Video Premiere: Stephen McCarthy & Carla Olson “The Bell Hotel is Burning”

Stephen McCarthy & Carla Olson
Photo provided by Bob Frank Entertainment

Another fantastic track from the new duets album from Stephen McCarthy and Carla Olson.  ‘The Bell Hotel is Burning’ is a quiet telling of the tale of a once grand hotel and the characters who inhabited it.  The black-and-white imagery of the video is as haunting as the song itself.  Lyrics by George green, an elegiac acoustic guitar, and a mellotron solo breath with a sense of sadness and foreboding.

Describing the inspiration for the film noir look of the video Director Tim Roth says, “The song itself is very evocative with great lyrical imagery, so the general feel and time period were easy for me to imagine as a mix between turn-of-the-century elegance and a film noir aesthetic. At the time Carla and Stephen came to me with this song I was living in Vienna, and so the only obvious solution to create a compelling video without access to the artists was to create this entirely using CGI in Unreal Engine.”

The two singers first collaborated in 1987 working on Olson’s album with Gene Clark, ‘So Rebellious a Lover’.  In 2022 they once again collaborated working on two songs for the ‘Americana Railroad’ compilation which led to the recording the ‘Night Comes Falling’ album.  Joining them in the studio were Paul Marshall on bass, Mitch Marine and Benjamin Lecourt on drums, Skip Edwards on keys, Jeff Lewis on flugelhorn, and Jesse Owen Wells on fiddle.

Olson reflects on how the duo began working together, “Stephen and I have always appreciated each other’s talents and after we recorded the two songs that appeared on ‘Americana Railroad’, we said, ‘Let’s do more. Let’s record an album.’ We agreed that we should give writing together a try. The results of that idea can be heard on the five co-written songs that appear on the album. We also thought it would be fun to include a few covers. ‘One That Got Away’ has long been my favorite Desert Rose Band tune as is ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’ by the Beau Brummels. I also wrote a few songs with the late George Green in the 80s including one that Percy Sledge recorded, ‘The Grand Blvd.’ I still have a few sets of words he’d given me, and his family gave Stephen and I permission to write music to one, ‘The Bell Hotel Is Burning.’ It’s an emotional and evocative lyric that will hopefully move the listener as it did Stephen and I.”

About Ed Donnelly 124 Articles
Ed Donnelly is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer and record producer from Los Angeles. He has worked with Willie Nelson, Crowded House, Marc Cohn, Jools Holland, Matchbox Twenty, The Cult, BoyHaunt, Gladys Knight, Trent Summar and The West Coast Mob, Smashing Pumpkins, Del McCoury, OK Go, Exodus, Molly Leach, Tom Morello, O.A.R., Madness, The Crystal Method, DrunkHungry, Deadmau5, Zac Brown, CrysP Tyger, Bighead Todd and the Monsters, Jake Shimabukuro, Barenaked Ladies, Tsar, Killola and more. Donnelly regularly performs with Nathan Jacques as well as Little Silver Hearts and records with GhostsDream. Little known fact: He previously held Top Secret Security Clearance with the U.S. Department of State and Q Clearance from the Department of Energy. He currently runs The Barber’s Basement Recording Studio in Highland Park and is a partner in The Atmos at Lemontree Studio.
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