And If You’re My Master

One of my favorite Rolling Stones songs has always been “I Just Wanna See His Face” from Exile on Main Street. For most of the song, there are no real lyrics, just a swirl of atmospheric voodoo (a production aesthetic nicked from the great Dr. John album, Gris-Gris, which had come out a few years earlier). As the song builds to its moment of catharsis, Mick and his backup singers keep repeating, “I don’t wanna walk and talk about Jesus / I just wanna see his face.” It’s a lyric that simultaneously longs for and doubts the divine. I’ve always been a total sucker for the lyrical perspective of the decadent rocker frightened by, obsessed with, and/or doubtful of God. Dylan went through his one-dimensional (albeit fascinating) proselytizing phase with Slow Train Coming and the albums that followed, but it was with Time Out of Mind that he confronted the divine with a mature, nuanced mixture of doubt, humility, resignation, and passionate love. (Thanks to the great derek becker for offering up this worthy interpretation of the album.)

With this week’s song, “And If You’re My Master“, I’m taking my own shot at the secular-spiritual-mystery pop song. I flirted with the genre in “Dynamite Explodes”, the last song on the first Baby Teeth album, but this week’s song is much more lyrically direct. The title is meant to suggest ambivalence and doubt about the divine, but as the song develops, it becomes clear that the narrator is longing to give up the notions of free will and absolute knowledge, and turn over the game to something bigger than himself.

Musically, it’s just a simple piano-and-vocal arrangement, and it owes a lot to the 70s balladry of Andy Pratt…. lyrically too, for that matter (“Finally I’m Yours”, etc.). But it still gave me fits. I recorded the piano take, as MIDI information, to a click track. I thought it was serviceable until I listened back and found that my tempo was all over the place. I spent a long time cleaning this up — moving one note at a time until the performance managed to sound rhythmically accurate and still sufficiently human. I’m still quite enamored of the whole MIDI universe. The piano sound is coolly trashed-out — a combination of reverb and the old Reason Scream processor.

I’m happy with this one; hope you like it too.

13 Responses to “And If You’re My Master”
  1. The Bubble King says:

    The only solid convictions I have are that ghosts and aliens are real.

  2. RØB says:

    It is funny you should mention the Rolling Stones! Well perhaps not really, but this track reminds me a little of “All About You.” I guess your voice actually sorta sounds like Keith’s a little, even? Well, certainly more than it does like Mick’s (see earlier discussion). Only, I guess it doesn’t have the horns section of that Stones song. Kind of the same lazy yet earnest passion though?

  3. Abraham says:

    bb king: thank you as always for your support.

    RØB: I don’t think I know that stones song! which record is that on?

  4. It is on 1980’s EMOTIONAL RESCUE! I admit that when you get past SOME GIRLS or so the desirability/necessity/relevance of Stones albums can tend/seem to fall off drastically, but for my part I typically extend the extremity of that dropoff to just after 1981’s TATTOO YOU.

    But heck, I have 1994’s VOODOO LOUNGE and 1998’s BRIDGES TO BABYLON and even 2005’s A BIGGER BANG and I think those are tight as well. The Stones can still churn out a solid platter of that rocker/ballad cocktail!

  5. Abraham says:

    will have to check out emotional rescue… I certainly know the title track: “I will be your knight in shining ah-mah”. tattoo you is great, and voodoo lounge is pretty solid too! I don’t know the later ones so well. but yeah…. for all their slavish pursuit of the almighty dollar, they’ve managed to maintain a fair degree of consistency!

  6. KatiaSilver says:

    Listen, can we get back on track here?
    The song: it is soothing.
    I like the lyrics. I like the questioning.
    Also, BB King has been watching a lot of ghost story type junk on tv before bed time. (His first comment above.)
    Just so you know.

  7. The Bubble King says:

    She’s right but don’t let Katia confuse you! The TV ghost stories are not the cause, but the effect of my convictions. I have maintained a general acceptance of the possibility of ghosts my whole life, but in the last several years have decided that beyond question they are real. This conclusion is based on much personal, and scientific thought (Always the Scientist!).

    I would say the same thing about aliens.

    My conviction that these things are real is what causes me to watch such TV shows.

    Some of the easiest and simplest things to note about the proof of the existence of aliens and ghosts… many people have witnessed them. Also:

    – I believe Einstein had a theory (or maybe I made the leap from his words?) that because energy cannot be destroyed, the energy of a man’s consciousness must be able to transcend death. To me the idea that death causes a transduction of a man’s consciousness from something that inhabits the body, to a more pure energy form makes much more sense than many other post-life theories. It also explains why ghosts suck the heat out of rooms, and interfere with electronics.

    – Have you ever truly considered the size of the cosmos? Our entire solar system is barely a speck on the ever-expanding fabric of the universe. And some proponents of string theory and m-theory suggest that our universe may be only one in an ocean of billions of universes. The reason there is life on Earth has everything to do with the conditions of the planet. And scientists have determined that for every sun-like start that forms a planetary system… the characteristics of the planets should be roughly the same. It’s complex, and has a lot to do with how the planetary dust settles as it spins outwards from the birth of the solar system, but basically… the very inner planets are too hot for life, the outer planets are too cold or violent, or attract too many crater-punching space rocks to support life. But those planets in the right range, like Earth, will be warm, but not too warm, and are more protected from space debris by the outer planets. What I’m trying to say here is that there are likely countless planets out there which share Earth’s conditions. Given that, it’s almost impossible that one of them hasn’t also spawned life. And shit, we dopes on Earth are still hung on on the internal combustion engine and such sophomoric stuff. Older or smarter civilizations from other planets could easily have developed much better technology for traversing the universe, or even hopping between universes.

    But yeah, we need to get back on track here! It’s a good song!

  8. Yeah right, get back on track? Let’s stay off track for a second.

    Bubble King’s longest paragraph in his most recent comment makes a presumption that limits his arguments further than necessary, and that presumption is that life could only exist on planets with earth’s conditions. Who is to say there isn’t some race of outer-space steel-people that live on one of those planets where acid rain comes down all day and the gravitational pull would crush a human? The answer is “nobody”–sure, the chances that other planets with earth’s conditions exist are great, but no greater or lesser than the chances that such conditions are not even necessary to support life! Just life as we know it. Given (again) the expanse (and alleged ever-expansion) of the universe, it could be argued as silly to assume that life as we know it is the only kinda life that could be out there!

    I went back and listened to “All About You” again and this song doesn’t sound so much like it, but there are still the parallels I drew above, I guess, and it was just a gut reaction, ya know?

  9. The Bubble King says:

    Well, most astronomers and scientists etc agree that life needs rather placid conditions for a long stable period in order to evolve. But all I said was that given those conditions exist in loads of other solar systems, one would have to conclude that it’s more of a longshot that we’re alone in the universe than not. That’s all the support I need in order to be mathematically assured that life exists elsewhere. The idea of life somehow existing in more hostile conditions only adds the icing on the cake. I was just talking about purely uncontestable, solid stuff… without even going into “maybe life evolves on planets with no solid ground, and toxic clouds.”

  10. andy pratt says:


    thanks for mentioning me. blessings to you. I love the Stones. If anybody wants to listen to Andy Pratt a good web site for that is
    but you can also try
    itunes andyprattlovesyou andyprattagain
    I just did a record with Fenando Perdomo of myspace and Miami. It was wonderful to be treated well finally

    rock steady everyone

    Andy Pratt

  11. Abraham says:

    hey everybody… it’s andy pratt!!! thank you for being the first official legend to post a comment on this li’l ol’ blog.

    and yes, everyone should do what andy says and go check out his music, because it’s true blue. glad things worked well with fernando…. from what I know about him, he definitely seems like a kindred spirit to you.

  12. andy pratt says:

    Hey Abraham

    Oh this is YOUR blog.. Have fun, blessings


  13. Abraham says:

    As George Harrison once said, “All I have is yours / All you see is mine…”

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