The Clouds in Camarillo (LA version)

Sometimes I feel that music, literature and art can be a bit like alchemy.
They can mystically transform something painful and negative into something useful and positive There’s something about shared pain that makes it far less painful. When I was a teenager, I had many a dark night of the soul. If it hadn’t been for the songs, novels and paintings that I discovered during that time, I’m not sure I would have made it through.

My mother was mentally ill. She heard voices. She was first committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital when I was 2 years old and between then and her suicide 9 years later, spent many more stints there. I never lived with her after she was first committed. The state placed me with a foster family and then I lived with my grandmother and various friends’ families. But I would see her once in a while when she was on her meds. She was a gentle and creative human being. She had an amazing smile.

In the summer of 2006 I was on tour in Russia with Brazzaville. We had a few days off in a row and, to save money, we all crashed our young tour manager (Misha Korneev) parent’s flat in Moscow. His parents were away at their dacha and there were plenty of beds, sofas and floor space to accommodate a visiting rock band. One morning over coffee and cigarettes, Misha began playing us a cassette tape of some of the music he’d been working on. There was a keyboard melody that caught my attention. I asked Misha if he would mind if I tried writing something with it.

When I got back to Barcelona, I decided to try writing a some lyrics from my mother’s perspective. I imagined her in Camarillo, looking out a window at the passing clouds and speaking to me, explaining to me what her struggles had been like. Telling me how she stopped taking the pills that kept her from the worst of her symptoms because they made her feel so dead inside.…like the sun was going out.

I ended up releasing 2 versions of the song, one with just my lyrics and the other with both Misha and I singing in English and Russian. I had no idea that anyone would like the song. I almost didn’t include it on the album. As it turned out, It ended up being one of our most popular songs ever. Many times, after concerts, people have approached me and told me that that song helped them through difficult periods in their lives. I don’t think anything can make an artist feel better than hearing that.

This version was recorded in Los Angeles last summer, late on a hot summer night.

I hope you enjoy it.