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In Fell Traitors / Blog

Paying the muse

I do not work quickly, and my inspiration far exceeds my abilities. So by the time I've worked out one song, the seeds of 3 more have germinated. I've come to find that the stories I tell, while they may not always lay out every detail, I attempt to lend them the same light with which they arrive to me. That is, something that the listener will return to again. The sounds, tunes and content haunt me and keep me awake, swirling until I make strides to give them birth. If I have given them sufficient work, they will hold your attention like a paralyzing drug. Anyone brave enough to dig deeper into the lyrics can unravel the mysteries. But once the songs are unleashed, I can't say the effect they will have. It is up to the listener whether my work is medicinal, recreational or background noise while gardening. I suspect that like Papa John Creach, my work will have more appreciation with a later generation. Discovered at a time when it is of little comfort to me. But at least I will get occasional sleep between songs. Currently I have 4 or 5 active songs in pieces strewn around my brain, on napkins and computer files.

Crafting

When songs have mulled themselves about your chest and cranium for several years, the tendency is to work and rework them over. What I am able to accomplish never quite matches what I had in mind. New songs quickly written and recorded are less burdonsome because they have less of an attachment. They can reveal to you what they want to be, how they want to manifest. The song I'm currently working is one of the oldest I own. I had always heard it as a slow, mournful Irish number. While building the music I was inspired to punk it up and I really like the results. There will be another version for the wife because for years she's heard the pretty version. The 5yo complained that it was too aggressive for her and meanwhile her favorite band is Flogging Molly. You can't please everyone, but I hope I can get to the point where I'm only recording fresh songs. Not these malignant growths. problem will always be once you address one, three more pop up.

Waltzes

How long do I have to wait before I make another one? For some reason I'm just drawn to 3/4 and 6/8. Something soothing about it I guess. I've got several I want to work on but I feel like I should intersperse some rock rythms in between. Since this project is for my edification, I don't know what I'm worried about but there it is.

Songs by 5 year old

My daughter caught me working on a song in the early hours. (Scared the bejeezuz out of me, spooky kid.) So I took some time to set her up with some prefab tunes and set her loose on the mic while I fixed breakfast. The best of her three songs is called "I Want to go to the Prairie." It's a true story, she really does want to go to the prairie. Maybe I'll set her up with a Reverb page. Hey Ferb, I know what we're going to do today.

Substance

I've never been overly impressed with slick production, perfect pitch or lightening-fast MIT fingerwork. I'd far rather hear someone off the street doing what they beleive than a trained monkey (no pun intended) squeezing out another Brill building tune. The corporate machine produces and consumes its own and the cycle repeats. Tone takes precedent over tune in my book. Both vocally and the color of the song. There's got to be a message worth conveying before I'll bother scratching out lyrics. Some idea, a line, a feeling, a joke. Tell me, do you write lyrics first or music? What's your process?

Constructive criticism for your dumbass

Please stop writing vapid songs. 1. Anytime you are tempted to rhyme "maybe" and "baby," please realize that only one person actually got away with it and barely at that. In fact you are now permitted to use "baby" as a term of endearment exactly once in your career. And never, "babe." 2. Discontinue any songs asking a doctor for anything. News, some more of these, retrieve your stolen heart, watch you burning, to take a picture, do you think I caught smallpox. The Doctor is out. 3. If you have to announce your occupation in lyrics, restructure your song. 'I am a lineman for the county." carries the weight of "We are Santa's elves." (See also I Am Old Kris Kringle.) And if Jimmy Webb's girlfriend didn't know what he did for a living, and why he was out of town for days at a time, she should restructure her relationship. 4. "Have some fun" is too vague to carry any tangible connection to another person. You know what you mean, I have no idea. Spell it out. Songs should be more literary than a greeting card. 5. No, I am not ready to rock. I don't care if you can't hear me. No, I'm not having a great time because some suck master is milking the audience. Rile up crowd support by rocking, not begging.

I missed Subhumans with MDC.

When I used to work for promoters, I got into shows free. When I used to write reviews, I got into shows free. Now even if I could get in free, I'd have to arrange for a babysitter and take time off work. You make your decisions in life and every choice has its downside. I enjoy writing, but critiquing someone else's work is two steps removed from actually doing something. No one should give a damn what my opinion of their work is. There shouldn't even be such an animal as a music critic anymore. There shouldn't be a Ticketmaster either for that matter. The internet has made them all obsolete. Listen to music and form your own opinion. Buy your tix at the box office. Better yet, make your own music. That's one step towards doing something.

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