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“A very stressful time. I finished up an incredibly difficult year of touring, writing some new material and recording. I went back in the studio, but there were other aspects of life to deal with. I went on the tour playing guitar for Mick Jagger, and at the end of the tour I picked up Giardia in Southeast Asia. Only I didn’t know it for a while – it went undiagnosed for the entire year that I was recording Flying.
"I would go to the hospital, and they’d be like, ‘Oh, this is what you've got. That's what you've got.’ Anywhere from my appendix to my brain – every time they had an idea about what was wrong with me, it was always wrong. And then my father had a stroke and went into a coma – he passed away. My grandmother passed away a few weeks after that. It was so stressful and crazy. And then I had braces on my teeth that year, for TMJ, which was bad timing to say the least.
“It was just so difficult and insane, but there was also this enormous amount of creativity. I was so excited that I had fans! [Laughs] Every time it got rough in the studio, all I'd have to do is close my eyes and think, ‘Remember when you were on tour. You started to play Always or Satch Boogie, and the crowd in that small club went crazy.’ I said, ‘That's what it's all about. That's the biggest gift the universe has ever given you. All this other stuff, it's going to work itself out. The braces are going to come out. They'll even figure out what's wrong with your intestines. Everything's going to work itself out.'
“That, I think, went into us not giving up on the record. John was extremely patient with me. We went into it with a bigger budget, and we were thinking, ‘Wow, we can sit here for three months straight and just record.’ Of course, after three weeks, it was like, ‘I can't take this. It's just too much work.’ It was 10 hours a day, with me being the only guy playing everything – and all this other stuff was happening. I was quickly getting burned out.
“The schedule eventually had an interesting effect on the composing and how everything wound up finally getting arranged and when things got recorded. John had started showing up with a video camera. He got some really grainy-looking but cool videos, one of which is me doing the solo to the song Can't Slow Down. Seeing it recently, I couldn't believe the amount of concentration on my face. I was just completely focused on this ridiculous solo. But, man, did I look bad. I couldn't believe how bad I looked. I was way too thin, very pale. I thought, ‘Oh, you poor guy.’ I don't want to go back there."