combine forces and have three King Crimson guys on tour that we could do meaningful versions of King Crimson pieces. The name of the tour, of course, is a play on “Three of a Perfect Pair,” the song title Adrian wrote. I think we’re presenting an exciting show. We’re doing about an hour of Stick Men, an hour of the Adrian Belew Power Trio, and then we come out onstage with just Adrian, Pat and myself and play some King Crimson material. And then we bring on the other three great musicians—Markus, Julie Slick on bass and Tobias Ralph on drums from Adrian’s band—and play music from the ’90s six-man King Crimson Thrak era. We do some other classic stuff too. It’s a really meaningful show for King Crimson, Stick Men and Adrian fans, because they’re seeing what they like and a lot more.
Julie Slick is making a lot of waves lately. What’s your take on her talents?
She’s really great. I know Julie well. From time to time, we find ourselves at the same festival with different acts. A few times, we’ve jammed together and it’s always been fun. We also had this other thing happen last August that was beneficial. Pat, Adrian and I put on a music camp in the Catskills of New York for five days. Players, Crimson fans and whoever else wanted to come showed up. As a treat, we brought in both Julie and Tobias and let attendees see the five of us rehearse the Crimson pieces. We hadn’t all played together before that. It was a good taste of what the tour is like.
Do you miss playing in King Crimson?
I do. It’s pretty safe to say all of us would like to be doing King Crimson. Robert doesn’t feel it’s the right time and I honestly hope there will be a time when he feels like doing it again. I’ll be most excited to be a part of it. I keep myself quite busy and I’m musically very happy and satisfied with what I’m doing, but King Crimson is a special challenge and situation. I’ve been inspired over the years by the way the band challenges itself and the abilities of its band members. I want to have more of those experiences.
You performed on Scarcity of Miracles, a recent album featuring much of the last King Crimson lineup. It was billed as a “King Crimson Projekct.” Did you see it as an extension of the group?
I listened to the music as if it was made by someone I didn’t know. I looked at it as if it had nothing to do with anyone in King Crimson. I didn’t really think about it, let alone have a plan about it. Somehow, internally, I reacted to the music with a feeling of “I could play this bass here and that would musically suit this piece.” If there were lyrics, I would listen to them like any music fan and try to come up with something supportive. If it was an instrumental, I was listening to the essence of what it’s like and responding to it. I didn’t bring a plan to it like in Crimson. If my work on the album harkened back to Crimson, that’s okay with me. Certainly, that was a situation in which that was acceptable.
What brief did Fripp give you in terms of what he was looking for on the album?
There was none. I was just asked to play bass on it. It was pretty simple. The songs were pretty much done. The files were sent to me. I played the way I felt would be good and they said “Thank you very much. We like what you did.” That’s it. [laughs]
What’s your perspective on the end result?
It’s very good. I haven’t listened to it in detail. You’re noticing a theme here, right? [laughs] I’m sure I’m not the only player like this. You know what? When you asked what I thought of how the Levin Torn White album turned out once it hit the final mixing stages, it occurred to me to say that once things are mastered, I’ll typically only listen to an album once more. It’s not like I go home and listen to something 10 more times. [laughs] I’ll probably never listen to it again completely. A lot of times, I’ll go and play stuff live for five years and the music changes, though. Music is more of a living thing to guys like me that are playing every day. I don’t cement the music in time. I don’t hang it up on the wall and put a frame on it. Once the mixing and mastering are done, I move on to whatever else is going on musically. It’s also rare for guys I work with to break out the original, old record and say “Hey, the tempo is different here. Can you play these couple of different notes?” Some guys do that, but it’s not many.
How do you look back at your Narada-era albums as a collective entity?
Things started out very quietly with those records. I remember making the decision—which maybe wasn’t a great decision—to make a softer album with Waters of Eden. I was doing a lot of stuff that was very hard-edged at the time, including the Bozzio Levin Stevens and Bruford Levin Upper Extremities projects. Also, I hadn’t worked with Peter Gabriel for awhile and was missing that experience. Peter can certainly do heavy rock, but he also does this world music-influenced feel-good music and I was missing that. When a producer approached me about doing an album for Narada, I thought “I’ll do something gentler” and I took out the fretless bass and made Waters of Eden. That felt good, musically, at the time, but once I chose to tour the album, I was conflicted. I didn’t want to do gentle shows at rock clubs. I somewhat did that on the first tour or two, and then the band changed a little bit. I added more guys and singers. I think you’ll find the albums get louder and heavier as they progress. Once I stopped doing those Narada albums, things got heavier again. I feel good about those albums. However, looking back, I wonder if as a solo artist looking at a career trajectory, maybe I shouldn’t have been playing that type of music and could have skipped it. I could have recorded that sort of music for myself and done something heavier instead.
You ended your time with Narada at an unexpected place with the 2006’s Resonator, a largely vocal, song-based album.
I felt that lyrically, there were a whole lot of things I wanted to say. Like most musicians, I’ve been writing songs with lyrics most of my life, but I hadn’t been singing them because I’m not much of a singer. I reached a point where I thought I was going to regret it if I didn’t express some things. I went through the usual thought process in which I wondered if I should have a good vocalist come in and sing on it and still call it my album. I was really twitchy about that, because if people latch onto it, you’re left on an island as a solo artist, because then you can’t perform your old stuff with that singer onboard. So, I decided to take a deep breath and sing everything myself. It took an extra year after I finished writing to sort out how to record my voice in a way that didn’t make me twitch. I felt like I succeeded moderately. When I went on the road singing the stuff live, my voice got a little better at doing that style. Eventually, I found the vocal space I didn’t know about when I made the album—one where my voice sounds okay to me. It’s still not great, but okay. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that vocal space when I started Resonator, but you do what you can do. I did my best. I’m always trying to do my best with my music. I don’t take it casually. I work really hard on it. Frankly, I became a better singer later. I was more aware of what I can do with my voice and what I shouldn’t try with it.
You and I both started our websites in 1994. Did you have any sort of inkling of the shifts that were coming in the music industry when you established your site and online store?
The answer is no. I’m not so smart that I saw it coming. I think by blind luck and a love of technology, I happened to be much more web-based before other people were. It wasn’t through a business sense, even though I was there at the right time with my Papa Bear label selling music online. I didn’t do the other half of the smart business thing, which was to try and capitalize on it by trying to sell a lot of stuff.
The online world has given me a great connection with the fans of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel. It’s done wonderful things for me. I’m lucky it attracted me early and that I was able to get a web log going before the words “web log” or “blog” existed. The website has lowered the barrier that previously existed between artists and the audience. It’s a great thing for musicians and lovers of music. It’s a good connection and we want more of it. Outside of the dressing room or backstage door, when you’re loading out your gear, is not the best time to say hi to 500 fans. The web has definitely helped with that.
How do you cope with the rampant online piracy of your music?
It bothers me less than a lot of other people. I remain busy and immersed in the making of the music. Only occasionally do I look up and see that the selling of music has changed, the rules are different and that it’s become more difficult. There is a positive side to what’s happened with technology too in that there’s more music out there now from around the world. For instance, great bass players in hidden corners of the world have the ability to get their music out there. People are sharing music more and that’s a good thing. It’s not a good thing for musicians trying to make a living and that gives me a little bit of a conflict. I’m a musician and music lover. I don’t fall completely on one side or the other. I tend to focus on the fact that I can now hear so much music from around the world easily. I’m no longer dependent on what’s being played on the silly radio stations in the US the way I used to be.
You contributed to Steven Wilson’s solo albums, including his latest release Grace for Drowning. What was that process like?
It’s great stuff and it’s a pleasure to work with Steven. The process worked very much like Scarcity of Miracles. The music was sent to me, Steven said maybe a word or two about what he’d like. He might have said “I’d like Stick on this” or “I’d like bass on this” and he lets me do what I do. He must have liked what I did because he used it. His stuff is captivating and powerful and I like it a lot. I’m very happy to play on Steven’s albums—or anyone else’s that involves really good music.
What are your memories of working on Lou Reed’s Berlin album?
I played on one track called “The Kids.” It wasn’t an extensive experience. I was called into the studio by the producer Bob Ezrin. Lou wasn’t there. I vaguely remember there being this new piece of equipment in the studio called a digital delay that Bob tried out on the bass. We agreed that maybe it wasn’t the best thing for the bass. [laughs] So, that dates things a bit. The music was good. I played my part, packed up my bass and went out the door. I only met Lou many, many years later when we were both in a movie together—Paul Simon’s One Trick Pony. Lou played the crass, unmusical producer. It was an interesting casting choice.
What was it like to play yourself in that movie?
It was a unique experience. I’m not much of an actor. I did my best at it. It was interesting to see from the inside how a movie is made—all the care to detail and huge production crews involved in the simplest of scenes. That really left an impression on all of us in the band. It was a unique situation to play myself, reading a script by Paul Simon who wrote what he thought I would have said and not being good at it. [laughs] We’re all good at being ourselves, but very few of us are good at acting at being ourselves.