31 May 2009

Song of the Day #12: "Good"


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12. Good

There are good days
And there are good days
There are good days when bad things happen

There are good dreams
And there are good dreams
There are good dreams when bad things happen

There's a good life
And there's a good life
There's a good life when bad things happen
And there's a bad life, too

But yours is good
And mine is good
So let's go help some others

28 May 2009

Song of the Day #11: "Columbus"


This song is about my love/hate relationship with my hometown: I miss it, I miss my awesome high school with its sweet 1860s campus, there are a few good places to get bubble tea, every June there's ComFest, there are definitely things in Columbus worth missing. But I also often feel like it's this cluster of oases in a desert of suburbia, and the desert is surrounded by the flat void of soybean farms that is Ohio.

11. Columbus

Hey, Columbus
Every time I miss you and come running
You just disappoint me once again
Whetstone Park
Is great, but not the suburbs
And those keep getting bigger
Every time I come around

The cap over 670
Is made of styrofoam
And I wonder when I drive around
What happened to my home

2nd Worst Show Ever


Some folks are under the mistaken impression that my band, The Alphabet, is famous. To disprove this misconception, consider the following:

  • Last night, we, The Alphabet, played a concert in Pasadena, Maryland, at a restaurant called Cheeseburger in Paradise. It was, in fact, a weekly Wednesday night Battle of the Bands.

  • We got this show because I am our manager, and for a number of reasons, not least of which is procrastination, I didn't start booking our tour 'til a month before we were supposed to play it, and this Battle of the Bands at Cheeseburger in Paradise was what we could get.

  • The other two bands were called Harmsway and Less than Zero. Harmsway was a metal cover band. Less than Zero was a classic rock cover band. They were both local.

  • We played last, after Less than Zero's set. We noticed as they were tearing down that they were taking the PA with them. This worried us, as we don't have a PA. Even if we did we couldn't fit it in the station wagon.

  • Upon frantically questioning the woman who had been announcing the bands, we learned that the venue DID have its own PA, but that it had no microphones or mic stands.

  • Parker unearthed one microphone from his bass case.

  • Forest taped it to the cymbal stand.

  • We then remembered that we didn't have an extra 1/4" cable for the keyboard, and furthermore that when we'd tried to use a borrowed one at our show the previous night, it kept cutting out and we ended up mic'ing the piano speakers, which worked just fine.

  • Except this venue didn't have any more microphones.

  • One of the members of Less than Zero kindly loaned us a microphone and mic stand.

  • We began to sound check and discovered that both the PA speakers were blown.

  • We had no way to amplify either the piano or my voice, other than the built-in piano speakers.

  • We turned the piano up all the way, and I shouted, and Forest and Parker played very quietly.

So. The end. We made $20 in CD sales. Eight people had come exclusively to see us, which was actually quite impressive. In conclusion, we are not yet rockstars. But we will be soon.

[P.S. The worst show ever was in Kent, Ohio. The only audience members were the other band.]

26 May 2009

Songs of the Day #8, 9 and 10


Hi, so I was a bit late with these. On the bright side, I went steadily for a whole week! I wasn't sure I could keep it up even that long.

Just as a heads up, there will very likely be a bit of a break for a week or so as my band The Alphabet goes on mini-tour but I'll be back shortly. Unless of course I write and record songs in the car, which might happen, you never know. I may even enlist the boys' help in singing.

8. Room

Where'd my room go
Where'd my room go
Where will I sleep now
Well, the weather's
Pretty good but
I'm not tough at all
I'm not brave
Enough to handle
What might swim my way
Maybe I'll go
Sleeping on the
Beach some other day

9. Swine

Lyrics: [NOTE lyrics were co-written with Forest Christenson and Michael Vance, on the occasion of Forest contracting the stomach flu, which we briefly speculated was the infamous swine flu]
Forest took a shower
In early afternoon
He felt a little icky
And sticky in the poon

He soaped his chest all over
And soaped his furry ass
Wrestled with this pinky toes
And passed a little gas

He stood under the water
And stood and stood and stood
And tried in vain to conquer
His raging morning wood

When all a very sudden
A swine crashed through the door
And sneezed, and Forest toppled
In pain onto the floor

He died that day in agony
So far away from home
They flushed him down the toilet
He was whisked away to Rome

10. Ocean

Let's go to the ocean
I can see a mist
The plankton will be glowing blue
The oysters will be pissed
We'll run along the sandbar with them
Spitting at our toes
The waves will lap our ankles
And soggy all our clothes
Let's bring a tub of hummus
And eat it on the sand
And play a little footsie
And I will hold your hand

Also, might as well mention friendlily that I'm a professional artist and musician (I just got my BFA on Friday, actually, so really an artist) which are jobs without paychecks or health benefits or anything like that; and I choose to give music away for free because a) nobody would listen to it otherwise and b) I love when people give me music for free and why not spread the happiness? On the other hand I do have to eat, so I really appreciate donations:

22 May 2009

Song of the Day #7: "Pavilion"


7. Pavilion

We were up in
That pavilion
When the rain came

Raging down
Sweeping under

Dusting toes and
Soaking benches
Filling swing seats

Pooling at the
Bottom of the

We had hot dogs
Chips and Pepsi
In a bag by
The pond

21 May 2009

Song of the Day #6: "Mind"


6. Mind

I don't mind cleaning up people's messes
If it means that I can pay my rent tomorrow
I don't mind getting on my knees on the
Floor with a brush if I eat tomorrow
I don't mind singing on the street
With a cap at my feet and a megaphone at my
Lips if it means I can pay the bills with my tips
And maybe have a little bit
Left over for a drink
Before I scrub another sink
I don't mind

20 May 2009

Song of the Day #5: "Worried"


Fifth Song of the Day! Holy crap, this is working.

5. Worried

What'll I do without
Friends who have cars or a
Phone or a job or a

What'll I do without
You and your dinners and
Homework and your house and

What if I lose all my
Money and somebody
Steals all my stuff and I'm

Will you come get me and
Let me freeload on your
Couch and support me and
Feed me and find me a

'Cause I'm sort of scared
I'm a little bit worried

[I'm gonna stop linking to every Song of the Day now 'cause it's really time-consuming.]

19 May 2009

About Recording on Thorpe with the Yamaha


Just for curiosity's sake:

Thorpe, my Asus EeePC 901 with Eeebuntu Jaunty Jackalope OS, came with a cute little stereo microphone built right in below the monitor. Xandros, the GNU/Linux distro it shipped with, had only the simplest audio recording software, and so did Eeebuntu, so I installed Audacity, which I've been using for three or four years now. I find it frequently buggy but capable. I'm especially pleased because the latest release, 1.2.6, has an .mp3 encoder that actually works. I could never export as .mp3 before and always had to export as .wav and convert to .mp3 in iTunes if I was on a Mac, or with a script I downloaded for Nautilus on Linux.

Since I record instrumentals and vocals at the same time, using the same microphone, it took the first four songs to find a good balance of vocals and instrumentals using the volume on the keyboard and the placement of the laptop. My biggest problem now is that the left channel of the stereo microphone is a lot quieter than the right channel. Since I don't think you can edit channels separately in Audacity (I don't know how, anyway), I have to just mix them down to mono. Which is okay, but stereo is very pretty to listen to. I'll have to check that out.

Another problem is that Thorpe's audio output is much weaker than a full-size laptop's. At full volume, it's quieter than 1/4 volume on an iMac--both the speakers and the headphone jack. So if it sounds kinda quiet in the recording, it's bound to be loud as hell in real life, and I can't check it without sticking it on my mp3 player. At least that's the opposite of the problem I usually have, which is super-quiet recordings that just distort when I try to get them any louder.

The Yamaha keyboard is adorable. It has phat beets.

Song of the day #4: "Same"


Fourth Song of the Day! I'll admit that--out of curiosity, and not desperation, I swear--this chord progression came about by taking a two-year-old song that went nowhere, playing it backwards and clipping out the chorus.

And I know it wasn't desperation 'cause I went ahead and wrote a couple more in advance. From scratch. ;) Anyway...

4. Same

The same thing happened
The last time I said

[More Songs of the Day: 3 2 1]

18 May 2009

Song of the Day #3: "Packing"


Third Song of the Day! This one is because I'm sitting here surrounded by boxes and junk I didn't even know I had, trying to sort it into piles like "Parents' Attic," "Hiking Backpack" and "Why Do I Even Have This, Nobody Would Want This Ever."

3. Packing

The trouble with packing
Isn't so much that you're packing
And more that you're leaving

It's good to complain
About boxes and car rentals
Just to forget that you're leaving

By now you have done it
So often and still you forget
'Til the end that you're leaving

You're leaving

[More Songs of the Day: 2 1]

17 May 2009

Song of the Day #2: "Cold"


Second Song of the Day!

2. Cold

It's too cold for May
It's summer in a week
And I'm still wearing hoodies or a sweater
I've closed all the windows
I've put on some tea
I can't get the hang of Boston weather

I don't like the desert
It's good near the sea
I'm not into palm trees
Or humidity
I don't need to fry
My eggs in the street
I just want a picnic
So how 'bout some heat?

[More Songs of the Day: 1]

16 May 2009

Song of the Day: "Suspenders"


I'm starting a new project. Since I'll be unemployed and overseas for six months starting June 11th, I figured a few regular projects wouldn't be a bad idea, you know, to keep the creative juices flowing and provide some deadlines.

So I'm going to write a song a day, starting today (theoretically; I don't actually expect myself not to miss a single day, but I'm gonna try) and I'm gonna record each one by any means necessary, which for the next week will be with this adorable little Yamaha keyboard belonging to my roommate, and put it up here for free download. Each song will be available for one month.

And to kick it off...........

1. Suspenders

My suspenders hang down on my butt
'Cause they don't really help when they're up on my shoulders
A redheaded kid let me have them
I helped him move out; they were under some folders
I helped his stepdad take the dresser
Down two flights of stairs, then I carried the bedding
I'd been trying to sell him my bed
Which I got for ten bucks from a couple in Reading

And I named the suspenders Muffin
Yes I named the suspenders Muffin