Jerry and I both liked the studio. He would come out to my place and just pick. And, of course, when you come to my place, it’s about recording. I was the first one of us to have a studio back in the late-‘60s, even though we didn’t have any money. So around ‘86 or ‘87, when he started learning his new MIDI guitar, he’d come over and just pick. I would be turning knobs and he’d be sitting there, playing and responding to what we called “the scroll,” which is just moving through sounds until we’d find the ones that we loved.

Walter Cronkite was a dear friend of mine for 27 years, and he asked me to do this thing for the America’s Cup in 1987. So I called up Jerry, Carlos Santana and Zakir Hussain, and we had these sessions around the same time. I forgot about the recordings until one of my archivists found all of these beautiful Jerry tracks. I brought those back into two songs [“Time Beyond Reason” and “Jerry”]. So you can hear his sweet guitar and the MIDI signal, which could be a bassoon, a flute or other instruments. You can look at Jerry as indigenous, in a way.


I have these miniature donkeys [on my property], and they make these amazing sounds. We have a pond with a frog and I have my Sony recorder with me almost all the time, recording everything. I think there are 30 of my field recordings in the Mickey Hart Collection at the Smithsonian. You can find out everything about a culture through its music—like talking books. That has always been a fond thing for me.

My mom had inherited a Count Basie/Duke Ellington collection from one of her relatives, and in the middle of it were these 78s— it was pygmy music, rainforest music from Africa and so forth. I fell in love with those charming, out-of-tune voices— they never let me go. When I was a kid, I was foraging and hunting, and, like the pygmies, I took on that persona. Even though I was young and didn’t understand why, I was attracted to it. The walls used to just disappear. I lived in a very small place. When you put these recordings on, you transform into a whole other person, a whole other being.