How do you win respect from a bunch of tough-looking grade school kids?

According to a dream I had last night, the answer is: be Johnny West.

There were about ten of these kids congregating on the sidewalk outside of the house I used to live in up until a few years ago, and they seemed like kind of kids who would give me trouble. One of them looked up at me and said, “You’re Johnny West, aren’t you?” I said yes, he smiled, and it was like I was the Pied Piper or something. My distribution methods had apparently rubbed off on them, and they walked around giving free chocolate to anyone who wanted it. The media even picked up on it and called it a Johnny West-inspired act of random generosity.

I thought that was a pretty amusing dream to have.

I am also older now than I was a few days ago, but no wiser. I thought you should know.

The new album is at #2 on the CJAM charts right now, breathing hot and heavy on the heels of the new Arcade Fire album. Thanks to everyone at the station who’s been playing my stuff. The CDs seem to be going pretty fast. The box at Phog is empty again, which is not something that ever happens twice like this in such a short period of time. Better fill it up again this week. Next time I make a double CD, I’m planning ahead a bit more so I don’t have to do as much work to keep up with the demand for these things. A good amount of them have gone out in the mail, anyway, so if you’re someone I usually send CDs to, you should be getting a copy soon if you haven’t received one already.

I’ve been taking a few weeks off from recording, which is probably a good idea. If nothing else, it cleanses the palette a little. Getting THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE finished before the end of the summer is obviously not going to happen now, but I’m still thinking I may get it done before the end of the year. Already working on another (non-ANGLE) album in my head, and I have one song recorded from before my little break that I’m pretty sure will be going on said album.

I think it’s about time to get back into working with longer song forms and putting some serious effort into avoiding repetitive/conventional song structures. I think I said this before when i was working on LOVE SONGS FOR NIHILISTS, but this time I mean it. After MY HELLHOUND CROOKED HEART, I kind of feel like I’ve said about as much as I want to say with relatively normal song forms for the time being. Time to challenge myself to do something a little different, and ambitious in a different way…making the songs themselves more panoramic and unpredictable. I don’t think it will be a return to anything like BRAND NEW SHINY LIE as much as it will be a matter of taking everything I’ve learned from screwing with my musical language over the past several years and twisting it into some other place I haven’t been yet.

I’m not putting pressure on myself to rip it all up and start again, though…it feels like an organic change that just needs to happen so I don’t let myself fall into a comfortable pattern. I mean, I could take the twenty or so songs I wrote for HELLHOUND but didn’t record, work on those, and have a glorified sequel ready before the year’s end. But I think that would be a little too easy, and a little boring. Makes more sense to keep those songs on ice and start fresh. Attack it from a different angle.

Speaking of juggling, I went back and watched that video of Harry Nilsson playing a one-man show for the BBC in 1971, and I think it deserves a repost for anyone who didn’t catch it the first time I posted it back when I had Harry on the brain while I was feeling a little under the weather and wrote a gigantic post about him. That guy was something else.

3 comments

  1. that picture is (probably not originally) from The Walkmen’s album “Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone” On pupose?

  2. Next time you play live can you please, please please play at least 1 Harry Nilsson song. If anyone could do Harry justice it’s you. I can definitely see you doing the 1st song. And any other for that matter!

    Wow what a great video- Harry we miss you and thank you for all of your music.

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