Scott Hirsch - "Lost Time Behind The Moon"

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All songs written, produced, recorded, mixed by Scott Hirsch © 2018 Dreamwood Music.

Recorded at Echo Magic West in Ojai, California and at Blue Rooms in Portland, Oregon with Mike Coykendall. Mixed at Echo Magic West. Mastered by Ian Sefchick at Capitol Records. Artwork by Daren Thomas Magee. Layout and design by Darryl Norsen. Photos by Scott Hirsch.

Mike Coykendall: Drums, Harmonica and additional recording
Orpheo McCord: Drums
Mikael Jorgensen: Keys
William Tyler: Electric Guitar
Karl Hunter: Saxophone
Jesse Siebenberg: Pedal Steel
Jimmy Calire: Organ
Lauren Barth: Vocals
Jade Hendrix: Vocals
Yair Evnine: Cello

0. Introduction (MC Taylor)

ABOUT THE RECORD, BY MC TAYLOR OF HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER:

fishes in the sky translucent i left my home below and lost my

way pursuing that bird of many colors

—Jaime de Angulo

Maybe it’s the season of the Earth, but it’s hard not to feel lately like we’re standing on some high precipice looking down on what we’ve made of the world and trying to make sense of the view. Gazing back down the narrow roads leading out of our old towns, are we strangers or friends with the rear-view mirror? These are hard questions—of taking stock and taking leave—that my friend Scott Hirsch sings about so powerfully on his new album Lost Time Behind the Moon, ten songs that deal squarely with chasing ghosts and shaking curses; looking for peace; falling in love and hiding away; having babies and raising them; and chasing storms and finding shelter, though not necessarily in that order, and mostly all mixed up with each other. It’s some of the most finely articulated music I know for asking: Can we go home? And, where is home? Or, as Scott sings, “If I come back, won’t you let me stay?”

When we were both 21, Scott and I lived in a small apartment together in Santa Barbara on Hope Avenue, directly across from the cemetery in the lap of the Santa Ynez mountains. We passed some time in the red bar at Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, or under the soft blue neon of the Four Winds, an old man bar on State Street, but mostly we sat on the floor playing acoustic guitar together. We were wondering—though it wasn’t a particularly pressing concern before marriage and children, long moments when the steady unwinding of time seemed to have missed us—what came next, and how to convey that wonder in rhythm and harmony. We took our freedom for granted and lived like brothers.

Like me, like everyone, Scott has crossed a lot of rivers since those days: A move to San Francisco, followed by a years-long sojourn on the East Coast. Marriage. A daughter. Work. Miles and miles of music. And finally, for him, a return to Ojai, California, 50 miles from where he and I sat staring out over the cemetery in the rain, wondering whether we could teach our hands to play the way our minds wanted them to. Listening to Lost Time Behind the Moon—and there is such bittersweetness to this—I can’t help but hear what time has made of the questions that we pressed on each other when we were just kids on Hope Avenue: What is life without a little regret? Is there a way to look in that old cracked mirror and feel as hopeful as we do haunted? Lost Time Behind the Moon doesn’t answer any of these; in fact, it poses more—and harder—questions. But they’re softened and wizened by the years that Scott has spent playing music for himself alone, trying to discover some kind of truth that works for him. And in this solitude, he’s created something that feels wide and inclusive and loving and forgiving. I think of Lost Time Behind the Moon as Scott’s masterpiece, because everything I know about him is in these songs, the groove and the wonder.

Scott always knew better than I the ways that a particularly voiced chord might make you feel like laughing and weeping at the same time. What we didn’t know when we were young—and what makes this album so heavy, frankly—is the way that time makes work, however simple, deeper, indelible, like a scar or a wrinkle. The ways that the hourglass transforms a common beginner’s chord into something far more elegiac, and touched, and auto-biographical. What Scott knows now—and I know he knows this because it’s the whole beautiful thesis of Lost Time Behind the Moon—is that time will touch you and change you in every way it can, and it will make you live with your pain and regret and radiant, transcendent joy in ways that you cannot anticipate and have no reason to expect.

1. When You Were Old (El Dorado)

Aim to the West. The road to Sequoia, California

Aim to the West. The road to Sequoia, California

Going back as far as the conquistadors, humans have journeyed westward in search of riches, and a better way of life, mesmerized by the mirage and mystique of El Dorado. Gold seekers came to California in the 1800s and a generation or two later, my parents left their native New York in search of something similar, and I followed suit as well after living in the East. Will we find what we are looking for amongst the mountains, freeways, beaches, and deserts? Or will California fall into the ocean like the mystics and statistics say it will?


GUITARS + BASS - Scott Hirsch DRUM - Orpheo McCord SAXOPHONES - Karl Hunter HARMONY SINGING - Jade Hendrix ORGAN - Jimmy Calire PEDAL STEEL: Jesse Siebenberg


Shine down, instant light
Through the darkness
Through the night

What you said when you were old
In this wild country
On the road

We’re on our way
On our way to gold

Lost time behind the moon
Spirits fill the air
I’m a fool for you

You were there in a summer dress
We were dreaming our dreams
Aim to the West

Dark horizon, black and blue
Hood ornaments
Am I losing you?

I’m a fool for you

We’re on our way
On our way to gold

2. Long Lost Time

Issa and I

Issa and I

“Hey now mama won’t you walk with me?” was the original working lyric, something I heard from my daughter (she writes all my good songs).  Sometimes you have to travel great distances, both physically and mentally in search for meaning; only to find the answers were at home all along.


GUITARS + BASS - Scott Hirsch DRUMS + HARMONICA - Mike Coykendall HARMONY SINGING - Lauren Barth, Bernie Larsen ORGAN - Jimmy Calire PEDAL STEEL - Jesse Siebenberg


Yellow moon won’t you walk with me?
Along the shady road ‘neath the live oak trees
There’s darkness where the wheels turn low
Coming down that hill to the valley below 

Hey now mama won’t you rescue me?
I’m lost out here in the wild country
I’m a purple diamond at the break of day
Come night time I’m fading away

If I come back won’t you let me stay?
Oh yellow moon won’t you light the way? 

Yellow moon won’t you light the way?
Along the dim lines of this blue highway
A double rose and a shot of love
Those two things that I’m dreaming of
A shot of love and a double rose
Depths of desire I will not know

Yellow moon won’t you walk with me?
Along the shady road ‘neath the live oak trees
I know I’ve been gone a long lost time
Searching the shadows of my worried mind
I went looking for that love of mine
Won’t you send me home along the straightest line

3. Nothing But Time

Waiting for the band to come

Waiting for the band to come

I was in New York for a spell thinking about forgotten times in San Francisco. I lived in the Mission District for 10 years, wasting away my 20’s there, playing music and being young. I used to have a typewriter where I kept a sheet of paper, open for anyone who stumbled by to type on – definitely the most beatnik thing I’ve ever done. I found some pages from it around the time this song came into being, and I was overwhelmed by a rush of nostalgia.

I love singing the verse about the Mission days, the boys in the band. My crew (made up largely of my bandmates in The Court & Spark) back then had friends, who were older than us and worked in bars. There were the normal drinking hours, and then the “after hours” drinking hours when they would lock the doors and they’d put those drinks in our hands.

Many blurry and beautiful memories from that time lurk in the back of my mind.

The boys in the band - Court & Spark- L to R James Kim, MC Taylor, Scott Hirsch- photo by Terri Loewenthal

The boys in the band - Court & Spark- L to R James Kim, MC Taylor, Scott Hirsch- photo by Terri Loewenthal


GUITARS + BASS + PERCUSSION - Scott Hirsch DRUMS - Mike Coykendall HARMONY SINGING - Lauren Barth EARWORM GUITAR - William Tyler WURLITZER KEYBOARD - Mikael Jorgensen


Ricky’s down on 10th Street
Back on the East Coast
She moves real slow now
Don’t want to stir up old ghosts

She’s in my head too much now
Not to mention my dreams
All these tales we spun
They fell apart at the seams

Nothing but time

She came from Mississippi
In her second-hand shoes
She asked me discreetly
Just how dark are your blues?

It’s been so many years now
We don’t play by the rules
I took her out to the desert
Lost her in the depths of the pool

Nothing but time

Take me back to Mission days
The boys in the band
We’d stay there after hours
They’d put those drinks in our hands

Why don’t you come up and see me?
Just like it was old times
I could get my guitar out
I could forget all the rhymes

Nothing but time

Remember when we had nothing but time?

Someday we will remember
Things we wanted to forget
I speak your name softer now
So to avoid regret

Yeah we’re down on 10th Street
Back on the East Coast
And now it’s after midnight
Don’t want to stir up those ghosts

Nothing but time

4. Rose's Song

Schiphol Airport, NL, a home base of operations for Hiss Golden Messenger

Schiphol Airport, NL, a home base of operations for Hiss Golden Messenger

Touring for a long time warps you a little. Like sailors at sea, or even submariners, you develop very close, extremely deep, and potentially volatile relationships with people in your immediate vicinity.  I’ve had the good fortune to travel in largely healthy situations, but there have been a few tours I have been on where either I wasn’t doing well mentally or the general vibe wasn’t working between people.

Take a situation like this, feed it with lack of sleep, close quarters, periods of intense boredom followed by extreme jubilation, and then fertilize it with drugs and alcohol. You might find yourself talking to the wind and looking for meaning in the road signs. You might find yourself going out of your way, taking the long way home to visit people you shouldn’t.


BASS - Daniel Wright DRUMS - Orpheo McCord GUITARS - Scott Hirsch PEDAL STEEL - Jesse Siebenberg CELLO - Yair Evnine ADDITIONAL RECORDING - Stephen Spencer



Dark road, fool’s gold
Cursing the miles now
It’s hard to believe the shape I’m in
They got me talking to the wind

Eight months gone, it was lost time
Smoke in the breeze
If you’re looking for meaning in the road signs
Be careful what you might find

Rose, I took the long way home
So I could roll, roll back to you

A storm rolled in the night we met
Hatful of rain
A box on the shelf where spirits form
Sings “Shelter from the Storm”

You worried the beads of your rosary
A rose by any other name
And when you told me that you knew me
I knew that it would never be the same

Rose, I took the long way home
So I could roll, roll back to you

5. A Pair of Nines

Deep in a session at Echo Magic West

Deep in a session at Echo Magic West

This guitar figure has been floating in my mind for a long time. I was not even aware I recycled it from an earlier song I made until my wife told me it was already one of my songs. Oh well, here its gets a new treatment.  This song is evidence of the fruitful outcome of going to the studio late at night, consuming mezcal among other things, and making music with myself.  I had a lot of fun playing these drums.


GUITARS + BASS + DRUMS - Scott Hirsch


6. Spirits

A box on the shelf where the spirits form

A box on the shelf where the spirits form

I was in the back of a tour van with Hiss when the idea for this song came to me.

Leonard Cohen had just died, and we were playing in Montreal.

I was rooming with MC Taylor at the hotel and he had the wherewithal to get up early and take a cab to Cohen’s Montreal home where people held a vigil and there were candles.

I didn’t make it to Cohen’s vigil before we had to leave town, but I ruminated about dead songwriting heroes that afternoon. As we drove out of the romantically snowy city limits, I thought about how many lost heroes were stacking up.  

It dawned on me that when Bob Dylan dies, it’s gonna be a musician death more overwhelming than all of them have been to date, and there had already been a lot that year- spanning Bowie, to Prince and beyond.

I thought about radio airwaves of a half century of music that is endlessly traveling into the outer reaches of our solar system. I thought about how a star in the sky could die, but we would not know it here on earth for thousands or even millions of years while the end of the star’s light travels to us.  

I still love the jokes about what kind of world we’re going to leave behind for Keith Richards.


GUITARS + BASS - Scott Hirsch DRUMS + PIANO + SYNTH - Mike Coykendall HARMONY SINGING - Lauren Barth, Bernie Larsen



All you spirits in the airwaves
You’re set free
Your voice belongs to the big sky
Phasing on the crest of the wave

You got buried in his wall of sound
You took your band on the lake
Singing under that Cajun moon
Oh! You towed us in your wake

We dreamt our dreams up in the old hotel
We drank some whiskey and gin
Singing blue and wailing songs all night
Oh! The shape we were in

I saw your star up in the evening sky
Its burning black tonight
You warned us that the dice were loaded
We still rode on through the night

We knew that this day would come
End of an era they would say
The day our steward and shepherd
Lay down in his big brass bed

All you spirits in the airwaves
You’re set free
Wear your heart on the outside
Phasing on the crest of the wave

7. No No

Orpheo McCord in his truck

Orpheo McCord in his truck

A true stepper, rhythmically speaking. I am forever fascinated by the tale of the infamous Doc Ellis game on June 12th, 1970 in which he pitched a “no no” on LSD (“No no” is slang for a no-hitter, a seldom matched baseball feat, where a pitcher goes a whole game with no hits). I do not know which is better, that Doc’s acid “no no” actually happened, or his re-telling of the story, which has been made into a brilliant animation short.


GUITARS + BASS + ORGAN - Scott Hirsch DRUMS + CONGAS - Orpheo McCord SAXOPHONES - Karl Hunter HARMONY SINGING - Jade Hendrix, Lauren Barth


I got a no no going
I’m getting out of this town
My wheels are low and rolling
They hum a lonesome sound

When I get back to my baby
There’ll be no more coming down

She’s got that moon in her valley
Purple diamonds for eyes
I left the darkness of the alley
For her wide open skies

I’m going back to California
Where the grass grows so high

I got a Rhythm Ace in my pocket
I turn it up on high
I got that white line fever
Feel like the end is nigh

I got a no no going
I’m passing Tulsa town
White knuckle red ball rolling
I’m staring that hood ornament down

8. Valley of the Moon

Between the darkness and the light

Between the darkness and the light

This song was written before the Thomas fire, which ravaged the surrounding areas of Ventura county and scorched a complete circle around our little town of Ojai. The words “coming down that hill to the valley below” ran through my mind when my family and I evacuated on the night of Dec 8th, 2017 driving close to flames to escape town.

We were fortunate. After a month of being evacuated we were able to move back in relatively unscathed. Other friends were not so lucky.

In the aftermath I have seen the fire bring together the community in a remarkable way, especially through music.


GUITARS, BASS, MELODICA, PERCUSSION: Scott Hirsch DRUMS, 12 STRING GUITAR: Mike Coykendall


Valley of the moon
In the pitch-black night
The space between
The darkness and the light

He’ll be waiting there
A man of constant sorrow
While the people wait
For another tomorrow

Won’t you sing to me?
A wistful tune
Keep us together
Valley of the moon

When you preach hate
You’ll reap what you sow
Coming down the hill
To the valley below

Valley of the moon
In the darkness of night
You will find him there
He calls himself daylight

Won’t you sing to me?
In a minor key
Valley of the moon
Set your people free

9. Pink Moment

One of Joel Fox’s Ojai alpacas, RIP

One of Joel Fox’s Ojai alpacas, RIP

Winter in Ojai marks a time of year where the evening tilt of the sun lights up the Topa Topa mountains in the most remarkable pink light.

It lasts a few minutes and then it’s gone.


GUITARS + PEDAL STEEL + BASS - Scott Hirsch


10. Evening's Wooden Drum

Late night vibes

Late night vibes

Under the evening moon 
the snail 
is stripped to the waist –Issa

Kobayashi Issa is a Japanese haiku poet who lived a tragic life, losing three children and a wife on separate occasions.

His poetry is so full of life.

“Issa” means “cup of tea”.

The refrain “Oh what a red moon, whose is it? Children” begs the question- what kind of world will they inherit?


GUITARS + BASS + PERCUSSION - Scott Hirsch LYRICAL INSPIRATION - Kobayashi Issa


Frost in the valley
Pink in the mountains
Evening’s wooden drum

Rain clouds billow
In the morning killing time
Evening’s wooden drum

Echoes like empty words

Oh what a red moon
And whose is it? Children?
Oh what a red moon

Oh what a red moon
And whose is it? Children?
Oh what a red moon

What a red moon
And whose is it? Children?

Evening’s wooden drum
Like empty words