Most of these were recorded in few takes on a small 8-track in my bedroom or through a built-in laptop microphone. A few were recorded live. They were meant to be the equivalent of rough drafts — it was the idea of the song that i was focused on capturing, rather than the quality. Many of these demos go on too long as i tried to feel out the songs, get in the groove, or remember the words. As such, it can get pretty rough sometimes.
There should be more, namely some of the original roland high life demos, but my external harddrive has not been cooperating. let’s hope for the sake of rock and roll history that they are not gone for good.
(ah, who am i kidding. fuck ’em)
- face it, tiger (you just hit the jackpot)
march 2005. written for a girl i was dating at the time. probably the only pop song that references shakespeare, lord byron, and stan lee. the title is in fact the very first line of dialogue that mary jane ever had. why wasn’t this included on the spider-man 3 soundtrack? it would have made that movie so much better. sigh.
- atlantic avenue
fall 2005. written under a tree after a long walk down the entirety of atlantic avenue in boston. put to music and performed as the final for my poetry and song class. the 7/4 thing originally came about by accident because i nervous performing it during my conference with the professors. it might have had something to do with the fact that one was a jacked up guy in pink polo shirt named basil cleveland who spoke with a faux british accent and shared many anecdotes about wooing his romantic liasons in the seventh grade using a hammer dulcimer.
every girl in that class wanted to sleep with him.
i’m still kind of jealous and bitter.
- dad’s diaries
february 2007. one of our former bassists thought this song was actually about my biological father. he was wrong. hint: it’s about jesus (though i will argue that the song is very pro-jesus, just anti-stupid christians). the gay bashing line has always been a little difficult for me, and i’m nervous about people hearing this song/reading the words and not understanding the irony or confusing me with the narrator. still, i’m pretty proud of the juxtaposition between the lyrics and music. go me.
- (number nine)
fall 2006. we were given an assignment in my creative writing class to write a one-page story that ended with a word that the teacher gave us. my word was “revolution.” hm. so i re-arranged the prose and put it to music. i wish this song had gotten fleshed out by a full band-it really needs it.
- electric lights
january 2007. a good friend and former roommate of mine has a lot of health issues. the title came about as a play on electrolytes. and then i realized that the phrase ‘electric lights’ was already in the song. go me. i wrote this after visiting her in the hospital.
i fucking hate hospitals.
UPDATE (September 2010) — My doctor has recently informed me that I suffer from White Coat Hypertension. This explains so much.
- idiosyncratic routine
july/november 2007. this one’s about the morning after. it shares a title with the comic book that alyssa writes in chasing amy because the original draft of it was inspired by a sometimes-lesbian i had a crush on. i wrote all new words later after a much more interesting night. kept the title, because it still made sense somehow.
- lovers’ walk
july 2007 most of this allusions in this are to inside jokes or memories with the girl in question. we did in fact watch fourth of july fireworks from a rooftop next to boston medical center, and i was way too excited about all the things i could do with the rain/reign homophone.
- mal means bad (in the latin) – piano – original version – guitar
may 2007. this one came about after some serious self reflection regarding my relationship history and all the stupid and irrational decisions that i (we) make in the name of love or lust. the title comes from a line in the show firefly that river speaks to inara after her and mal have yet another falling out. sometimes i relate a bit too much to mal.
winter 2007. i really wanted to write one of those songs about loving music, and since we as a culture have a strange obsession with naming inanimate objects and especially assigning genders to them so as to establish ownership, i thought it’d be neat to write a really over-sexualized song. about my guitar. her name is roxie. and she loves me very, very much.
- scenes from a reflecting pool
august 2007. i wrote this at the christian science center reflecting pool in boston; that’s kind of like my late-night think spot (in addition to the sea lions outside of the aquarium, whom i have not visited in a while). i was in a pretty shitty mood over a lot of things and tried to clear my head by writing down couplets about all the other people i saw there. when i got home later, i took the pages upon pages of couplets i wrote and arranged them into some kind of narrative which, to my surprise, seemed to reflect all the things that i had been trying to get off my mind. oh yeah, and the chorus refers to the fountain of youth (or maybe ‘the kids are alright’).
- squatter song
june 2006. this one was written on somebody’s private dock in the north end around 3am. i’m not entirely sure that i was sober, but i remember biking over there and listening to summerteeth on repeat because i had just moved out of my home in connecticut and my summer wasn’t shaping up to be quite like i’d imagined. this version of the song is pretty morose compared to the way it sounds with the full band. another anecdote about that same former bassist: ‘who’s jeff tweedy?’ we should have cut him loose right then.
- st. elsewhere – piano – guitar
november 2007. there were two parks facing each other right by my old apartment (oh, drexel. tear.) that had the strangest social dynamic ever. the south end in general is pretty odd, what with the random housing projects and homeless shelters that dot the map and outdate the multi-million dollar homes. depending on the time of day, the two parks-which bordered housing projects on one side and million dollar condos on the other-would pretty much alternate between a mostly homeless and drug-adled demographic or successful gay couples with dogs wearing sweaters. it was such an interesting cycle to observe. it got even more interesting when i learned that thomas edison used to live there, and that the facade of one of the buildings was used as the location establishing shot for the revered 80s television drama ‘st. elsewhere,’ which i have never actually seen.
- (quis custodiet ipsos custod)
may 2007. sometimes breaking up with someone is just as difficult as being broken up with; you care about the other person, just not romantically, and you don’t want to hurt him/her, but it’s something that has to be done. the title is latin for ‘who watches the watchman?’ (i’m not actually that smart or linguistically savvy, i stole it from ‘watchmen’ when i realized there was some thematic relevance)
you know, a lot of my titles are just really nerdy or obscure allusions that sound profound in context but are really not …
- the ballad of gideon stargrave
july 2006. me: ‘you know, i’ve never actually written music or poetry-or anything, really-while wildly intoxicated, but you always hear about these famous people who produced their best work while inebriated.’ former roommate (re: electric lights): ‘here’s ten shots of vodka in a row’.’ me: ‘gee, thanks! what would i ever do without you!’
i guess that explains why i keep switching point of view in this one. i actually ended up freewriting about 5 pages worth of stream-of-fucked-up-consciousness material, and i took the best parts and made it into this song (there was a lot of crap). it was kind of funny looking back in my notebook and watching my handwriting slowly deteriorate though. also, gideon stargrave is the name of a crazy metafictional postmodern superspy in grant morrison’s the invisibles. (which, if you haven’t read, you should, because it just might change your life. Or send you to Kathmandu while tripping on mushrooms. Either/or)
march 2007. this one’s from the point of view of a homeless man named joe who washes windows for money instead of begging, and refuses to take handouts. if you’re ever in new haven, look him up. or, you know, give him a few bucks to wash your car. i’ve had some amazing conversations with the guy. a former gangbanger and drug dealer, joe now wants nothing more than to atone for his sins past. he lost everything, except for his integrity. hey, remember that old scary story about the window wiper with the generic eastern european accent who would call and say, ‘i vant to vipe your vindows’?
- your last fall
october 2006. much like ‘(number nine),’ another creative writing professor gave us this assignment to write one paragraph about a man waiting at a bus stop whose son had just died. so i did, and then re-arranged the prose a bit. walker ended up writing a gorgeous and amazing piano part for this song when i took it to the band. i still feel kind of bad that such an emotional heavy and resonant song is one of the few i’ve written that is a complete work of fiction. whoops.
- love song in the key of eb amateur
january 2004. this is a song about writing a song about a girl. i was postmodern lover playing postmodern rock and i didn’t even know it. it’s just a cute pop song from my high school years. damn i should have been famous outside of new haven county.
- rockstar me
september 2003. before we met, a good friend of mine heard me play this song at an open mic night in college, and immediately cast me as his arch nemesis. this song made him loathe me with a fiery passion reserved only for neo-nazis and asian woman in cars that hit me when i’m riding my bicycle. i just thought it was a cool idea, a bit of an inversion on the typical rockstar life style and personality. the song doesn’t refer to any specific situation, but is a fictionalized amalgamation of things that have actually happened. also, i still for the life of me do not understand the time change.
- somewhere someday
april 2002. wow, this one’s old. it’s still a pretty solid teenage rock anthem though, in my humble and un-biased opinion. it written during spring break my sophomore year of high school, when my mom flipped out on me for wasting time and not getting a head start on college tours and applications. so i left, and went on a hike with my friend, which is where the anecdote in the third verse comes from. i thought this was going to be the song that put my high school band on the map, but we broke up instead. we learned the song for our final show and closed our set with it, and it was an absolute disaster. talk about anti-climactic. i knew we should have closed with ‘just another punk song’…