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© Tony Nelson ./Retna Ltd./Corbis
“It was a riff that I had on my iPhone. I liked it and it kept coming back to me. Sometimes a riff has that spark; it’ll stay with you and shine brighter and brighter.
“I recorded the whole track. Conceptually, I wanted to hear all of these guitars. There’s probably 15 guitars on the song – jeez, more than that! Dozens of tracks with guitars, banjos, sitars, mandolins. Sometimes an instrument will come in a little bit here and there, but you can hear it; it makes an impact.
"I’ve known Aimee Mann for a while. We went to college together, and we actually lived a couple of doors away in the same apartment building. She was very good friends with my girlfriend at the time, Pia, who’s now my wife. Through the years, I was always exposed to Aimee’s music because Pia was buying it. There was something in it that really captured me, something very vulnerable yet confident.
“So when I wrote No More Amsterdam, I just had the track. I knew the song needed something, and I tried to write the lyrics, but I was having trouble. My wife said, ‘Why don’t you call Aimee?’
“My mind went through the same as it did with Beverly: ‘Ah, she probably just thinks I’m some shred wanker from the ‘80s.’ But I couldn’t have been more wrong. I sent Aimee the music and she really liked it. She didn’t even know what the word ‘shredder’ was. She thought it was the machine you put your mail and documents into. [laughs]
“It was a great experience. She came over, we connected really well, and hearing her voice coming through my microphone onto my song was such a powerful feeling. ‘Whoa, it’s really her – and it’s beautiful!’ [laughs] She did a great job of writing the lyrics. I was apprehensive about calling it No More Amsterdam because I didn’t want people to think it’s about kicking drugs or something. It’s not about that at all.
“My singing voice is very fragile and raw, and that’s the way that Aimee’s voice is, too. I love the way we sound together.”
“On this track, I used my Ibanez Euphoria and a Taylor 12-string. I also played a cavakino, which is this four-string instrument I bought in South America. And there’s the Coral sitar that I've used on virtually every record. A ton of electrics, too: I used a Tele on one side, a Strat on another. The heavy rhythms, which are kind of buried, that’s a relic’d Les Paul. There’s a lot of dimensions going on.”