You know you'll never walk alone cause you can't control your legs... Odin! Let's go... When I was tentatively elbowing my way back on to the internet after a few days away yesterday, and knowing Wodnesdæg and Song for Odin were coming right up, I asked which "minor secrets" would be preferred among: "On the Team," "Swallow Everything," and "Hello Kitty Menendez". People "voted". So here's "Swallow Everything" from the MTX of 1997, at the Rivoli in Toronto: https://youtu.be/qNEJEQSDeEc I mean, yeah, to no one's surprise, this song was the favorite by a huge margin. I've been doing this voting thing long enough to know that this song is always up near the top of any list. And I get why. It's succinct and catchy and pretty well-composed and well-conceived (in that it is about something, you can tell what that something is, and, while it flirts with a few abstruse metaphors, it never loses focus.) Moreover, it echoes some familiar sonic and conceptual tropes without being completely derivative of them, which is kind of a neat trick if you can manage it, the best of all worlds, really. "I... liked the Clash cover," some people said doubtfully the first time we attempted a clumsy rendition of it... I think maybe they thought it was a very, very inept "Safe European Home" or something, the chord structure and the E-B jangle-drone and the "oh oh oh"s. I don't know, in the circumstances we used to play in it's a wonder anyone could tell anything at all about whatever song we were trying to play. It's a nice little character study, with an inadvertently light and non-over-written touch, that I stumbled into not quite knowing what I was doing. It is, that is to say, accidentally deft. Also, like many of the most popular songs it is ever so slightly risqué, at least from a certain angle. I remember Jim actually being rather shocked by it when he first started playing with is, to our amazement. The slight risqué-ness has come in handy at literary school visits, where... well, the story is that when I was starting to explore the idea of writing a novel I was kind of at a loss at where to start. My editor said many good novels step off from song titles and suggested I look at my songs to see if any might be a good starting point. In my mind, this translated to looking at my song titles and deciding which one would look best on a book jacket. The two top contenders were "Swallow Everything" and "King Dork" -- "King Dork" obviously won and the rest is history there. "Swallow Everything" might have produced quite a different sort of book. Maybe a "problem novel" a Go Ask Alice for our age. The world will never know. But high school kids love that story. Or rather, they love the word "swallow," as they love anything a bit rude, especially in the confines of a mandatory assembly or English class. They even sing along sometimes, with a lot of enthusiasm. (Same with "Hitler," too, by the way.) "Swallow Everything" materialized during a rather strange time in my life: my band had imploded and I was at a loss, but I had recently acquired a a new old guitar (the white one, a '57 Les Paul Jr) and a new old amp. I would just sit there in this almost completely bare room containing only the amp and myself, back against the way strumming these songs staring off into space wondering what, if anything, to do with my life. And now I'll quote from an old blog post on the subject of that guitar: "I credit this guitar (and the Marshall half stack I acquired around the same time) with sparking the songs that were to start a pretty productive run of writing and recording. You know how that happens? You get new gear and it "takes you somewhere"? I wrote "More than Toast," "Swallow Everything", "Dustbin of History," the instrumental that became "Bridge to Taribithia", "Martyr" etc. in that smelly Oakland apartment with this crazy guitar and that amp, the downstairs neighbors banging on the ceiling with a broom handle and the hippie down in the back garden yelling "play the blues motherfucker!" (I think he was yelling that at me, but it could have been just something he yelled, generally.) And me thinking, well, probably that's the extent of the audience that will ever hear this stuff, glad I'm annoying them at least. Like I said, some things don't change that much." In the event, we did pull things together long enough to record this song for the Gun Crazy 7" and to do the subsequent album Our Bodies Our Selves before disintegrating again. That line up (Doctor-Aaron-Alex) didn't play all that many shows and I don't believe I've ever seen any video of that "era" ever. Later when we reconfigured and started playing more, "Swallow Everything" was a staple of the live set, as it remains this day. (We play it best now, I'd say.) Once again, I wasn't sure I'd have much to say about this, but wound up typing a lot. I have one further note though: the ending climax of the recorded song, in which a descending suite of two-note chords on the first and second string are overlaid on top of the main guitar figure, is the first, and maybe one of the only, time where a thing I heard and planned in my head actually got realized in real life. (This was before multi-track demos in my world, where these things could be tested out -- you just had to imagine, guess, and hope it worked.) The result was this swimmy, liquid, kind of almost "baroque" elaboration on the main figure that still has a kind of magic for me. I still can't quite believe it worked. well, folks. We did it. "Swallow Everything" ftw, if ftw means what I think it does. See ya next week, I suppose. notes: -- studio recording: https://youtu.be/21TupeOVHZQ -- that guitar blog post: http://www.doktorfrank.com/archives/2016/10/like_a_tree_wit.html -- video shot by Rick Scullion of Punk Rick's Videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/punkrick71/featured. Thanks Rick! #music #songs #video #mtxforever #minds
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