After playing with Lee in a lot of
improvised contexts, was it weird
to work in the realm of actual
songs and compositions?
No, not at all. I used to grapple with
the implications of occupying those
two divergent streams, but I don’t
really live in that mode of thought
anymore. And knowing Lee and
Thurston over the years and watch-
ing how open and spontaneous they
can be in any world, in any way,
that’s helped immensely.
“Xtina as I Knew Her” is a very
strong example of those two worlds
colliding. It’s deep in abstract textures and ripping solo work.
Well, Lee was so relaxed—it was just a
very relaxed situation. He just let me
come up with whatever idea I wanted,
directing me just a little. And then,
because we were using Pro Tools, he
could grab whatever parts he liked.
But I was surprised how much he
took and how audible he made it.
Do you have any favorite moments
on the record?
I listened to it recently in the car and
I didn’t want to get out of the car. I
think that’s when I got really emo-
tional about it. I grew up listening to
music in the car in L.A., and getting
that vibe and all the moods—from
the heavy riffage to the lap steel—
was really cool. There’s both drama
and modesty in it, and things like
the lap steel parts that were so spon-
taneous and inspired.
hitting his stride. The evidence is Between
the Times and the Tides, a collection of 10
tunes that encapsulates both the love of
melody that the young Ranaldo loved in
the work of the Beatles and Crosby, Stills,
Nash & Young and the sense of adventure
and abandon that made Sonic Youth one
of the most vital and original bands of the
last 30 years.
Between the Times and the Tides began as a
solo effort, but it quickly evolved into a band
effort featuring one the nastiest set of ringers
Cont’d from p. 113
FEATURE > LEE RANALDO
you could ever swindle: Former underground
hero, now-Wilco ace Nels Cline and New
York avant lifer Alan Licht support Ranaldo
on guitar, organist John Medeski of Medeski
Martin & Wood contributes a lush Pink
Floyd-ian bed of Farfisa and Hammond
organ, and Sonic Youth drummer Steve
Shelley acts as rhythm anchor. They are
the bedrock for a set of songs teeming with
guitar textures that’ll have listeners doing
aural double takes—and that will undoubtedly surprise many Sonic Youth fans. It’s a
remarkable union of sonics and song.