Friday, February 17, 2006

A computer system called Pro Tools can, in the hands of the right person, become an instrument itself.

Because Pro Tools concerns itself with the recording and engineering of sounds made by many other instruments, the keen operator must be more than an instrumentalist. This person must be a conductor, a conduit. A reciever and administrator of collected energy.

When you walked into Nathan Robinson's basement, certain sights and smells might grab you - the ashtray filled with Marlboro butts, the negative transferred image of the Jimi Hendrix screen saver and the sticker mounted to the screen just below it: Work free Drug place. If you were lucky, the air might be filled with the sweet green scent to which the comic sticker referred.

When the music work started, you knew you were in the presence of a conductor.

There were Metallica posters, the photo of Johnny Cash giving the camera the finger. Bottles of Maker's Mark (usually empty). There was a couch at perfect listening range from the monitors and a cup filled with working pencils and Sharpies.

There were other things in the room - a tie-dyed poster made by Nathan's mother. Above Nathan's head where there was an exposed light bulb, Darrick and Suki (of a.m. Sunday) had made an exotic shade from a carboard box. Everywhere reminders that this freaky lion was loved.

Scattered about were guitars and pieces of equipment that Nathan openly accumulated from his work with many people around town.

Now, music business is littered with stories of mistrust and misappropriation of goods. It stands to reason that looking upon these certain pieces of equipment in the basement someone who didn't know Nathan (or even a few who did) might, under a certain mind, use the word, well, "stolen". This word might come up if you weren't able to grasp the code by which many a living breathing artist lives by, that of transferrence of energy. Some may even say Karma. Whatever term it is, it denotes an arena of ledger-keeping that only those who accept full responsibility for their lives can weigh in on. In this universe, there are, as we know, givers and takers.

Nathan was 100% a giver. I guarantee you that anyone who knew him will agree that he kept the most balanced karmaic ledger of anyone in town. He was a gentlemen to ladies and men alike, he had no hesitation to encounter people from any walk of life and call them friend. When he came to New York, it took less than 10 minutes at a bar before Nathan was having drinks bought for him and New Yorkers were telling him to move to their city.

Nathan left too early, but he chalked up many great moments before checking out. He and Travis sat in producer Rick Rubin's house and cried as Rubin played them the last song Johnny Cash ever recorded. Nathan and the members of Digby treated Billy Bob Thorton and a lady friend to a late night dinner at Waffle House. On another trip with Travis, Nathan experienced his good friend becoming convinced that he, Nathan Robinson, was Jesus Christ.

"The way I see it," Travis recalled recently," if I think you're Jesus, and you think you're Jesus, you're JESUS."

Nathan sat on the couch, grinned, and was silent for the rest of the night.

At an a.m. Sunday mixing session Suki mentioned that she was investigating string theory. Nathan immediately showed that he was versed in the ideas of Quantum realities. He said String Theory was some "fucked up shit". Then his head recessed back on his shoulders and he squinted his eyes. "It's like, you and I could be the tape on the tape machine." He shook his head "Oh yeah. It's crayyzy."

This is the universe I know Nathan. I am tape in the machine, and he is operating the channels. Occasionally, he burned himself onto the surface and changed the pitch - and my nature - forever. I don't ever want it to stop.

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