But Judi, Everything Changes
I wrote this song after my Grandmother Judi (Grammy) and I took a trip to Newport Beach, right around the time that I was beginning a new chapter of my life in New York. Newport is a special place to my family, and we gather there every year with all my cousins, aunts and uncles. She turned 80 that year, and unlike her two sisters, she continued to go in the ocean by herself. There was a scare when a large wave knocked Grammy over, and she sort of just let it take her and tumble her over and over. My Dad ran out to pick her up, but she refused to come out of the ocean. Later on, she laughed and asked if she could borrow my body to swim, instead of using hers.
To me, “But Judi, Everything Changes” is about processing and understanding age. I examined the lives of my lineage: my grandmother, and her mother and her mother for guidance and wisdom. When writing it, I was digging through old memories and preparing for the future, all while wishing for time to stop passing.
When Juletta brought me her demo for “Judi,” I was blown away -- the story, the landscape, the beauty of her voice. Her writing called directly to me, something I still can’t fully explain. I thought there was almost nothing I could do to improve it.
Then a thought occurred to me: I wish I could get The Beach Boys to sing backups for her.
I had been a fan of The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson’s production for years. They create space unlike any other band. I found out that Brian Wilson often used a jazz technique called “close voicing” in his vocal harmonies where he would place the middle voices of the harmony very close to each other in order to create this beautiful tension. That, in combination with having a bunch of singers with similar voices, is part of the reason the band sounded as they did, and why they had such a distinct effect on the listener, and me.
This song was my attempt to learn from The Beach Boys, following in their footsteps and building on top of their groundwork to make something new. With the help of modern technology, and one of the most beautiful songs and vocal performances I have ever heard, “But Judi, Everything Changes,” came to be.