“The Way To Z”

Percy Fawcett

One weekend morning in 2011 or 2012, I was sitting in a coffee shop with my son Wyatt working on song ideas as he did some homework. I mentioned to a young woman at a table next to us that I was working on a collection of songs about people that went missing. She showed me her copy of “The Lost City of Z,” David Grann’s book about Percy Fawcett. I went out and got the book that day. Over the course of the next five years or so, I read the book a couple times, made pages of notes, and eventually wrote the song.

Fawcett disappeared in 1925 in the Mato Grasso region of the Amazon. Instead of recounting the Colonel’s multiple journeys and travails in Amazonia, I decided to write about his relationship with Nina, his wife. I chose to write it in first person, and to write what I imagined he might have been thinking when he realized his end was near. So in a way this is a fictionalized version of what he might have told Nina at the time if he could have.

Matt Bissonette plays acoustic electric bass on this song, and as usual comes up with stuff I could never dream of. Matt recorded his tracks at home, and being the pro he is, sent me multiple takes, using multiple optional instruments, recorded on a couple different amps as well as direct (for you recording geeks). I was very fortunate to meet Matt back in 1990, when he used to play showcases with me in Los Angeles. Matt now tours with Elton John.  I think all of Matt’s shows with me in the early 90’s were at the club “At My Place” near Wilshire and 14th in Santa Monica. At My Place closed in 1992. The club’s manager was Matt Kramer, who I’d first met when I played at the hoot night at The Troubadour in 1978 (a trip my friend Joe Bierek, my girlfriend Rita Hudson and I made to LA from Oregon in his ’66 VW Bug, listening to Steely Dan’s “Aja” most of the way).

Scott Laningham plays percussion on this song. Scotty and I have been good friends since the early 90’s. Though we’ve collaborated on a couple things over the years, this is the first released recording that Scott and I are on together. He’s a wonderfully talented drummer—one of the best in Austin, and is the drummer in “Church On Monday,” an award winning jazz quintet lead by saxophonist Elias Haslanger. Scott performed with me at my first show in many years on November 6, 2016 at Strange Brew in Austin.

“The Way To Z”

Amazonia, make me sanctified

For I have forsaken my lover and my bride

She waits for me now to return

A reunion that’s never to be

All is lost on the way to Z

 

Will you remember me in Devon

Where we strolled along the sea

Beneath that glorious sun of summer

Where you first gave yourself to me

Forgive me for leaving you there

For the wonders that you’ll never see

All is lost on the way to Z

 

There is room in the halls of pleasure

For a long and lordly train

But one by one we must all

File on through the lonely aisles of pain

 

Nessa rua, Nessa rua tem um bosque

Que se chama, que se chama solidão

Dentro dele, dentro dele moa um anjo

Que roubou, que roubu meu coração

 

Mato Grasso, wealth of riches untold

For I have surely crossed you

And found no grand lost city made of gold

Now the last rays fade over the hills

There’s only daylight between you and me

All is lost on the way

All is lost and I’m afraid

All is lost on the way to Z

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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