Paper Chest Hair (2000)
this is perhaps the most “mature” papa ghostface album. some of our most disturbingly accessible songs sit alongside some of our most twisted creations. right off the bat, there are four of the most alarmingly “normal” songs ever to show up on a papa ghostface cd, one after the other. filth of your love contains what still feel like some of the best rhyming lyrics i ever wrote, with an ending that sounds like a happy drunken sea shanty. time again is nearly a pop song by our standards, while sinkless man is a bluesy strut that features me slipping into the character of a cynical homeless person. sand paper nicks the bass line from the steve miller song “the joker”, and i’m still not sure why i ever thought that was a good idea. but just between those four songs, there’s some of the best wordplay on any PG cd, and some of the catchiest-but-still-weird-enough-to-stay-interesting music we ever committed to plastic.
then things get a bit stranger.
piece of crap in your shoe is one of the weirdest PG songs ever (no mean feat), starting out as some kind of warped metal/electronica hybrid on bad drugs and gradually disintegrating into vocal insanity. something pink isn’t far behind, with a demented mid-section that comes out of nowhere. i find it funny how i managed to sound incredibly fucked up on one drug or another, when i had never been drunk or high in my life at the time. the obligatory macabre spoken word piece shows up in the form of what they had was so pure, a tale of high school sweethearts reunited that takes an unexpected turn at the end.
some of gord’s best guitar-playing of all time is on this album, and his work on narcotic girl and rabbits and leeches is improvised sexiness of the highest order. i mean, on narcotic girl the guy manages to draw real feedback from his guitar while playing through the digitech effects box with no actual amp to speak of in the signal path. how the hell do you even do that? this is also historically notable as the precise moment at which i first figured out how to bend a guitar string — an accidental discovery you can sort of hear happening during my bridge solo on letting go.
crawl sounds something like a marching band with electric guitars instead of brass instruments, and i can still remember gord playing my red strat copy and twitching wildly like a man being electrocuted while we were recording it. the long, hypnotic rabbits and leeches has always been one of my favourite tracks, and i probably should have given my sister erin a co-writer’s credit because a few pivotal parts of the song were very heavily inspired by a track the two of us recorded together around this time. but that’s another story entirely. letting go features a mini-song after the fade-out, à la YOU’RE A NATION, with gord playing some very tasty acoustic guitar. there’s even a punk-y hidden track that involves the castration of then-prime minister of ontario mike harris by 911 workers via gunshot wound, followed by a message to the nonexistent papa ghostface fans. those were the days.
we recorded this cd differently from past PG efforts; this time i wrote the lyrics to most of the songs instead of improvising them, and instrumental tracks were recorded before the vocals, sometimes even before i had written words. but unlike SONGS FOR DEAD SKIN, the music was given space to develop, and while some of the songs with written lyrics were sung to music that was completely improvised, it worked a hell of a lot better this time around because we let the music ebb and flow naturally without trying to shape it into anything other than what it wanted to be (in the case of narcotic girl, for instance, i wrote three completely different sets of lyrics before it finally felt right). it also didn’t hurt that we had both come a long way as musicians, individually and as a team.
even the sequencing of the album was a switch from the norm. instead of just slapping the songs down in the order they were recorded, this time i gave a bit of actual thought to the ebb and flow of things, and arranged the songs accordingly. it would be the only time i would deviate from chronological sequencing on a non-compilation album until the PAVEMENT HUGGING DADDIES EP in 2004.
all things considered, while i initially viewed this album as being kind of patchy, i can’t for the life of me remember why i ever felt that way, and time has revealed this to be some of our very best work, right up there with SHOEBOX PARADISE and YOU’RE A NATION. kind of scary to listen to this and realize we were still the same 16-year-old guys who had recorded the first few papa ghostface albums.
filth of your love
piece of crap in your shoe
what they had was so pure
rabbits and leeches