This story shows with chilly humor of what happens when an over-the-top football fan has a collision of his two passions...his team and his girlfriend. As I often do, I reverted back to Catholic School religion classes for inspiration. Along with two other songs that I haven't posted yet ("Jesus and Mickey Mantle" and "Peg and Elvis"), I refer to these as my "First Commandment songs"...beware of the consequences for idolizing false gods. I played in The Mike Volpe Band every weekend for a decade. Mike had a short stint in The Duprees and remains to this day their substitute lead singer. Needless to say, we played a heck of a lot of Duprees songs over 10 years and I learned a lot of their nuances doing so. I chose to mimic the style of The Duprees for reasons similar to the way I wrote "Grand Old Time:" I think that twisted, unromantic lyrics are funnier when set to romantic sounding music; and it doesn't get much more "love song-ish" than by imitating The Duprees. This is not an autobiographical song...the title could have included any two syllable team...the Giants, Ravens, Bengals, etc. I chose The Eagles simply because of the region where I live. They are the local team I have watched and have been a fan of since moving here in 1970. I can't say I am fanatical about The Eagles...the games are sometimes too painful to watch with overly emotional involvement. Except for the simulated horn parts, the music is a "canned" Casio keyboard program and pretty irrelevant. My focus was on structuring the chord pattern and four part harmony in a way to resemble a montage of Duprees songs so that the outrageousness of the lyrics would hit home. The song was a home recording and not a very good one, mechanically. I'd love to clean this one up with a visit back to the NYC recording studios.
My boyhood friends are also a band of mine, The Notes...hence the double-meaning of the words in verse 2 ("Notes at play"). Several of The Notes were Boy Scouts who went to camp in Forrestburg, NY, their first exposure to Sullivan Co. Since then, we've often gone to that area for canoe trips and more recently for weekend getaways. Narrowsburg is 11 miles from the site of Woodstock and is located on a hillside by the Delaware River where it separates NY from PA. Like "The Vidiot," this is a "one track at a time" home recording. I double-tracked the lead vocal because it sounded thin. This song is begging for a live recording where I can belt out the vocals with the backing of a full band. For the piano, I wanted the feel of Rod Stewart's "Handbags and Gladrags" during the song's intro and ending. I was happy with the background harmonies in the choruses. Now, I wish I pulled them louder in the mix, but I was trying to keep them subtle. There was nothing subtle about the bass guitar...I used it almost as the lead instrument. The guitar work was done on an electric 12 string copy of a Gibson Les Paul. The saxophone almost sounded real in the solo. (It is a Casio keyboard.) Had I slid notes instead of "trill" them, I might have pulled off the illusion. Catholic school religion classes show up again, like they did in "The Vidiot." "Nature stands untainted and the meek will all be sainted for leaving everything as it should be" refers to the Bible passage "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." I was satisfied with the chorus' chromatic movement up the scale in the chord pattern. There's nothing too original about that...you can hear the same done in Top 40 songs like "A Kind of Hush" and "Because."
This story explains that the only winners in domestic disputes are the lawyers. In the chorus, the hook and operative word is "grand," which switches between the meanings "wonderful" and (the loss of) "one thousand dollars." As found in "When The Eagles Are Playing" and some of my other songs, I like to bring out the humor of a song by juxtaposing a beautiful melody with a tragic or twisted lyric. Original recordings of this song sounded tropical, with a simulated marimba complementing the vocals. This recording was made at a concert in Schenectady, NY and later polished up in a NYC recording studio near Grand Central Station. My lifelong friends and band of 43 years, The Notes, made a very rare live appearance and played with me for this benefit concert. It now has 5 electric guitars playing during the solo; something we couldn't pull off with two guitarists, live. Originally, this song was going to be a fast rocker. I was showing the bassist the "Don't Be Cruel" styled bass line. I slowed the pattern down to let him get it note-for-note, when the rest of the band started playing along. We never went back to the faster version.
For starters, this story's main character is purely fictional. The Vidiot does not remind me of anyone that I know. He certainly does not resemble me. I rarely sit through an entire movie and I rarely watch TV. You might be surprised to know that I do not spend much time listening to music, though I love playing instruments and creating songs. The Vidiot is a man that was so hurt by relationships and human interactions that he decided to save himself by socializing as little as possible. He filled the void with media: cable & satellite TV, DVDs, radio, and CDs. I am not a very religious person, but I use Christian themes learned throughout my Catholic School upbringing in a lot of my songs. I compare The Vidiot's media zealousness to that of a religious fanatic. His altar is a media center. A TV channel is his god. His messiah is a newsreporter. The second verse is based on themes from The Book of Corinthians, Faith, Hope and Love. I particularly liked the double-meaning of "a Blockbuster baptism" and the play on words in "from the cable to the grave." I think of this song as the closest approximation I'll ever get to the quality of Paul Simon's lyrics, though no one I ever heard came close to his clever use of words. It also has a similar theme to Paul Simon's song "I Am A Rock." This is a home recording, made one track at a time. There is a NYC recording of this song around my apartment, somewhere. The drum track was a recording loop from a Casio keyboard; not what I had in mind, but it worked. The string ensemble, bass, and cello came from the same keyboard. There is probably a bit of Al Stewart (Road To Moscow, Year of the Cat) influence there. The main instrument was an Ovation acoustic guitar. I chose to fingerpick to make use of a lot of bass note variations. Vocal harmonies were used sparingly, in the bridge of the song.
I've often heard it said that Art should allow the listeners/observers to develop their own personal interpretations of its meaning; that artists should not have to explain themselves. I have no problem with the first statement. I'm not buying the second statement.
I want to get inside the mind of the painter, whether a realist or abstract. I want to know what the lyricist thinks a vague line or two means. I remember reading Brian Wilson's interpretation of his wildly obscure song, Surf's Up. For a guy many people though went insane before writing that song, his explanation made the song become crystal clear to me.
The songwriter is usually limited to two or three verses, trapped within additional rhyme and meter restrictions. On top of that, the songwriter only has 12 notes to work with. For me, this means sacrificing the clarity that prose writers are afforded; not that they have it much easier.
I intend to go behind the scenes of the songs that I post on ReverbNation. I feel that you deserve the option of making your own interpretations while having mine as well.