A Letter For Esther Plumb

by JP Houston

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A Letter For Esther Plumb began as a thought 'round about 2006 in Montreal. Living at the top of the Plateau in an old brownstone, I would receive letters addressed to the previous tenant, Esther Plumb. I always thought it needed to be a song. Many years later, I got around to writing it.

The song is about a lost, haunted love. Our singer, perhaps a french fisherman, tells his story. One day she was gone. Maybe across the ocean to Canada. All she left him was a note. He spends his days and nights pining, dreaming she might come back, and putting messages in bottles.

This version was done at home in Los Angeles while I was renting The Snow White Cottage. Legend has it, the Disney animators had worked out of the property while drawing Snow White. The old European architecture is clearly mimicked in the film. It was also one of the last places Elliott Smith lived. The mood of the cottage definitely colored the song.

I brought in some amazing musician friends to track the rhythm section. Drummer Bryan Head (Supertramp, Foreigner) was set up in the bedroom with a small kit. The great Joe Karnes (Imperial Drag, Fitz and the Tantrums) laid down the bass in the living room. North Star Sessions' Matt Szlachetka added a cool volume peddle part on his tele, and picked out one of the two acoustics on the song. I played rhodes, acoustic, and some organs.

I took the tracks to my old friend Tom Rogers (Magnetic Fields, AM) to mix and master. Tom had his suite set up in the old Wilder Bros Studio on Santa Monica Blvd. A 1970s wood panel relic, where people like Don Henley probably did too many lines and put out midnight calls for a sax soloist. The room did have a sort of spooky musk that helped give the track some of it's eeriness.

If you can, please drop some change in the hat. I think fifty cents sounds fair.


Long gone by, by the sea and the sky
There I lie, with my girl by my side
with my girl by my side

To and frow, on the ocean I row
Back and forth, I rock and I roll
I rock and roll

So behind the skyline lies a song still unsung
Though I went and said it once, in a letter for Esther Plumb

One dawn rose when the water was froze
There a note, where my girl used to go

Ebb and flow like the tide and the tow
Blue and slow, I rock and I roll
I rock and I roll

So below the ocean sighs the sound of waving love
Oh, I know I heard it once in a letter from Esther Plumb

I ask you duly, would you be by me close?
I beg you truly, are you hearing my voice?
I call the stars not to light up the sky 'till it's right
when I'm holding you tight in my arms

Long gone by, by the sea and the sky
There I lie, with my girl by my side
with my girl by my side



released June 20, 2012
Written, arranged, produced and recorded by JP Houston
at The Snow White Cottage, Los Angeles

Mixed and Mastered by Tom Rogers
at Atomix Studios, Los Angeles

JP Houston - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards.
Bryan Head - Drums
Joseph Karnes - Bass
Matt Szlachetka - Guitar



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JP Houston California

I play piano, sing songs and host my radio show American Parlor Songbook

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