“I met Sal Bernardi at The Comeback Inn in Venice, California in 1975 or so. He was playing piano for a couple of comedians who played there on the weekend. I came and sat in sometimes on Tuesdays, singing ‘My Funny Valentine‘ and ‘Since I Fell.’
We wrote beautiful songs together, Traces of the Western Slopes, where he sings and plays harmonica through some effects Buzzy Feiten concocted. He deeply influenced the whole language of Pirates, with his stories about his friends, Cunt-Finger Louie, and lines like ‘sad-eyed Sinatra’ and remarks like ‘there we were with glue all over our faces.’
He is rich in language and humor, and no one meets him that is not on the floor laughing from the great story he tells. He brings much joy to a tired routine. He doesn’t spell very well, but who does these days, ahead of his time as usual.
So this is Sal Bernardi, from Lodi New Jersey, partner and friend, a cowboy in red-tinted glasses and a beret. Well, a flying cowboy. A great harmonica player and guitar player full of lovely melodies. He’s kind of a Kinks/Zombies singer. Liked the Rolling Stones more than the Beatles. Women, beautiful women love him. He never gets angry. Except that one time when a certain tour manager lost his passport on the way to Spain… but that’s another story.”
Sal Bernardi. Anyone into the music of Rickie Lee Jones and Mink Deville will immediately recognize him for having penned or co-penned or encouraged some great songs and musical storytelling.
We will publish an interview with him shortly, and as an appetizer we’d like to present one of his most recent collaborations with French-German singer-songwriter Mathis Haug. The album “Wild Country” will be officially released March 10. Stay tuned!
“Le chemin que j’ai choisi écrit sa propre histoire, le lecteur et l’auteur sont quasiment les mêmes », chante Mathis Haug dans Wild Country. Ce vers résume à lui seul la démarche d’un artiste qui perçoit tout le relief de l’existence en comprenant que nos vies se lisent dans la double perspective de l’autre et de soi-même. En clair, que la création est un reflet du monde quand elle est métissage. Métissage, le maître mot d’un album qui est né, a grandi et s’est épanoui dans la rencontre.
L’histoire de la chanson Wild Country en est un bel exemple. Une semaine d’été, Mathis accueille chez lui Sal Bernardi, l’une des plus belles plumes du courant folk-rock américain, dont le nom reste indissociable de celui de Rickie Lee Jones. Dans la petite maison gardoise de Mathis, l’encre des mots coule des doigts de Sal au rythme des mélodies qui s’échappent de la guitare du maître de maison. À ceci près que Sal est originaire du New Jersey le plus urbain et industriel, et qu’il est allergique au chant des cigales. En quittant le Gard précipitamment, il laisse dans son sillage quelques pépites, à commencer par Wild Country duquel va germer l’idée de cet album fait de rencontres et d’interrogations, généreuses et lucides, sur l’avenir de la planète.”
Joe Jackson hardly needs any introduction. We also don’t need to explain the Steely Dan affiliation, you can find an entry from 2014 in our very own search engine which makes you dig up that old vinyl or reach for a top or bottom shelf where you store your CD’s so you can listen to 11 Tracks of Whack again and again, and again as if you’re in the same room with Joe Jackson, listening in unison. And when you’re back in here, with us, you can watch this video from the current tour in Europe. Doug Yowell on drums, Graham Maby on bass. Does that guitarist on the right ring any bells? That’s Teddy. Teddy Kumpel. He told us they almost did Reeling In The Years, but didn’t in the end. He also invited us to come see them play this week in Rotterdam or Antwerp, but we alas had to kindly decline with some regret. But we’re hoping for some nice pics and maybe a little story or a Steely tune to find online. Maybe.
Remember Teddy Kumpel from way back then when this was Mizar5? He was on tour with Rickie Lee Jones, they played Scrabble when on the road. We found some of those old entries in the incomparable Internet Archive Wayback Machine and figured you might like to be Reeling In The Years with Teddy and Rickie and yes, scroll-down-for-it Joe Jackson too!
“I’ve long had a thing about… well what is it about? Vanity? Success? Self-loathing? Self-appreciation? What is the deal? As I face the full theaters or the filled up clubs I notice, I take stock. I have to tell myself, it’s ok, really, no big deal, not even a question of ‘deserving’. It’s been hard for a long time. Now it’s not quite so hard. Don’t make a big deal of it.”