Sometimes we get caught up in the blades... Wodnesdæg once again, and Song for Odin™, that thing where I post a video of a song and reveal some "minor secrets" about it. I'll be honest with you: I know it will sound stupid but yesterday's essay about the Revenge Is Sweet album took a lot out of me, for some reason, and it's kind of hard to imagine typing a whole nother thing now. But I expect I will do it. There's little enough consistency in my world and believe it or not Song for Odin™, every Wednesday regular except when it falls on a Christmas, going on two years now, is something to cling to, so cling to it I shall. For some reason a regularly-scheduled wallow in the minutiae of my glorious career as an also-ran for an audience of no more than a few dozen readers is something I find comforting. I'm a bit weird. And here I've started already. This won't be so hard, he whispered hopefully. Anyway, with all the RISASAY talk it seemed only fitting to "do" a RISASAY song this week, but it was challenging to find a video resource for a song that hasn't been done yet. There have been eight of them so far in the "series,' including Gus Rachels's "Our Love Will Last Forever..." dynamic typography video and my fingerpicked "You You You". But I did manage to dig up one more, and it's "Lawnmower of Love" from a May 1998 show at Seattle's RKCNDY. https://youtu.be/bwrTwaNVA88 This show was with Ten Foot Pole and the Ataris and happened six months before that show from the same venue that started off this series. I remember it being a really great show, though it's not the greatest video, mix, or performance, and I apologize for the massive chord flub in the bridge (if you're triggered by such things, best be safe and not click play.) It's a rather challenging song to play, deceptively so I'd say, with counter-intuitive parts that are hard to remember. I'm quite surprised to see evidence that we ever played it live in fact. Nevertheless, in keeping with the theme of the aforementioned essay, I will claim the song is solid enough to survive even its rough treatment here. And man, I hate to blow my own horn too much, but what a song. (Qua song, I mean, in the sense of a composition.) Some of that album's Cole Porter-isms (for want of a better term) sit pretty awkwardly in the midst of the rock and roll, not to mention the arguably leaden production in the recordings. The awkwardness is a deliberate effect, the contrast played for laughs but also linked conceptually to the material about romantic misfires. It can be interesting even when it all doesn't quite mesh. But here the disparate elements, it seems to me, really work. The scenario is basically that of Noel Coward's Private Lives, crammed into a two and half minute exercise that's over before you notice anything about it. I'm always baffled, by the way, by the complaints that pop up now and again on the internet about the simplistic "relationship dynamics" of songs by me and my "pop punk" er... contemporaries. Have these people never been in self-deluded, destructive, yet strangely fun and compelling romantic relationships that thrive on drama and mutual ill-use? You haven't? Well, take it up with Noel Coward, not me and Parry Gripp. I think we're all being very urbane and sophisticated here, thank you very much. There are few songs where I "wouldn't change a word" but this is one. And I even include the use of the word "capades" and the subsequent hopelessly mangled multi-entendred metaphor complex about ice skating, affection, and laundry in the bridge. Plus: "all we had to spend was what attention we could pay." The structure and plan, and especially the melody and hardly-stated harmonic setting (hinted at quite deftly, I must say, by Joel's harmony at the end of the third verse lines) are (and I must stress that I feel quite uneasy saying so) rather... dynamite. It's as tightly constructed as I can imagine, but loose enough to breathe. I wish I could do 'em all that way. Now, I'm sure I'll surprise none of my friends and allies by saying that I'm not 100% satisfied with the way the studio recording came out. I had in mind quite a different guitar sound, more "retro" R&B style, like Chuck Berry or his Merseyside imitators, and a much more elaborate Beatles-y treatment on the bridge. That's an element that's completely missing from the recording and the allusions were meant to be part of the composition. Like many of the songs on the album, it was released "unfinished." There are also some interesting and I'd say rather effective chords in there that just get swamped in the sludge; and you could arguably say the same about the lyrics. Though it's high grade sludge -- it's actually quite a cool sound per se, and it works on many of the songs on the album. I'd just hoped we could, you know, have more than one guitar sound on this record, since we had around a million amps and guitars and thousands of dollars to spend in a fancy studio. But it was not to be. My pleas fell on deaf ears. We should have used a Fender amp and a hollow-body guitar for at least some of the tracks. We certainly had them available. We should have started over and tried a new tack when it became clear that it was gonna sound just like all the other songs. Admittedly, it would have been much harder and more time-consuming to record and maintain the necessary energy that way, which is presumably why we didn't do it. Maybe we weren't capable of it. I'm not sure I'd be capable of it now, in fact. Still, as I say, this is an example supporting my essay's contention that the songs carry the project through despite the relatively trivial matters of sound, production, even of actual performance and execution. This song is gonna work no matter what you do to it. That's my claim anyway. Many people have told me that this record is the "perfect breakup album", that it "saved" their "lives" when they were going through rough times... sure, it's hyperbole, but gratifying to hear. Many of them also have said they can envision it as a theatrical production: hyperbole again, no doubt, but I can sort of see it. You could arrange these songs into a sequence that would in fact tell a pretty coherent story. If I were famous and successful enough to justify that "musical theatre" treatment of rock records that famous people get to have, maybe we'd find out. There were never lyrics in rock and roll trying harder to be musical theatre, that's for sure. (Okay, maybe Bat out of Hell...) But here's the problem: it would be a huge bummer. A musical has to end with a marriage, and a good one, or at least the promise of one. Not, as here, with a mere chance meeting and a wistful resigned reverie about what might have been and what should never be again. No one wants to see that on a stage, or anywhere. Well, we did it. notes: that studio recording: https://youtu.be/ue1ZDPt7D_c that RISASAY essay: https://medium.com/@drankf/my-stupid-revenge-ce55aa2bd65b that other 1998 RKCNDY show: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLommF46BbnATd1FPZsqu06bW0UCmokP1t #music #songs #video #memoir #minds
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Mark remembers it this way: "1996ish, Pensacola, FL. Dr Frank asked me what I'd like to hear and I told him I liked the solo in 'Make Up', so he obliged! That's the song he's playing in these pics. Why can I remember this and not what happened 2 days ago? Because it was special!" I don't recall it but it sounds like me. btw, that solo is... special: https://youtu.be/4YkB2P-8dM0

31 views ·

More from Dr Frank

43 views ·

Mark remembers it this way: "1996ish, Pensacola, FL. Dr Frank asked me what I'd like to hear and I told him I liked the solo in 'Make Up', so he obliged! That's the song he's playing in these pics. Why can I remember this and not what happened 2 days ago? Because it was special!" I don't recall it but it sounds like me. btw, that solo is... special: https://youtu.be/4YkB2P-8dM0

31 views ·
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