In March, when the lockdown caused by the novel coronavirus began to shut communities and businesses down and isolate people from their families and friends, Matt Jones turned to a pastime that has always been a personal salve for him: music.

Formally a touring musician with Edwin McCain, Matt is now the Chief Financial Officer of Aspen Skiing Company. He certainly had a lot on his mind, including how to successfully navigate the troubling financial waters caused by COVID-19 and the lockdown. But like many of us, he was most profoundly affected by the emotional toll of social distancing.
“To me the most jarring thing was suddenly not seeing anyone,” says Matt. “Friends, family, coworkers, kids’ classmates and teachers ... no one. And not knowing when that might ever happen.”

Originally, he intended to record a cover song featuring other musically talented SkiCo employees, but the idea felt fleeting. “At one point I saw a Walmart commercial with employees singing ‘Lean on Me’ and thought, 'OK nevermind,' and I gave up. Then a few days later I thought, what if we write a song? I know no one has done that, because there’s a 99% chance it will be terrible. Songwriting is hard.”

Matt set to work, first by ordering software and recording equipment he knew he’d need to complete the track. (“It turns out this is kind of like attempting to fly the space shuttle with no training,” he says, with regards to the new gear). Crafting the music actually came easily, a testament to the emotions everyone was feeling at the time. He crafted the chorus to a fledgling song called “See You,” then invited friends and colleagues Auden Schendler (SVP of Sustainability) and Michael Miracle (Director of Community Engagement) to write more lyrics. A song began to take shape.

However, laying down the track in the middle of a pandemic required a lot of careful consideration as well as engineering and ingenuity. Matt outfitted his barn with recording gear, ran cables everywhere, and fashioned an isolation booth for vocals and instruments, such as the saxophone part that would be played by Auden’s daughter, Willa.

"See You"

Lyrics by: Matt Jones, Auden Schendler and Michael Miracle

You never seen a place like this my friend
Cold wind blows straight through the wall
So lonely, streets are all empty
This must be the site of The Fall

And I’ll see you, when I see you, see you again

Remember all those days of our complaints
We got the time to miss them now
Cut down, changes in the weather
That sickle don’t need a plow

And I’ll see you, when I see you, see you again

This scene has only new romantics
Stocking shelves and writing names
No room for beauty down on Colfax
Only time for hunger games

And I’ll see you, when I see you, see you again
And I’ll see you, when I see you, see you again
“Recording is normally a very social thing where you get together and vamp off of each other,” observes Matt. “It requires time together to develop chemistry and trust, and we couldn’t do that.”

Matt also reached out to Jonathan Ballou who — in addition to being Managing Director of the Ski & Snowboard School — is a classically trained bass player. He wore a mask, as they all did, and laid down a bass line in one go.

For the finishing touch, Hannah Berman (SkiCo’s Sustainability and Philanthropy Manager) was invited to sing some of the lyrics. Hannah had been involved in various singing groups, and music had always been a topic of conversation between her and Matt. Now, he was asking her to tie the whole thing together with her voice.

“It was such a fun project,” says Hannah. “The lyrics are pretty powerful and pretty apt for the times. If you listen to the original recordings, it was pretty ‘poppy.’ Then we simmered on the lyrics and felt that something a little more weighty and a little slower and punchier better fit the tone.”

The final song, “See You,” can be listened to here, and features the cover art work created by another Aspen Skiing Company employee, Margie McClain.
As for Matt’s final impression, he has no regrets.

“I think it’s a testament to trying really stupid things,” he says. “'Hey y’all: Let’s make a song, socially distanced in a barn with people who’ve never played or written together, and have our finance guy engineer it! And then release it to the world for everyone to hear! In a PANDEMIC!'"

"We should never have tried something like that," he concludes. "But I’m glad we did.”

About the Author

Aspen Snowmass blogger photographer Kevin Day
Aspen Snowmass blogger photographer Kevin Day

KEVIN DAY

Kevin Day is a professional wine writer, travel blogger and photographer based in Colorado. A lifelong resident of the state, he has worked extensively with Aspen Skiing Company and the Colorado Tourism Office, and for some reason, he can still name every 14er in the state off the top of his head (even though he has never climbed one). His wine writing has been honored by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

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