This stopgap collection includes an inferior early mix of Don’t Go, a skewed self-portrait of my then-short-haired self smoking what looks to be a cigar or a blunt on the back insert, and a few interesting curios.
There are two tracks from an early session with Gord and Andrew Whitelaw right around the time SHOEBOX PARADISE was about to get underway (I guess you could call it “Papa Ghostface & Friend”).
The first of these is a spoken word tale of domestic bliss gone to hell called Trouble. Its lyrics were torn out of the blue Hilroy spiral notebook I was writing in at the time, stolen by Andrew Deane when I let him leaf through it at lunchtime one day at school.
I’ve never been able to figure out what a heart-on-sleeve romantic like him would have wanted with those words. He fancied himself a filmmaker at the time. Maybe he saw something in the story he thought he could use in a screenplay. Who knows?
I didn’t notice those pages were missing until some days later. And then I remembered him having a strange, almost embarrassed expression on his face when he gave me the book back after asking if he could give it a read during our lunch period (we didn’t eat together), telling me there was a lot of stuff in there. A little less stuff after you got through with it, eh Andy?
The second song recorded with Gord and Andrew was the mostly instrumental I Ain’t Got No Hair, which is kind of aimless, but it does have some good ideas — including my after-the-fact piano overdub and another complete butcher of “I Love You” from Barney & Friends. At the end you can hear me saying, “That was demented.” Pretty much sums it up.
Both of these tracks were recorded at Andrew’s place. I brought over most of the equipment I had at the time, and we didn’t end up using even half of it. The Yamaha W-5 synth just sat on its stand feeling unloved. We recorded a third song with me on the drums. Gord and Andrew weren’t able to come up with any solid ideas, and Gord got me back on a stringed instrument in a hurry.
I erased that track without meaning to after we finished listening, forgetting to hit “save” before getting out of it. I’d be curious to hear it today, but I don’t think anything great was lost, so it’s nothing to feel too bad about.
I have to say, I’ve always really liked Trouble, with its ominous bass/guitar interplay sounding at times like music from an old blaxploitation flick warped into something darker and stranger. I took a few of the people I was living with at the time as inspiration and spun a tale of a man driven insane by the bad habits of his wife. The opening passage hints that perhaps he was a little crazy to begin with and domestic bliss was never in the cards for him.
For some reason I’ve always liked the way I don’t sound much like myself when I flatly intone, “He returned to Australia with visions of alcohol and prostitutes.” Maybe it’s a bit of the old John Cale influence swimming around in there again.
Andrew plays the drums there, and his jerky performance suits the song. Nine years after the fact I remixed the song and threw it on OUT-TAKES, MISFITS & OTHER THINGS. That’s probably the best place to hear it.
Other songs on this EP include a distorted stomp of an out-take from the Starving Artists sessions, and the full alternate version of Merry Fuckin’ Christmas, which I later tacked onto the album from which it drew its namesake because it was too catchy to be ignored.
Merry Fuckin’ Christmas (second version)
On My Wall
Don’t Go (rough mix)
I Ain’t Got No Hair