love-on-a-real-trainI hadn’t had any big plans for this music originally. We had just moved into this great little bungalow on a hill in Echo Park with a beautiful view of the Griffith Observatory and a tiny little studio downstairs. Everyday during sunset I would sit down there, look out through the trees and score the view. It was mainly just what I wanted to listen to as I looked out at the pink LA sky. I’d always get to a certain point and then move on.

Then eventually I thought what if I sent each one to a different artist to write and sing over. I sent each person three or four songs cause I wanted to see what they would gravitate to. Each person did such a beautiful job at bringing a part of themselves and doing something a little different then they usually do. Inara and I used to do plays together at the Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga when we were in Elementary school. Even though we’ve known each other since then we’ve never worked together. I kind of knew she would choose this one because I strategically placed handclaps on the chorus. I figured with Balinese gamelan, hand claps and Inara’s hooky melodies we’d be in the money.

Petra Haden. On our drives to the studio we would talk about our love of music without words. How there’s so many people saying so many things at this point-especially with everyone always updating their profiles and tweeting. Without someone telling you what they are exactly thinking its more ambiguous and emotional and the listener can feel what they want.

Robert is my brother in law but closer to a straight up brother and really the only person I’ve ever physically fought with. For the 1st few days he insisted that he was going to rap over Come Home. And then he would do this little hip-hop dance. I said OK I guess. Then he called saying he found a drug dealer who can rap on it. That I wasn’t so sure about. It didn’t happen but at least he got his dirty south style hi hat pattern on the chorus.

Matt Costa chose an incomplete track with a Tahitian choir sample that I sent to him as an afterthought. He took it and created an eerie 19th century cobblestone street oil lamp oriented summer jam. The first of its kind.

Frank Lyon is in the Brooklyn based band Keepaway. They had done a remix for one of Juliette’s songs and our mutual friend Max said Frank would be perfect for this record. I sent him some tracks, he chose one and sent back all his recorded parts. I don’t think we’ve ever spoken on the phone.

My wife Juliette’s song Gold we originally did for a compilation of lullabies that different artists did for Inara’s baby Otis. When I listened back to it I thought this would be perfect on the record since it came about the same way as the others. And I love the perspective of someone singing to a child.

Jon Hassell exists on a plane somewhere just past where we all are. When I have gotten to interact with him musically I get a glimpse of that place and it’s the real deal. I remember once playing on his record Fascinoma and he told me I was playing too much like a drummer- he wanted something more inhuman like Autechre. I was like hmmmm. I probably didn’t do it right but the sentiment and way to approach things stuck with me over the years.

These are love songs mostly. But what I love about them is that they are imaginary and abstract and somewhat internal. I guess maybe I think that since everything is so in your face these days we’ve lost the mystery that is so important and that’s what I’m always striving for.

—Joachim Cooder

L.A. Times interview: “Joachim Cooder is on the lead track,” April 6, 2012