Sunday, January 25, 2015

Your Sunday Squirrel

OK, this is the best squirrel photo I've taken in a very long time.  I believe this was on New Year's Day.  I went for a walk and met this guy and a few of his co-rodents.  He held still just long enough for me to take two pictures.  This is the better of the two and it's definitely going on the 2016 calendar.  Thank you, Mr. Squirrel, for being so cooperative.

15. Capitol Hill

Wow, it really has been a while since I posted anything.  And here I thought I'd be done with this by Christmas.  Only two tracks left after this.  This is my first try at dance music.  It's not exactly EDM, although it is certainly dance music as well as electronic.  Being a longtime Belltown resident, I'm always amazed at the elevated social environment of Capitol Hill.  I mean, Belltown folk are basically loners who are constantly dodging bums and crazy while steering their way around puddles of puke and tons of dog crap on the sidewalk.  People on Capitol Hill talk to each other and do things together.  At least in my view.  It's not necessarily a gay or straight thing either.  Sure, they have their bums, crazy people, puke and dog crap, but not at Belltown's volume.  It just seems sometimes that CH is one big club.  And hence this song's chorus: welcome to the club.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Your Sunday Squirrel

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I'm set to record another album in February.  With the two albums from last year, I kind of got into a groove with the preparation.  But those albums had 13 and 14 tracks.  This next one is going to have 45 or 46, so I have a lot of tunes to learns and many, many to send out to musicians playing the sessions.  Why so many?  Well, a few years ago, I was listening to Sandinista by the Clash and it made me think that it had a tremendous amount of filler - dub remixes of previous tunes and the like.  I checked to see how many tracks were on it (37) and made it a goal to write more tracks.  Not only that, but more concise tracks.  I know that it seems ridiculous comparing myself to the Clash.  I'm just a nobody, right?  I mean, I have to keep a day job in order to make albums.  I realize that it's a question of quality and not quantity, but I wanted to use Sandinista as a benchmark.  Nobody does double albums anymore.  And why should they?  Well, for me the question is why not?

In any case, here is a squirrel who was hanging out in Denny Park on New Year's Eve Day.  He was pretty friendly.

14. Federal Way

This isn't my favorite tune from the album, but it was pretty fun to sing.  I ask you this: if the Russian mafia is going to take over any town in the Greater Seattle area, what's it going to be? That's right, Federal Way.  Why?  Just because.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Your Sunday Squirrel

 This is a squirrel just hanging out and being nice and holding still.

 Here is that same squirrel moving at precisely the wrong moment.

 And he's doing it again.

But this squirrel is very special; he has a transparent head.  That's quite rare!

13. Edmonds

I grew up in Edmonds.  When I visit these days, it seems so very quaint, but back when I was growing up, it was tremendously dull.  Everything was far away from where I lived and my parents pretty much always refused to take me anywhere.  There was no public transportation at the time, so I had to walk.  By the time I was driving age, I made up for all that lost time.  But for some reason, Edmonds was completely overrun with very aggressive cops.  They used to pull teenagers over as a matter of course.  I used to get pulled over all the time for really stupid stuff.  Once, they said that I'd flashed my lights and that was illegal.  A friend of mine got pulled over for stopping on the stripe before the crosswalk - not the crosswalk itself, but the line before it.  The cops were the bane of our existences.  And they were all really fat.  If it was a matter of outrunning them, it would have been no problem, but we all drove.  They pulled us over and we were supposed to appear grateful.  This song is about that frustration.

The Hurricane Is Dead

Once upon a time, it was the Dog House.  And so it stayed for decades.  Dick Dickerson played the organ on Fridays and Saturdays and all the barflies sang along.  It was one of the weirdest places around.  Then it was sold and turned into the Hurricane, neither as cheap or as charming.  As far as greasy spoons go, I've always been a bigger fan of the 5-Point.  Their food is tons better, because it arrives at the table generally hot and hearty.  The same could never be said for the Hurricane.  Well, it seems that the entire block has been sold to Amazon.  I heard that they paid a cool $50 million for it.  So progress has upset our urban utopia yet again.  As regular readers know, I have nothing against progress.  I'm all for it, as long as I don't fall victim to it.  I guess the thing that's most disturbing to me is that I'm not more upset about this turn of events.  Someday there's going to be a very large building there that will belong to Amazon.  And someday after that, a company will come along that undoes Amazon.  It may be decades away.  But that building will have to come down one day in the distant future.  And nobody will know that it was the site of the Dog House, one of the last odd places in Seattle.  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

12. Georgetown

When you're writing songs about a city, you have to explore.  There were a lot of possibilities: Beacon Hill, Shoreline, Kenmore, Blue Ridge, Lake City and the like.  But what can you say about any of them?  I had enough trouble writing about a place like Burien.  Seriously, it was difficult.  But Georgetown has this storied saloon/speakeasy tradition that I tried to highlight.  Also, it's pretty ugly.  In fact, it's almost blighted.  Plus, there's a freeway that runs over it.  And there are all these planes landing at nearby Boeing Field.

My friend Jim took me there and I quickly figured out how to approach the tune.  It needed to be gritty and noisy.  I play all three sax parts and Johnny my engineer handles the guitar solo.  I told him to play some crazy shit with minimal attention to the changes.  The result is a perfect wall of noise.  I listened to this tune recently after a long hiatus.  I was pretty surprised at what I was hearing.  It's got drive, but it's also kind of crazy.  I don't write like this anymore.  I think that for the sake of variety on this album, I was pushing my writing chops in various directions.  This is the result of that effort and I like it quite a bit.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

11. Downtown

If you'll recall, a few years back, like, say, three and a half years when I recorded this disc, the Seattle Police Department was having a little problem with shooting people.  It all culminated with the death of a Native American woodcarver named John Williams for the crime of carrying his carving tools down the stuff.  Apparently, the officer who shot him didn't like the way he was looking at people.  That was the most prominent in a series of shootings, most of them involving bummier and crazier elements of society.  They seemed to go down every week or so for a long time.  And almost all of them happened downtown.  So I wrote this song.  My feeling has always been as expressed in the tune: first you shoot the least among us and then everybody else is next.  And I thought that a bouncy protest-calypso was the best vehicle.  

OK, so time passes.  Diaz is no longer chief of police.  These days the chief is actually a woman.  She just started, so it's too early to tell.  Although this song is obsolete, it represents a snapshot of what was going on in the city at the time.  Nowadays police killings around the country are getting a lot of attention, as well they should.  This tune was just my effort to convey my feelings about what was happening here.    

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

10. Burien

What can you say about Burien?  It's a strange place that looks like it's several decades behind the rest of the planet.  Of course, it has a lot of rehab clinics for some reason.  It also has many nail salons.  In fact, too many.  Back a while ago, I went to a Russian banya (that was run by a Georgian guy) with some work friends in Burien.  It was something.  They even gave you birch branches to complete the experience.  You're supposed to use them to exorcise evil spirits or some such.  The main thing is that you're supposed to hit your fellow banya enthusiast with them.  I was tasked with hitting my friend Michelle.  She seemed to like it a bit too much.  Of course, the super-best part was getting all overheated and then jumping into the fairly normally-heated pool.  In Russia - or especially in Finland - you're supposed to jump into a hole chopped into a frozen lake or river.  This is supposed to be good for the system - unless it happens to kill you.  The Burien experience was much more agreeable than that.  I did get to see several coworkers at the time in much less clothing than usual.  It was not unpleasant.  Plus, I felt refreshed.