We're nervous wrecks, we got the world breathing down our necks...
It's Wednesday again, is it? Okay then, time to post a video of a song and do a bit of typing about it, as I've been doing pretty regular for the past three years.
And what we have here is yours truly playing "We're Not No One" live solo-acoustic round about 2013 at 1234Go! Records in Oakland, captured by our friend Franz when his band Miss Chain and the Broken Heels came through town:
I remember this show very well. It's truly hard to believe it was seven years ago, but the math checks out. Kepi and I were supporting Miss Chain who'd come all the way from Italy. It was a great time, of course. Back when we were still allowed to have shows, I used to love playing at 1234Go! because it's more or less right across the street from my apartment, so I could just roll out of bed a few minutes before show time, amble up to the stage, plug in, and unleash hell very cleanly and casually. You hardly had to put any planning or effort into it at all. Next best thing to playing in your living room.
So I rolled out of bed, ambled up, etc. I'd worked up the nerve to attempt a cover of the Kinks' "Life on the Road", and surprised the hell out of myself by getting all the way through it. It's long and more complicated than you probably think, and very hard to remember for a guy who has a hard time remembering even his own songs. That was a one-off, never to be attempted again because why tempt fate. The small crowd waited kindly and patiently through it. I also did a Wombles song, plus "I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape," and "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend," believe it or not. Also: "She's a Snowman", which is an ancient re-excavated song I reconstructed from scribbled semi-legible lyrics found in the old Love Is Dead notebook. See notes below on that. This is the only time I've ever played it live, though I do hope to record it one day, so I'll have to do it at least once again for that to happen.
So it was an unusual set, which is why I remember it. But the only document of it is a couple of more familiar tunes, including this one. Besides bringing back memories like this, I think it gets the song, one of my favorites, across pretty well. That girl singing along in the background (and dancing as well, though you can't see that obviously) was the future Mrs Dr Frank. True story. It was a night to remember.
As for the song, it was a Song for Odin a little over a year ago (see link below) and rather than recapitulate what I said then in slightly different words I'll just quote a bit of it:
'"We're Not No One" is one of many slightly paranoid "you and me against the world" songs in the catalog and I believe it's probably the best of them overall. When you've done enough of a certain sort of composition, it almost becomes a sub-sub-genre of its own, with each essay at the topic standing on its own yet also reprising and commenting on those that have gone before.
'"We're Not No One" draws a line under the sub-sub-genre of Dr Frank "you and me against the world" songs. While "Population: Us" is glib and clever with everything tightly nailed down, "We're Not No One" leaves room to breathe. Not knocking "Population: Us" at all -- I think it's also one of the best ones. It's my favorite sort of song. But loose and unconstricted is more challenging than nailed down, at least for me, and I guess I tend to be prouder of the loose ones that work...
'I'm not going to squash it all by over-explaining. I think people get it. Like a lot of my songs, it all springs from the germ of the title, which sounds ungrammatical till you hear it in context, and plays on the tension between singular and plural that is inherent in the language of "coupledom." (The lyrics of "Two of Us" on the same album do that too.) "Dream of things" / "scheme of things" is a great rhyme because the verb plus "of things" leading to the noun plus "of things" knits the lyric together like nothing else could. And that melody is quite well-conceived and -constructed if I say so myself....'
There's more at that link, about the studio recording's struggles among other things, but to re-iterate: sometimes songs transcend their own mishaps.
Finally, that guitar: it's a real honey of a machine and seeing this makes me want to dig it out again. (It's currently in the closet buried under several layers of time and storage, somewhere around the Mezozoic Era, not yet fossilized... at least I *think* and hope it's still there.) It's a J-150 from the Bozeman, Montana Gibson factory, ca. 1995, basically the same as the J-200 from that era but a bit less flashy. If you can find one of 'em, grab it. I'm prejudiced against anything from outside Kalamazoo and much past the early '60s but these Bozeman babies are all right.
And that'll wrap it up. I'll see you here next week, unless I don't.
-- that studio recording: https://youtu.be/A2NvZ96DLnw
-- that previous "We're Not No One" write-up: https://www.minds.com/newsfeed/1043950438721875968?referrer=frankportman
--that Love Is Dead notebook: http://www.doktorfrank.com/archives/2011/05/subject_love_is.html
-- Miss Chain and the Broken Heels: https://www.dirtywaterrecords.co.uk/misschain
-- The Kinks - "Life on the Road": https://youtu.be/t_BnLfIn8J0
-- The Teenage Filmstars - "I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape": https://youtu.be/PsJGl-LZF5U
-- Don Williams - "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend": https://youtu.be/fWofTFZRsDQ
-- Songs for Odin playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLommF46BbnATopffORs0YkspebJHka2o_#music#songs#video#guitar#minds