Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mozart's House, Robert Pollard, Ball Hog or TugBoat, and Macca

So it's been a while since my last post, but there has been some progress with the muzack!

For the last couple weeks I've been making Sundays my day to relax, regroup, and set some basic goals for the week ahead. A lot of times, I tend to get discouraged with songwriting because it gets ridiculously tedious..... to the point where i will spend four hours just to write one line. Then after working a week on a song, I realize the song is a horrible waste of time...... so what do i do??...... I'll go back and rewrite the whole thing slowly like a freakin' turtle and then the whole thing goes back into the same cycle. By having Sundays to regroup and notice these patterns, I'm able to say: "Come on Johnny! you're wasting time! Move on to something else."

So I'm still planning out this monthly EP series. I haven't figured out where I'll be posting them. (I wonder if I can post them through this blog?)........ Right now I've got some ideas.... I'd like to make an EP of reworked acoustic Dirt Water Refuge songs; another EP of quick 2 minute early 60's sounding Who style rock and roll; a third EP which I'm calling "Johnny and the Cosmic Salad" (!!! moohaaha!!); and lastly an EP of songs I'm writing for my friend's upcoming film - "Silkscreen Beetle" which he is producing. Nothing is finalized with any of these projects and nothing has been recorded yet but I promise the engines have started and the wheels are turning!!! (Just Stay Focused John!)

I've written some new songs since the last post. The first is called "Mozart's Horse" and is my first experiment with heavy metal and hardcore punk. "Mozart's Horse" is loosely (very loosely) based off the film "Amadeus" and ends with the line "I am Mozart Mother F#*$#$!". It rocks!; The second new song is called "Static Killed the Radio" which is a folky fingerpickin' song with lots of chords and has been kickin around for a few years. I think it sounds a little Lou Reed-ish and is probably the best of the four. "Born Without Ears" is the third one and may be a throwaway but maybe not. With a full band it could sound pretty nifty. And lastly is a song called - "It Ain't Easy Living in the Heart of the City" which I could picture Bruce Springsteen singing.

I've also been learning some new cover songs which I don't usually do. But it's been very beneficial just to see how other people write. It also gives me a chance to work on my singing which does need some work! Usually I'll wait til' Erin leaves the apartment, make a playlist of the songs I'm working on, crank it up, take off all my clothes, rub peanut butter on my stomach like Iggy Pop, and sing at the top of my lungs.

One of my new obsessions right now is a guy named Robert Pollard. He has been playing in bands since the early 80's and is one of the most prolific songwriters you'll likely ever find. He's most famous for starting a band called Guided By Voices that has been cranking out up to 4 albums per year for the last two decades. His music is what you would call "lo-fi indie rock" This is because he records most of his songs in his home on old equipment.... but when you dig a little deeper you'll find he's pulling from old British folk, punk music, and early 60's rock and roll. He spent many years as a 4th grade school teacher in Dayton, OH before he ever made a dime with his band. What i love about guys like this is their stubborness not to let record labels dictate how they should sound, dress, talk, act etc.... This is a guy who has done what he loves his whole career! Yeah, he probably could have built a larger fanbase by cleaning up the hiss and background noises on his albums and re-recording his music in nicer studios. Who knows maybe he could have been all over MTV. He would have fit nicely in with the early 90's grunge music videos being cranked out. Anyway below is a video for the song "Bulldog Skin". I Dig It a Lot!!!

One other artist/album I want to mention is Mike Watt' album "Ball Hog or Tugboat"! I used to listen to this album a lot when I was 13 and ended up losing it. The other day I found a copy at Waterloo Records for $4 (!!!) and am still amazed how damn good it is! It's truly one of the lost classics of the 90's! If you don't know, Mike Watt is one of the most amazing/influential bass players in punk history. He played in a band called the Minutemen and another called fireHose. Anyway "Ball Hog or Tug Boat" features an insane lineup of guest artists ......... Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Evan Dando (The Lemonheads), Sonic Youth, Nels Cline (Wilco), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Mike D (Beastie Boys), Frank Black (Pixies), Henry Rollins (Black Flag) and members of Jane's Addiction. The album has everything you could want from funk to spaced out jazz to hip hop to punk to folk. It's definitely worth checking out..... below is a video for one of my favorite songs on the album - "Drove Up from Pedro".

Saving the best for last...... Erin and I went to see Paul McCartney play in a giant spaceship called Cowboys Stadium the other night. He was awesome and played 35 songs over the course of a 2 and 1/2 hour set! Can you believe he's 67 years old?? This was the first time I'd been to a stadium show in about 4 years. I usually like to avoid the big stadium gigs just cause everything is so much more expensive than the bar gigs ($8 for a Miller Lite. $30 for Parking. is that legal??)...... but this was something I could not pass up! Erin surprised me with tickets as an early birthday present, which makes her girlfriend of the year! To be honest with you, Paul is my 3rd favorite Beatle (behind John Lennon and George Harrison)...... but despite that he is a Beatle and the Beatles know how to make great music.

Highlights of the set for me were...... "Let Me Roll It" which led into Paul jamming out at the end to a version of Jimi Hendrix' "Foxy Lady"....... "Got to Get You Into My Life" and "I've Got a Feeling"- I can't believe how great he can still belt these songs out........ "Helter Skelter"!! holy crap! maybe the first metal song ever written and Paul can still scream it!......... "Blackbird" - Paul playing solo acoustic......... "Dance Tonight" - one of the happiest songs in the history of music..... "Band on the Run" which i listened to while taking a piss (I just couldn't hold it anymore!)....... everyone in the crowd singing along to "Hey Jude" aand "Let it Be"......... big mullet burning pyrotechnics during "Live and Let Die"......... Paul's dedication to Texas' own Buddy Holly during - "It's So Easy"....... Paul's ukelele version of George Harrison's "Something"......... his John Lennon tribute during "A Day in the Life" --> "Give Peace a Chance"........ Paul's story about how Jimi Hendrix opened a show with the song "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band only 2 days after the band released the album...... and lastly the greatest ending ever - "The End" where Paul sums it all up by singing............... "In the end, The love you take is equal to the love you make".

Here is the set list:

1. Drive My Car
2. Jet
3. Only Mama Knows
4. Flaming Pie
5. Got To Get You Into My Life
6. Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady
7. Highway
8. The Long and Winding Road
9. My Love
10. Blackbird
11. Here Today
12. Dance Tonight
13. Calico Skies
14. It's So Easy (Buddy Holly)
15. Mrs Vanderbilt
16. Eleanor Rigby
17. Sing the Changes
18. Band on the Run
19. Back in the U.S.S.R.
20. I’m Down
21. Something
22. I’ve Got a Feeling
23. Paperback Writer
24. A Day in the Life / Give Peace A Chance
25. Let It Be
26. Live and Let Die
27. Hey Jude
28. Day Tripper
29. Lady Madonna
30. I Saw Her Standing There
31. Yesterday
32. Helter Skelter
33. Get Back
34. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
35. The End