Art and what-have-you Well, ladles and dongle men, another Wodnesdæg has dawned, and it's time for another Song for Odin. I missed it last week because of some internet troubles, but now I'm back on the horse, if "horse" means what I think it does. Anyhow, here it is, the MTX of April 26, 1998 doing "Don't Know What I'll Do if You Don't" at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago. I was a bit surprised to come across this mouldering tune in the middle of a 1998 set, and even surprised-er to find it, well, not half-bad. It was first recorded, rather clumsily, ten years earlier for the Night Shift album in 1987. As a song it's even a bit older, I believe, as maybe you can tell from the pure, if understated, high school romantic angst, largely unmediated by any "art" or irony or what-have-you. Well, there's perhaps a hint of what-have-you in there, some gormless, ambiguously ironic scene-setting, but it's mostly unexploited. In those days, you just turned everything up as loud as you could and bashed away, and if the what-have-you popped up you went with it, and if it didn't you went with it anyway. This sort of material is usually pretty confused and inarticulate, wherein, it could be argued, lies the charm along with the cringe. It could also be argued that they're inextricable. If nothing else, as I've said before, it can be a matter of inadvertent "show not tell," making inarticulateness work for you, if inarticulateness is what you're trying to express. Which you often are, because inarticulateness and confusion is a part of life. The biggest part, in my experience, even after all these years. But in fact this one is quite plain and straightforward. And there are, at least, the bones of a good, plaintive "power pop" love song under there somewhere. If it were just a little bit better it could even have been kind of great. It's a fine line. I learned how to do this whole thing quite a bit better as time went on, or so I like to think, and a lot more could probably have been done with this one. Even as is, though, there's something there anyway. It's got a sort of groove I guess, and that slightly unusual seventh chord voicing with the harmonics is the kind of happy accident that might have been hard to plan if you tried to plan it. Had we recorded it for, say, Revenge Is Sweet... I think we could have maybe made it into something halfway decent. Still seems weird that we were playing it all those years later, though. I find something that doesn't work, I stick with it, that's probably why. But it's also true that around this time my songs had begun to wind themselves up so tightly with so much what-have-you that I was actively trying to loosen them up and simplify them, so there's maybe a certain symmetry. "I call out your name. You look at me like I'm insane, but I'm not." I still find that "scene" rather funny, and, er, "real." There are worse ways to grow up in public, I suppose. Or maybe I'm insane after all, it's hard to tell from the inside. Either way, that'll bring this Song for Odin episode to a close, I reckon. Till next time. notes: -- 1988 studio recording: -- discogs: -- Songs for Odin playlist: #music #songs #video #punkrock #minds