Today we continue our series of posts that feature the exclusive premiere of video from GSW’s reunion shows in 2010, lovingly shot and put together by our pal Mike Wren. As with our last posts, God Street Wine guitarist Lo Faber tells the tale of the song in the video. Here’s Lo’s take on Princess Henrietta as well as the video of GSW performing the tune at the Gramercy Theatre on July 9, 2010.
Princess Henrietta by Lo Faber
One of my all time favorites — a pure piece of fun. I really think, and I think many songwriters will agree, it is harder in many ways to write something that is pure fun than to write something that is heavy, dark or sad. Life itself, after all, is fraught with difficulties, and to write about those, we need only observe the world; but to make something that is joyous takes an act of creative imagination, a conjuring up of a world of smiles that all too often eludes us in reality.
[Photo by Jeremy Gordon]
Anyway. I remember vividly the experience of writing “Henrietta.” It was, for one thing, very influenced by a band we knew that did a great job of writing pure, fun pop: the Spin Doctors. I think I had recently seen the Doctors at a packed Nightingale Monday night show and been very impressed by their musicianship, their songs and their appeal.
But of course, because I am me, when I set out to imitate the Spin Doctors it came out a bit different. I wrote “Henrietta” pretty much in one sitting, in my head without any instrument at hand. We were playing at a fraternity party at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania in I think winter 1992 and while there was no actual band room, there was a room adjoining the room in which we were playing, that had some armchairs and a fireplace, where one could get a little privacy. I sat in one of those armchairs in the down time after our sound check, and composed all of “Henrietta” including the instrumental. I even had the vocal harmonies pretty much in mind and who would sing which part. This was the only time I ever did this and it was a kind of weird experience: I was so sure I would remember everything about the song I didn’t even feel the need to write any of it down. It was just beamed into my brain, and I could go ahead and play the show and then go home and start teaching it to the band at the GSW house the following week.
It was a very natural song for GSW to learn and I recall it being very easy; I don’t think I ever wrote a chart for it, just played it for the guys. It’s so well tailored to the band’s musical strengths. Our later producer Bill Wray called the groove the “White Boy Jump” and said, rightly I think, that it was the funkiest feel we played. Of course Henrietta soon became a very popular live tune and then the first song on our first major label album, $1.99 Romances.
Lyrically, what can I say? It’s a rock’n'roll comic book about rescuing a princess from human sacrifice. How can you go wrong with that? I love singing this tune and can’t wait to sing it again at the shows this summer.
Upcoming God Street Wine Shows:
August 9 – TRI Studios (Free Webcast)
August 10 & 11 – Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley CA
August 16, 17 & 18 – Gramercy Theatre, NYC NY
Thanks to Lo for sharing the story behind the tune and Mike for his work on the video.