Posted by Jason Diamond
While it’s not certain whether or not Ryan Schmale named his music project after any specific specter, the songs he creates under the moniker of That Ghost do have a somewhat supernatural feel to them. Sounding like the teary eyed teenage ballads from the early days of rock n roll, some Brian Wilson, and a little like Guided By Voices, Schmale recorded the bulk of the That Ghost catalog in the same house that Jack London once lived in.
Listen: That Ghost – “To Like You”
Did it have any effect on him, and is London “That Ghost”?
Being in a perpetual state of agoraphobic tension whilst being conscious of an inverse feeling of claustrophobic anxiety can drive one into a harsh confusion. Luckily for me, I was able to reason with the bucolic-infatuated side of my two halves and sought the comfort that my “home county” can easily provide (with the aide of gas and a car.) Within ten minutes I am able to take in the best of what my often aggravatingly crowded and apathetic wine country can really offer. Within the county is Jack London’s Glen Ellen estate, on which he composed numerous works and lived out the remaining years of his life. Being a fan of London since childhood, I have visited the estate many times and have taken solace in the romantic stasis in which it remains. Over wine, cider, beer, or water, I composed simple lines, verses, and ideas for songs on a carved up picnic bench. In the valley’s presence I found no difficulties in ignoring the tourists or the park rangers’ golf carts. I found it easier to become lost under eucalyptus than under the ceiling of my cramped room. More important than the numbing effects of the alcohol was the repose that the open grounds, and more importantly, the presiding presence of the history granted; to know that a writer as intense and profound as London had worked in the same space as I did enhanced the writing process that much more.