i just saw this video for the first time the other day. it’s one of the most crushingly sad blue nile songs, set against scenes from an andrei tarkovsky film (nostalghia, apparently). the music and the images work so well together, it’s a little surreal. i think it makes a more effective video than any of the official blue nile music videos i’ve seen, actually.
so there’s that.
what’s new ’round these parts?
i’ve been slacking with the updates again, mostly because all of my wordpress subscriptions need to be renewed before i can add any more files of any kind, and new posts don’t feel quite right without the ability to include any pictures, mp3s, or video content that hasn’t already been hosted elsewhere. i’ll get that taken care of at some point.
a good chunk of my creative energy over the past little while has been funneled into recording music that isn’t my own. i won’t say too much about that until work is finished, but it’s been fun to flesh out someone else’s songs instead of mine for a change. haven’t really done that sort of thing in a while. even after all these years, this kind of work still seems to bring out some of my best musical ideas. maybe it’s something about being freed from any sense of ownership, and operating more as a proverbial decorator without the responsibility of building the entire musical structure from the ground up. but i’m also playing an awful lot of different instruments, and in one or two cases i have basically rebuilt the songs even though i didn’t write them, bending things in odd directions. lucky for me, the reaction has been positive.
one thing i’ve learned in no uncertain terms — i am not the guy you come to if you want an album that’s polished to within an inch of its life and sounds like it walked out of a six million dollar studio. i’m not going to tell someone how i think they should sing their own songs or ask for twenty vocal takes if the first or second take is solid enough. i’m not going to spend an hour mic’ing up a drum set. i’m not going to use a click track if the person i’m recording is more comfortable working without one (as long as their sense of rhythm is good enough not to create any serious problems down the road). i don’t have access to autotune, and i wouldn’t use it even if i did. i’m not set up to do beat-aligning or serious editing of any kind, and i have no interest in that approach to recording.
at the same time, i’m not going to just move a few microphones around and press a few buttons. i’m not going to record something and take a hands-off role. i could do that if i absolutely had to, but i prefer not to. there are other people who are much better choices for that sort of thing.
i guess i’m someone you go to if you want a recording that has character, that has some of my own musical ideas swimming around in the soup, and that has some imperfections. i like the odd hesitation or unintentional ambient noise or bit of studio dialogue here and there. i think they’re humanizing moments. i’m not going to make someone else’s music sound like “johnny west music” (whatever that is), but i’m going to dig in and contribute as many of my own ideas as i’m allowed to, while working to understand and accommodate the artistic sensibilities of whoever i’m recording.
basically, if you don’t like the way i approach the recording of my own music, you probably don’t ever want me recording you. i think it’s better the way it’s worked out, with me only recording a few friends here and there…i can keep things very laid-back and it never feels much like work. it helps when you like the people you’re working with, too.
as for my own noise, i haven’t been putting as much work into finishing up that big bloated magnum-grope-us as i’d like to say i have. but i’ll get it finished this year, or else i’ll junk the whole fucking thing and never speak of it again. that’s a promise. it’s now or never time, because i need to get this elephant out of the room so i can move on to other things.
one good thing to grow out of the album having such a stupidly protracted gestation period is the added time i’ve had to re-evaluate things. i came to the realization not long ago that the way i’d put some of the pieces together suddenly didn’t feel right anymore. so my sequencing ideas are going to be altered pretty profoundly, some songs are going to get thrown out, and the whole thing is going to change shape completely another time or two before it hits the finish line, i’m sure. i’m on the fence about boiling it down to three CDs, or sticking with 4 maxed-out CDs for maximum sprawl. one way or another, i’m going to make sure the thing flows as well as it can and makes emotional sense for me. what anyone else will make of it is anyone’s guess.
and i’m playing a show at the FM lounge on sunday, backing travis up, opening for three little birds. instead of a full band show like the last one, it’s just going to be the two of us, which isn’t something that’s happened in a live setting in a while. so that should be interesting.
i’m not a huge taylor swift fan, though i still say if she wrote an album full of songs like “safe and sound” (her contribution to the hunger games soundtrack), i would run out to buy it in a second. and that one dream i had in which she appeared as my girlfriend…that wasn’t so bad, either.
this, however, may be her best work yet. there’s an edge there…a kind of raw energy i’ve always felt was missing in most of the rest of her material. give it a listen and you’ll see what i mean.
(note: because the music industry is full of capitalist whores lacking any semblance of a sense of humour, every version of this video keeps getting removed from youtube. each time the video here goes dead, i’ll find another functioning one, until the end of time.)
my friend adam just released an album, and he’s giving physical copies away for free at dr. disc and ah some records. if you like isn’t anything-era my bloody valentine, bleach-era nirvana, and/or “dirty, slippery, visceral, palpable intensity weathered by destruction and delirious lust”, you should check it out. i dig it. you can borrow my shovel and dig it too, if you’d like. but you have to bring it back before april. i’m gonna need that shovel when the spring rain starts to fall.
this is one of my favourite songs on the album. it makes me think of what might have happened if mark sandman decided he wanted to write a melodic grunge song.
and hey, my name is in the album credits as a mastering engineer. mastering music i didn’t record myself isn’t something i’ve ever done before, and not something i consider myself all that adept at…but it was a fun challenge to use the gear i had to try and beef things up and bring up the volume while keeping it musical. adam was happy, so i must have done okay! bandcamp makes it sound a little more compressed than it really is, but ain’t no big thing.
mindy mccready had been troubled for a long time. it wasn’t a shock when i heard she’d killed herself, so much as it was startling to learn how she’d gone about doing it.
in january, david wilson, mindy’s music producer boyfriend — and seemingly one of the few stabilizing forces in her life in recent years — shot himself on the front porch of the home they shared. no one seems to know why he chose to take his own life. a month later, mindy shot herself on that same front porch, after shooting her boyfriend’s dog (to “take him with her” so his owner could see him again, a friend explained to the press). she was 37 years old.
at the outset of her promising musical career, no one would have ever dreamed it would end this way. she had a record deal in nashville, a double platinum-selling album, and a #1 hit single, all when she was barely into her twenties. she was beautiful. she could sing. she was poised to be the next faith hill, without the early hair issues.
each successive album she released after her first sold less and less, until she was dropped by her record label. she got another record deal, released an album that did even worse business, and was dropped again. it’s not clear where things began to really go wrong. maybe it was when her country singer boyfriend billy mcknight was charged with attempted murder for beating and choking her until she blacked out. she attempted suicide two months later. she survived, they got back together, and she had his child.
maybe it was the drugs and alcohol. she was arrested in 2004 for drug fraud after buying oxycontin with a fake prescription. a year later she was stopped by nashville police while driving drunk with a suspended license. two months after that, she was charged with identity theft, unlawful use of transportation, unlawful imprisonment, and hindering prosecution. and on it went. probation violations. assault. resisting arrest. more probation violations. jail time. a sex tape. a custody battle after her son was taken away from her. she tried to kidnap him while he was in her mother’s care. the two of them were found huddled together in a closet, hiding.
something must have led to all of this. there had to be a tipping point. three years ago, in an interview, mindy summed up her life as “a giant whirlwind of chaos all the time. my entire life, things have been attracted to me, and vice versa, that turn into chaotic nightmares. or i create the chaos myself.”
then, in january 2012, she posted an update on her website that may be the closest we ever get to an explanation for what went wrong, and why:
the following is an overview of a future book about my life.
i haven’t had a hit in almost a decade. i’ve spent my fortune, tarnished my public view, and made myself the brunt of punch line after punch line. i’ve been beaten, sued, robbed, arrested, jailed, and evicted. but i’m still here. with a handful of people that i know and trust, a revived determination, and both middle fingers up in the air, i’m ready. i’ve been here before. i’m a fighter. i’m down, but i’ll never be out.
this book is not about shifting blame. i know i’ve made mistakes and i take full responsibility for those mistakes. this book is part diary, part therapy, part confessional, part job, and part apology. but mostly, i just want people to understand me better. so when people like nancy grace or the TMZ parasites pass judgment, they can do so with the full story.
she went on to write:
my drive came from an abusive upbringing and the dependence of two younger brothers. my fame came from my success as a country music singer. my infamy came from outside my career: bar-brawls, secret affairs, domestic violence, drug charges, jail time, rehab stays, and suicide attempts. i could say that the information was taken out of context, blown out of proportion and completely misconstrued, and a lot of it was. some things, however — more than i’d like to admit — are just the sad truth. but what nobody knows are the details behind the splashy headlines. the person i am, the intentions behind every bad decision, and events leading up to each “i can’t believe i did that” moment. this book will supply me the opportunity to show that i’m not so different from my fans and antagonists.
i was an underdog from birth. i was born into an unhealthy house ruled by a mother who was too young and too violent to successfully take care of children. my two brothers who would eventually look to me for rescue came later. nature gave me the ability to sing and favorable looks. my mother taught me the art of manipulation and convenient detachment. my father taught me to depend on no one. my brothers showed me the necessity to succeed and sever the dependence on our parents. armed with this, i graduated high school early and moved to nashville to be a star.
two years later that is just what i was. with my first album i became one of the top selling debut female country artists of all time. the view from the top of the charts was inspiring but fleeting. the men i dated on the way up and the way down were incredible and terrifying. i’ve been engaged to a movie star, courted by a prince, kept by a professional baseball player, and nearly beaten to death by the man who would father my son.
now, i have no delusions about my seemingly precarious situation. i have served a total of seven months in jail. i have just spent six weeks at an inpatient facility where i worked with doctors and counselors every day. the FBI and U.S. congress are currently seeking my testimony against roger clemens, a man i once loved. my public persona is badly warped and bears little resemblance to the person those closest to me know. my musical career has been on hold for several years. still i have a record deal, a reality TV show in the making, a full team of managers, lawyers and assistants, and a new clarity to accompany my devilish determination and ferocious work ethic. i’m ready for whatever comes next. i’m down but i’ll never be out. this extraordinary life, begging to be written, is a comeback story.
she didn’t live to write that story.
mindy’s last boyfriend, with whom she had a second child, was probably the closest thing to an anchor she had left. she called him her soulmate. once he was gone, she must have felt completely alone, abandoned, and used up by life.
she attempted suicide four times in seven years before finally succeeding. you get the feeling more could have been done by those around her to try and help her. i’m not sure celebrity rehab with dr. drew was the answer. she was hospitalized in the aftermath of wilson’s death to receive treatment for “alcohol abuse and mental issues”, only to be released to an outpatient facility almost immediately when it was determined that she didn’t fit the profile for alcoholism and was capable of living on her own.
some people have written about how selfish it was for her to leave her children behind. i don’t think they understand the way a person’s mind works when they’re in that amount of pain. you just want it all to end. you feel like you’ll be doing everyone a favour if they’re rid of you. you don’t think you’re doing them any good at all by sticking around, because you’re nothing but a soulless void. human waste. you can never feel any real forward momentum, no matter how you try to search for reasons to keep going. you’re running in place on a set of legs that no longer respond to the signals your brain is trying to send them. and you don’t see any light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. there’s just a viscous sea of black stretching out in every direction, as far as you can see.
try waking up and dealing with that every day, all day. then try being a woman who has it hammered into your head by the media that your best days are behind you and, nearing 40, you’re no longer considered beautiful or desirable. try realizing you’re no longer welcome in an industry that’s more interested in taylor swift’s six millionth song about what an awful boyfriend some other celebrity douchebag was than anything you might have to say. try fighting for years to gain full custody of your oldest son, finally winning that battle, and then a month later having the man you plan to marry shoot himself in the head. try then having your children taken away from you for good and placed in a state care facility, and dealing with the possibility that at some point the ex-boyfriend who tried to kill you may get custody of at least one of them.
see how well you do.
mindy wasn’t a songwriter. not really. and this is what i keep coming back to. on her last album, she’s credited as a co-writer on a few songs, but in the country music industry, all that usually means is the singer came up with a vague concept or contributed a few rhymes, while the professional songwriters did the heavy lifting. she was a song interpreter. and that’s very different from being a writer. the most skilled song interpreters — singers like frank sinatra, billie holiday, sarah vaughan, and elvis presley — could take just about any song and make it sound like no one in the world had ever sung it before them, and no one else ever would again.
the trick is, a singer who isn’t a writer needs other people to write the songs for them. architects to build them rooms to walk around inside of. and i don’t imagine it’s easy to find songs you connect with on a deep enough level, and rooms you feel comfortable enough inhabiting, to make music that means something to you. those of us who are writers, we’re lucky. we can at least throw a leash around our demons and try to lead them somewhere. we don’t need to look to someone else to do it for us, hoping they’ve got strong enough hands for the job. we don’t need anyone to ghostwrite the autobiographies of our souls.
mindy didn’t have that catharsis — that place she could go to wrestle back some control, however fleeting. and i can’t shake the feeling that it might have made a difference if she had. it may not have saved her, but it could have given her an oar to row through that deep black muck she got lost in. maybe she would have been able to keep herself afloat a little while longer.
how lonely it must be, to be a singer who can’t find the song that might set you free.
this is a weird song. so maybe it’s fitting that it now has a weird video to go with it.
if we lived in some bizarro world in which i had a record company behind me and they wanted me to release singles, i would probably push for this to be the first single off of THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE, because it doesn’t sound much like anything else on the album — and that’s just the kind of backwards anti-promotional thing that appeals to me.
the song began as little more than an improvised bass part. i called it “doomy bass” and had no idea what to do with it. a month after recording that initial part, i added some electric guitar and drums. it still didn’t feel like a song, even after i wrote some lyrics about jesus driving an electric car. what finally gave the thing some much-needed direction was coming up with a completely different vocal melody, and singing it like i was trying to channel ian curtis.
the end result sounds, at least to my ears, like i spent some time abusing barbiturates in a grimy basement while listening to a lot of 1980s goth rock and post-punk, with my brain melting what it took from that stimulus into a slowed-down melodic goo. i can’t say i’ve ever done anything else quite like this at any point. initially there was some jazzy piano in there, but in the end it didn’t feel like the right touch. so i added more layers of electric guitar instead, and tacked on a dreamy, improvised coda. every electric guitar part in there is the funky 1960s teisco, which continues to be more versatile than it has any right to be.
one thing worth noting: my voice wasn’t slowed down, though it kind of sounds like it was. i did, however, record all of the instrumental parts at a slightly faster-than-normal speed, so everything was a little deeper and thicker when played back at regular speed. i just ended up naturally singing deeper in my range and in a way that doesn’t really sound like me at all, because it felt right. i was able to dial in a delay effect that keeps feeding back on itself, and you can hear it whooshing around after each drum hit, particularly if you listen on headphones. as for the lyrics, they don’t really mean anything at all. just random ominous stuff.
the video is some slightly chopped-up footage from heksensabbath (witches sabbath), a bizarre dutch animated short film from director cornelius capsenberg and animator ronald raajimakers. just about the only information i can dredge up about it is that it was made in 1986, and it’s an apparent homage to dutch novelist and poet louis couperus. as is generally the case, i didn’t do a whole lot of editing; i cut out the less twisted moments, slowed down a few bits at the end to get the timing to line up with the song’s coda, and that was about it. i think the surreal images suit the music, in a weird way.
so, in the past few weeks i’ve posted a bit of new music, a semi-controversial rant, some swearing, some random silliness, and now here’s another one of those DIY music videos i make sometimes using public domain footage. about all that’s missing is a video progress report and a video that shows all the different elements of a song being recorded in the “studio”, and then i think this blog will just about be back on track. took me long enough to get that groove back. i still feel like holding off on bringing the progress reports back until ANGLE is ready to go, but at least most of the pieces are there.
almost forgot — viewer discretion is advised. the video contains nudity and some very strange sexual imagery.
you know what’s fun about writing a rant on your blog and randomly linking to it on facebook, even though you’re kind of indifferent about facebook and probably a few weeks away from deactivating it for another six months? having someone take a shot at you on the book of faces without referring to you by name, knowing you won’t see what they’ve said because you’re not facebook friends. i’m not ashamed to say it caused a little tingling in an inappropriate place. these are the things i live for.
you know what else i live for? looking down at the floor in the “studio” (i’m going to keep putting that in quotation marks for the rest of my life, because “room of stuff” feels like a much better description), and seeing that image up there.
i swear to you i didn’t manipulate it in any way. if i had, the heart would be a little more symmetrical. there are two blue microphone cables that get shuffled back and forth between the SDC mics pointed at the piano and the stereo ribbon mic i use to record the drums. they get twisted up into all kinds of shapes, but never have i seen them form anything so cool or recognizable. i looked down while making my way from one room to the next, and there was a blue heart staring back at me. a blue heart that had somehow created itself when i wasn’t paying attention. it makes me just a little sad to know that in a day or two this heart will be pulled apart when the cables are moved around yet again.
being pulled apart is better than being broken, right?
and hey — this blog just turned five years old. here’s a song in celebration.
this is a fish made out of thongs.
to that end, i used to have a CBC radio 3 page. i had a bunch of songs up there, along with some pictures and video content. i ended up getting a little bit of unexpected airplay, though it didn’t really lead anywhere, and when i sent an email to the guy who gave me some short-lived attention thanking him and offering to send him more music in the future, he didn’t respond, and never bothered acknowledging that i existed again after that.
a year or two ago, i tried to delete the page, but the site wouldn’t let me do that. so i gutted it of all content and left it behind as an empty shell. a digital husk.
part of the reasoning behind this was losing any interest i might have once had in playing any part of the “game” when it comes to music and networking, and having grown tired of making myself so easy to find while some people were criticizing me for being inaccessible. i figured if i was going to be called a recluse all the time, i might as well actually be one. that way at least all the talk would have something real to back it up.
see, i’m considerate like that. i even care about giving the assholes something to feel good about.
if i’m completely honest, another one of the reasons i wanted to obliterate my CBC radio 3 page was because of contests and competitions like the one that’s going on right now. in this case, it’s “the search for canada’s best new artist”, or some such thing.
let’s talk about that for a second. this contest isn’t even what it claims to be. if it really was, most of the bands and artists who’ve entered would be disqualified immediately, because they’re not new. many of them have been bands for quite a few years now. hell, i’m nowhere near being new myself. i’ve been creating and recording music since 1994. so i couldn’t enter this contest and honestly call myself a new artist.
but that’s kind of beside the point. and what is the point? i don’t like competition in art. i don’t like contests. frankly, i think they’re stupid, and often altogether pointless. i think a real artist is someone who is too busy creating art to care much about getting involved in these kinds of things.
let me be clear here: i support local artists, and anyone who’s trying to make a living doing what they enjoy. i’ve done a lot of things to help a lot of different people over the years in an effort to facilitate that. that i usually ended up getting stabbed in the back for my trouble and tossed aside once i’d fulfilled my purpose doesn’t diminish the fact that my motives were good, and i at least did what i said i was going to do, unlike most of the people i went out of my way to help. i’ve given a lot of money, time, effort, thought, and whatever skills i have, not because i thought i might look good doing it or get a reach-around when it was all over, but because i wanted to, and it felt like the right thing to do. even after all the bad experiences i’ve had, that impulse is still there, at least most days. i’ll help a friend if i can. i’ll help someone i don’t even really know if i can, as long as they seem like a decent person who isn’t going to force-feed me liver and onions at knife-point.
i just can’t stomach that stuff.
i’ve been a voter in these kinds of contests before. once, i even played a small role in someone winning. i felt like i’d been part of something incredible, and it proved to me that a small community banding together really can make a difference. it kind of restored my faith in people a little bit.
this great feeling was short-lived. i learned the real reason for the victory was a whole lot of cheating, lying, and some clever exploiting of loopholes. and this was encouraged by the victor, tacitly if not directly. i voted legitimately, playing by the rules, thinking i was making a difference, while all around me people had created countless fake profiles using different email addresses to stack the deck in their favour.
i felt dirty. i felt like i’d been robbed of something that had never really been mine to begin with, and then i got to watch the person who’d stolen it manufacture a tale of how they came to possess this thing that they didn’t really deserve, while an audience assembled and gave truth to the lie of how it came to be theirs, so they too could claim to be a part of the story. it didn’t matter to them that none of it was based on anything real. a good story tells itself, after all. they were little more than peripheral characters who got to write their own dialogue.
some people will make — and have made — the argument that the ends justify the means. that if the “right” person wins, it doesn’t matter how they won. and if one individual or entity in a community wins, everyone wins. so who cares?
those people are entitled to make those arguments. doesn’t mean i’m going to see any validity to them, just as they’re not going to agree with what i have to say. and if they want to respond to my rant by insulting me, using my name in a pun, they’re entitled to do that too. i’m not going to stoop to their level and insult them back. i feel what i feel, and they feel what they feel, and never the twain shall meet.
back to the contest. really, the whole thing has nothing at all to do with talent or the artistic merit of the submissions anyway. whoever wins will be the artist or band capable of getting the most people to vote for them, through whatever means necessary. it’s a popularity contest, when you boil it down. the prize is $20,000 worth of musical equipment from yamaha and a professionally recorded radio session to help give the winner some exposure. chances are whoever wins this won’t need the equipment, and they’ll already have a pretty large built-in audience.
it’s a mirage designed to give assistance to those who don’t need it, while ignoring those who might genuinely benefit from it.
here’s an idea. instead of having a competition that ultimately rewards popularity, how about pooling your resources, and finding a few artists who are making amazing music in their basements, who don’t have any real audience, who don’t have much money or equipment, but love what they do and have talent that transcends their technical limitations? how about giving them some of this equipment you’re able to obtain for free or next-to-nothing thanks to the deals you have with manufacturers, and giving them the opportunity to record a song or two in a professional environment, and giving them a little bit of exposure if they want it because you think what they do deserves to be heard by a few more people?
but wait…that would require some research and dedication, and the only real reward would be doing something meaningful for someone who actually deserves it but might not otherwise ever get the chance to show many people what they can do. you couldn’t just set up an automated online system to tabulate votes and let the whole thing take care of itself, knowing you would end up with a nice-looking, inoffensive musical entity to promote at the end of it all. you’d have to do some work, and use your brain and your heart in order to make something happen.
it’s a nice idea, anyway.
i guess this is all just my long-winded way of saying i think competition as a general thing is pretty silly, and it’s not something i’m interested in being any part of. i don’t even want to watch from the sidelines.
i have better things to do. i have music to make.
remember way back in the summer of 2010 when there was this video series called rose city sessions spotlighting musical and visual artists in windsor, and i filmed a song for it? no? i talked about it over here a bit, when the video progress reports (remember those?!) were still in their infancy.
two and-a-half years later, we have a video teaser. which means the actual video may be on its way soon. which means you and i just might get to see it before justin bieber films a crossover porn film/long-form music video with sasha grey.
what you see here is some test footage that was recorded before the microphones were set up, with only the camera’s built in mic picking up some of my guitar noodling. so the volume is very low. what you’re hearing in there is a bit of a tune i haven’t recorded yet, with all-french lyrics, called “i think my boyfriend is a terrorist”. the song i actually ended up performing once we were rolling for real was a solo acoustic take on “i’m a witness, not your waitress,” from MY HELLHOUND CROOKED HEART.
i’ll talk more about that (and why i passed up the opportunity to showcase a funky old vintage guitar in favour of my unblemished larrivée) when the full video goes live. for now, stare along with me into my black-and-white visage and feel the power of casual thumb-fretting. there’s even an unexpected burst of profanity in there. now that’s what i’m talking about.
if you have an aversion to strong profanity, you might be better off not scrolling down to look at the following image. matter of fact, you might be better off not reading this post at all. but because it’s valentine’s day, i couldn’t help myself. plus, this pseudo e-card just cracked me up. had i a significant other with a suitably twisted sense of humour, i would probably send it to her.
to that end, for someone who isn’t a big fan of love songs, it turns out i’ve written a fair amount of songs at least mentioning that four letter word. here are some relevant lyrics of mine i’ve assembled, for your reading pleasure.
“love is not kind; it’s a pile of shit you set on fire. but if you can get past the stench, there’s a beauty there you cannot deny.
— from handfasting (unreleased)
“love is an underage stethoscope you keep in your ice skates for show.”
— from peculiar love (THE CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN WITH A TRIANGLE)
“last night you gave birth to a whale. it was a stunning thing to witness. when you cooed and touched his shiny skin, we knew it was something approaching love at first sight.”
— from kamikaze daybreak (CREATIVE NIGHTMARES)
“love is an answering machine that eats all my messages, but it’s just so cute in the way it goes about it.”
— from emotional blackmail (GIFT FOR A SPIDER)
“i love you so much, i just can’t stand it, even though you treat me like shit, shit, shit.”
— from ring around me (SUBLIMINAL BILE)
“love is like a dandelion on its deathbed.”
— from love’s like that (HORSEMOUTH & OTHER BEDTIME STORIES)
“love me, love me, you say. hold me, hold me in your arms. love me, love me, you say. never do me any harm. but i can’t make you any promises.”
— from promises (OUT-TAKES, MISFITS & OTHER THINGS)
“love turns us all into idiots — the rabid, scowling, clawing kind. we cling to the scentless artifice, like disembodied soldier fish.”
— from judas goat (NOSTALGIA-TRIGGERING MECHANISM EP)
“don’t fall in love with somebody who won’t love you back. don’t fall at all; turn around, take two steps to your left.”
— from in a dream i told you this
(WHO YOU ARE NOW IS NOT WHAT YOU WERE BEFORE)
“i know all your love is taken…but you’ve got something better squirreled away.”
— from getting into character (IF I HAD A QUARTER…)
“this is your decrepit house. your love makes it cry. the tears fall in your mouth. it’s just like licking metal.”
— from people are starting to move in there (GROWING SIDEWAYS)
“the filth of your love engulfs me.”
— from filth of your love (PAPER CHEST HAIR)
“my love has eyes like razors that bleed into my skull.”
— from filler (TEMPORARY AMNESIA)
“it seems like you love everyone, in varying amounts, at different times, when convenience allows.”
— from you will never (OH YOU THIS)
“distance has made a mockery of our love. so have i.”
— from everything matters, everyone cares
(MEDIUM-FI MUSIC FOR MENTALLY UNSTABLE YOUNG LOVERS)
“love is something i killed when it kept me up all night.”
— from defenestrate your heart (AN ABSENCE OF SWAY)
“there’s no such thing as love; just misplaced pity, and indigestion, and improper inflection.”
— from i’m optimistic (GIFT FOR A SPIDER)
if you ever needed proof that i’m a hopeless romantic, well…there it is. and here’s the ultimate valentine’s day song, from master harry.
i probably should have said something about the show i was playing with travis on friday at the green bean café before it actually happened, but my recent habit of being kind of lax in the blogging department continues. so that didn’t happen. the show did, though. consider this your notice. now just travel back in time a handful of days, and everything will even out.
unlike the last two times we played together at green bean, this show featured a full band, with eryk myskow on bass and caleb farrugia holding it down behind the drums. i stuck to playing what i guess you would call “lead digital piano”. local songstress erin britton was kind enough to let me use her keyboard, since for all the things with keys i have around here, a dedicated digital piano isn’t one of them, and taking the upright with me to a gig isn’t exactly practical.
somehow it came out in print that this was a “johnny west and friends” show…which is just plain bizarre to me. putting aside the fact that it clearly said “travis reitsma & johnny west” on all of the posters and the facebook event page, with his name above mine and in a larger font, you’d think that anyone who follows my music even a little bit would know i’m not going to be playing my own material live at this point in a venue that isn’t equipped with a ridiculously good acoustic piano. that’s not a knock on green bean — i really like the place. i should go there more often than i do. but i think it’s been pretty clearly established by now, here and elsewhere, that mackenzie hall is my place. if i am going to bother playing live in any capacity other than doing the occasional sideman thing, that’s where it’s going to happen.
or i’ll play a show in someone’s closet. hey, you’d be surprised how roomy some closets are. you can even fit a piano in some of ‘em.
happily this was a complete non-issue, because there wasn’t a single person who showed up expecting to hear anything other than travis’ songs with me playing a supporting role.
the show was fun, and at the same time, it reminded me why i hadn’t played live at all since september 2011. there’s way too much anxiety wrapped up in live performance for me to put myself through it on anything more than an occasional basis. with the exception of my experiences at mackenzie hall (and maybe the FM lounge), anytime i hear my voice coming out of a monitor on-stage, it sounds completely wrong to me, i lose confidence in my ability to sing in-tune, and i end up giving shitty vocal performances as a result, whether i’m singing lead or harmony. i tend to get a little busier on whatever instrument i’m playing to compensate for that and focus most of my energy in that direction. apparently this works to some extent, because i get people coming up to me after the show telling me how good they thought i was (and they seem to be sincere), while i kind of wish i had a large wooden trunk i could crawl into and lock from the inside.
come to think of it, i think i could count the live performances i’ve come out of with significant good feelings on the fingers of one hand. it’s just not where i’m comfortable, and it hasn’t been for a long time. there was that surreal set at the FM lounge with max on upright bass, and the two mackenzie hall gigs, and then everything else tends to live in different ranges of “get me the fuck out of here”, even when it’s going well. that’s just my own personal thing.
having said that, there was a good turnout, there were several pretty girls at green bean who writhed naked on the floor to travis’ musical craftsmanship, and i got to chew on a good sandwich. so those were a few definite points in the evening’s favour. one of them is a partial fabrication (it was more “swaying” than writhing, really), but who’s keeping track?