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Studio Anecdote

My first professional recording job was at a 3 room studio in North Hollywood called The Bakery. One of my all time favorite musicians, David Byrne, was scheduled to record some overdubs for a video project he was doing. After I made it known that I wanted to work on the session, owner / engineer / mentor Andy Waterman asked me to assist him. But after getting the session started there wasn’t anything left for me to do. Rather than keep me in the room to simply stare, I was asked to move on to other duties.

To my delight, there was a dinner break and I was invited to join Andy and David in the lobby for Thai food. Nervous that I would say something foolish, I politely listened and nodded for most of the conversation. After a while I got up the courage to ask a burning question: my high school friends had suggested that lyrics for the song I Zimbra were in the language of Swahili. I asked if that was true.

Byrne explained that he was influenced by the Dadaist Hugo Ball who wrote a nonsensical poem called Gadji beri bimba. Byrne adapted the poem and set it to music. I got it straight from the horse’s mouth: not Swahili, pure gibberish. Stop making sense.

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