Frying pans, that’s the sound of Whaler to me.
Did We Not Choose Each Other, that’s the song of Whaler, to me.
That percussion, three against four, the kunga part, and the frying pans, those, and most of the bedrock sounds of Whaler, including the keyboards, are all from the original home demo of each song.
When I was living in London and recording the album of Whaler with Stephen Lipson and Heff Moraes, what was most important was getting the original instruments – especially the frying pans – to overdub the parts which were recorded in my apartment, dripping with New York City sounds.
Sounds of summer in Manhattan, I could hear them in my head as loud as the music I was creating. I heard them with a heart full of love and longing. That apartment room, those moments of falling asleep on my piano, waking up with a dreamy lyric in my mind and chords under my fingers, and shuffling to the kitchen to find the right frying pans for the rhythm section.
Those days aren’t gone, they are alive in me as strongly as my impressions right now, sitting on the bottom bunk of my son’s bed, reflecting on the 25th anniversary of the release of that album.
I sent back to Manhattan for those frying pans, and surprisingly, my mother got them and sent them to London. That makes up for a lot. I laugh writing this, because it’s true, it does. As much as my mother created a labyrinth around my heart, she sent me those frying pans, which were hers, of course.
I had stolen them, to make the perfect sounds for my whale songs.
And I used to say back then, “we choose our parents.” I said it with pride, because look what I was able to make from my childhood: the songs, the paintings, the relationships, the connections to you who read this, and feel an opening of sorts.
And now as a mother, I hope my children feel they have chosen me. Even, and especially when, they are full of yet unknown feeling and are striding into the world with their own stories, and taking something of me with them. What will those things be?
The time of recording Whaler at the Aquarium in London was inspiring and exciting. I lived at 11 New End in Hampstead, ran and walked through the Heath every day, went to Paris every other weekend, had long Greek dinners with George Michael, went with Rosie O’Donnell to Madonna’s concert, and hung out with her amazing dancers. I was invited to Christmas in Bali by Iman and David Bowie, but I didn’t go. I didn’t go because, even though I wanted to, I wanted more to return home to New York with my mother’s frying pans.
I could write for days about Whaler, why I called it Whaler, when I am the whale and not the whaler, the chase and the sacrifice, the songs I emit like dreams to reach my kin, my kind, being nearly extinct again and again.
It’s fascinating to me. I will write a book one day. But first I’m working on finishing my upcoming album, The Woman With The Sea Dog, so I can share it with all of you.
I’ll see you on the road to share my dream songs.
Sophie B. Hawkins
Check out the live versions of these three songs from Whaler on Sophie’s first live album, (hyperlink to purchase site) Bad Kitty Board Mix: As I Lay Me Down; Did We Not Choose Each Other; Mr. Tugboat Hello.