56. You Broke Me In: Ninety-Six Seconds (RPM)

DAY FIFTY-SIX

Commercial interruption:

EHP has an early Mercury Lounge show, TOMORROW NIGHT! Monday, March 1 at 7 pm!  With Dan Torres.  She starts at 7 pm and is doing some 365’s with special guest Abbie Gardner from day 36Get more info here.

I know what you need: A random picture of the kissing scene from The Godfather. Yes. Exactly.

The past week has been a whirlwind. The second I get home, I’m off again.  Yesterday was a crapshoot: lost the charger, computer died, and drove from Maine back home all day yesterday.  The snow in New York has been piling up, and it’s making everything take a little more time than usual.  Pearl and the Beard played an awesome show at Hog Farm in Biddeford, ME (my favorite venue so far!), and we leave again in just short of a week for our tour to Austin.  I’m tired already.

The RPM Challenge is ending TODAY, and I’m rushing to finish tracks… here is a finished track I’ve done for the RPM Challenge with Guy and Mike.  (For more information on the RPM Challenge, see day 46.)

I love electronic, experimental, indie-bandish, dance, etc. music.  I write acoustic ballads sometimes, but in my heart I love this stuff and wish I could put out stuff like it.  Broken Social Scene uses a weird sound-catalogue song, and I like their impressions and quirks.  Animal Collective is another band with a cool indie-electronic sound collection that has gotten a lot of press lately.  (There are more, but it’s already 9 am.  Let’s post already.)

Anyway, for the RPM I put together beats and a bass track from Garageband and sent it to Mike Wolstat and Guy Capecelatro. We are, each of us, at the mercy of the others to put whatever they want onto our original tracks.  It’s been so interesting to see what the others have come up with this.  I worked on this yesterday and today.  It’s been hard to know what to pull out and back and find clarity and a focus, but it is what it is, and it’s groovy, which I like most of all.  What you’re hearing here is a collaboration of two tracks from each of us to create:

You Broke Me In: Ninety-Six Seconds

55. Give Me More In Color (Originally: “My Computer is About to Die, So…”)

DAY FIFTY-FIVE

Pearl and the Beard At Hog Farm! With Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Santiago and Dilly Dilly. Love is everywhere.

Original posting:

“I am going to quickly post a commercial song until I find my lost charger!”

A few days later, after my charger was found, I am posting something more detailed:

Give me More Color

This song is part of the RPM Project with Guy Capecelatro.  Guy, Mike Wolstat and I each wrote 4 songs and traded them, each person adding only two tracks to each song.  This final version is missing Mike’s piano track, but I might add it later if I find the right one that belongs with it.  With so many files going back and forth, I’m not surprised the right one was was lost in the shuffle.  For this song, I tuned my uke up unconventionally and just started playing and improvising.  I recorded it and then recorded one take of improvised lyrics on top of the uke.  It was weird enough to keep, I guess.  The term “Kick back, Holly Jolly” means as much to me as it does to you, so have a good time figuring out what that might be.

EHP

54. Manek and Ilona

DAY FIFTY-FOUR

Good morning.

I have a friend named Jesse Patrone-Werdiger.  He has been talking to me about his grandparents recently.  While I was stuck in the Miami airport, we talked online about his grandfather, Manek, and his grandmother, Ilona and their lives in Long Island, but also that they are Holocaust survivors, Ilona in Auschwitz for a little while and Manek somewhere else.  Originally from Poland, they are now 80 or so and have led a wonderfully full life.  In talking with Jesse, he showed me this video (Jesse is a filmmaker and used his grandparents for one of them.)

I instantly crushed in his grandpa.  So cute.  In jest, Jesse said this “hahaha: you and manek.  love at first sight.  there’s your song for the day manek!”  Well, I have written a song inspired by Jesse’s grandparents.  I spend the next several hours talking to Jesse intermittently, asking questions about his grandparents, hearing little stories and small bits of information.  An aspect I hear a lot about from that time is how so many people came to the states (and still do this) and would feel the need to change their name or their names would be changed for them by officials at the border.  Jesse: “When they came to the states they changed their name.  Werdiger’s not my real name.  My grandfather stole medicine at the end of the war because one of his friends needed it, and I think he was worried about not getting into the states b/c of it.”  This prompted the first verse of this song.  I feel such a connection to my name.  Names are a way of identifying you, placing you in a moment in the past, present and future.  Millions of people have changed their names, and I personally feel a sense of personal loss for them, though I understand it’s a matter of life or death in some cases or that others may not hold such weight on a name.

And the chorus?  Jesse said, “My grandma says beautiful all the time.  It’s her adjective of choice for anything positive. “It was so beautiful, we had dinner, the whole family was there.  It is such a beautiful restaurant.”  Everything is beautiful.”

I realized well into it that I didn’t know his grandparents well enough to really do justice to an entire song about them, so I took some time away from it to think about what I really wanted to say.  My friend Rachel Lord’s (Ugly Purple Sweater) grandfather recently passed away.  A few weeks after he passed, Rachel posted a link to an NPR article about her grandfather.  “Rather than fight in World War II, conscientious objector and Quaker Charlie Lord was sent by the government to work at a mental institution called Philadelphia State Hospital. He secretly took photographs to expose the horrors of the institution.  These are his photographs.”  They are so moving.  The photographs he secretly shot were shown in Life Magazine in May 1946.  I encourage you to read about and visit these photographs.  They even have audio of Charlie talking about each photograph.  You can read the most recent NPR article here.  I love this picture of him.  I looked at it for a long, long time, and decided to write about him.  Charlie is the second verse of this song.

Charlie Lord

How should I end this song?  This is my grandmother and my grandfather: Hope Thomas Price and Ralph Price.  My grandfather passed away very soon after my birth, so I never knew him.

Hope Thomas Price and Ralph Price

I am named after my grandmother.  (Another name reference.)  She is still living in Malad, Idaho.  I wish I had a closer relationship with her, though we are very friendly, and I love her very much, I think it’s just that we are far away.  She is a beautiful singer and a great organist.  I spent my childhood visiting her home and playing on her Thomas organ, improvising the afternoon away until she would bring me a rhubarb slushy.  She is a determined, hard-working and stubborn person, and she tells stories really well.  This is my grandmother, Hope.

In talking with Jesse about his grandparents I said, “That’s so cool that you have that stuff in your blood, you know?  Such a dramatic history is a part of YOUR history. I love that thought.”  Jesse: I know, it’s really amazing.  I’ve tried talking to them more about it, and they’re such AMAZING people.”  Me: “I think you should feel really special.”

It makes me think of Rachel, that she has that history in herself, too… that I also have a history that goes through people who have experienced dramatic wonderful things and dark and scary things.  They have lived and existed and make up a part of me… It’s the same for you as well.

Writing: Took a long time.  A lot of thought and gestation time.  I didn’t concern myself with being cliché or if I was inappropriate.  I wanted to be sincere.  That’s all.  I included a bridge with no words.  I’ll reserve the right to add them later if they come.  I have included two choruses which are in red that I changed to tie them together with a more similar thread.  I’m including them because the change in meaning was so drastic, I wanted to show you both to see what you might think, too.

Recording:  I’m coming down with something so, the vocals aren’t in top shape, but it’s okay.  I recorded the uke and vocals simultaneously though I attempted to track it and gave up.  I really wanted to arrange cello parts and bells, but just didn’t have time as Pearl and the Beard are braving the snow to play a show in Portsmouth, New Hampshire this weekend, so I had to get ready.  I think this stripped down version is okay and appropriate at least for a first draft.  I also feel like this song, mainly because of color and instrumentation is a sister song to “Headache for a Heartache”, but I’m not sold on that thought.  I can only hope they have their own identity and can stand alone.

Manek and Ilona

Manek and Ilona
We designate you by a name though changed
From there, there to here
Lost in the survival
The anther sure will sting until it’s down and gone, it’s done.
And why not?
And why not say everything is beautiful
Cause it is
Cause it is
Cause it is
Pictures of a watchman
Who meant the best but saw the worst
It was done, done to men, fragile men
Hearts they will be broken
No matter what the doctors say
He will sleep, then awake and ask to go
Changed chorus lyrics
And why not?
And why not?
Say it’s an image that’s hard to bear?
Cause it is
Sometimes it is
Used chorus lyrics
And why not?
And why not?
Say everyone is beautiful?
Cause they are
Cause they are
Cause they are
Me a living namesake
A stranger living side by side in a mirror
I am you, You are me, we are one
Will you not remember?
And forgive all the battles lost
And even those, those we thought had been won
Changed chorus lyrics
And why not?
And why not?
Say that we will persevere?
Cause we will
Cause we will
Cause we will
Used chorus lyrics
And why not?
And why not?
Say that we are beautiful?
Cause we are
Cause we are
Cause we are
And why not?
And why not say everything is beautiful?
Cause it is
Cause it is

This uke has gotten some mileage.  It’s brought out quite a few ballads.  Maybe a Ramone’s inspired song is in order soon.  You can’t do ballads forever…

Have a great day. Drive safe.

EHP

53. Spice Up Your Life (Cover No. 3)

DAY FIFTY-THREE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RYAN WARD!

[Commercial interruption: EHP has an early Mercury Lounge show, Monday, March 1 at 7 pm!  With Dan Torres.  She starts at 7 pm and is doing some 365’s with special guest Abbie Gardner from day 36Get more info here.]

Back from Miami after a de-planing and three turn around’s on the tarmac.  Oh well.  I’m home and leaving for Portsmouth, New Hampshire this weekend with Pearl and the Beard for another show a Hog Farm (but with the band…yessss!)

I have been working on a song about my friend’s grandparents.  I was hoping to have it finished in time to post it for today’s no. 53, but I didn’t want to rush it, so I arranged and recorded this instead.  (Am I stealing this melody from someone?  I hope not… but there is a big brain-file of music up here…you never know.)  You can read about this song’s history and its author’s here on trusty Wikipedia.

Why did I choose it?  Well, I was making eggs and was adding pepper to them and started singing it, and there was a hat on the bedpost so I wore it, and Lacey jumped on the bed, so she’s in it.  (I think she makes it better anyway.)

Lacey and I did two other truncated version of this song because I forgot the lyrics.  And did I really say “Posidividy?” This is the only one where we got all the way through, and Lacey was finished half way, obviously.  Her leaving did allow for a “woo”, which I appreciated (given my requirement for “woo’s”).  The hat?  Not again.  I feel like it made me a little douchy…weird… I’ll leave it to Jonathan to wear it.

This is a cover.  Here are the lyrics I chose to use from the original.  The mp3 is different from the video.  Enjoy!

Spice Up Your Life (by The Spice Girls)

When you’re feeling sad and low
We will take you where you gotta go
Smiling, dancing, everything is free
All you need is positivity
Colours of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life
Yellow man in Timbuktu
Colour for both me and you
Kung Fu Fighting, Dancing Queen
Tribal Spaceman and all that’s in between
Colours of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life
Slam it to the left
If you’re having a good time
Shake it to the right
If you know that you feel fine
Chicas to the front
Uh Uh Hai Sí Ja Hold Tight
Colours of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life

You can hear the original here in this totally sweet music video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgDdeBrGrro

But Lacey and I made our own video for our song.  You can watch it here:

I hope your day is going splendidly.  See you tomorrow!

EHP

52. Taking A Light To Where There Is None (A Dedication)

DAY FIFTY-TWO

I am flying home from Miami!

This is a dedication piece.  I didn’t intend it to be.  I started playing around on my loop pedal and brought what I had found to garageband and recorded it all there.

As I started creating it very quickly, not being too picky or redoing a lot of tracks, I found myself  playing around with sound effects, as Guy Capecelatro tends to do.  I like this… it makes me think of Laurie Anderson’s (sound artist) work I heard once that had a bunch of foot steps in it.  I love the sound of footsteps.

Before I knew it, I was putting together a piece where I wasn’t sure if the person was leaving from one place and going to another or returning to the same place.  The clock suggests the latter, but because the door sounds are different, it makes me think they left a friend’s house and walked home… I’m not sure.  It took only a few hours to complete.  I am slowly changing my perfectionist ways.

In any case, as I devised the song, someone kept popping into my mind for some strange reason (it must have been the nature sounds).  I have befriended a bird lover who lives in the middle of the mountains (or so I’ve been told) of California, plays the cello and is a great musician.  This song, even in all its imperfections, is dedicated to him: all the way into the top of the trees.

Taking A Light To Where There Is None (A Dedication)

51. Mr. Mischievous (Tribute to Vic Chesnutt)

DAY FIFTY-ONE

Still in Miami with one last four-hour show still to go…

Guy Capecelatro sent me this email a few weeks ago:

So one of the projects I’m doing for the RPM is a tribute to Vic Chesnutt.  He’s been an amazing inspiration over the years.  I actually got to open up for him in town about 18 years ago and have seen him play lots.  If you didn’t know, he killed himself about 5 weeks ago.
The project is to get folks to use the words I wrote and make a song of it.  I know some of your 365 songs have been outside source material so if you have any interest in taking a whack at let me know. If you do decide to make a song out of it please do feel free to make it your own.  Have your way with changing words, adding things, taking stuff away.  There will be ten versions so anything the more of yourself you can bring to it, all the better.  I’m most curious to hear what this becomes.
Plus today I made two more songs from your loops.  I’ll send them along tomorrow.  It’s quite a bit of pressure I feel with these as they’re so beautiful on they’re own and I don’t want to disappoint you.  Nervous!
Okay ma’am,
Guy
I should tell you right now, I have never really listened to Vic Chesnutt’s music before today.  Guy mentioned something about him a few weeks ago while I was in Portsmouth and played me a few seconds of his song “Flirted With You All My Life”.  He’s really great!  (Shame on me for being so out of the loop.  Man!)
I got home tonight at about 9:30 pm and passed out on a huge black bean bag chair: awesome!  I might get me one of these.  At 1 am I woke up and decided to get to work the song.  I have been traveling all day to the south and played my uke a little in the car while my dear friends Jason and Melanie drove around southern Miami.  Technically, I just realized, when I write at 1 am it’s actually the day after, but it’s all subjective.  I’m still counting it.
Recording/Writing: The writing of the melody of this song took place away from any instruments.  I usually find this method extremely helpful.  I wrote and recorded the cello part and the main vocal in about 30-45 minutes.  It was very fast.  I wonder if you’re asking yourself why I made this vocal style choice.  Well, I’m not sure what to tell you: as I sang the melody to find it, that’s what I started doing and kept it.  I like it.  Recording the other voices took time to record and line up and then I added a simple cello part.  I still think there are some holes in this song production-wise, but it’s so late (4:15 am!) that it’s good enough for song of the day.
For me, finding arrangements and melodies for other people’s words is usually sitting and looking at them for a minute and do it away from any instruments, like I just mentioned.  I look at the meter and play with different rhythms that the words might want to take on.  Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not (see Sam McCormally’s song he emailed me for day 22 Vorarephilia).  In this case, for example, in the chorus there is the line “Didn’t I hear you say”.  The word “Didn’t” could have been a part of one entire line, but I decided to hook it in front of the beat instead of joined to the entire line.
Anyway, enough talk.   Just listen.  I hope you’ve scored yourself a sweet ice cream sandwich today: I did!

Mr. Mischievous (lyrics: Guy Capecelatro)


Lifted on the stage
Your mischievous eyes a flitter
You roll up to the mic
That booming voice sends shivers
You have us laughing
Then the dagger hits our chest
The places and the stories
We won’t soon forget
Didn’t I hear you say
Your sorrow seemed silly
Didn’t I hear you say
You weren’t quite ready
What a roller coaster you must have been on
Learned to play guitar
From you granddaddy in Zebulon
Running through the woods
Like a skinny Genghis Khan
You captured all those worlds
With a shrewd unflinching eye
And in the way you tell it
We feel like we’re inside
Didn’t I hear you say
Your sorrow seemed silly
Didn’t I hear you say
You weren’t quite ready
What a roller coaster you must have been on
Ain’t it funny and ironic
As a self-proclaimed atheist
You decide to leave this place
On the day of Christmas

50. Straight Line (Uke and Three Vocals)

DAY FIFTY

I drew this while on tour with Anna Vogelzang last summer. It is a giraffe. She likes giraffes.

I guess this is supposed to be a benchmark of some kind… song fifty.  I will celebrate it in my own small way by eating an ice cream sandwich today from somewhere.

This is a song I did this morning; right now.  It is exactly noon.  This is a short study on lyrics.

I will write a straight line.
Map out your face in lines and years.
I will write a straight line.

Writing/Recording: In total probably 1.5 hours. Improvised uke after finding little things I liked with which to repeat with in the structure.  Vocals are also improvised, but the study was to be simple yet refined in my lyric choice.  And it didn’t matter how little or many words I used, and I could repeat them, but they had to relate to one another and link together with one common word.  In this case, that word is line.

Straight Line (Uke and Three Vocals)

Hope you are well.  It will be Monday when you read this.  Mondays are special days.  Have an ice cream sandwich.

EHP