Queen of Hearts
Queen of Hearts
Producer: Ben Leinbach, Jai Uttal
Queen of Hearts
Making an album is a journey across mountains and valleys of moods and emotions. Sometimes the sessions are pure flow, joyful, easy and inspired. And, of course, on other days the creative process is like pulling hairs. Agonizing, depressing, and seemingly impossible. I always see my weaknesses as a musician and, on the other side of the coin, how ridiculously self-critical I am. And sometimes I’m amazed and inspired by my own seemingly endless well of inspiration. Where does it come from? Well, I have no question about that. It’s a direct gift from my Guru…. Hopefully, through it all, I can learn and grow as a musician, but more importantly as a human being crawling along the path of spirit and love.
Anyway, just like every album seems to have its own flavor, the process of making the albums is also quite different from one to the other. And the weird part is that the final ‘product’ doesn’t always seem to reflect the moods that went into making it. Some albums that were torturous to create sound sweet and joyful, while some of the ones that were super easy sound kind of tortured. At least to my ‘unbiased’ ears.
Why am I writing this? Well, mainly just as an introduction to the world of Queen Of Hearts. This album was a total breeze to make. The songs had been percolating inside of me for years; the musical ‘style’, mixing reggae, ska, samba and traditional Bengali Kirtan, although quite new, seems like it’s been around for ages. I’ve been listening to and loving reggae since I was a teenager, (you can hear it in some of my ‘Pagan Love Orchestra’ work) but I had put it aside for a while, exploring other worlds. And, of course, the marriage of India and Brazil is sort of my life! So put it all together, and you’ve got Queen Of Hearts!
But that’s not all there is to it. Who is the “Queen”? Well, of course, She is Srimati Radharani, Herself. That very One who is most loved by Sri Krishna and who blesses the three worlds with the treasure of Bhakti, or Divine Love. So when the idea came (from where?) to dedicate an album to the Goddess Radha, I can only guess that She simply made it easy. Sure, it was hard work. But that mysterious element that we call ‘flow’ was always there. The songs kind of wrote themselves. The musical parts were recorded easily. The singing was relatively effortless. We laughed A LOT!
Now, does all that translate to the final CD? The answer to that question has to come from YOU! Is it uplifting and joyful? Or angst-ridden and cathartic? Or all of the above?
Let me know, ok?
And, most of all, may the blessings of the Queen of Hearts rain down upon us all!!!!!
ABOUT THE SONGS
“The remarks of a mad man!” by Shyam Das…..
1. Thief Of Hearts
GOVINDA GOVINDA GOPALA
Krishna’s names have amazing meanings. Govinda, lovely cowherd boy, Govinda the Lord of senses. Gopala, lovely divine child Gopala, the nourisher of the senses.
2. Ocean Of Milk
SHRI KRISHNA GOVINDA HARE MURARE / HEY NATHA NARAYANA VASUDEVA
This could be the most amazing line of God’s name to come around in a long time. Shri Krishna is all attractive and becomes Govinda, to play with his intimate one. We call out to him “Hare”, because He removes from us what is useless and when he becomes Murare He becomes the enemy of our enemies that appear in us as anger, pride and jealousy. Hey Natha is our humble call to the master while Narayana stands in His primal glory and in the end Vasudeva grants us liberation.
3. Lanka Burning
SITA RAM SITA RAM SITA RAM / JAY SITA RAM JAYA JAY HANUMAN
We say “Jaya Jaya Hanuman” because he is the supreme follower/devotee/das (servant) and it is through the grace of the devotee that we find God, Sita Ram!! We worship the follower of the follower of the follower of the follower of the follower all the way down the devotional line and as we become filled with humility we become as strong as a tree and as bending as a blade of grass. The trick is knowing when to be which one!
4. Queen Of Hearts
RADHE RADHE BOLO / RADHE RADHE SHYAM / RADHE RADHE BOLO / RADHE SHYAM SHYAM SHYAM SHYAM
The inner meaning of Radhe is “The one who adores Shyam.” Her name is so sacred that it is rare to be given the opportunity to even say it once,never mind repeatedly. This must have something to do with the blessings of Shyam, the dark one. May we witness their exchanges.
5. Hari’s Rapture
BOLO RADHA RAMANA HARI BOL / HARI BOL HARI BOL HARI BOL / GOVINDA GOVINDA GOPAL / JAY RADHE JAY RADHE RADHE / GOVINDA GOVINDA GOPAL
“Bolo:” speak it, chant it, relish it. Praise the one who delights Radha. As soon as you remember Them everything else is forgotten. When you become attached to God everything unrelated is forgotten. The path of devotion is effortless. Lets face it, being addicted to God is much easier and more fun that trying to focus on the abstract Infinite. Jay Radhe!
6. Garota de Braja
GOVINDA JAYA JAYA GOPALA JAYA JAYA / RADHA RAMANA HARI GOVINDA JAYA JAYA
‘Jaya’ mean victory- victory over everything that’s been holding us back from being totally filled with the bhava, the divine state of God intoxication. In the end we really only need to know a few words in this life. Choose carefully! Govinda, Radha Ramana Hari, Gopal!
7. Last Breath
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE/ HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE
Radhe calls out “Hare Krishna, Krishna, where are you?” Krishna responds to her “Hare Rama, O delightful one, I am looking for you as well.” Their divine dialogue is full of longing that overflows and enhances our devotion.
8. Vishnu’s Dream
OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VASUDEVAYA
A Vedic style chant, complete with ‘Om’, the universal YES!, and ‘Namo’, which tells us what we need to do: place our heads down towards mother earth and humbly remember Bhagavate (God) who is filled with all virtues. Then, with grace, we can come face to face with Vasudeva, the holder of all things.
Produced by Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach
Recorded and mixed by Ben Leinbach and Jai Uttal at Old Bull Recording in San Anselmo, CA in late 2010 and early 2011.
Mastered by Mike Fossenkemper at Turtletone Studio, New York City.
All songs written by Jai Uttal c 2011 Pavana Suta Music, BMI. All rights reserved.
Original Artwork and CD Design – Shilo Shiv Suleman
Song notes – Shyam Das
Horn Arrangements – Jeff Cressman and Jai Uttal
Jai Uttal – lead vocals, acoustic steel string guitars, electric guitars, loops and samples, keyboards, melodica
Jose Neto – nylon string guitar, bass guitar on ‘Hari’s Rapture’
Mark Gorman – fretless electric bass guitar
Jeff Cressman – trombones and cornet
Ben Leinbach – keyboards, loops and samples, snare drum brushwork and fills, shaker, tambourine
Prajna Vieira – response vocals
Sandy Cressman – response vocals
Alexandria Griffith – response vocals
C.C. White – response vocals
Tina Malia – response vocals and vocal harmonies on ‘Vishnu’s Dream’.
Daniel Paul – tabla, harmonica on ‘Queen of Hearts’
Michael Spiro – pandeiro, surdo, conga, caxixi
Endless gratitude and danda pranams to my Guru, Sri Sri Sri Baba Neemkaroli Santa Maharaj and to my Spiritual Mother, Sri Sri Sri Siddhi Ma, who have saved me a million times from the clutches of death and worse…
Uh oh! It’s me!!!!
You’ve heard of ‘air guitar’. Well, this is ‘foot guitar’!!!!!
Ben Leinbach laying down some greasy skank… How many records have I made with Ben? Beginning with Beggars and Saints, Ben has been by my side in the studio for every single record, making me sound good with his sonic surgical skills. but he’s not just a producer, as you can see here. Drums, keyboards, bass, percussion, and even guitar! Ben does it all….
This is Jose Neto overdubbing his brilliant nylon guitar on the Queen Of Hearts songs. Jose is my dear, deep soul friend, as well as my guitar teacher. He’s not only a master of ‘Brazilian guitar’, he’s a masterful musician, composer and performer. I’m honored to have him on this album.
Alexandria Griffith, C.C. White, Sandy Cressman & Prajna Vieira
Here are some videos of the amazing women who sang on this album: Alexandria Griffith, C.C. White, Sandy Cressman and Prajna Vieira. With a team like this there are simply no problems or faults, just pure flow, fun and spirit.
Clockwise from upper right: C.C., Prajna, Sandy and Alexandria.
Introducing Mark Gorman, bass player extraordinaire! I met Mark two years ago at Omega Institute’s annual Ecstatic Chant Weekend. He was playing there with Krishna Das and I immediately heard how good he was. But, although we sing the same words, my music and KD’s music are quite different so I wasn’t sure how Mark would relate to the reggae chants I was working on. So we sat on my little porch and had an informal rehearsal. Well, Mark told me his first love was reggae and then proceeded to play my bass lines as if he had written them himself. And then he improved upon them and made them his own…
So when it came time to record, Mark was my first choice. How lucky for me that he was available and happy to drive up to the Bay Area.
The only problem with Mark is that he lives in LA! Because I would love to be playing music with him every day!
Vishwambhar Seth & Krsna Kishor Das
These two guys are Vishwambhar Seth (AKA Vish, left) and Krsna Kishor Das (AKA Kish, right) of the awesome Kirtan band ‘The Mayapuris’. Both Vish and Kish are masterful musicians, playing mridanga, kartals, harmonium, bansuri as well as singing beautifully. On Queen Of Hearts Vishwambhar stuck to the mridanga, while Kish wailed on various size kartals. They are both wonderful friends and super fun guys to hang out with and inspiring Kirtan singers.
Darn, why didn’t I get any videos of Jeff Cressman recording the horn parts on Queen Of Hearts?
Jeff is a fantastic musician and really good friend. Notice that he has the same last name as Sandy Cressman, one of our singers. Well, that’s because they’re married. They have two rapidly growing up girls, one of whom is already a professional trombonist. The Cressmans have been one of our role model families; completely dedicated to the art and careers, but never sacrificing a minute of the beauty and magic of raising children.
I first met Jeff and began playing with him many years ago in a very unsuccessful Motown band I was in called “The Motophonics”. I think we were unsuccessful because all the key musicians were too creative to be in a cover band. Next I worked alongside Jeff for many years in Peter Apfelbaum’s “Hieroglyphics Ensemble”, a groundbreaking world-jazz big band. (please hunt down those CDs and check them out!). And then, of course, Jeff was one of the main players in my “Pagan Love Orchestra” from the very beginning.
Anyway, when I asked Jeff to create and play horn parts for Queen Of Hearts he was on the road with Carlos Santana so I thought he would say no. But that’s not Jeff! He worked on horn section parts in his hotel room in Las Vegas. (remember, this is the guy who came to a Pagans gig in Carmel wrapped in seaweed which he then converted into a musical instrument!!!!).
So we recorded the amazing parts he had composed and made up a whole bunch of new ones right there in the studio. Great fun, and I think they came out beautifully…