Bails and Outtakes

Gou Miyagi’s portion from a skate film called “Overground Broadcasting” is worth noting for its penultimate scene. Here, Miyagi attempts to ride a rail sculpture. It takes him five painful tries later he finally makes a smooth landing.

This scene is a distinct feature of certain skate videos. Instead of showing the skater only when he lands tricks, the video is edited in a way that includes bails as well. These failures are not just bloopers during the credits but immersed in the video itself. Each attempt is as important as the success it is leading to. The veil of a polished skater is drawn back to reveal a human being involved with the messy odds and ends of a skate session.

Beyond the final cuts we hear, sometimes entire recording sessions are issued in box sets. Take Miles Davis’ posthumous The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions. The five cd’s include various outtakes of the tracks that both appear on the record and were excluded from the initial release. One included is from take nineteen of a tune. These are the almost landings that are on a release divorced from the landings.

What if, like in the Miyagi video, an album was made of takes which lead up to the final take of a song? It is fascinating how the end result that we hear is removed from what it took to get there. Unless we dig for recording sessions, we will not hear the steps. That is, unless like skaters, bails are included as part of the music.



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