Laissez-Faire

Laissez-Faire visualization with lyrics
Photograph: Igor Vetushko

“Laissez-Faire” is the fifth song on Bachelors Anonymous’ unreleased third album, The Big Picture, remastered and released digitally. Bachelors Rob Berg and David Hughes tell the story behind the song.


The Music

Rob remembers…

In the ’80s, I discovered caffè lattes! Starbucks to be exact. Whenever I got the chance, I would sit down at an outdoor café, sip a latte, and enjoy whatever scene unfolded around me. The best locations were always in the big cities I frequented—L.A. and San Francisco. One summer—late ’80s?—I found myself in Vancouver, enjoying a latte on a sunny afternoon on Granville Island. 

Granville Island isn’t really an island but rather a peninsula and shopping district in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. The peninsula was an industrial manufacturing area in the 20th century. It now includes a public market, a marina, a hotel, the False Creek Community Centre, as well as various performing arts theatres including the Arts Club Theatre Company and Carousel Theatre. Granville Island was used as the finale of the film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011).

For some reason, on that particular day, the title “Big City Latte” came to my mind and I knew I had to write a song about it. I don’t know if it was that year or the next that I composed the music for what I thought was going to be an instrumental track of the same name. David added the drums and the recording remained on a reel-to-reel tape until last year during the pandemic.

… and the lyrics and recording sections tell the rest of the story.

Granville Island photo
West side of Granville Island in Vancouver, including the Granville Island Public Market. (Image: Zhatt, Wikimedia Commons)

The Lyrics

David explains…

While preparing this album’s tracks for release, Rob suggested spoken word be added to this song, which he’d written as an instrumental. He gave me a scratch vocal track from which to work.

Based on the song’s original name, “Big City Latte,” I began writing the “rap” lyrics on the theme of a barista and his randy patron, mm…, milking the title for sensuality. But, as with “Father’s Day,” I procrastinated, and in the meantime Rob came up with a tune. Yikes!

For the sung lyrics I imagined a protagonist less cynical than the typical Bachelor of three decades ago. And so it’s ironic that Rob’s original scratch choruses—retained—provide a cool counterpoint to the earnest entreaties of the verses.

The Recording

Rob found a stereo mix of “Laissez-Faire” on a reel that was labeled B.A. Vocal Mixes ’90—even though, of course, we had never created a vocal line. Like the others on this album it had been recorded in The Men’s Dept, our Pasadena home studio. Before laying down vocals, Rob added the only overdub: a synth line that doubled the vocal melody he’d created.

We recorded the vocals—Rob on lead and both of us on choruses—at Scott Fraser’s studio, Architecture. It was great to work with his pro Neumann TLM 49 large diaphragm condenser mic attached to a preamp that allowed us to control our own headphone mix.

Lyrics

I know you’re trying
Can’t keep from crying
Lost your soul, lost control
Energy is dying

You’re used to giving
Your impetus for living
Now the dark’s snuffed your spark
Unfastened, unforgiving

Chorus A
And you won’t bother me
No you don’t bother me
Whatever else you do
You don’t bother me

You just can’t cool it
Sit tight and fool it
Comprehend, in the end
You’ll never overrule it

You’re here now being
You’re keenly seeing
I just can’t understand 
What you think you’re fleeing

Chorus A
Chorus B Instrumental

I think you knew it
You almost blew it
Recollect and recognize
Why you have to do it

The door is open
For what you’re hopin’
What’s the hitch, scratch that itch
You’re just myopin’

Chorus A

Chorus B
So you do what you do
And know what you know
And I don’t have a clue
And nothing to show

You dig whenever
Whoever and whatever 
Bon chance, laissez-faire
It’s now or then or never

You have to take it
You cannot fake it
Understand the ampersand
Together we can make it

Chorus A x 2
Chorus B x 1

Lyrics Reprinted by Permission

Credits

See album credits

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