Hasse Poulsen

NOT MARRIED ANYMORE.

Notes on the music and the group.

The songs of Not Married Anymore were written during the 5 years it took my marriage with Claudia to be torn apart. It was a difficult time since it was very difficult to live while love broke apart and understand why we could not separate in respect after more than 20 years of life together. For my part, I was amazed by the level of incomprehension between us: Even though we communicated in French it was clear that words did not have the same meaning for both of us.

Love is and remains love, that is to say a life of passion and close contact with emotion. Divorce is love in negative, but it's alive.

By and by words came together and became songs to a certain extent expressing what I was experiencing while still being pure fiction: love can be like this, a divorce can be like that. In litterature this is called autofiction.

In art and music you have to find a balance between the private and the universal. When you reveal parts of your inner life you have to do it in a way where it tells more about each of the listeners than about you. When the private becomes an involuntary glance into a life it feels unbearable and embarrassing. I hope the songs of Not Married Anymore do not give such an impression of sharing trivial and unimportant details of a life without interest. These songs are about the emotions - often contradictory - that we encounter in many moments of life. 

On the CD there are 15 songs. We made the recordings in a rented house in Maribo, Denmark. Maribo is located in southern Denmark in what is typically called the outskirts of the country. You can buy a house there for 30.000€ and it is from certain points of view a neglected part of the country. But Henrik and Tim played the whole month of August in the musical Dr. Zhivago which was given on a stage mounted in the woods. For 3-4 days we recorded Not Married Anymore during the day and when in the evening, Henrik and Tim left for their show I recorded the voices.

We recorded everything on 8 tracks with cheap equipment where the cables, microphone stands and microphones were lent us by the Gladsaxe Conservatory.

My wish is that the music reflect the emotional nudity of the process of divorce: I want no embellishments and no fancy orchestrations. I often dreamed of adding strings or horns, doubling guitars and percussion, adding several vocals etc, but we chose to limit ourselves to one voice, one guitar, one double bass and a drumkit (recorded with three microphones).

We did not have a sound engineer with us, but I have worked a lot with Gilles Olivesi and while playing and recording I kept in mind the possibilities that the simplicity gave him to ad colour to the mixes. He has obviously been frustrated about the poor quality of the recordings and our lack of knowledge about placing a microphone, but despite it all he has managed to mix and create a global sound that perfectly reflects what I had in mind. 

A few words about the songs:

The first song is NOT MARRIED ANYMORE which is one of the last to be written, being written at the end of April 2018. Armand Meignan had just asked me to make a project around the music of Tom Waits so I was listening to the music of Waits all the time. This song and the arrangement is directly inspired by his music. Tim plays spoons and sometimes drums. The drumkit here is recorded with only one microphone: a revelation for me. It is a very autobiographical song and works well as an introduction to the whole record.

DRINK TO MY HEALTH is a pretty fast country / bluegrass tune. The lyrics point directly to Hank Williams while laying out some a central question: How is it possible to hate someone with whom we have shared many good years of life? The marriage does not work anymore, but I wish you all the best and lots of luck on your way.

I am very proud of the song ASK YOURSELF. It was written at the end of 2016, at a time when it was clear to me that we had to end our marriage. I like the lyrics with their nods to Elvis Costello (I love the song Beyond Belief from Imperial Bedroom). Also having just read the autobiography of Costello I was very inspired by his ability to write songs with very jazzy harmonies and rather complex melodies. As if jazz compositions fare better with him than with jazz musicians. And I really like this melody.

A SINGLE DAY which was written at the end of 2016, is a lament for the end of love for the fact that it is so difficult for two people who have shared years of love to quit each other respectfully. It took us another two and a half years to unravel everything. Justice in France does everything to make divorce unpleasant, long, overwhelming and dangerous. There is nothing good to say about the French justice system when it comes to divorce.

The rock song AT THE END OF A ROPE was written in early 2015, and I played it in several contexts, including with Sighfire. It shows a psychedelic rock trio way of playing that I like a lot. My Guild Jumbo guitar (with which I play everything on the album) loves the distortion and open free playing.

WHAT KIND OF A WORLD is a jazz ballad like Ask Yourself. This is not a divorce song but a blues for the state of the world. This is a common feature of a divorce. We find that we have nothing to hope for.

THANKS FOR THE FIGHT was written a month after the Maribo recordings. Henrik and I recorded it at his summer house in Frederiksværk. It has this intimate jazz side that I love (like Jan Johansson's Jazz på Svenska and the Busking duo that I play with Hélène Labarrière). This is the only time Henrik plays the melody. It's a song of regret. I think it is more of a fantasy than an expression of my own emotions. But it's the truth and truth is true!

THIS IS THE DAY was written on a train back from Switzerland. We played it the same night with Sighfire. It's a very slow tempo. The French text that I did not record (or rather: that Gilles found displaced on the record) sais: It depends on you, if between us there will be love or not. … it takes courage. One of these days. I do not know if we had courage.

If you did not know it, it's time to unveil/reveal it: I love Johnny Cash and I never get tired of listening to him. He sings as if he were revealing his own life, just you and him, with one of the most impressive and beautiful voices ever on earth. HOLLOW OLD BONE is written like his own songs, and I sing it in a key that he used a lot: The A-major. It allows to present a great deep voice. (mine does not compare well with Cash, but no one compares well with him). Even the lyrics take from country-western with words like stallion and vale. Vale probably comes from Danny Boy, but I love how Cash sings the old songs from England and Ireland.

I NEED A NEW GIRL is a duet with Tim. It is pure and authentic rock (I do not believe in the ideas of purity and authenticity, I think they are concepts for prison guards) as we love to hear on big summer festivals. And it's true that I needed another woman, maybe tasting several, which did not happen.

IN A DEAD MAN'S SKULL. How give this song a title? What is it about ? It's poetry and I probably don't understand it better than you - but I really like the lyrics and pictures. The solo guitar playing is inspired by Bouboucar Traore with the unison octaves. Gilles has created a very special sound that I like a lot on this song.

One of the oldest songs on the album is WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND, which dates from April '14. I was already singing it for the release of The Man They Call Ass, and I recorded it with Henrik and Tom Rainey at one point. But for this version I changed to a key which suits me better. What can you say if you like music in minor?

Another of my great heroes is Bob Dylan. I have listened to and shivered with his songs all my life. SHIP FULL OF GHOSTS is played and sung in the style of the great Bob, and I am proud of the pictures about memories described as a ship full of ghosts, a ship on which you fled. I recorded this song at home in late 2018 with a cheap microphone from Studio Electronics. I find that the sound of the recording underlines the references in a pleasant way.

With THOUSAND VOICES we are getting close to the end, and the song is thought to be a show ending. Ringo is not far away. Ringo is never far from Tim.

We finished the disc with ONLY SOMETIMES. It was the only place possible for this song. I like it very much. It is built on a repetition of the D6 and D(add9) chords. I thought of certain songs by Paul Simon and about how he writes beautiful melodies talking about where he is in life. Moments of truth! Gilles loves this song and he mixed it with beautiful effects in a style that opens to other spaces than the rest of the tunes.

Finally you probably noticed that there are no guitar solos at all. Solos are not the subject of this album and there are sixty records with my solos on for those who miss them.

I wish you a pleasant listening.

Hasse Poulsen August 2019.