Friday, August 07, 2009

I Know What I Did That Summer But I Have No Idea What I Was Thinking

More debris rescued from the moldy old tapes I recorded in a spare bedroom in the early 1980s.

Well now, what we have here are three of what a neutral observer might describe as "odder" entries. Each of them, however, is odd for a reason. Mind you, I'm not saying it's a good reason, but each of them does have a reason.

Two of these songs are odd because they started out as lyric writing exercises. You see, when I started out trying to write songs, I quickly realized that I sucked at it, just as you realized when you downloaded one. So to help myself grow and learn, I made a point of not only writing something every day, but now and then giving myself a "special task" as a sort of challenge.

I'm not saying I actually got better as a songwriter, but I did produce some seriously goofy lyrics.

Baseball Players (3.13MB mp3) download from MediaFire

This started out as an experiment in cramming as many random visual references and metaphors as possible into a song. Hence the first verse:

Upset by dreams of unicorns, baseball players cry
Their tears tear tiny holes in the fabric of the sky
Which lies like electric blankets on the towns where they live now.

Somewhere in the chorus, I realized I kind of talking about baseball players but also kind of talking about life in general. So there was nothing else to do but to make the rest of the verses sound like they were kind of about life in general while actually being kind of about being a baseball player.

See? I told you there was a reason.

This song, like Toothpaste, is in 3/4 time. Why? Because the song insisted on being in 3/4 time, of course. Jeepers, such questions.

Every Time (I See Someone Eat A Hot Dog) (3.69MB mp3)
download from MediaFire

Another writing exercise, this time in writing a series of lines that work in sequence and eventually come full circle. This is an early version. One of the tapes that was ruined had a more developed take that was slower and had backwards guitars and stuff, very arty. With this though, I hadn't even had the time to work out those subtle variations in the guitar riffs that I like so much.

Two songs in a row that mention baseball. No idea why, I don't think I ever mentioned it again in a song.

Listening to it just now, I finally realized that weird little stutter in the organ solo is me trying to work in the "CHARGE!" tune. Weirdo.

Riding The Range (4.13MB mp3) download from MediaFire

Warning - song contains gratuitous Rolling Stones reference.

This one was actually labeled "1982", which makes it the earliest recording I have. Probably made soon after I bought the 4-track tape deck and my first programmable drum machine.

That drum machine changed everything. Before that I had a "rhythm box" from Radio Shack. You could choose one of maybe 8 rhythms and set the tempo with a knob, but it would just sit there mindlessly repeating the same pattern over and over and over and over, and if you tried to work on song ideas with it your songs would just become monotonous drones that never changed.

This new box though - Whoa Nelly! It made a little "bop" that stood for a bass drum, a little "speh" that represented a snare drum, two little "doo" sounds that were intended to be tom-toms, a "ch" and a "sssss" for a hi-hat, and a "pshhhhhhhhhhhhh" for a cymbal. It had 16 patterns of up to 16 beats in length, and for each beat you could have any of the sounds play, and you could also have certain beats be louder than others! And to top it all off, you could chain the patterns together to form a complete song!

The fact that it sounded like crap did nothing to take away from the fact that it was fantastic.

At any rate, with all that power I did what any tyro would do, and that's try to make it doo more than it could. Hah! I typed "doo" when I meant "do". Leaving it as is. That'll show me.'s this song. A very early songwriting attempt. Once again, a later version was on one of the ruined tapes, but I adore this one because good grief, what was I thinking in that middle section? Was I trying to do...reggae? The fact that I, the person who made this, have no idea if I was trying to do reggae should tell you all you need to know about my reach VS grasp situation. It is out to lunch lyrically, melodically, harmonically, and its aura is all schmutzed.

mood: schmutz

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