I’m dyin’ and I don’t know why.

Been a while since I just posted a new song here without some kind of video to accompany it. Let’s remedy that, shall we?

Here’s something that’s going on THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE. It’s one of those things I write every once in a while that could give off the impression that I’m an atheist. I’m not (just what I am is kind of up for debate), but I enjoy playing with these kinds of ideas sometimes.

The song is a deathbed fever dream, delivered from the point of view of someone who can find no meaning in their death or the life they’ve lived. Bubblegum pop, in other words.

It was written during the GIFT FOR A SPIDER sessions but left unrecorded until just a few weeks ago. I got it most of the way hammered down. Then I got hit with that stupid cold and had to wait until my head cleared before I could finish.

My Dying Bed Is a Dire Mess

Some recording details, if you’re interested:

The acoustic guitar is the 1951 Gibson LG-2. The leg slaps and some of the vocal tracks were recorded using the “distant microphone with lots of preamp gain and compression” method, and you can hear some room noise at the beginning between vocal lines. I recorded some shaker but decided not to use it.

The electric guitar here was not something I planned on adding. I’d just put new strings on the Thin Twin. I hate the sound of new strings. There aren’t words in the English language strong enough to convey how much I hate them. I know I’m very much in the minority here, but I think they make just about any guitar sound cheap, thin, and edgy, and I have to fight to make myself play a guitar enough to break in new strings.

The good news is, I don’t play in an aggressive enough way to break strings on the regular. The last time I snapped one off was in the middle of a guitar solo in early 2002. So I almost never have any cause to change them unless rust sets in. And that hasn’t happened yet.

The Thin Twin decided to disturb the peace by letting one of its strings just pop right out without warning when it wasn’t even being played. I had no choice but to replace them all. I lucked out in choosing a set of strings that weren’t too horrific-sounding coming out of the gate. There was an extra bit of brightness, though. I found myself enjoying the sort of snarling sound I was getting out of the bridge pickup with a bit of distortion.

Messing around on top of this song led to thoughts of, “I ought to try recording what I’m doing just for fun,” and then, “I ought to keep that.” They were probably the first two thoughts I ever had that contained the word “ought”.

This kind of electric guitar-playing/sound is the last thing I ever would have thought to add to this kind of song, but in a funny way it fits. I also like how the line, “I’m dyin’ while the sky leaks rain,” sounds a lot like, “I’m dyin’ while the sky heats rain.” I’m not sure which I prefer. Maybe the second one, just because it’s an unexpected turn of phrase.

So there you have a sort of folky little song, with deceptively happy-sounding music playing off of the hopelessness of it all. Juxtaposition — it’s what’s for dinner. Maybe not a final mix, but good enough for now.

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