songs for stringy-haired lovers.

i can’t believe i didn’t hear about this sooner — chad kroeger (he of nickelback fame) has a secret identity that he’s kept very heavily guarded.

by day, he’s the leader of nickelback, and writer/singer of deep, soul-probing power ballads.

but at night, he transforms into…

the paddle pop lion!

he refuses to discuss it in interviews, but i think chad should just embrace his true nature and own it. it would probably win him some new fans.

in non-nickelback-related news, i kind of feel like posting a few things that aren’t going to make it onto the new album. some of them will eventually show up elsewhere. ah, who am i kidding…i’m sure all of them will see the light of day at some point, even if it doesn’t happen until i put together another sprawling collection of out-takes and stuff. maybe a couple of them will even end up fitting on that gargantuan thing called THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE. for now, here they are, still fresh and fairly fragrant.

electric blue felt like a contender until i finished recording it. then it felt like it was missing something and didn’t go anywhere interesting enough to justify inclusion on the album. still, i do like the fact that the rhythm is driven by multi-tracked leg slaps, and the natural chorus effect achieved by recording two acoustic guitar parts slightly out of tune with each other is something i’d never thought to try before. i guess “i’m running on roller skates to get to you” is about as close as i get to bona fide love song lyrics these days. but isn’t that more meaningful than singing, “baby, i love you, there’s no one above you, take my hand, i’m so bland”? i would hope so.

Johnny West – Electric Blue

i feel like it just never quite finished finding itself. i tried recording drums and some electric guitar, but that seemed to take away more than it added. oh well. you can’t win ’em all. i did at least leave in a bit at the beginning where i mutter “what the fuck?” after messing something up.

twisted fingers was the song i was going to end the album with, until i wrote a tune called “in my time of weakness” and realized i liked that one a lot better as an album closer. it’s nothing personal. i still like twisted fingers quite a bit, and would have kept it on if i didn’t come up with something that felt a bit more appropriate as a parting shot.

this song initially showed up here in much shorter form, as the sketch i came up with while messing around with a new compressor (you read about it back in september…of course you did…this is the most exciting spot on the internet today, and you know it). here it is in its full/finished form.

Johnny West – Twisted Fingers

purple seahorse earring would work well enough as a happy little segue, but it doesn’t feel essential enough to be there. i do dig the slide ukulele bits, and the distant-mic’d, double-tracked, hyper-compressed piano. it’s fun messing around with sounds like that.

Johnny West – Purple Seahorse Earring

i was also going to put up a 10-minute song called “paralysis of analysis” that probably pinpoints where my concept (if you can call it that) for the album began to take shape, but that one still needs some work. it’s also long as hell, and though i will finish it at some point soon, i know that no matter how well it turns out in the end, it doesn’t belong on this album.

and that’s enough of that. if i keep going, pretty soon you’ll be able to take all these out-takes and form an EP out of them. it ain’t time for another EP yet (though a few months ago i flirted with the idea). there are quite a few other things that aren’t going to make the cut — some of them much more interesting and suggestively-dressed than these three — but many of them still need to be mixed and/or are missing a bit of wallpaper. i can’t let you see all of my naked walls. that wouldn’t be right.

fear not — none of these out-takes are really giving anything away. the songs that are going to be on the album are a lot more adventurous and have better-defined abdominal muscles.

i still feel like the second half of the album is missing something. it just needs one song to give it a kick in the ass and shake things up a bit. i keep writing new things, recording them, and pushing away things that up until recently i was sure would make it onto the album. apparently it’s going to keep shifting until the last possible second.

i’ve said it before, but i think it’s worth repeating — none of my CDs really feel like proper albums to me. they’re just snapshots of wherever i happen to be when they’re recorded. i couldn’t spend a year working on an album, or it would turn into about five different albums. as it is, this one has taken longer to get finished than i intended by quite some distance, though it isn’t because i’ve been labouring over it for months. the bulk of the work has been done this month, with a bit done in december as well.

as time goes by (a kiss is just a kiss, you know), i realize more and more that i’m never going to craft the perfect 10-song album that’s 35 minutes long. it just isn’t in me. actually, the problem is that there’s too much in me, to the point where an album like that would feel so lightweight, there would be no point in it even existing.

so things will continue to be sprawling and lengthy for the foreseeable future. that’s just the way it has to be if i’m going to have any hope of someday getting relatively caught up with all the songs that need to be given their due. but hey, in miami, burger king is starting this thing called “the whopper bar” where you can buy a beer with your burger instead of a soft drink. that has to be some consolation.

4 comments

  1. Love all 3 songs, Love the song “tittles”, vocals and everything in each song, you my friend are INCREDIBLE! Can’t wait to hear the new CD!!

  2. i don’t know if i’d go that far…but it would be good promotional material, wouldn’t it? “johnny west…even his out-takes will change your life”. if only i had a paddle pop counterpart.

  3. you ever write a song that you really like, only to realize later on that it doesn’t seem to work on the album you’re putting together? i was positive it was going to be the perfect closing track…and then i wrote and recorded something else that said, “no, dude…I AM the closing track…and no other song shall ever challenge me.” and i don’t think “twisted fingers” fits anywhere else but at the end of this sequence of songs. it’s a sad day for sweet pickles. but it’ll definitely show up on something else in the near future. i like it too much to hold it back until the next “misfits” compilation in 2015.

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