Some years ago I took a kayak around Isla Espiritu Santo, Island of the Holy Spirit, just outside La Paz, MX, about a mile off land. I mostly wanted to disappear. I was not interested in seeing anyone and had brought just a backpack and guitar with me. The island is uninhabited and beautiful. Cliffs, caves, whales, a sea lion colony, and bay after bay of cove beach.

  I do not have any significant skill at kayaking, but was able to be out for 4 or 5 days on just what I had brought with me. I was a pretty confused person at the time, just at the end of a 3 year relationship, still quite shy, and at fight with doubt. I wanted to be alone. The sun would go down at about 6 p.m. and I would sit and play guitar on the beaches I was on with no particular goal of practicing or writing. It felt nice to enjoy that freedom of no expectations from self or others.

   One afternoon I stopped at a beach where a family was also camped. It was very rare to see anyone else aside from a passing fishing boat while out around the island. The family was father, young girl, about 10 Id guess, and her brother, a couple years older. They had a story as well. I did not ask about it. They seemed happy and were inquisitive, but I sensed they knew I was bothered in the general sense. We ended up spending the late afternoon walking up into the rock formations on the island and talking only about the present. That seemed to work well for everyone.

   The daughter's name was Kaylee and she was very bright in word and presence. She asked repeatedly for me to play the guitar when we were walking, when we were eating, when we were seated on the beach. I could not really do it. I was really tired of doing anything for anybody else, as simple and lovely as it may be. 

    Later in the evening, about at sundown, I took my guitar and kayak for a short trip to a beach, also reachable by land, that was visible from the one we were camped at. I played  there for a few minutes until Kaylee walked over by herself and sat a ways away to listen. I kept playing and she listened without interrupting. She seemed to know that was what I needed. She walked away after a bit and I played into the night. In the morning I felt proud and less vulnerable. Something about her listening in such innocence and curiosity was very memorable.

     I wrote the song , "Kaylee", years after. It seemed to imply romance in how it came out, but the love is not of that kind, nor meant for any person in particular. Love for a moment that transcended doubt and desperation. Thanks to music and the sharing of it, I have had a number of these experiences.

  

The song was recorded solo on Wurlitzer electric piano at One East Studios in New York City.  Billy Martin was also there and played drums, though I don't remember if we did that live or he overdubbed them.  Anton Fier produced the record and had this old drum machine, analog, with protruding plastic buttons, it looked like an old wooden radio, that he created a loop with. I think the button on the machine was called "tango", or maybe "cha cha", don't recall exactly. Tony Scherr plays the upright bass on the song and made it alive in such a beautiful way. Anton suggested horn parts for the chorus, which I wrote out and Steven Bernstein played, the two of them moving things around a bit to help me out. Anton did a lot of that. Everyone that played is so thick in imagination and personality, everything is very alive on the record the way I hear it.

 

This Video Mario Rodriguez made was filmed with a handheld camera in Xilitla, Mexico.  

 

 

Todd Clouser - "Kaylee" Video (Official) from Todd Clouser on Vimeo.

 

 

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