How long does it take to write a 3-minute song? In the movies they dash them off in a couple of hours or during a long night with a bottle of scotch. And it’s true, sometimes they come quickly. This one did not. We spent hours and hours, days and days spread over months and months trying to coax a good song out of hiding. We got pretty close in the end, but it finally took our co-producer and mixer a little bit more deft knife work to turn it into the finished product that appears on our debut album The Weight of the World.
When I called it a day about seven years ago, I was exhausted. Somehow I was emptied. I felt like I had already said and experienced everything. Since day one, music had always nourished me. How foolish was I to believe for a single moment that I could go on without it?
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.
There were a few years there–the late 60’s and early 70’s–when underground FM radio thrived in Chicago. FM was new then, not yet corporate, and it offered, on weak frequencies, some very eclectic and adventurous broadcasting. I’d stay up late at night and record from the radio—musicians I’d never heard, but who fascinated me: Sibelius, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Skip James, Ornette Coleman, Doc Boggs. The tapes had no genre boundaries or even taste parameters, really–half the time I didn’t even know if I exactly liked the stuff I was recording. I didn’t yet have enough musical context to fully appreciate it. But I craved the soundscapes the tapes created. Avant garde and folk musics seemed much the same to me. It was all musical texture—fresh and new, especially the stuff that was old.
Love songs have been done to death. They are not new. But do they necessarily have to be all-in on either the sugar-sweet and romantic side or the heavily emotional and melancholic breakup side?
Can’t they be written in a detached way seen through glasses of the harsh conditions of reality? With a sarcastic and humorous tone? With a hint of cynicism? Even about objects instead of people? Can’t the story behind be as interesting as the emotions?