Within a year of Fuzzy's release, we went on to create
Mighty Joe Moon, which gave us our first real exposure in the US. In many ways this album was
the culmination of the confidence we had gained on the road and a deeper ambition in the
album making process. Throughout '93 we had toured at breakneck speed, headlining
throughout the world while also supporting some of the most highly regarded artists of
our time. By now our adventures were becoming as volatile as they were beautiful. On
record we rejoiced in the task of creating a lasting album. That was the conquest at hand.
Onstage, however, our collective shadow would emerge, the music sometimes approaching assault.
I can only regard this phenomena as reactionary. A kind of unconscious response to the
teetering balance that our lives were suspended in, struggling with this new
In December of '93, as the year was coming to a close, just as the Industry was nodding off into holiday slumber, we returned to Brilliant Studios in San Francisco to record some of the new songs we had begun to perform at soundchecks, songs like "Sing Along", "Drag" and "Lady Godiva and Me." Having picked up a small 12-string mandolin in Eugene, Oregon, I had written what would ultimately develop into "Lonestar Song" on a van trip that cut through Texas. Much of the geography I had recently tasted was beginning to emerge in my writing. Ironically, this idealistic romp over the Americas was at odds with the harsh reality of Waco and other tragedies of the era. While overdubbing in LA, the city was jolted with one of the most destructive earthquakes in history. Fires erupted, homes were destroyed, and overpasses collapsed in the pre-dawn hours of January 17, 1994. The devastation was far reaching and it also hit home. Living within a mere 20 miles from the quake's epicenter, my wife and I lost our own home in the high desert, never to return. Much of this event inspired the writing of "Mockingbirds", certainly the lines "devastation at last, finally we meet..." While the basic tracks had been cut in San Francisco the overdubs were now underway at Burbank's Master Control Studio. "Mockingbirds", written in the eleventh hour, would be quickly recorded and added to the album along with "Happiness" and "Honey Don't Think". Personal songs of this nature seemed to shine a torch to the future in many ways. The intimate charm of these songs has cast them among some of the most universally requested compositions in the entire Buffalo songbook. Mighty Joe Moon, the album, would eventually become our most popular in the US, as "Mockingbirds" gained single recognition on radio and TV.
Photographer, Anton Corbijn, known for Nirvana's video, "Heart Shaped Box" and other works by Depeche Mode shot the Mockingbirds video in a quiet bungalow district of Southern California. Meanwhile a long form video that captured the spirit of this charged period was directed by filmmaker, Carlos Grasso (also responsible for the videos, Fuzzy, Lonestar Song, and Homespun). Grasso's surrealistic "El Dorado Motorhome" features live performances, bizarre spoken word segments, and dreamlike vignettes starring Joey, Paul and myself. Grant Lee Buffalo were in the midst of headlining America as Mighty Joe Moon hit the streets. Giant Sand were supporting us at the time, a match made in Heaven. With a growing profile, the shows themselves became more exotic. The road crew had expanded and so had our arsenal of amplifiers and velvet curtains. We even brought along a chandelier. The Titanic was surely afloat!
proceed to PART 4: THE SEARCH FOR COPPEROPOLIS
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