Anytime I write a song, there is a building of momentum, a time to make my case as I look at the page. I gather up what I know, and start threading together the surrounding ideas from what I believe. Same goes for this blog. I don’t want to bore you, but it might get long. Today, not so much!
I used to write everything down in those cheap spiral notebooks. I prefer wide-ruled, because if I get excited, there’s room for big words. I have a filing cabinet full of Mead “1 subject” notebooks. Of course there was never one subject covered in a notebook, although each one would be given a name, like “Black 1997,” or “Green 2000.” If I was feeling particularly wild, I made up fanciful names like “Nougat 1998,” “Champ 1999,” and “Hog 2001.”
These days I use recycled printer paper cut in half sheets for writing stuff down. The smaller page size suits my non-committal creative moments and late-night household inspirations. I might otherwise fill a legal pad with a wish list I could never check off.
I carried “Red 1995” with me to Mick’s Lounge in SF alone one night to watch a band called The Green Things. I have found myself at times writing songs while other music is happening in the background, with a guitar or not. It doesn’t pull me in or distract me; it’s a bias noise that actually helps me concentrate. I had my face in the notebook for most of their set. I remember watching a little bit, and I recall writing the line, “have some fun with absurdity, man!”
This song sat around awhile, until I chose songs to record in New York for Wood + Wire. I naively suggested a “Dylan” feel for the band, and Dennis the drummer played the beat to “Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine” — imagine it — before settling on what we have. Good thing I didn’t play a harmonica. What I hear now that reminds me of a Bob Dylan record is the band getting tripped up by my unpredictable chord changes. The vocal and the acoustic guitar were recorded at the same time, which doesn’t happen as often as you’d assume. I like the piano.
“The End” gets requested often enough to keep it an active song. Have I made my case? This is the end.