Man…sometimes kick drum and tambourine is all the percussion you need in a song. It just feels right. I don’t want to overuse it, because I already took that approach on a few CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN songs, but when it fits, it really fits.
Also, it’s fun dressing up songs with the piano as the starting point for a change instead of building around a guitar or stringed instrument of some sort. I can hear the tuning of the new beast is starting to drift a little bit — not so it’s actually out of tune in an unpleasant way, but more in a way that makes it sound a little like an older piano. And I kind of like that. It sounds a little unrefined. I’ve probably already used the word “earthy” thirty times when talking about the piano, but that’s what keeps popping into my head.
I like that it doesn’t sound like any piano you’ll ever hear in any song on commercial radio. I like hearing the microphones picking up my nails clicking against the keys and capturing some of the trap-work. I like that I messed up completely at the end of one of the tracks I recorded the other day and let loose with a profane outburst the microphones captured for the benefit of future generations. It was the first time I ever played “brushed tambourine”. The güiro made its recorded debut as well.
The song sounds like something that would have fit seamlessly onto the last album, except it’s piano-led and Ashlee Simpson has a vocal cameo. Oh shit! I wasn’t supposed to give that away. It was going to be a surprise. Now I’ll have to cook up some more surprises as I’m putting the next CD(s) together.
And just so you know I’m no longer the clean-cut guy I was in that last picture…
There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to make a choice: will he play soulful bugle in the bathroom, wringing tears from the eyes of the jazz gods who came before him? Or will he just pretend to be blowing into the thing — because he hasn’t yet figured out how to get anything other than off-key flatulent sounds out of it — and snap a picture to make himself look savvy?
The answer, quite clearly, is “goat cheese”.
Mark my words: I’ll teach myself how to build up a grudging embouchure and get some music out of it, or else I’ll give the bugle to my Uncle Brian (I don’t have the time or patience to take lessons). Either way there’s a happy ending for someone. And really, when you find something like this in a music store and it’s so absurdly inexpensive, you just can’t pass it up.
There was also a fun moment when I was playing a guitar and the guy working at the place (the specificity here is beyond compare, isn’t it?) asked me if I was a lap steel player, and I went on to outline my entire guitar-playing history in condensed form to explain that no, I’m not a lap steel player, and I just play guitar in a completely skewed way because I could never figure out how to get my fingers to do what they’re supposed to on the fretboard. Unsolicited personal musical history in bite-size form — it doesn’t get much more exciting than that.
So I’m thinking there are two separate albums currently taking shape. One will probably be all over the place and have no real thread holding the songs together, aside from the continuation of my sloppy vocal multi-tracking ways and the way the songs feel to me like they make sense together. The other album will probably be almost entirely piano-based and feel much more like an organic whole. Both will probably have wordy titles and be crammed with a lot of songs, though maybe not quite as many as I squeezed onto the last album. There’s also a good chance my hunches are wrong and I’ll end up with something completely different from any of that in the next few months.
Either way, I think I can say with confidence that there will be at least one more album of new material coming to infect you with its sprawl before Christmas, and maybe if you’ve been a really good little elf and you don’t have a copy of MERRY FUCKIN’ CHRISTMAS I’ll give you one of those too.