We walked out of the Bowery Ballroom on a snowy Monday night – February 28, 2005. It had been three emotional nights of farewell shows, but tonight it was goodbye for real. The nice people at the Bowery Ballroom threw us a party in the bar under the club to say thanks for the good times. We shook a lot of hands and talked to a lot of Luna fans, some of them rambling drunkenly and tearfully about the end of a chapter in their lives. And then Britta and I put on our coats and walked out and hailed a cab at the corner of Delancey and the Bowery. It felt good to be riding north through the slush to our East Village apartment.
I went into a funk for a couple of months. I didn’t know what to do when I got out of bed in the morning. I had felt so free when I quit Galaxie 500. But after 13 years of Luna, my feelings were mixed. What was I going to do with myself?
I went to Paris and recorded a couple of songs (including “Wait For Me”) with actress Maggie Cheung for the soundtrack to the Olivier Assayas film Clean. Britta and I scored a couple of films, notably The Squid & the Whale. I produced an album for Jule Brown in North Carolina. I took an acting job in a short horror film called Pumpkin Hell. I found myself running around a Pennsylvania corn field at 5 a.m. with a pumpkin on my head.
Then Tony Visconti called. Tony had produced our first album, L’Avventura in 2003. He was just back from doing the Morrissey album in Rome and had a cancellation at the studio and could we start working on our new album next week? Yes, we could.
Making the record with Visconti was pure pleasure. We arrived at Looking Glass Studios in Noho at 11 am and left at 7 pm. We did not procrastinate. We did not avoid recording. We did not sit around and argue. If we got stuck, Tony would point the way forward. He would dim the lights, or play the electric 12-string, or sprinkle fairy dust on our song.
Our drummer Matt Johnson recorded all the drum tracks in two days. Tony ran into Sean McCaul on the platform of the subway station – the L train stop at 6th Avenue, where he was playing his vibraphone for cash. “You need to come play on the Dean & Britta album,” Tony told him.
In the middle of the recording sessions we got married. We worked Monday to Thursday that week, and were married in a small ceremony on Friday afternoon, by Judge Richard Owen. Judge Owen is best known for his decision in the case of Bright Tunes Music vs. Harrisongs, where he ruled that George Harrison had subconsciously plagiarized the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” for “My Sweet Lord.” We’re not so sure.
Our friend Sonic Boom flew in from Rugby, England, and spent a day laying down synthesizer tracks. I met Sonic in 1989 at a Spacemen 3 show at the Subterania Club in London. The Spacemen were easily my favorite English band.
Our paths crossed occasionally. Years later Sonic opened for Luna on our 2002 tour of the States. When he heard L’Avventura, he said it was the best record I had ever made and he begged to do a re-mix EP for us, which became Sonic Souvenirs.
In addition to his synthesizer stylings, Sonic suggested a couple of the cover versions – the Troggs’ Our Love Will Still Be There and White Horses, which was the theme song for a children’s TV show, White Horses, that was popular in Britain in 1968. The song had been a top ten hit for Jacky, aka Jackie Lee. Britta sings this one beautifully, and the song really takes off half way through, when the astounding Sean McCaul lets loose on the vibraphone.
Singer Sing was the final song we recorded. It was an instrumental till Britta wrote lyrics on the final day of recording. It quickly became our favorite track. Tony dialed in a strange sub-harmonic effect on Britta’s voice – the chorus sounds like she is singing along with a spooky robot. And I summoned a guitar voice from my own past and played a solo that I was very happy with.
Words You Used to Say was the title track for our October EP. Sonic played the arpeggiated synth part, and Tony got Britta to play a really nice bass solo.
You Turned My Head Around. I found this obscure 7” single in Boston years ago – it’s on Lee Hazlewood’s LHI label. Originally sung by Ann Margret, written and produced by Hazlewood. The song may be about a ménage a trois - we were three shadows in the night / doing what we thought would be right.
Teen Angel - Britta came up with a great James Bond string arrangement for this Donovan B-side.
Me & My Babies was inspired by the recordings of Marlene Dietrich and the theme from Rosemary’s Baby, if that makes sense. It should probably be “My babies and I are having a ball” but I took the poetic license.
My friend Savannah had a bunny named Crystal Blue. She sent an email the day her bunny died. Re: Crystal Blue R.I.P. I decided to write a eulogy, borrowing a couple of lines from an obscure English poet – Alfred Lord something. Britta wrote one chorus and I wrote another, and when we sang them both together it sounded real cool.
The Sun Is Still Sunny grew out of the theme we wrote for The Squid & the Whale. The lyrics seem to be about leaving one life and moving on to another.
The afternoon papers are calling your name
They say that you’ve done it again
It’s chicken today
And feathers tomorrow
We’re not going back there again
Inside my suitcase an orchestra plays
La-da, la-da-da, la-da
The sun is still sunny
The lawn is still green
And I haven’t forgotten a thing
I don’t know what to say
I can’t say what to do
But we’re not going back there again.
- Dean Wareham, October 22, 2006
Cheval Sombre is delicate, druggy, slowcore folk. Everyone who has heard this band’s self-titled debut LP loves it. Dean and Britta are releasing it April 28 on their Double Feature label. Cheval Sombre hails from upstate New York, and the album is produced by Sonic Boom.
Dean & Britta
18+ or accompanied by legal guardian. This show is General Admission, first come, first serve. Seating is Limited. A purchased ticket does not guarantee you a seat. There is a two item minimum for all seated performances.