Tuesday, December 30, 2014

5. Mercer Island

OK, this is one of my favorites.  I really like it.  It's also the very first track that I sang on - ever.  Yep, the first song of my first recording session.  What really does it for this tune is the backing vocals, ably performed by three singers who are way better than I am.  Credit also goes to Johnny my engineer on this and nearly every other project I've done.  He was the one who first suggested having the girls on this.  Me, I couldn't hear it until they were actually singing it.  And then it struck me as an obvious choice.  I couldn't believe how fantastic it sounded.  Plus, it's about architecture.  If you're not from the Seattle area, Mercer Island is a real-live island in the middle of Lake Washington.  In years past, it was something of an exclusive community.  There are still some very impressive fortresses here and there, but the thing that distinguishes it these days is its absolutely terrible architecture.  Sure, every city quarter has its dogs, but on Mercer Island, the dogs are pretty much the rule.  It's astonishing.  When you see a normal-looking house on a normal-sized lot, it seems out of place.  Everything else everywhere is as described in the tune: McMansions, poor designs from the seventies, weird add-ons, odd accessories and much, much more.  You have to see the whole island to believe that houses can look so be yet cost so much.  

Touch the Obelisk of Knowledge!

I dare you!

This has been my view at work for the past week or so.  The sun ducks behind the Continental Place shortly after 3:00 every day, creating a very cool effect.  If I was an early hominid, I'd have no trouble touching this.

Monday, December 29, 2014

4. Belltown

Well Belltown, this is your song.  Until only recently, I didn't like how my voice sounded on this track.  Now I'm OK with it.  I'm not completely enchanted by it, but I don't actively dislike it.  Besides that, it was a chance to write for accordion.  Sure, there's an accordion on TGV, but it's fake.  This one is real.  The trombone and bass are also real.  Everything else is fake: the percussion, the mallets and everything else.  The backup singers also do exist and I'm still quite taken by Alicia Dara's countermelody on the last verse.  Without that, this tune would have been completely hopeless.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

I went to Denny Park on Christmas Eve Day and there were squirrels a-plenty.  This guy was one of them.  He had a very dirty nose.

3. South Park

Prior to writing all the tunes for the album, I went out with a girl from South Park.  I found the place really quite cozy.  Sure, there are lots of weirdos living there, but that's part of the charm.  When I wrote this tune, the main bridge, known as the 14th/16th Ave. Bridge, was being replaced, so there was no direct way in from the east.  That's what the whole "you can't get there from here" thing is about.  I mean, of course you could get there; you just had to go around, up, under and through.  Well, those dark days are over.  There's a new bridge that is a lot less susceptible to collapse.  That's real nice, but it kind of makes my tune obsolete.  Oh, well.  Like I've always said, a lot of these tunes are snapshots of what was happening at the time.  What hasn't changed is the vast toxic plume (mentioned in the song!) beneath most of the neighborhood, so some of it still applies.

Perhaps of slight interest to any songwriters, except for the intro and the outro, which are the same, the chord progression doesn't change for the entire tune.  The melody changes three times (two vocal, one instrumental), but all three follow the same set of changes.  And no, it's not I-IV-V.  It's something else.  That I can't remember.  Anyhow, sometimes I like to see how many coherent melodies I can get out of a given progression.  The record is four.

I made a video of this tune on location, right at the former bridge.  Sure, it's in the vein of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," but it was a lot of fun to make.  I'm trying my best to look like a doofus.  While we were filming (which took about 45 minutes or so), nearly every weirdo in the neighborhood decided to visit.  It was slightly disconcerting, because some of them seemed to be completely against us filming anywhere near them.  Like I said, weirdos.  Here's the video.  It has a whole 64 views:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Golden Hour

 Take that, Werner Herzog!
And that, too!

And then it was over.

Here's Your Damn Postcard!

Sometimes phone photography does not suck.

2. Queen Anne

Sorry for the multi-day silence.  There was this holiday called Christmas.  People are really into it.  Including me.  Anyhow, here's Queen Anne.  It's a big song about a neighborhood that I like.  Of course, I'd never live there, because I'm here.  Y'know, in Belltown.  Don't worry, Belltown gets its due very soon.  And it's a really glum track.  This tune is way more exuberant.  Looking back at it, I would have hired more live musicians, but it stands as some of the best fake drumming I've ever done.  As it is, the only actual live guys on it are Ty the organist and Matt the backup singer.  Everything else is totally fake.  Even the guitar solo.  That's me on my rickety Casio keyboard.  And the thing that sounds like a rhythm guitar is really a clavinet.  And a fake one at that.  It's also my trusty Casio.  So there.  It's all trickery!

Monday, December 22, 2014

1. Bellevue

Here we go.  This is my first album from 2011.  And this tune is what started it all.  I had been writing songs for the better part of a year, not really intending to do anything in particular with them.  But once I wrote this, I knew that I could make the idea into an entire album.  Two months later, I had 17 tracks.  I realize that the Bellevue I sing about is slightly at odds with the Bellevue today.  I don't really care.  It's artistic license.  Who the hell needs to be accurate?  Seriously, if I don't know Bellevue's commercial zoning codes, does that mean my opinion isn't valid?  Whenever I'm in Bellevue, I'm always quite impressed by its blandness.  Sure, it has tall buildings, but honestly, who cares?  It's a suburb of a third-tier city, for Pete's sake!  My rant is merely a collection of impressions that have come to me over the course of many years.  Oh, and the only live instrument on this tune (besides my voice) is the tambourine, ably piloted by Johnny Sangster.  Everything else is a robot slave - brass, keyboards, drums - all under my absolute control.  This tune holds a special place in my heart, even though I catch much hell from my sister and her former in-laws for my brattiness.  For those who live nowhere near Bellevue: it is a place where you can live and die and your existence will not matter, although perhaps your material purchases will be noted.  Come to think of it, you can say the same thing about Seattle - except your material purchases won't count for anything.  You'll just live and die and that will be all.

There are 17 tracks on this album and they're all about various parts of Seattle.  This town and I have never gotten along too well.  I've always planned to move away, but something's always imposed itself in the way.  I'm kind of like George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, except if I was never born, it probably wouldn't make too much difference.  This was the way of making myself right with this city.  There is a lot of genuine affection in these tunes.  I was hoping for some reciprocation, but that never quite materialized.  Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this effort is that many of the professional Seattleites - those who make a living writing about Seattle - would not even acknowledge that this album existed.  I quickly found out that those who get paid to have an opinion about this city will dismiss anything that runs even slightly contrary to their core beliefs, the surly old farts.  They generally won't even consider it.  And those whose job it is to promote the interests of Seattle shun an album like this because it isn't, y'know, completely positive.  I don't care about that.  This effort is a statement about how I view my surroundings.  After so many years trying to leave, this was the most affection I could muster.  Hey, I'm trying to reconcile myself here!

If you've never been to Seattle, I apologize.  Like I said, I'm coming to terms with my cruel fate.  This town is quite pretty at certain times of the year.  I happen to like the rain quite a bit.  I tend to write a lot of music during the 10-month rainy season.  I couldn't do that in Los Angeles.  I did hope that people would see their city in a particular way after listening to this album, but that was a bust.  Funny thing, it's my best-selling pop album.    

This Is the Carousel

Stacey and I went on the carousel at Westlake this evening.  It was actually more fun than I thought it would be.  And I discovered the time-lapse function on my phone, so here is a queasy, nausea-inducing rundown of the ride.  It was really quite cool.  I might do it again - if a grownup guy riding a merry-go-round alone isn't, y'know, totally suspicious.  I like to do these things, but so do really gross people, as well.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

Here's a guy from a while ago.  You know, even though squirrels are super-skittish and flinchy, they have this very strong urge to climb up your leg.  I've never been keen on that because their little finely-articulated finger-claws feel creepy.  So when they look like they're about to climb, as this one does, I take a step back and they seem immediately alarmed that I'm not a tree.  There are people out there who actually invite squirrels to climb all over them.  I just don't understand that.  Their claws are sharp and they do a lot of biting.  And that's just one squirrel.  If you have more than one, they start fighting.  Yeah, I would not dig that.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Instant Classics - The Whole Damn Album

Here's the complete shebang.  You know, I recorded this less than three years ago and I'm a little nostalgic for that time.  In my totally objective opinion, it's a fine album with many a pop gem on it.  Of course, I'm disappointed that it's not universally recognized for that.  I'm still proud of it - much in the same way a parent feels about their ugliest child.  But this album will have its day.  All of my albums will.  I have yet to figure it out, but either I'm just slightly ahead of my time or waaaaay behind.  In any case, something's gotta happen someday.  Or maybe it won't.  Or perhaps the sun will explode tomorrow, making it all moot.    

Thursday, December 18, 2014

15. Somewhere in Antwerp, Pt. 1

OK, last track from Instant Classics.  I like to tell stories and initially, this just seemed like a short story about a guy whose low-key spy mission goes horribly wrong.  But as I kept mulling it over, I began to think that perhaps this could be the beginning of a much larger work with actual characters and themes and all that.  I felt there were many stories to go with a developing narrative.  And thus, a song cycle was born.  I have no idea how many installments this is going to require.  At first, I thought it could be done in eight or nine, but as I developed the story, the scope expanded.  I don't have the whole thing figured out, only the first ten or so parts.  Right now, there are four parts to it, but I can imagine that it might encompass up to 30 tunes.  That's if I'm ambitious.  The other side of this is that nobody seems at all interested in what I'm doing, so it's very likely that I'll have to quit this nonsense.  Sure, recording is a true joy and a wonderful experience; I absolutely love doing it, but at this rate, I'll be out of money by the end of next year.  I was originally hoping to ramp up to releasing three albums a year and keep on that pace for as many years as I could manage.  That plan factored in that I would actually be selling albums or attracting minimal interest.  That hasn't happened, so I'm only doing two albums a year.  But this next record is going to be very expensive.  In response to that, next summer's album will probably be my cheapest, but it'll take what's left of the war chest.  I would love to keep this song cycle (it doesn't really have a name yet) going, but even if I do complete it, I'll be too poor to record it.  Ah well, such are the troubles in this day and age.      

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

14. In the Mud

I was so enchanted with recording Ballard on Greater Seattle that I wanted to do a music hall-esque shouter on every album.  That tune was, for lack of a better word, magical.  We only needed two takes to get it raggedly perfect and I couldn't believe how good it sounded.  I had that same intent for this tune.  In many ways, it's on the same level as Ballard.  This time, however, it's on a real piano; Ballard was on a pianner, or whatever the hell people call piano-y keyboards.  And also this time, Ty the pianist kept messing up, so we had to start over.  When both parts are live, that's what you have to do.  I'm pretty sure it took 15 takes to get it right.  And each time I had to hit it as hard as I could.  You should have heard me on the first five takes!  Thanks to all the flubs, I'm more snarly than shouty, but I'm still happy with the results.  Despite all that yelling, I was able to come back the next day and sing So Gangsta, The Bucking Fus, Simple Past and several other tunes with no difficulty.  But it's not all me on this track.  I was helped out by some additional shouters, among them, my mom, my aunt, my friend Jim and the string quartet who played on So Gangsta.  Much fun was had by all.

As for a music hall track on every album, that practice kind of fell by the wayside.  The last three albums don't have anything like that.  But I'm happy to say that there will be at least two tracks like that on the first of next year's two albums.  One may actually verge on being a show tune and the other is closer to a national anthem, but the tradition will be reborn.  And I'm sure that it will fall by the wayside again.

Today's Sunset...

...through a dirty tinted window with some filterage.

Monday, December 15, 2014

13. Douchebags Walk the Earth

When you write a song called Douchebags Walk the Earth, what are you trying to achieve?  Are you just doing it for joke value or is there any inherent meaning involved?  Well yes, there's meaning.  All I'm trying to say is that we've progressed this far down the evolutionary gauntlet only to be haunted wherever we go by a bunch of selfish, unthinking, lunk-headed slobs.  Of course, douchebags aren't solely male; it's just that the most egregious examples are males.  Here we humans have all these miraculously complex systems within our bodies that keep us alive and in motion, only so that some of us can put on too much aftershave and have loud, obnoxious conversations on our cell phones.  It seems like something of a waste.  I thought that I would put this in the context of the douchebag - pop dub reggae - in order to drive the point home.  And here it is.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

Here's just a guy wandering around in the leaves.  Funny thing, squirrels don't like piles of leaves.  They avoid them.  You'd think that being squirrels, they'd enjoy playing in the foliage.  But no.  They prefer bare ground and lawn to scurry around on.  And that is my insight into squirrel behavior for the week.

12. Bad Advice

Sometimes you have high hopes for a tune.  I did for this one.  I felt that I had written something stompy and compelling.  The subject was fairly evolved for a rock song - wisdom through experience.  The whole point is that you learn more outside of your comfort zone.  However, being prodded beyond that by some charismatic sociopath can be dangerous.  Let's get this out of the way: this is in no way autobiographical.  None of my tunes are.  I do what creative people do: make stuff up.  I'm always amused at those movies about novelists, writers and whatnot who can't write a word unless they've gone through some transformative experience - which they promptly fictionalize.  That's how Hollywood views the creative process.  It can't be written about or described unless it really happened.  Bah, I say.  Bah!  If things worked like that, how on earth would Tolstoy have written War and Peace?  He would have needed a time machine to experience Napoleon's invasion of Russia and its subsequent turmoil in order to write about it, yes?  No.  Bah!

OK, so I've posted the better part of four albums and I'm just saying this: all my stuff is made up.  It's so made up that even my opinions are fabricated.  Case in point: this song.  I don't believe that you should follow a charismatic sociopath anywhere, let alone allow him to call the shots for you.  But that's what happens here.  Like I said, I had high hopes for this tune.  They didn't materialize.  For some reason, this arrangement just falls flat.  There are live drums (as opposed to a drum machine), but everything else is a keyboard.  For the record, I do like the solo (it's a clavinet, believe it or not), but maybe I would have been better off adding a live guitar.  I don't know.  Perhaps it would have helped.  As it is, this is one of those tunes that I almost always skip without hesitation.  It's easy to pretend like I'm not responsible for it.  It's strange that prior to recording this album, I really thought that this track would light it up, while I thought Alsace-Lorraine was just a throwaway.  It turns out that this tune is something of a throwaway and Alsace-Lorraine is the one that I totally dig.  Funny how that works.      

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Here Is a Picture of a Person Dressed as an Otter with a Person not Dressed as an Otter

We went to Zoo Lights last night and managed to flag down the otter just as he was retreating from the public.  My flash wouldn't work and his whiskers are kind of in the way, but this picture is just as promised.  In case you're disappointed, here is a tree kangaroo:

11. Alsace-Lorraine

When I'm writing music, tunes emerge out of their sketches in an organic way.  The music usually comes first, then the lyrics/subject matter are brought into sharper focus after a lot of scanning and crossing out.  But this song was different, because most of my stuff is about something or tells a story.  This particular tune doesn't.  In fact, it's not about anything in particular except the general malaise I was feeling leading up to this album.  I felt that I had a really good song here and just battered my way through until it was complete.  It didn't need a meaning, it just needed to be done.  The result was surprising even for me.  I didn't intend to sing the verses in that abrasive whisper, but it seemed best at the time.  And it was done very quickly.  I believe we just used the entire second take.  The ba-ba-bah parts were murder.  I'm singing all the parts (I was my own backup singer on this entire album) and double tracking them.  To make matters more difficult, it's getting late and certain people who aren't me are getting uncharacteristically impatient and cranky.  But we got everything in the can and I promptly forgot about most of the unpleasantness.  I also didn't expect much from the tune.  But come mixing time the following week, it really stood out as a very fine rock song.  I apologize that it's not about anything.  Like I said, I vastly prefer to write about specific things or tell stories or express flawed opinions and so on.  You don't get that here.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

10. All the Fish in the World

This is exactly what you think it is - a rap tune about fish.  Off the mark, perhaps, but not by much.  I learned a valuable lesson here: it does no good to parody a genre that is already so close to self-parody as it is.  In this case, I thought I'd poke a little well-deserved fun at hip hop.  It really wasn't needed.  I mean, hip hop is impervious to parody because what are perceived as its biggest flaws are actually its greatest strengths.  Limited subject matter, violence, sexism, musical monotony, non-stop profanity, etc., all these things make it the powerhouse it is today.  The first time I heard Wiz Khalifa, I thought he was a parody act because his music was so bad.  I'm not talking beats or feel or the rapping itself (even though none of those was particularly well done); the music within the tune was atrociously bad.  But hey, that's the standard.  Back in the nineties, there was a progressive hip hop movement that was headed up by De La Soul.  It was pretty fun while it lasted, which wasn't for long.  I don't know whether such groups are still out there.  I'm aware of Shabazz Palaces, but I find their stuff vexingly unmusical.  Anyhow, even farther back in the fifties and sixties, there was always this urge in popular culture to ridicule rock 'n' roll for its youth-oriented simple-mindedness particularly by comedians of the age.  The problem was that the more outlandish the parody, the more people were drawn to it.  So basically, the whole thing was immune to all mockery, as is hip hop these days.  That's kind of what I ran into here.  Plus, people aren't totally jazzed about hearing a tune about fish.  But know this: the sarcastic fringehead is a real fish.  And it's very ugly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oops, Pt. 2

Here's something else that I forgot, the So Gangsta video.  Jeez, what's wrong with my brain?  Yeah, over two years on YouTube and 251 views.  That's big time, baby!

9. Totally, Completely, Utterly Worth It

This tune is nothing more than the adventures of some single-minded schmo who's way too serious about yiffing.  Despite a disastrous first outing, his passion is undiminished.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

8. Simple Past

Nobody has ever asked me about the best song I've ever written.  And why should they?  I'm just this nobody with a bunch of albums that haven't done much.  But if they should, I would say this one.  This tune was hell to write because the lines kept clashing with each other, so I would have to change one, which would clash with another, which would then have to be changed.  Yes, J.S. Bach perfected counterpoint (and that's what I was writing here), but since I was writing something with jazz inflections, it couldn't sound full-on baroque.  It had to swing and it had to show some its jazz chops, too.  Getting the words to fit and having it make sense were another challenge.  I didn't want it to be a simple boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl story.  No, there's a certain intensity to some relationships that you make while you're traveling, and both these people are hit by this.  It's just that the guy realizes a bit too late that this was a real thing.

Like I've always said, I dislike love songs.  This isn't one of those.  It's simply an account of a guy who completely missed the boat.  It's all his fault and he's resigned to his fate.  Plain and simple.  Some people don't even get that much.  For them, there isn't even a boat.  This guy had his chance and for reason unknown to even him, he passed it up.  For this a many other reasons, this is the best song I've ever written.  It's ironic that it's on my all-time worst-selling album, which also contains some of the best pop music I can offer.  Oh, well...

Monday, December 8, 2014

7. Facts

The live-ness of Bucking Fus is contrasted by the all-electronic Facts.  You know, when I was writing this, there was all this Tea Party idiocy going on around the country.  It seemed the the more outrageous the lie, the more people were inclined to believe it.  Very little of it had to do with anything resembling policy; it was merely a thinly-veiled personal attack on Obama.  And it worked, as the news media was ready and willing to lend credence to these nut jobs because they stood in very vocal opposition to a popular president.  Never mind that they were bankrolled by just a handful of ultra-conservative billionaires.  That was the source, but what about the rank-and-file members of this awful movement?  What, if anything, was going on in their heads?  The Tea Party of several years ago was a complete joke.  It was like they got together conspiracy theorists of every stripe, gave them poorly-spelled signs and turned them loose on the Mall in D.C. for months at a time.  Their arguments had as much to do with factual information as their organizations had to do with real populist sentiment.  At its height, I don't believe Tea Party membership exceeded the numbers of the American Communist Party.  Yet they accomplished their goal of muddying the waters.  This tune isn't about how facts will shine as a beacon of hope or whatnot.  No, the narrator just vows to keep believing in any stupid crap presented to him.  Facts have no value to him or his cohorts, because they're often at odds with their goals.  And that's what I perceived was at the core of the movement.        

Sunday, December 7, 2014

6. The Bucking Fus

I was feeling a lot of frustration going into these recording sessions.  Like I said, I thought my first album, Greater Seattle, would have gotten a warmer reception.  But it did not.  Of course, I thought that this album was going to be hailed as a pop music gem.  It also did not.  After five albums with a combined sales total of under 100, I've learned not to expect anything.  Sure, I occasionally listen to the radio and become moderately enraged at the crap they're playing.  That's why I don't listen to the radio much.  This tune is more resigned than angry.  The bus is of course a metaphor for anonymity, oblivion and failure.  All those things.  Ever since I wrote the music for this (I generally start with the music first and add the words later), I heard it as a jazz arrangement with three trombones at the center of the action.  This was a real blast to record.  And nothing came of it.  And I still ride the bucking fus everywhere.    

Your Sunday Squirrel

Fall squirrel!  From yesterday!  Enjoy!

Here's the Westlake Xmas Tree

I was just walking by yesterday and thought I would take a picture.  Pretty, no?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The New Cinerama

Today was my first chance to go to the newly-remodeled Cinerama.  It was quite something.  First off, I saw the latest Hunger Games movie there, which was kind of not very impressive.  The farther they away from kids killing kids, the less I'm interested.  That said, it's not nearly as bad as the Matrix sequels, but it's definitely not great.  You have to care a lot about Katniss et al and I do not.  Sure, I'll see the last, because I've already gotten this far.  But I'll say this, if you haven't seen either of the films or read the books, you will probably hate this movie, because not very much happens.  And the best thing about it is Elizabeth Banks by far.  Anyhow, back to the theater itself.  The Cinerama is at this moment unique in the world as it has this super-HD laser projection system.  It claims that it can show films with greater clarity and definition.  Can it?  Yes, it's pretty stunning.  I'm guessing this is the wave of the future and it's a good thing.  Let's see...what else is new?  Ah yes, new seats.  Behold:
Fewer seats, fewer rows and tons of leg room.  The only thing is that seating is, for some reason, reserved.  You pick your own seat when you buy your ticket.  It was weird seeing people evicting other people from their seats during the previews.  I didn't have that trouble, as I sat where I always sit: right and up.  At first, I thought the seats would be very uncomfortable, as their backs recline in a semi-awkward way, but I was wrong.  They are very comfortable - not sleep-inducing comfortable, but quite nice.  And they're also very wide, built especially for the zaftig movie-goer.  Me, I had at least half a foot to spare.  So basically, if your ass is wide, this is your theater.  Did I mention that there's a lot of leg room?  Here's a different shot:
OK, so this doesn't show that there's around two feet between you and the next row, but there is.  If there was this this much space on your average airliner, passengers would be overjoyed beyond belief.  
This is a bad shot, but it gives you a good idea of the mad speakerage in the place.  There are three speakers just in this small patch of wall and balcony.  I thought that the old system was just fine: loud and rumbly when needed, soft and stereophonic when necessary.  This is much better.  It may be one of the best sound systems anywhere.  Previously, dialogue would get swallowed up in noise during films like Godzilla or Pacific Rim.  It's very clear now.  So there's a lot of noise in the film.  You can still hear the dialogue.  I guess that's thanks to the zillions of speakers all around.

The Cinerama remains my favorite theater in the whole world.  The upgrades in technology really do make a difference.  But be forewarned, every show will cost you 15 bucks.  Since I was seeing a matinee, I kind of took exception to this.  The theater guy explained that they were advised to charge $25 per ticket, but instead it's going to be $15 no matter the time of day.  The thing is that the quality is $15-good for a mediocre film.  It's not $25-good on a Saturday morning at 11:45.  I would pay $25 to see a great film.  Case in point, I'd pay that much to see The Shining or a gigantic version of Citizen Kane or Casablanca.  Absolutely, I would.  But not for Hunger Games - Mockingjay, Pt. 1.  Nope, $15 is my limit and with that film, just barely.  I look forward to seeing many more good films there.  In the past, they've had film festivals that have genuinely stirred my soul.  Seeing Flash Gordon there a few years ago was one of the best entertainment experiences I've ever had.  Let's hope they keep doing that.  Anyways, all hail the Cinerama!      

Oh, and There's This!

I totally forgot about this video!  It's for TGV.  Since making the one for So Gangsta was such fun, I used the same approach for this tune.  Luckily, archive.org had a lot of vintage train footage and also luckily, this song is short.  At 74 views, it is far less popular than So Gangsta.  But both are totally outdone by even the worst cat video ever made.

5. So Gangsta

OK, I don't write love songs.  Or at least I try not to.  So how do I explain this?  Well, all I was trying to do was to make it a character study: an older (but not creepy) guy trying to woo a younger woman with ridiculously outdated urban slang.  That's all.  I had high hopes for this tune, because it's crazy sweet and it's got a fine string quartet arrangement.  I even made a video.  I took all kinds of vintage footage from archive.org and pieced it together.  It was almost as fun to make as it was to record.  You can see it here.  The song's been out for two and a half years and the video has a whopping 250 views, so I guess you can say that those high hopes were thwarted.  Since then, I've learned not to have hopes, high or otherwise.  It's better that way.  I mean, recording is such joy and that's enough.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

4. King of Lies

As an honest person, I'm intrigued by compulsive liars.  My experience is that such people will lie to anyone about anything just to keep in form.  And they won't necessarily remember what they told to whom, so it's very easy to catch them.  After all, it's easy to lie.  Anything more than that is too much work, which is why lazy people do it all the time.  I wrote this tune with the idea that the bigger the lie, the more willing people are to believe it.  Hey, it worked for Communism; it works for private individuals, too.  But the problem is that if you tell huge lies all the time, you'll eventually get found out.  It's the risk you take by telling lie upon lie.  But what do you get in return?  Well, for a brief time you get adulation from a different sort of people.  Of course, when they find you out, they might have you killed, but you can point to a time when they thought you were pretty neat.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

3. Mammoths & Ma$todons

Here's a tune that's much less dark.  Have you ever wanted to see a real wooly mammoth?  So have I.  And I'd also like to see mastodons.  OK, so they weren't entirely pleasant beasts, but wouldn't they be great to see?  Yes, they would.  The concept of reanimating them has been dangled in front of us and I just had to write a song encouraging the process.  I am strongly in favor of it.  After all, wasn't the mastodon initially know as the "American elephant?" It was indeed.  We should find a way to bring them back.  With science!  And then let them wander around to see what happens.  Until then, this tune must suffice.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2. Silence on the Line

I had expected a warm reception for my first album, Greater Seattle.  That didn't happen, so I was rather disappointed.  With Instant Classics, I felt that I needed to push out in all directions.  I needed more energy, more humor and, in some cases, more existential despair.  A weird thing happens when something you're very proud of and happy with fails to achieve even what you minimally expected.  You feel completely alone in the universe.  People are listening to music but it's not yours.  In fact, you feel that people are averse to every single note that you've written and that your approach to everything is all wrong.  That's how this tune came about.  But of course, I came back eight months later and recorded this album.  Greater Seattle was a thing of the past.  I really liked recording it and I really like many (but not all) of the tunes on it, but it was done.  In retrospect, Instant Classics was even less of a success, but it makes a much different statement.  I'm also extremely proud of it.  It contains some tunes that may well prove to be pop music gems once I've recorded another few dozen albums or I'm dead or some such.    

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

1. TGV

It's the next earliest album.  And this is a tune about riding a fast train in France.