What is the origin of this song?
I wrote String of Days back when I was regularly playing with Phantom Buffalo and we used to play that song pretty often at shows. It was part of a group of songs I was working on that each told a piece of a larger story. This eventually became my album, The Greathart, but it was originally intended to be a Phantom Buffalo album.
How was the recording session?
It was great! The session was at Acadia Recording Company in Portland Maine with my friend Todd Hutchisen engineering. I think we probably did four or five takes and chose the best one. The promo photos of me in the studio were taken that day. So in those pictures, I’m working on String of Days.
What were the references, influences or musical inspiration?
It’s a bit of a storytelling, country/folk type song. I wasn’t conscious of it, but thinking back I was probably influenced by The Byrds, Burrito Brothers, Belle and Sebastian, Fleet Foxes, and maybe Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads. They’re all definitely present in my subconscious mind.
What did you most enjoyed of the writing, production and recording process?
Hearing the song for the first time after my Phantom Buffalo band mate, Tim Burns’s vocals and guitar solo were added to it!
This is a song about a herald driving a team of donkeys through the snow to spread the news that there’s been a sign of good things to come. I’ve always loved positive messages and donkeys too!
What was the biggest obstacle and how was it overcome?
On this album, it’s almost entirely just me playing acoustic guitar and singing but, with Phantom Buffalo, a very key part of String of Days was always Tim Burns’s guitar solo. I really wanted that song to be on my album because it fits thematically and belongs with the other songs but I was hesitant to include it without Tim’s guitar part. It was also recorded during a time when there was an increase of COVID cases which made getting multiple people together in person seem unsafe and also there was the issue of Tim being in Philadelphia and me being in Maine. So there were some obstacles but luckily we live in a time when he could record his part in Fishtown, Philadelphia and send it to the studio in Portland, Maine. Thanks to Todd’s engineering skills, Tim’s guitar and harmony vocals were added to the song. Now it sounds like we were playing together in the same room! Makes me very happy to hear it!
If you could have invited anyone else to collaborate, who would it have been and why?
If I could have invited anyone else it would have to have been the rest of Phantom Buffalo (Phil, Sean, Joe and Jake). Maybe we will record a PB version of it at some point. I hope so!
What is the biggest challenge to present this song live and how has it been solved?
Playing the song by myself is somewhat tricky without Tim. I have to sort of vocalize his guitar line to fill the instrumental break and to keep my place in the song. When I play it at home, my kids sing it with me which fills that part out and makes it sound pretty awesome!
Hello! I’m Jonathan Balzano Brookes and I live in Maine with my wife and three kids. I’m an artist and a musician/singer/songwriter. Anthropomorphized animals are the main subjects of most of my work.