Well, another Wodensdaeg rolls around, and just as Odin the Shaggy Cloak Wearer disguised himself as a wandering farmhand to steal the mead of poetry brewed by dwarves from the blood of Kvasir, he who was formed from the spittle of the gods, so we dip into the fermented effluvium of stirred inspiration... well, sort of like Odin the Shaggy Cloak Wearer with the fermented blood, etc. anyway. In other words here be another song of ye olden times... Dr. Frank & the Bye Bye Blackbirds - "Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend" https://youtu.be/0HJAzDNyojE This is basically a case me covering my own song. The Bye Bye Blackbirds is a great rock/pop band and the bass player is Aaron, formerly of the MTX Starship. They shared a bill with me solo once upon a time and we decided to do a couple of songs with me as guest vocalist, the BBBs as backing band. We worked up arrangements of a couple of my old songs and performed them at that show at the Starry Plough. It went so well that we decided to record them, and the result was this fun little record that came out on Goodland Records in 2014. For this, I selected two songs that I'd done basically solo on records, but were meant to be full band songs as originally conceived. (The other was "Population: Us".) The BBBs are really great musicians and I thought I'd take advantage of that to try to come close to how I imagined the songs while writing them. And we came pretty darn close. In this one, that original conception was a hyper-paced slightly Byrdsy approach at least as to the guitar arrangement. The vocal arrangement, well that strays more into Cowsills territory, which, to me, is perfectly acceptable and respectable, something towards which I have always striven -- if striven is the word I want. (Though it rarely left much trace in the discography as such, I had the Byrds on my mind all the time during that period and throughout my songwriting "career." Believe it or not, "Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba" was meant to be that way as well.) I remember lying on this weird-smelling futon, guitar across my chest, staring at the cracks in the ceiling and strumming this song in my squalid little apartment (a different SLA from the one I'm in now, though much the same, across the street from it in fact) and hearing lots of jangle and and pop in my head. This coincided with one leg of the recording sessions for Our Bodies Our Selves. I played the new song for Kevin Army, proposing that we try to do a quickie arrangement to slip it in to the album, but knowing the answer would be no, because there just wasn't time to do something like that, and anyway we weren't the sort of band that could "work things up" in the studio with our limited time, budgets, and, it must be said, talent. But what did happen was: he laughed harder than I'd ever seen him laugh at one of my songs. (Though "I Wrote a Book about Rock and Roll" was a close second.) He said: "I can't believe you wrote that. This has to be on the album." Doing it as a solo acoustic song was the only practical way to do it in the circumstances. So the acoustic "Even Hitler..." was born. Also born: the beginnings of my solo-acoustic "career" that I'm still trying to launch to this day. (If you listen to the original recording, you can perhaps tell how uncomfortable I was doing this. Playing solo is always intimidating. But in this case, the awkwardness adds something. Thank Odin for redemptive awkwardness really: I'd be nowhere without it.) When the song was finally released, it proved slightly controversial to "punks". They didn't like acoustic songs, it turns out. More likely, it simply confirmed their quite well-founded suspicions that we weren't "one of them." It's pretty funny, really. NYT columnist David Brooks, seated next to me at a lit festival banquet -- long story) heard the tale and quipped: "so it was like Dylan goes electric in reverse." And yeah, it was. Me and Dylan, Dylan and me. Plus ça change, amirite? So there's some minor secrets for ya. Lots more to say about this song, but that's for the future. Final note: I'm gonna be rock and rolling (solo acoustic) this weekend and then kind of occupied and distracted over the next week so my web presence, such as it is, will probably be a bit less present. We're gonna let this stand as the Friday morning "Hitler" -- just think ahead. I'm gonna be phone only, so regular posting will probably resume only when I get back to civilization -- if indeed civilization is a synonym for Oakland. Which it's not, obviously. Anyhow, I'm sure you will be able to bear the disappointment caused by my absence. I've noticed how good you are at that. See yas then.
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