This is Song for Odin™, our Wodnesdæg tradition, where I take one of my songs and comment on it on the internet. This is the Vernal Equinox as well, known as the feast of Ostara / Eostre. A time for fertility, for fecundity, and for misanthropy, and for avoiding one's neighbors at all costs, building a fortress against them and hunkering down praying they'll just go away and leave you alone. Maybe those last aren't particularly traditional, but they're important to me. And have I got a song to mark the occasion? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I have. Taking a break from the live videos, what we have here is the B side, I suppose, of a single I did with the Bye Bye Blackbirds in 2014, two of my old mainly-acoustic songs arranged as full band "electric" tunes. https://youtu.be/xdq1SEAPdVc As I explained when I wrote up the other side ("Even Hitler...") this all resulted from a show where I shared the bill with them at the Starry Plough in Berkeley. We thought it would be fun to do a couple of songs live with them as the back up band, and I chose a couple of acoustic songs that I'd always wanted to electrify ("Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend" and "Population: Us".) We had enough of a good time doing it that we decided to record them and, after the wind blew away a whole bunch of calendar pages, that's what happened. Here's that "Hitler" write-up, btw: https://www.minds.com/newsfeed/851140079378649088 As with that, this is basically a case of me covering my own song. They're all like that a bit, when you get far enough away from them, which can easily happen over thirty years of songs. I've always considered "Population: Us" to be one of my best songs. It takes some risks but manages to deliver, that's the main reason I suppose. And in the quest to find a new angle on "you and me against the world" (which gets harder every time) I don't think I've ever managed to do it better. It was originally one of the large batch of songs in contention for inclusion on the 1997 album Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You, but I never introduced it to the band or producer at the time because I doubted my ability to get across how I wanted it to come out. (That was a pretty solid doubt; I didn't have the capability to do demos at that time and my strum-and-shout method wouldn't have managed to do it.) In the aftermath of the that album, though, I'd acquired a Tascam four track cassette "portastudio" and I did do a rudimentary demo to suggest the direction I'd imagine some future MTX recording of it might take. It was acoustic guitar, an electric part played through one of the those cigarette box practice amps, a lead vocal, and back up vocal. When we were reviewing my various demos to choose songs for my subsequent solo album Show Business Is My Life, Kevin Army said "I know you probably intend this one for your band but..." He wanted basically to recreate the demo arrangement in the studio, exactly as it was but with higher fidelity. I was skeptical (and I hadn't thought much of the demo version as such) but that's what we did, and that's what ended up on the album. And Kevin was right, there's a unique quality in the minimalism and it definitely gets the song across, which is the most important, and often elusive, thing. But I always wanted to see what a full band version might sound like, and this is it. As for the song itself, the only thing I'll say here is: it's generally a bad idea to rhyme what are in effect suffixes with each other, as this song does all over the place. I mean, it's not really a rhyme to pair "population" with "defenestration" or "stoicism" with "exorcism" whatever. It's like rhyming "moon" with "moon". It's the same, and it tends to irritate me when I hear it done out in the wild. It claims credit for a rhyme where no work has been done. It's okay here and there when needs must, but, like "near rhymes" and "slant rhymes" and other kinda sorta rhyme-like constructions, it's not as good a real rhyme. A real one is always going to be better. However, I think I found the way to make it work here, and it's how most things I have made work work: just, you know, beat it into the ground and then beat it some more, turn the flaw into a ridiculous plan, and thus into an unexpected virtue. That's my contention anyway. There are some good lines, too, apart from the -ations. "I hate people, they're not like you and me" -- put that one on my tombstone if you like. The artwork for the 7" was designed by Chris Appelgren, and it came out on Good Land Records in a variety of colors. Thanks for listening and reading. Do what you can with what you've got, little though it may be. Twenty years later you might find it wasn't all that bad after all. Happy Odin's day one and all. notes: --discogs: https://www.discogs.com/Dr-Frank-Bye-Bye-Blackbirds-Even-Hitler-Had-A-Girlfriend-Population-Us/master/721002 --album version: https://youtu.be/EmSFX-n8KHc #music #songs #springtime #thatgirl #minds
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