139. Show Me Ole Texas


Texas Cowboy

Instrumentation: 2 tracks of Bariton Uke, treated

Midi: Several tracks of treated beats and one track of treated grand piano

Vocals: treated (vocal transformer)

Finished track: slowed down 10 BPMs from original recording tempo.

Lyrics: Inspired from old set lists from other bands found at Hog Farm Annex when Pearl and the Beard played there last night.  Jocelyn found three different set lists from nameless bands to use as scrap paper for our set, and, as we read through them, she mentioned they might work well as a 365 song.  So, here it is an old set list put to good 365 use.  The only rule was that I couldn’t change any of the words to fit the tense.  I had to use what was there though I could combine them or split them up.  In my original versions of this exercise (I did several), I used all the words, but for this song, I decided to cut a bunch out of it to simplify the piece as a whole.

This is how the set list I ended up using read… (if this is your band, or if you know who this might be: thanks!)

Label pills
El Gusano
Show Me
Ol Texas
Slow Shards
Super Vision
Shot n Shot
Throw duck
Jet Fighter

Show Me Ole Texas

Show me ole Texas
The one we knew when we were younger
An acreless vision
Send me to El Gusano
A shot in the dark
I have super vision
She will see through me
She will see through me
Like your favorite dress
Show me ole Texas
Throw me a label of pills
We’ll drive through the night

Pearl and the Beard is goin’ home tomorrow!  It’s been a fun mini tour, and it’s been very relaxing.  Thanks to all who made it out to the shows!  See you soon!

138. If Wishes Were Fishes (Lara Anderson)


Here is your wicker frog!

These words were worked on a few weeks ago with String Theorist Lara Anderson when I was touring in Philadelphia.  She is a dear friend of mine from back home now living in the City of Brotherly Love doing a post doc.  I stayed with her whilst visiting and we gathered these lyrics together.  We had eaten lunch at a Thai restaurant, and the table we sat at had a wicker frog next to it.  This wicker frog had its mouth wide open, and inside its belly contained dozens of little strips of paper, each having scribblings of a strangers wish written upon it.  I inquired about it to the waiter who told me there was no precedent set by any formal tradition, but that people just started placing wishes one day randomly inside this frog’s mouth for a good time.  Lara and I used this frog as a subject for our song together.

Writing: I struggled with this melody having done a totally different melody on cello while we were writing it.  I wasn’t quite happy enough with it and have been waiting to use they lyrics until something else came along.  Here it is, weeks later, and I find that Aly of Lady Lamb The Beekeeper has an autoharp sitting at her house with which I quickly found a different melody.  (Pearl and the Beard stayed with her for our Portland show last night… we are off to Biddeford, Maine tonight).

Recording: What a bother it is sometimes.  I thought I had brought all of my equipment to record, but I left an essential piece home, so I have to improvise a bit.  I recorded the harpsichord part of this song with my headphones, plugging them into my line-in on my computer.  I had been told a few years ago that you can us your headphones as a stereo mic but I never tried it.  Well, here it is.  I found the vocals to be much more troublesome using the headphone method, so I just used the external mic on the computer (which I hate) and treated it until it was only slightly less annoying to me.

Someone made a comment that I use a lot of descending lines in my work… so here, I used… DESCENDING LINES!  Yay!  But threw in some ascending, too.  As far as vocals go, I’ve been slowly working on increasing the use of range and movement… one song at a time.

Both takes of harp and vocal are the first takes… Now, off to Hog Farm!

Autoharp singer/songwriter that you MUST know about: Elizabeth Devlin, a dear friend of mine with an unbelievable voice.  Unbelievable.

If Wishes Were Fishes

If wishes were fishes the frog would have fewer
Than you or of I or the lazy wrongdoer
A coaster of wicker with well-hopes that flicker
We welcome a paper of folded desire
If wishes were fishes to give to the suitor
A feasting of flies he’d be ten times the richer
To spend it on testing the waist-coated decor
Made from a corduroy cloth to keep warmer
If wishes were fishes this frog would be fatter
A poly and roly cooked up for the frier
To douse him with lust: or to quench or to hunger
We’ll prod and will poke while he prays to his maker
If wishes were fishes, the frog could have mine…

137. Encounters with a Drunken Landlord (Jonathan Clark)


Montauk Beach

(Pearl and the Beard on tour!)  Tour is a relatively easy place to write a song, but really difficult to record and post…if it’s not finding a good place to record, it’s not being able to find proper internet to post.  Here’s one for your back pocket:

For your listening pleasure, I offer up to you a two-minute and one second look into… I’m not sure, actually.  Jonathan and I set up a challenge for ourselves: put together a song as quickly as possible (hence the rough edges and less than stellar mic technique) with  odd references but without compromising the building blocks of a good dance song.

Used in this song: scissors, Jonathan, Emily, and the never-failing Garageband.

Encounters with a Drunken Landlord

“Wherever the spirit tells you to go, you go.”

“The system is down.”

“I’m in my underwear.”

“The system is down, man.  It’s bringing me down.  It’s bring him down.  It’s bring us all down…Bring it back up.  Yeah!”

136. The Only One For Me & I Love You, But I’m Angry (Exercises in Direct Word Song)


Jocelyn Mackenzie and EHP at South by Southwest in March

Pearl and the Beard is on the road, again!  We played our show in Providence tonight and got back to where we are staying, and Jocelyn and I worked on a song for my sick late face today…

I have been listening to come songwriters who write songs with very intelligent but “direct” and to the point text.  I have tried a direct word song before, but I still feel like I compromised the exercise by going back and redoing it and hiding some of the true meaning in it.

In this exercise, Jocelyn and I wrote just a few lines a piece.  I handed my lyrics to her and she gave hers to me, and we each formed a quickly melody based on each others’ words.  These were both done in less than 3 minutes a piece, I’d say.  In my version of Joc’s words, I was hearing different chords on the uke than I could play and since I don’t actually know all the chords on the uke, I had to guess.  This is a good incentive to learn this instrument.

This was a really helpful exercise.  There will be more of these.  This kind of thing also helps relax us and eases us into the writing process together.  Even though Joc and I love each other and respect each other immensely as musicians, writing openly in front of one another can still be a challenge because of a little insecurity here and there.  This is a good thing to test and try to rid oneself of, I say.

The lyrics you see below are just how they appeared on our pages when we traded them with each other.  We took the exact amount of time on them: between 30 seconds and a minute.  We spent only a few minutes alone devising a strategy for melody and structure.

The Only One For Me (Emily melody, Joc lyrics)

Sitting by the fire in a tent down by the sea,
Here I see my honey comin’ down the shore to me.
And heaven knows that he has been the one I’m dreaming of
Cause he’s the only one for me, the only one I love!

I Love You, But I’m Angry (Joc melody/Emily lyrics)

I love you
But I’m angry.
You knew that.
I wrote it in my letter to you.
The note I sent, it got lost.
But, in it I said that I loved you.
In my letter I said I was angry
But in it I said that I love you.

135. Hand Of God (Guy Cap and Anna Vogelzang)


Electromagnetic energy pumped out by a neutron star. (click to read entire article)

Hello, Rainy Day .

This is a song with lyrics written by Guy Capecelatro, vocals by Anna Vogelzang (sung into a mini-bull horn kind of thing) with harmonies by Guy and me!

Guy wrote these lyrics, handed them to me and I devised a kind of chord pattern and ideas for some of the melody and picked “Hand of God” to be the chorus .  I handed that to Anna who added her own main melody and sang the main vocal parts AND the crazy opera vocals at the end.  Cool!  We didn’t have time to finish this in Portsmouth, so we left it in Guy’s hands to finesse it into being – I’m always pleased with the miracles he can form with something I might consider a bit of a challenge.  I was left to my own devices after we did all the vocals, and I saw fit to add cello arco lines, a quartet and MUSICAL SAW!  I can’t play it to save my life, but I’d like to learn: what a fantastic instrument… and someone has already mentioned putting saw on something on the Paper Moon posting (I have not forgotten!).  After adding all that stuff without any organization, I got a bit frustrated, which is why I liked leaving it to Guy to suss out.  Hooray!

Hand of God

134. Nothing There (Guy Capecelatro)


Mark Mumford, 2002

Keene, NH sessions… with the iPhone mic!  Guy Capecelatro delivers, yet again, in only a few minutes.  I have a tiny back log of songs from this session in Keene (of which I think this is the last), which is great, but it means other things get back logged, too…so everything gets logged back.  In any case, I have been frantically getting ready for a Pearl and the Beard mini-tour and finishing up my solo tour tonight as well… phew.

Today’s working song that will get posted later is: a song about yellow fever, yellow sheets, and death.  Hooray!!!

Nothing There