Most of the songs on Dear Heather were recorded in Leonard’s home studio. Could you describe the working process? For instance, when recording the background vocals, were the arrangements and lead vocals already done or did the process move back and forth between the leads and backings?
The music tracks were complete but there was some flexibility between the recording lead and bgs [background vocals]; and one may have influenced the other. Leonard has always given me complete creative freedom on vocals. And although I’ve heard a rough track before the session, it doesn’t mean I know what I’ll do when I step up to the mic. This was especially true on Morning Glory. On several occasions we sat for an hour or two listening to the track and he’d say, ‘This is going to be so great! We’ll just chant, ‘morning glory’ and maybe sing a few lines about how beautiful the morning glories are.’ Meanwhile, he hadn’t written or recorded his speaking part yet, so all I knew about the song was that a 7-foot high wall of morning glory vines in his backyard inspired it. He never knew this, but the more he played the tune the more bewildered I became. It was so slinky and quirky that I had no clue what to do on it. I avoided that session for months until it was one of the last things on the record to complete. By then I thought I’d just give it a shot and it wouldn’t be usable, but at least I did some other good work on the record. So we rolled the tape and a minute of his monologue went by and nothing came to mind. Another two minutes passed and I was starting to sweat because I just didn’t hear anything to sing. Leonard was sitting in a chair four feet away from me with his eyes closed and he didn’t seem perturbed; but I felt like I was really blowing it. As his monologue ended I thought, ‘oh, whatever’ and I started singing, ‘oh, the morning glory.’ When it was over I gave him a look like, how horrible was that? He nodded and said it was just what he had in mind. So I tripled that line, added the harmonies, threw in some ‘glorias’ and by then it really was rather beautiful.
From Interview With Anjani at Dear Heather