I construct my albums like puzzles, with each song a piece that's part of the greater whole - and the instrumentals play a critical role. They are meant to heighten or shift a mood, or add a sense of drama that lyrics can't quite convey. Removed from their respective albums, they take on whole different meanings. I have endeavored here to maximize the effect of each track by arranging them in such a way that creates a definite ebb and flow; an acoustic number is followed by a funk workout, which is followed by a more abstract ambient work followed by a hip-hop piece. You can play this collection a track at a time, but it is my hope that you will crank up the ol' headphones, fire up your favorite substance, tune out the world and tune in to "The Bell Curve" for the full two hours.
Of all the albums I've made, this is the one I'm most pleased with. It took a long time to finish; songs were recorded, rethought, retooled, re-recorded, remixed. Some I just had to walk away from, and were discarded altogether. In the end, I wanted to produce an album that has a shape, that told a story and that flowed together as a piece - and I believe this does that. And if you should take the time to listen to it as a whole (something I've come to understand is exceedingly rare nowadays), you may hear what I was trying to accomplish: 12 songs about the quality of mercy. So take a listen. And if you feel so moved, have some mercy on me by making a contribution. Peace all.
You may think it's all a game
But you're wrong, you're wrong
We're all connected just the same
One big ol' throng
You may think you'll get away
With telling all your lies
Well you are in, I bet
For one big surprise
During the past months I've been going over all the songs and albums that I've posted on Bandcamp, and I've remastered, re-tweeked and re-imagined virtually everything. So if you'd listened to a particular track or album in the past, you might want to give it another shot. Or perhaps there might be something else ...
Let's hang out in hotels
And sneak into their swimming pools
If they ever catch us
We'll say we don't play by their stinkin' rules
We'll go down to the Esplanade
On the Fourth of July
Stay up late for the fireworks
Plastered all over the Summerville sky
When I started writing songs for this album I began to see a connection with the songs from my past three records, "Little Bastards," "Scoundrels" and "Primitive Man." All contained stories about people doing what they do. So, in an aha! moment, I decided that these albums formed a quartet. If you listen closely you may detect a dialogue of sorts, where a character from one song is speaking or responding to a character in another. Some of these people are questionable in nature. Some are on their way up and some are on their way down. All of them are just living their lives, without apology.
You shut the door
You turned the key
Never looked back into that darkened room
Never looked back at me
You left a note
You left it blank
No explanation given, no final words
Not even, I have you to thank
I heard a song in the middle of a dream
And it woke me from my slumber
It spurred me on, it rocked my world
You could say it had my number
I got my sack and I got good shoes
And I got a certain esprit
And I know when I get to the top of the mountain
I will be set free
A star fell down on Indiana
Just like it did in the beginning of time
We all turned out to see what happened
Some of us laughed
Some of us cried
And together we held onto each other's hands
Until the last of us had died
My car is a clunker
Not like the fancy ones for which I valet
And when it breaks down
I ditch it hoping someone will just tow it away
I own one nice shirt
And one nice pair of pants
I go to work and take my place
With all the other worker ants
Is this the way to live a life
Never think about the meaning
Then one day you wake up
And the whole world is careening
Well I'm no philosopher
Not Jean Paul Sartre
But it doesn't take a genius to know
You gotta have heart, miles of heart
No none of us are alone in this
One way or other we face the abyss
The bum, the cabbie and the millionaire
Hitler and Ghandi and good ol' Voltaire
One thing's for sure we all grow frail
The electric charge comes off our third rail
And if you fight it then you are a fool
Ain't it a bitch how life is so cruel
Here is yet another album - originally recorded in 2011 - that I have completely remixed and rethought. I moved around the song order, took out an instrumental, rerecorded many of the vocals and, in one case, remade the basic track. I've always liked this album because of songs such as "Spooky Girl," "Lovesick Blues Boy," the title tune, and what is perhaps my most personal song, "Right Here." And now, hopefully, it is that much stronger. Thanks again to Helen, the gal on the cover. My Mona Lisa. Read a nice review of the album.
Do we ever see ourselves as we really are? Do we ever see what it is we really do? Or are we so adept at self-deception that we can't know the primitive man that lurks beneath the surface? We may laugh at or be disgusted by a man/child despot like Kim Jong Un, but aren't we all like him in some small way? This album is for the lion inside the lamb.
"Westphalia" was my fourth album, and even though several songs were done at least in part at Woolly Mammoth Studios in Boston, most of it was recorded on my own. In fact, the very first track I made for it, "Dime in My Pocket," was the first one I ever did solely at home. In the beginning I thought it would merely be a demo, but the more I worked on it and the more it started to come together, the more I thought, "Hey, I can do this." The song itself is a bit strange - very few rhymes and I'm not sure exactly what it is about - but what it taught me was how to create a certain feel, and that was as important as just about anything else. As for the themes on this record, I was, like Candide, re-examining my personal philosophy of life in face of evil. Here are 12 songs about locusts, good intentions and the best (and worst) of all possible worlds. In the end, this has to be my most purely strange album.
Time for a brand new album. It's a name-your-price type deal, which means you can download it for free (or fork over your cash to help the cause, if you prefer). So grab it while you can because once I exceed 200 downloads, as I did last month, Bandcamp automatically flips it into you-gotta-pay mode.
One day you are on top of the world. You are young, you are strong, you are beautiful. But then, slowly and almost imperceptively, your youth fades, your strength slackens and the person you see in the mirror no longer glows the way it once did. "Where did your long hair go / Where is the girl I used to know," Brian Wilson sang, mournfully. Eventually, life plays a cruel trick on us: just when we think we've got the world by the tail, it all gets taken away. No one is exempted, no one is immune.