I’ve known John Wood and Lisa tangentially for about a year and a half.
They’re acquaintances of the sort that you run into at a party or a show, but I don’t know them much beyond that. Still, in the limited time that I’ve spent with them, they’ve always radiated a certain happiness, a kind of energetic stillness. It was with this energy in mind that I approached John about doing a short documentary about his Learning Music project. This is a project in which he makes an album a month every month and a project that in many ways provided the inspirtation and groundwork for Sparrow Songs. But in order for the piece to work it needed to be something more than that or more to the point it needed to be about something more than that.
When we went to his house he invited us into his studio, which sits in a converted garage directly under the house. In the moment that I saw his studio the whole piece came together: It was like an engine room of a ship (and in my view of their relationship that’s exactly what it is). He heads down there and sings and bangs on xylophones and doubts himself and harmonizes and works and works and works. Then he comes upstairs to his wife and dogs and the house and the relationship is better for him having been down there.
It should be said that I got married at the end of June. Single friends ask me what it’s like to be married. Married friends ask me what it’s like to be married. I can’t really say, because I don’t know what it’s like to be married — it changes everyday. Still, those questions were rattling around as I approached this first piece. Lisa and John have a happy marriage and to me, they’ve found one of the secrets and they’ve found it early.
Episode One works to communicate all this, but more than anything I hope that in the brief, fleeting moment while they’re singing and harmonizing and trading looks, it shows how it feels.