The Roches
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Suzzy Roche

Notes on Moonswept from The Roches: 

This cd has been a fun surprise for The Roches.  After ten years of collaborating with other people,  studying, experimenting, doing and undoing, they decided to see what would happen if they got together to create new songs.  They started by going out on the road,  reconnecting with their fans who come out of the woodwork to hear them sing.    They had a lot of fun making this recording.   Instead of working with other musicians, they decided to play almost everything themselves. Most of the time, they sat around in a circle and sang.  Stewart Lerman,  long time collaborator in the studio, added percussion, some of the bass parts, and a few special touches.  Garry Dial played the piano on “Piggy Mask”,  and Lucy Roche (Suzzy’s daughter) sang her own composition “Long Before”.

This recording is all about love, growing up and surviving.  In a way, it’s a greeting card to long lost friends.   Here are a few thoughts about each song from The Roches.

Huh: (words by suzzy, music by terre)   This particular song came out of another song (which never made it)  I had written a song that Terre didn’t particularly like.  So I took the line that she really hated and used it to write this song. -suzzy

Only You Know How:  (by terre) I had bought a ukulele after teaching at The Puget Sound Guitar Workshop in the summer of 2005.  I am always buying instruments that I don’t know how to play.  Trying to learn how to work the ukulele I was distracted by the sadness of that particular week,  which was the one in which Hurricane Katrina had demolished New Orleans.  I thought about my love, Garry, and how scared we both are of how violent the world seems sometimes.  -terre

No Shoes:   This song comes to us from Paranoid Larry, a great songwriter from New York City, who also teaches Shakespeare to high school kids.  Check out his website: -suzzy

Moonswept:  (by suzzy) I had the opportunity to hear the poet John Ashbery speak to students.     As I was listening to him answer the student’s questions, I found a poem in his book called The Template and I scribbled “moonswept”  in a notebook.  Months later I stumbled upon these words and liked them.    I get a lot of inspiration from poets, who work heavily in the mystery zone, and I thank John Ashbery and the students for inspiring this song.   -suzzy

A Family Of Bones: (words by suzzy/music by maggie)  I sent Maggie these lyrics, on a fluke.   The next day she came in with the tune.    Lyrically the song reminds me of my early childhood.   Once, when we were very young, Terre and I were almost killed by a runaway car.  A sanitation worker who was collecting garbage literally scooped us up in his arms and removed us from the path of the car.  The brick wall that we had been standing in front of was completely demolished.  Even though I was four years old, I was aware that he had saved our lives.  It was my first thought of death and somehow this song reminds me of that incident. -suzzy

The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane:   This old hit song was one of our very first “45s”.  We listened to this song as young kids.  When we started singing together, it was one of the first songs we learned. -suzzy

Long Before:  (by lucy roche) This is Lucy’s song.  She grew up on the road with us. When she was young, she thought she was on stage with us, even though she was in the audience.  She would run backstage and tell us all the mistakes we made.  Lucy has an uncommonly beautiful, pure voice. -suzzy

Piggy Mask:  (by terre & suzzy) At dinner with Suzzy and Garry,  he said “The fantasy is over.  The piggy mask isn’t working for me anymore.”  I knew he was referring to a scene in a Roman Polanski movie in which two people had gone to great lengths to keep their sex lives afloat.  Suzzy hadn’t seen the movie but I’ll never forget how heartily she laughed at the words.  I wrote them down and the next day she came over to my house and we wrote the song.  I’m not sure why,  but I have the feeling that this song is about my country, America.  I invite you to listen to it with that in mind.  -terre

Us Little Kids:  (by suzzy) This one comes directly from a childhood memory, also. As a kid, there was a park I used to go to by myself.  For some reason,  no other kids were ever playing in it.  There was a seesaw.  If you’ve ever tried to seesaw by yourself, you’ve realized that all you really do is stay on the ground.  I used to watch the sun go down there.  It was strange and beautiful.   -suzzy

Stop Performing:  (words by terre/music by maggie) I came across these lyrics in a notebook that I had.  I don’t remember what prompted me to write them.  I gave them to Maggie and she came into rehearsal with the music.  When I heard the words as she had fit them into the music there were things I hadn’t realized were in there.  (I would never have been so lewd!)  -terre

Gung Ho:  (by terre) An 18 year old guy named Ross came to my house for a guitar lesson.   His enthusiasm was like a tornado.  It left me smiling for a few days afterwards.  I had the first verse in a notebook and wrote the rest in the wake of the tornado.  But it really is the story of my life.  Thanks Ross! -terre

Instead I Chose: (words by suzzy/music by terre)  I saw a tv show about the Donner Party.  It was incredibly moving.  All I had ever heard about the Donner Party was that they were “cannibals”.  But the real story is a love story of hardship beyond belief.  The next day I got up and wrote these words  before I was really awake.  I gave them to Terre and she made up the tune. -suzzy

September Eleventh At The Shambhala Center:  (by terre) The Shambhala Center is the place where I learned how to meditate.  The director of the center asked me if I would participate in a memorial concert which took place on September 11, 2002,  one year after the World Trade Center tragedy.  I thought I might do one of my older songs at the memorial.  Instead this song started appearing in my mind,  line by line over the next few weeks.    The day of the memorial a very warm strong wind blew through the streets of New York.  Many people felt it might be spirits.  -terre

Jesus Shaves: (by paranoid larry)  Another classic by Paranoid Larry.  It speaks for itself, I think.  It’s makes me laugh, but it’s also a love story.    If you start to meditate on it, you might be surprised at all the different angles it touches.  -suzzy