The studio reverberated with the final echoes of Jamie’s
guitar, Ian’s drums, and Willie’s bass.
Then two seconds of utter silence. Followed by Claire
Beauchamp’s enthusiastic claps and cheers from the corner.
Hopefully the fifth take would be the charm.
Not a lot had been under his control since the whirlwind
day two months before when Murtagh had proudly introduced them all to Joe
Abernathy – and they signed a four-record deal with Chrysalis right on the
First, the suits insisted that the band didn’t need a
name – it had a frontwoman in Claire. So all their work would be done under her
Jamie had bristled – but when Ian had elbowed him in the
back, decided to keep his mouth shut.
Then there were the songs. They already had a great
selection of covers, plus some songs that had been kicking around Chrysalis for
a while. Some were actually quite good, once he’d reworked the tuning and
experimented on different vocals with Claire.
She was just a natural. It was truly astonishing how so
much power – and force – and kick-ass attitude could come from such a tiny
person who was so polite and polished in real life, but utterly transformed into
a take-charge force of nature when she performed.
He’d long ago given his heart to her. She inspired him
more than anyone – or anything – ever had. He had never worked so hard in any
of his gigs before – because he’d never truly *cared* about the entire end
product. Claire gave him so much space to grow – to learn about producing, to
lead the musical arrangements, to give her advice on how to open up her voice –
and he had just flowered as a result.
But the only way he could express his feelings for her
was in his words – in his songs. In the chord progressions he scribbled on
scrap pieces of paper and stuffed into his jeans – in the snatches of poetry he
rolled over and over again in his mind when he rode the subway uptown from his
crummy apartment to the shiny Midtown recording studio – in the ridiculous
hearts he drew in the steamed-up mirror after he got out of the shower.
She was in the process of finding herself – building her
own identify as Claire Beauchamp. Not Claire Randall – married to a medical
student, singing in cabarets in upstate New York to prevent herself from being
lonely. Not Claire – belting out show tunes and Linda Ronstadt and Judy Garland
at weddings and parties and bar mitzvahs.
For God’s sake, they were in a band together. Lindsey
Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had almost blown up Fleetwood Mac when they broke
up. They still had to tour together. No way would Jamie even think of
jeopardizing Claire’s dream – what she had sacrificed so much for.
So he wrote – and composed – and waited.
**I feel a passion growing // I know that love is only
just one inch away from striking us**
And seethed – because the label wouldn’t even consider
letting them record any of his originals.
To be sure – he had more than songs about Claire. Jamie
had been writing since he joined his first band at sixteen. He wasn’t prolific,
but he had a good catalogue of rollicking guitar-driven songs that would be
absolutely magic with Claire’s voice.
He’d plead with the producer who had been assigned to
their sessions – Rob MacNab – to at least let them record a demo. But MacNab
was under strict orders from his superiors: to cut the record quickly, and
cheaply, and with guaranteed hit songs by recognized songwriters.
Jamie Fraser may be a talented guitarist and arranger –
but he certainly wasn’t recognized.
“How’d we do, Rob?”
Jamie blinked awake, turned briefly to enjoy Claire’s triumphant
smile, and then squinted through the glass wall to the control room where Rob
sat behind the massive console, chain-smoking.
“I think we got it, guys. Good work.”
The one compromise that Jamie and Rob had worked out was
to record all the tracks live. No use in recording all the instruments
separately and then futzing around with overdubs – not when it was the raw,
live sound that Jamie knew would immediately appeal to people. And to his
surprise, MacNab had agreed – plus, it would help cut down the production
Nine tracks out of ten were now complete. Just one more,
and their first record would officially be done.
Ian stood from behind his drum kit and stretched. Willie
rolled his shoulders and hung up his bass on the stand he shared with Jamie.
Jamie set down his guitar and walked immediately over to
Claire, who sipped Coke from a warm bottle.
“How you feeling? How’s your voice?”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m fine, Jamie. Really. It’s hard
work, but it’s so worth it.”
God, that smile cut him straight to his heart.
“Think we can call it a day? I gotta get up and walk
Jamie looked over at MacNab – laughing with one of the
engineers behind the glass.
“Hey Rob – let’s just pick this up tomorrow?”
Rob scratched his balding head and nodded. “Yeah, sure.
Come out and we can listen to the tape, if you want. Then we can call it a
Ian and Willie slipped out of the studio to huddle behind
Rob at the control board, watching him raise and lower just a few of the
hundreds of dials.
“What are you thinking?”
Jamie turned back to Claire, still perched on one of her
favorite stools. He’d gotten her to stop using them as a crutch – encouraging
her to walk around while she sang – but she always retreated back to them when
she was tired, or when something was bothering her.
Today she was dressed in a black sweater and jeans, her
hair curling madly around her face. No makeup, as usual. Breathtaking.
He spoke the words without thinking.
“I want to show you something I’ve been writing. And I
don’t care what Rob or Joe or Murtagh say – I want us to record it. I want
*you* to sing it.”
Surely she had to feel this too – this pull between them.
She had never made a move – and neither had he – despite all the nights they’d
spent at her social club or at his hard rock bars, throwing back drinks and
spilling their pasts to each other.
She wanted a partner – and he didn’t know he needed one.
But that’s what they were – musical partners. Partners on this wild and crazy
journey that would hopefully one day lead to some kind of stardom.
Claire looked at him for what felt like a long time, then
tilted her head. Considering.
“Want to come over to my place? It’s more private – you
can play your guitar, I mean.”
Oh God, she was blushing.
“I’d love that, Claire. Thank you.”
She shook her head. “No, Jamie. Thank *you*. I wouldn’t
be here if it wasn’t for you.”
“That’s not true, and you know it – ”
“Bullshit. It’s not, OK? If I hadn’t met you, I’d still
be singing show tunes at The Broch. This is infinitely better.”
“Come on, you two! Let’s listen!” Rob’s voice thundered
through the glass.
Impulsively, Jamie extended a hand to help Claire off her
stool. Her surprised smile – and the look of sheer joy on her face – was
The album was produced by Thomas Bartlett, known as Doveman, a musician and friend of Stevens who had recently lost a brother to cancer. On Bartlett’s production part, Stevens said, “Thomas took all these sketches and made sense of it all. He called me out on my bullshit. He said: ‘These are your songs. This is your record.’ He was ruthless.” In the same interview, on the emotions in the album’s recording process, Stevens said:
“"I was recording songs as a means of grieving, making sense of it. But the writing and recording wasn’t the salve I expected. I fell deeper and deeper into doubt and misery. It was a year of real darkness. In the past my work had a real reciprocity of resources – I would put something in and get something from it. But not this time.“”
Carrie & Lowell debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200 with 53,000 equivalent album units; it sold 51,000 copies in its first week, with the remainder of its unit count reflecting the album’s streaming activity and track sales. The album also debuted at number 10 on the Canadian Albums Chart with sales of 4,400.As of July 2015, Carrie & Lowell has sold 105,000 copies in the United States, with 44,900 of its total having been sold in the vinyl configuration.
Carrie & Lowell received critical acclaim upon its release. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from music critics, the album has received an average score of 90, indicating "universal acclaim”, based on 40 reviews. Andrew Hannah of The 405 proclaimed that “Carrie & Lowell is just the latest in a long line of unimpeachable achievements.”  In his review for Pitchfork Media, writer Brandon Stosuy wrote, “Sufjan Stevens’ new album, Carrie & Lowell, is his best.” Stephen Carlick of Exclaim! called the record “a quietly triumphant return for Stevens, announced not by fireworks but by a series of small, elegant moments that reach for the heart.” UK retailer HMV named it the best album of 2015.
Andy Warhol and Divine at a party in Andy’s honor at the re-opening of the Copacabana nightclub. Allan Tannenbaum, 1976.
Interview: Allan Tannenbaum with Justin Strauss
If you weren’t there to see it but can imagine in your mind New York City in the ‘70s, you can thank Allan Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum worked as chief photographer for Soho Weekly in the ‘70s and ‘80s, extensively documenting the music, glitter, fashion and magic of Downtown New York in an era when Art was Queen and nightlife, the great equalizer.
Find here an interview between two of New York’s most treasured gems — music producer, remixer and DJ Justin Strauss and photographer Allan Tannenbaum, who first met in 1981 when Tannenbaum snapped Strauss’ portrait during a DJ night at New York’s legendary club, The Ritz. We caught them chatting on a bench at The Gallery at Ace Hotel New York where Allan Tannenbaum’s retrospective show Take Me to Funkytown: New York in the 70s is on display until Monday.
Justin Strauss: Hi Allan. Let’s start at the beginning. What inspired you to want to become a photographer? Was there someone? A photograph?
Allan Tannenbaum: I was with a friend who had a nice 35mm camera.
charles always had a gifted hand with the sewing machine. he had to with the way raven cycled through clothes on a weekly basis, coming home with all manner of scrapes and ripped dresses. she always had a satisfied look though afterwards and the boys in the neighborhood who bullied charles came to school covered in mysterious bruises. charles disapproved of her methods but eventually learned to stop asking questions and to use more durable fabrics.
the clothes charles’ mother provided for raven were all wrong for her and they both knew it. frilly, fluffy things with more tulle than sense. she liked the breathable jumpsuit charles made for her much more especially when he pointed out the hidden pockets. she actually hugged him that time and it filled him with a warm sense of brotherly love. she wouldn’t let him take care of her the way she used to but she always accepted the clothes and he liked creating something that made her happy.
a few years later when raven is pursuing her photography degree, charles is double majoring in genetics and design. its an unusual choice certainly and it gets him a lot of grief from his professors who feel he is wasting his time on fantasies. they’re right. designing is a fantasy for charles or rather it’s a way to fulfill other people’s.
every day as he walks around campus he hears the thoughts of all the people around him and he wants to scream. so many of them hate themselves, hate their bodies, hate the way that they look and feel. he wants to shake them and say that society is ugly not you, never you. then he comes home to the apartment he shares with raven and hears those insecurities magnified by about a thousand. he pulls out his sewing machine and gets to work.
he’ll never forget the smile on his sister’s face when he showed her the floor length gown covered in blue scales that matched her skin tone perfectly. It took him months to complete and his fingers are aching and calloused but god it was worth it. the dress says everything raven wouldn’t have believed if he had said it out loud: that she is beautiful, that she is perfect just as she is. that she doesn’t have to change, not for him not for anyone. she hugs him and he can feel salty tears staining his cardigan. when she pulls away, she is beaming. he picks up more pattern making books on his way to class and drops his science courses. he has a vision for the future now and it is beautiful.
five years later and charles hasn’t given up on his vision. he has a small but cozy design studio in midtown and a dedicated client base. they come in for their appointments and he always knows exactly what they want. he designs for mutants and humans alike, for every age and every skin tone. some of his clients with physical mutations feel self conscious when he creates something that highlights their unique characteristics but he assures them that “beauty comes in infinite forms.” he says this with absolute certainty and conviction until they believe him.
the new york fashion blogs are starting to rave about him. they say he’s the future of the industry, that he’s the next Valentino. that he’s gonna revolutionize the way we think about beauty. his designs are stunning but his critics claim he lacks a voice. that he just tailors his clothes to meet individual needs and has no cohesive thread connecting them.
charles gets a new client and he is absolutely terrified of her. emma frost is the editor in chief of vogue and the most powerful woman in the fashion industry. her patronage could open doors for him he never knew existed but she could just as easily destroy him with a single cutting editorial. she is demanding, won’t wear anything except white and lies about her measurements. worst of all he can’t get a read on her for the six months he works on that godforsaken dress. still he must have done something right because she wears it to gala opening and he prays that’s the last time he ever has to work with her.
she shows up at his studio the next morning, eying him consideringly “have you ever considered a menswear collection?” charles smiles nervously “i’m afraid i’m much better at designing for women actually.” she smirks “yes, i can tell.” her gaze lingers on the tea stains on his threadbare blue cardigan.
“nevertheless there’s someone you need to work with.” she hands him a business card. “in twelve months time you will create a collection and present it to me. you can use male and female models but you must work with this man.” her finely manicured nail presses down on the card. “if your designs met with my approval you will get the cover of vogue and a full feature spread.” “and if they don’t meet with your approval?” she smiles sharply. “don’t disappoint me, xavier.”
as soon as she leaves he dials the number frantically.
“hello is this…erik lehnsherr?”
Author’s Note: I got permission from the person who sent the prompt to change it slightly hope you don’t mind. More to follow soon.
While Alexander Hamilton is the focus of Hamilton, Broadway’s smash hit musical about the “ten-dollar founding father without a father” created and portrayed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, King George is easily a scene-stealer.
Played by Jonathan Groff, who left the show in April to film David Fincher’s new Netflix drama, George was transformed from a minor role – Groff only spent nine minutes on stage each show – into a standout character thanks to the actor’s sassy delivery and a walk that Beyonce even threatened to make her own.
“She did your walk. I watched her do it,” Daveed Diggs – who pulls double duty in the musical as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson – teased Groff during their ET interview in January. “It was almost as good. Sorry, Bey.”
The role not only delighted Groff’s fans (and his many, many Glee followers, who wailed every time he was on stage), it also earned the 31-year-old thespian his second Tony nomination. His first was for originating the lead role opposite Lea Michele in Spring Awakening, a rock musical that was revived this past season with a mix of hearing and deaf actors.
Ahead of the 2016 Tony Awards, Groff answered ET’s questions about hanging out backstage, his final performance, and what his second Tony nomination means for him.
In this week’s issue of Billboard, we’re following four music industry players throughout a 24-hour period to get a sense of the breadth of the music world in 2015: International pop star Ed Sheeran, Def Jam vp No I.D., DJ Tommy Trash and Sarah Stennett, the power manager behind Ellie Goulding, Iggy Azalea and the newly solo Zayn Malik.
Although Stennett couldn’t reveal much about the former One Direction singer’s new music, she could do one thing for us: Play a brand new Zayn Malik song for the writer of the piece. Unfortunately, we can’t reveal much more about it – just that we heard it from her phone played over a car stereo while tagging along with her for the day in New York City.
Speaking of Malik’s boy band past, Stennett tells Billboard, “The environment he was in was all about compromise.” Now that he’s trying to become his own artist, she has a clear goal and high hopes: “My job is simple: Make sure nobody gets in the way of him becoming an important artist.”
A long phone call with Iggy
While in New York this week, Stennett has had “extensive meetings” with RCA Records president Tom Corson about Malik, who’s working on his label debut with Frank Ocean producer Malay.
Zayn Malik has a new song, and that’s all we can say
After lunch with a music lawyer at midtown red-sauce joint Patsy’s,Stennett is off to see her band Lion Babe rehearse in a midtown studio. En route, she starts raving about Zayn Malik, who set Twitter aflame in March by quitting One Direction, saying he wanted “to relax and have some private time.” Stennett now manages him. “The environment he was in was all about compromise,” she says. “My job is simple: Make sure nobody gets in the way of him becoming an important artist.”
Malik sometimes calls Stennett to play songs in progress over the phone, and now she plugs her device into the car’s stereo to do the same for Billboard. But first, she insists that we say nothing about the song, except that it exists. “You can’t write about it. Do you promise?” she asks forcefully. We nod our agreement.
“Turn it up,” she tells the driver. Billboard can now exclusively report that Zayn Malik has recorded a song that Sarah Stennett has on her phone. But that’s all anyone can say. Double-crossing a lawyer is a bad idea.