Story Behind I Am The Moon
The project I Am The Moon, started taking shape in May, 2020, two months after the band was forced off the road by lockdown. Mike Mattison sent an email to Derek, Susan, Gabe and Tyler with a suggestion for the group: read Layla and Majnun. Written by the 12th Century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, the poem is an enduring tale of star-crossed devotion and was the title inspiration for Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. – an influential album for TTB. But Ganjavi’s vast 100-page poem resonated with Mike in an altogether different way. Mike explains that, the Clapton album is one point of view, Layla as this love object: 'I want you, I can't have you.'" But after Mattison read the original work, "I realized there are many things going on from different perspectives" and proposed, in his email, "revisiting this material as a band, as writers."
"When Mike said, 'Well, what does Layla think about all this?', I thought that was an amazing way to look at the story," Trucks says. I Am The Moon was written collectively and collaboratively, with band members contributing different perspectives on the poem. By January 2021 the band was recording at Tedeschi and Trucks' home studio, Swamp Raga, in Jacksonville, FL, with Derek behind the board as producer.
"It's amazing," Trucks says, "because we wrote most of this music in a pretty short time span. There are even chord changes that mirror other tunes – themes and variations, lyrical allusions, that pop back up." He continues: "You always want to do something bigger and thematic. This is the first time it happened naturally." The decision to sequence and release I Am The Moon in four distinct episodes came "when we started thinking of records we love," Trucks says, citing Axis: Bold as Love, the 1967 LP by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. "It's 36 minutes long. That's the way to digest a record."
As you watch I Am The Moon: The Film, you will see a deep array of psychedelic imagery, vibrant colors and sculptures. Many of those scenes were shot at the internationally renowned arts site in Buena Vista, Georgia, Pasaquan. Created by the eccentric folk artist Eddie Owens Martin who in 1957 changed his name to St. EOM (pronounced Ohm) and became the first Pasaquoyan. He worked on the art project that became Pasaquan for 30 years, creating six major structures, mandala murals and more than 900 feet of elaborately painted masonry walls.
Pasaquan lavishly fuses African, pre-Columbian Mexico and Native American cultural and religious symbols and designs. Trucks first discovered Martin and his art as a teenager, through his friend and mentor, the late singer Col. Bruce Hampton. St. EOM's work now sits in major institutions such as the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. and Pasaquan is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.