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June 21, 2020
DAZZLING--Dazzling is one of the songs where I took a sort of epic poem by Sam and cut it to ribbons to stuff it into some music. I HOPE I kept some of the intent there and I think we chatted about it. As I look at the notes for this I recall that Sam's lyrics were extensive. I copied a small portion of those then cut even further as I made the words fit the song. It is a love song with a sort of cosmic scope but my cuts actually sort of take a bit of the cosmic out of it (unintentionally). I feel like the words that are not THERE are still part of the song because they inform how I sing it, how we structure the song and even how we play it (whether we know it or not).
June 21, 2020
FIRMAMENT--I've tried to write Firmament several times without success. I wasn't happy with the words the first several times. I had an idea but the words wouldn't come. The music was done. So DONE in fact that essentially the same chord progression appears on the last track of the previous Thanatos LP, The Coyote in the Graveyard I wrote the words in a notebook I brought to Portland for the first recording session while Sam was mixing. Right before I recorded the vocals, literally a minute or less before, I received a text than an old friend
of mine had died. I hadn't seen him for years but we'd corresponded. I was supposed to see him when I was in
NYC a year or so before but an Amtrak derailment and my disorganization intervened. So I never saw him. I
regretted that then and even more now. The song isn't about him but the performance certainly is.
BLOODBUZZ OHIO--I love The National. I've seen them in concert three times and each time I would have gone back the next night to see them again. To me? They are one of the greatest bands currently in existence. SO, naturally I had to record a half-assed cover of one of their songs. I do that, I make fun of myself but I assure you I wouldn't ACTUALLY release something I didn't think was good. I played this live at a show a few years ago and the idea stuck. This version is a lot different than I intended. I wanted it to be darker than it turned out but I like this. I don't think the purpose of a cover is to duplicate the original but to but a twist on it. I hope this does that.
June 28, 2020
Sam: Unlike Pat, I never listened to The National before we recorded this track. (Yeah, I’m like that, I don’t listen to much music). For me, it was purely a Thanatos track for the album. When I record my part for our cover songs, I don’t listen to the originals. I don’t try to recreate something somebody previously played. I play a synth part that sounds good to me in the context and mood of what we’re creating. When we were done with the album, Pat wasn’t happy with this song because it didn’t sound like what he imagined. I think Pat suggested I listen to the original version for comparison; I checked out the video on Youtube and thought, “Well shit! I like our version better.” I like that it’s slower and sadder. It doesn’t have that incessant drumbeat. It’s just a sad guy reflecting on something that happened. Love that! I also like that I still have no idea what the song is about. “I still owe money, to the money I owe?” What? It’s a mood piece for me.
January 23, 2010
A CERTAIN SENSE OF COLLAPSE--It wasn't just Sam's lyrics I chopped up. A Certain Sense of Collapse was much longer when I started. It was coupled with another song (in my head) that I thought of making ONE long song out of. I didn't because the two songs didn't really fit together. "Certain Sense" was general while the other song was specific. It also had some language on gender I thought could be easily misinterpreted. Years ago I wrote a song and a reviewer wrote it was an "admirably two sided view of the AIDS crisis." This freaked me the fuck out. There were no "sides" in that song. It was a rant about how the authorities were concerned over politics and people were dying. There were no "sides". All I cared about were the people. SO, I looked at the song I'd thought about merging with this one? And I felt it was too ambiguous and to explain more would just make it clunky and condescending. I shit canned that song. The remaining lyrics for a Certain Sense were also cut down to the bone. And that is what you have here.
CATHEDRAL SONG--Cathedral Song comes off what is one of the best debut records I can think of, Ancient Heart, by Tanita Tikaram. I was in college when it came out and it (and her next record The Secret Keeper) were in my heavy rotation records for years. She is actually younger than me. This song was one of my favorites on the LP. I played it at one of my rare live solo shows a few years back and I worked. Sam had never heard the song and his additions are him doing what he thought worked (the same is true of the song by The National). I also
feel like I have to add that Tikaram's third record Everybody's Angel is also really solid. I also spelled
her name wrong when I sent it to Sam apparently.
BARELY PLAN TO FEEL-- I don't have in depth ruminations on all the songs we did. This is another one of those where I took Sam's lyrics and wrote the music. There was, if I recall right, less slicing and dicing with this
one. I also recall that when we finished, just at the very end of the song, I thought "Hey, I sound like
Chris Connelly there." This would be the first time in over 100 recorded songs that I sounded even close to
Chris and it was purely unintentional (it would turn out tragic if I TRIED).
I'LL BE YOUR MIRROR.--The Velvet Underground and Nico is on damned near everyone's "influential album" list. I like every song on this record and my first choice to record would have been Venus in Furs but I didn't know how to play it. SO , we did this instead. I could tell stories how this record amazed me when I was
a kid but it is the same boring story everyone tells.
HEARTS LIKE OURS- A year ago I had a conversation with a friend about love. I wrote down some words and they stuck in my head. In particular "Love is not the same" stayed with me. No love, no feeling is ever the same. I'm not talking about the difference between how you love your boyfriend and how you love your grandma--every single instance of that emotion we call love is somehow distinct. There is more to it than that but I really hate explaining lyrics because it takes away from other potential meanings for a song. If it means something else to you than it does to me? That is real too.
June 30, 2020
HALF PAST FRANCE--John Cale's Paris 1919 is one of my favorite records. Defintely a top 10 ever record for
me. I really wanted to do the song Andalusia but I could never put a good version of it together. I played
this song at a couple of solo shows I did over the years and liked my version. Ive seen John Cale play four
times. He had never played it at any of those shows--until the last one. He did a sort of avant garde jazz
version of the song. Sam and I both are big Cale fans so it seemed like a logical meeting of the minds, unlike
other covers where he didnt know who the artists are!
March 5, 2021
ENTANGLED OUR BODIES--This is a reimagined version of a song off the first Thanatos record. We didnt even listen to the original but just did it. It sounds oddly similar to the original to me but, then, I didnt actually go back to the original to listen
THE SHATTERED SKY NOW SETTLED--Another reworked song from the first record. This one is done at a much slower tempo than the original. The first song wasn't speed metal or anything but we changed it a great deal when we did it live. There are tons of different live versions of this that are all wildly different from one another. It is a song that lends itself to remakes. The lyrics (like Entangled Our Bodies) are by Sam and were old even when we recorded the first record almost 30 years ago!
INCOMING STORM--Another of the songs where I worked with Sam lyrics. This one was a massive collection that was cut down significantly. I took the original work and wrote the pieces I wanted to use down in a notebook. Then I wrote music and cut them back further. It is all right in front of me in a notebook. I know that if anyone saw these notebooks they would think I was a madman with all the crossed out bits and highlighted bits and all of that.
CREATURES--These lyrics required little cutting and are much more true to Sam's initial intent. When we worked on a lot of these he would alter stuff to get back to the original intention (which sometimes eluded me). I think this one is close to what was intended.
TANGLE--I always look at this song and think --"what is that?" because originally it was called "Shards and Splinters"....since there is already a Thanatos song called "Splinters" we changed it. I was working on this for some time and was leery of it but when I got with Sam to record it? It just came together. His additions are understated but I feel like they really make the song work.