As Ralph Waldo Emerson – the great American Individualist and Transcendentalist – once said: “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better”. And so, the new Zonn mini-album “Songs Of Truth And Freedom” started off, as many experiments do, with the inventor watching the world around and perceiving that something needed to be done. This approach, coupled with my fondness for re-writing old tunes, led to the interpretation of a 1980s new-socialist stalwart into a novel anthem for the 2020s.
Some of my favorite moments and memories consist of being out on the road wearing a hat over greasy hair and some of the same travel clothes for days. Stepping out of the van barefoot to see the sights, the wind blowing my clothes as I look out over the expanses, I feel free of earthly possessions, free of the need to control how I look and feel, and free of the expectations of the outside world. Truly anonymous in a hat, I travel from town to town in and out of diners and cafes with my face slightly obscured. I’m just a traveler blowing through, never promising anything to anyone. I’m a transient presence for a moment and then I’m gone.
The songs in “Notes From Planet Earth” include Indie Folk, Rock, and Country styles. They deal with the disastrous direction our world seems to be taking driven by the likes of Trump and the GOP, and their kind worldwide. The songs are grounded in the understanding that without a major change of course, we’re in the process of degrading and destroying the world we live in rather than passing it on to the future in good shape. I hope these songs touch some hearts and that we pull off that change of course successfully.
To the best of my recollection, I can’t recall ever being tear-gassed.
My first instinct should probably have been to turn around and run away from the plaza, just like everyone else who went scampering, screaming and covering their mouths. The old, indigenous woman, with the multiple petticoats and black pork pie hat, sitting at her usual location half-way up the block, from whom I usually bought a daily newspaper, suddenly bent over and vomited. Moments before, I had heard a “pop-pop” and saw white, billowing clouds of smoke. A young Ecuatoriano adult, running in a hooded sweatshirt, gave a sudden yelp and stumbled, after getting hit in the leg with one of the tear gas canisters.
Middle age –
Some buy a motorbike or go skydiving, some swim with sharks or hunt for ancient treasures…. me I started to record all the songs I’d scribbled on little bits of paper over many years! As the technology made it infinitely easier to set up a studio at home… that’s what I did, and here am 😉 7 albums, two e.p.’s and a couple of compilation albums in 4 years, and many more still to come!!
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota called Elbow Lake. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in the “sticks” of MN, so I found love in rock ‘n’ roll at an early age through my older brother’s music collection. He moved out when I was young, joined the Air Force and was stationed in England when I was in middle school, so our family took a trip overseas to see him. When I got there, he showed me his electric guitar. I picked it up, and he showed me a couple of licks. I played that damn thing the rest of the time I was there. My parents heard me playing it the whole weekend and later that year, for Xmas, I got my first guitar. I was obsessed. I quit all sports and just focused on that.
My second album is somewhat of a time capsule. These are the songs I wrote between realizing I needed to get better and doing something about it.
My alcoholism and dependence on other addictive behaviors (weed, sex, etc.) had progressed to a point where they had begun destroying every semblance of a good life I’d managed to build despite them. To preserve any chance I had at living well, I needed to change the way I spent each and every moment of my time. In order to honestly document these in musical form, I stripped away every instrument other than my voice, guitar, laptop, and tape recorder.
If there is anything for you in these songs, you will most likely find it outside of what I have to say about them. All I really have to say is thank you so, so much for listening. So much.
That said, in case it might inform your listening, here’s what I have to say:
After we started Soft Milk in 2015, there was a little buzz going because of our music but also some of wacky on-stage antics. It was just two of us then. We played with some cheap 10-watt amps and wore nothing but ghastly bed sheet costumes.