by Jason Blalock
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of singer-songwriters. Nothing against them, I just tend to prefer a bit more production and variety. However, Lisa Brigantino doesn’t need excessive production – her voice is a wall of sound all by itself.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 4, 2011, a group of us were gathered to celebrate and play music in a friend’s backyard here in Marfa, Texas. One of my friends played a song called No Soy De Aqui, by Facundo Cabral, and it moved me so much I asked her to play it again. When I got home I looked up his song and music on the internet and found he was a beloved folk singer from Argentina and an icon in all of Latin America, much like Bob Dylan. He was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 1996, the same award given to Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.
I was immediately inspired and I began hearing the music to a song and picked out the melody and chords within two days, but the words would not form within me. That following Thursday Facundo Cabral was mistakenly and brutally murdered in a drive by shooting in Guatemala on his way to the airport. I felt like I had lost a newly found friend.
That night I struggled with the words and music. I sat outside beneath a black, star-filled sky at about 3:00 a.m. The words began to form within me. I said aloud to the night, “this song will be called For Facundo Cabral, and the first words are the dance goes on, the song goes on”. Immediately after I spoke the words a shooting star sailed across the sky above me, from north to south almost to the horizon, leaving a green trail of light. The next instant, another shooting star split the night from over my right shoulder, traveling east to west leaving a golden trail and almost seemed to skip out of the atmosphere. I laughed aloud. I felt like Facundo Cabral was telling me, thanks, see ya.
The words formed easily after that and the song was finished the next day. It is a tribute to him and his vision of a beautiful world that sings to us, if we only take the time to hear it.
This song, which is also the title song of our debut album, started with a small idea which I had when I was messing around with the guitar. Like most great ideas, the discovery of this one too was accidental. I was practicing my slides when out of nowhere, I came up with this amazing four note melody, which ended up as the intro to the song. I tried putting a vocal melody in but it just didn’t fit anywhere. It was then that I thought, why not make this a guitar driven, instrumental track. As a guitarist, I always wanted to do something like that. And this song gave me the chance.
The notes just started flowing and it was as if the music made itself. Then our bass player came up with another great descending scale melody, which fit right into the web of the song. And before we knew it, we had created a kickass instrumental. Then it was time to think about the name. With a song with vocals, that shouldn’t be too hard but how do you name an instrumental ? We tried to gauge the feel of the song. To me, it felt other worldly. It was just so beautiful. It took you to another realm altogether. And fortunately, we came up with just the right word to describe the feeling. Ethereal.
It also gave us the idea of naming the album the same way. Music which took you to another world. That was our idea. And we tried to recreate the same feeling when producing the track. There was a heavy use of synths to create that mystic and other worldly feel. The guitars were heavy on delay and reverb. Even the bass lines were clean and full of descending slides which again replicated the emotion we were trying to convey. The whole process just felt right. And you know a good song when you’ve made one. And the satisfaction and pleasure we derived from the whole thing was certainly ethereal.
“Nowhere at All” from Lisa Brigantino’s October 2018 album release I’ll Waltz Before I Gois a song co-written posthumously with Brigantino’s cousin Felix Pappalardi, the legendary producer/composer/multi-instrumentalist/bassist who produced Cream, The Youngbloods, Hot Tuna (among many others) and went on to produce and play bass in Mountain with Leslie West.
Brigantino had some handwritten sketches of lyrics written by Pappalardi in her possession since his untimely death in 1983. She showed the lyrics to her husband and co-producer Thomas Millioto only a few years ago and he suggested she write music to some of the lyrics. She asked the Pappalardi Estate for permission to do so, and the 1970s-infused Rock tune “Nowhere at All” was born. “Felix was such an inspiration to me when I was growing up,” says Brigantino. “He even gave me my first electric bass when I was 14, and was always encouraging of the creative exploits of both my sister and I. It’s a tremendous honor for me to have collaborated with him on “Nowhere at All.”
Brigantino is a former original member of Lez Zeppelin, the world’s first all girl Led Zeppelin tribute band. She played bass, keys and mandolin and toured internationally with the band for a number of years playing A list venues and festivals including Bonnaroo and Download. She left the band in 2009 to focus on writing and performing her original music. Visit https://lisabrigantino.com/for more information.