Live at the Naked Giraffe Theater (1999)
this one’s all over the map, and was recorded during the same period as HORSEMOUTH (& OTHER BEDTIME STORIES), carrying over all the period-correct sound issues that implies (muddy acoustic guitars, some bottom-heavy mixes, and some speaker-blowing screams).
it was originally intended to be a mock-live album, with me improvising a bunch of new songs in front of an imaginary audience (the size of which would depend upon how many extra tracks i had left over in any given song to overdub my own audience noise with). i must have lost interest in that idea pretty quickly, because only the first song takes that approach — patricia, a love song for a baloney/balogna sandwich. the audience mutters about how they’ve read about me and i’m supposed to be some kind of talent-less weirdo, but by the end of the song i’ve won them over through the sheer depth of my ridiculous emotion.
hypocrite shoulders finds me toying with one of the most hideously overused chord progressions of all time and trying to inject it with some weirdness. i’ve always found it amusing how the lead vocal is sung in a silly voice, while the harmonies play it completely straight. it makes for a fun juxtaposition.
a song for brynn was written about a girl i went to high school with. she asked me to write her a song, and i did, but i couldn’t record it until i was on summer vacation because i wrote it before i was able to preserve things on cd. i decided to have some fun and call in bob dylan, neil young, bill clinton and elvis presley as guest vocalists, making for some interesting harmonic interplay. “she’ll spit sunflower seeds on your grave before she makes you lemonade” is a pretty damn good third-person pickup line if you ask me. elvis even has a nice bit at the end when he sings part of “an american trilogy”. that song always got me going. the girl in question seemed to be pretty happy with the song and told me she forced everyone she knew to listen to it. not that it led to any naked time for me, but hey…you can’t win them all.
i dd run into her again in the middle of 2002 at changez (i kind of miss that old dive bar), and a whole lot of fun ensued. we were supposed to get together for something approaching a date, until she became violently ill without warning about an hour before i was going to show up at her place. or at least that’s what she told me when she called to cancel, shortly after we spoke on the phone to confirm our date.
i found it interesting that she had just gone to a job interview, sounded completely fine and chipper when i had last spoken to her, and still sounded completely normal now that she was sick. you know how your voice tends to change and adopt a more throaty tone when you’ve just yarfed? it wasn’t there, kids. if you’re gonna fake it, at least do it with gusto! i know i did back in grade ten.
anyway. she said she would call me in a few days and we would reschedule. that was ten years ago, and i still haven’t heard back from her about rescheduling. she must have eaten something really nasty that day. oh, sarcasm…you make my oysters go clack, clackity-clack. it was just another fun experience with the opposite sex that fed into BEAUTIFULLY STUPID, but that’s a story for that album’s page. she did try to add me on facebook some years later, but i refused her friend request. why? fuck her, that’s why.
thirteen lesbian kangaroos is some kind of quasi-classical/opera noodling, containing elements of “la cucaracha”, while soap head is just stupid enough to save itself, with intentionally moronic lyrics and a moronic vocal delivery to match. the wailing at the beginning of the song was actually from an entirely different track i recorded earlier that hadn’t turned out to my liking. all i remember about it now is that i was playing piano and the lyrics had something to do with school. the only bit of it i retained was that one two-second vocal moment, recording over the rest, and somehow it fits absurdly well, even though the new music is completely different from what was there before. it’s almost like my crude take on country music, with an IQ in the low double digits.
elsewhere there’s poetry (the last temptation of chris), another pretty neat stab at quasi-electronica (screaming cabbage), and the half-instrumental piano experiment of light in the terrace. that last one has slowly become one of my favourite songs on the cd over the years. it’s rough — you can hear me stop recording at least four times because i have no idea where i want to take the song, only to immediately realize that i liked what i was doing, and so i start recording again to develop the idea some more — but it’s got a certain something about it that i like. the last three minutes or so of the song are very explicitly influenced by john cale, and intentionally so, though my lyrics are decidedly not influenced by anything (“there was a little african goat trying to unravel himself / for he’d been caught in bubblegum for seventeen years”).
the old arp omni-2 synth makes its final appearance on a solo cd of mine for many years right at the end, sounding pretty nifty as it burbles away for a few seconds. why the hell did i neglect such a cool instrument for so long? no one knows for sure. it would take me until AN ABSENCE OF SWAY, ten years down the road, before i dusted it off again and realized just how much i’d missed it.
death of a seagull, while not one of the stronger songs on the album, features a few nice licks on a rented mandolin, along with what are some of my favourite lyrics on the whole cd: “the crowd loved it, and gave him a sitting ovation (meaning weak applause on top of weaker observation)”. the highest high point for me, though, will always be a-crapola. it starts off as some street corner a capella weirdness and gradually evolves into something of a mini-play starring bill clinton and charles manson. even with the ugly bits of digital distortion, its insanity cannot be denied.
there’s also the hidden track, wherein charles manson returns to ask me for an autograph, and i give him cancer with my eyes. good times.
a song for brynn
thirteen lesbian kangaroos
light in the terrace
the last temptation of chris
death of a seagull
noses (part 1)
noses (part 2)