Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My band has songs up for you to hear.

I’m tickled pink that my friend Jay has agreed to share a web site with me for our music. A childhood friend of ours designed the site for free, a talented and real nice guy named Mark Paul whose brother was in my kindergarten class and with whom Jay has stayed in touch.

We finished 10 songs. I’m happy with them all. I’ll be releasing them for free on the web site in batches. Here’s the first batch. It’s really anti-mystique and anti-indie not to just rhetorically mumble that, you know, if you feel like hearing my music, I mean, if you dont have anything better to do, here it is. To heck with that. I’m psyched about these songs. And here they are.

If you want to hear the songs “unmediated,” please go to the web site now and find them, because these virtual liner notes may spoil some surprises.

1. “In July” has the most elaborate vocal arrangement of the collection and is my attempt at mid-’60s-style folk-pop-rock. Robert, the bass player, sings lead at first, with Jen harmonizing. I take over the lead about halfway in, and then Robert and I trade back and forth, and then Mac joins us for the finale, along with an overdubbed 2nd harmony part from Jen. Robert’s singing at the end of the bridge is one of my favorite moments on the CD. I dig Bob’s 6/8 swing on the brushes. The song has a musical trick: every chord has the note C.

2. “Apocalypse again.” I wrote this shortly after the declaration of the war on terror. The song predicts the "Patriot" Act and general military stalemate; from the beginning, the phrase “War on Terror” had an Orwellean “we-have-always-been-at-war-with” ring to it. Lots of lyrical plunder in the words: borrowed lines and ideas from Tennyson, Francis Scott Key, George W. Bush, Joseph Conrad, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Graves, the Bible, and inversions of lines from Freud (who borrowed it from Diderot) and Eugene Debs. I sing the lead, Jen has a very brief solo moment, and Mac recites the monologue. Mac has a theater background so I wrote him a monologue. He wails it. I dig the scrawny sound of the band -- a nice swing on the bass from Robert, great accents and fills from Bob. Bluesy number, very sparse sound, but taut, and with passionate vocals from everybody.

3. “Clinging to a cloud (a/k/a Misty).” I “sampled” the words of this song from the great Johnny Mathis hit (also sung beautifully by Sarah Vaughan) “Misty,” by Johnny Burke and Erroll Garner, using about 60% of Burke’s lyric. A feature for Jen’s powerful lead singing. Robert sings the wordless interlude. Jen, Robert & I harmonize at the end. On the whole album we recorded my guitar live with the bass and drums, close miked, and also through an amp in another room, giving us two guitar tracks, one acoustic, one electric. This is the most “electric” of the songs, but you can hear the acoustic, and it sounds like two guitars. Note for music theory people: I realized only a couple of months ago that the song is mostly in the Lydian mode, the white notes F to F on a piano (transposed to G for this song).

4. “A Man of Words.” I first read this Mother Goose poem about 12 years ago, in an anthology of pagan poetry in English, and I immediately wanted to write a song. Some years later I set it to this rootsy rockabilly-ish tune. Jen, Mac, and I sing it together, and Robert joins us about a third of the way through. I love the gang vocals. I got the idea for the song’s ending from a scene in a movie in which a Medieval minstrel walks around the courtyard laughing in people’s faces as he sang. I wish I could remember what that movie was. I think it was European.

I hope to post a few more songs in a few weeks. I hope you like these, and if you do, please do feel free to tell your friends, as well as everybody you know. If you want a “hard copy” of the album, drop me a line and I’ll send you one. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll make the CD for sale or not.

One more thing, about the web site’s name. When my beloved spouse and I were first dating, she said, “The name of your autobiography should be, ‘Mmm, that sounds good!’”

Jay and the band and I hope you agree.
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