Boutique Liner Notes

It's a little silly to write liner notes for something like Boutique, but this is happening whether you like it or not, so whatever. Consider this my Walter Mitty moment to luxuriate a little, OK? Anyhow, we'll do it this way: Songs in order; links are to individual song pages followed parenthetically by direct MP3 links.

Technical information: Part of the vision of Boutique was to make a toy drum (or I guess a kids' drum) sound totally awesome. I don't know that I succeeded, and for better or worse, the toy drum is there. I recorded the sounds while Jen was out of town back in September 2010 and later figured out that you can use a demo version of Fruity Loops to create short drum loops using whatever sounds you want. Sort of like what that guy who was profiled in last Sunday's Times Magazine does, except not as "bombastic," "skittering," "operatic" or whatever other five-dollar adjectives Times Magazine contributing writers can shift-F7 and come up with. I used Audacity to record the stuff. The guitar/bass business is recorded through Goober's Pod. I also used Goober's microphones and mixing board to record the vocals. I basically understand mixing stuff because there's not a lot to understand but don't know much at all about equalization, so like everything else, I Googled it. This and this were both helpful, although I only understood about 20 percent of each. Yes, for better or worse we eschewed reverb; that part was intentional; there's a fine line between "vision" and general laziness.

Why "Boutique"? I don't know. I always liked how good I felt about a boutique opening in a neighborhood where I lived, even though the stores were the least useful establishments and I never ever patronized them. They just make you feel like your neighborhood is good enough for a boutique, which is something I guess, unless of course you don't have a laundromat or something, and then they're just ridiculous. The Boutique once served as a catch-all for whatever idea I had at the time; eventually it became its own thing. Etc., etc.

OK, go.

1) "Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar" (mp3). These fliers are all over bodegas and laundromats in Manhattan. Dan Smith has this earnest look and the headline always reads "Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar" like, dude, he's going to teach you guitar. One night I left an establishment and another one of these fliers in the window of the dry cleaner next door and was like, "But what if I don't want Dan Smith to teach me guitar?"

2) "Even For A Song" (mp3). Probably the only song that actually needs an explanation. A friend once told us that such-and-such boy from high school once wrote her a song and she found the lyrics in a stack of teenage ephemera at her parents' house, so of course we all (read: I) wanted to see the lyrics. She didn't have a recording of the song so I decided to write my own music and record it for her. This is just carrying out the experiment; lyrics are inspired by the song, just from the other person's point of view; phrasing is the same. It's a fun experiment: take a song that you don't know and write music based on the lyrics, then lyrics based on the lyrics to the music, a kind of "double blind" songwriting.

3) "We Need New Curse Words" (mp3). There are just so many things that deserve new curse words, and it's hard to fit all of them in four lousy verses. I've included a karaoke version (mp3) if you want to fill in your own new-curse-worthy agenda. New lyrics are fairly recent. Like a few weeks ago recent. $40 mayonnaise came after the original four-track version, for example, and besides which the original lyrical layout didn't work as well, so the thing evolved some. Like I said, there are just so many things to pick from, it's meant to be kind of fluid . . .

4) "Get Drunk And Do Your Taxes" (mp3). I think I'd still screw up our returns no matter how much beer I've had. Jen keeps wanting me to use an accountant. Maybe this year. "Not all that incredible a function" = First of two Paul Westerberg allusions herein.

5) "World Series Game Three" (mp3). Several things converged during Game Three of the 2009 World Series: 1) A Phillies loss; 2) A Yankees win; 3) The end of Daylight Saving Time; and 4) The most egregious abrogation of democracy in the history of the U.S. The drive back up to New York was dreary. I had just heard The Weakerthans' "One Great City" and couldn't get it out of my head. Also The Replacements' "Here Comes A Regular," which has been in my head for a gazillion years (thus the line "Some places leaves drop from trees — nothing to rake on this bare street"). The line "And when you tire of the taxes there you can buy in Broward County" used to be "And when you tire of the taxes there you can buy in Bergen County" but that didn't make any sense, because the taxes in Bergen County suck, right? The Ray Rhodes quote is one of the greatest in the history of sports. As for the critique of that certain Academy Award-winning film, did you realize that the film's true-life inspiration didn't even live in Philadelphia? Finally, Why fuck Curt Schilling? Why not Mitch Williams? True, Mitch Williams was the one who served up that down-and-in meatball into Joe Carter's wheelhouse, but an interesting thing has happened in the years since — basically, fans there still like him. It's interesting, for one, that Williams stayed in the area, which is pretty cool given that he received death threats after Game Six. He then opened a bowling alley. He started analyzing baseball on the local networks. In short, it seemed like he slowly built back the respect the fans had for him, which I don't think is something you usually see in the business of sports. Do you think Tom Glavine really gave a shit about blowing the final game of the 2007 season for the Mets? If he did, he kind of had a hard time showing it in the post-game interviews. And that's not really even a knock on him either — he was just another free agent for a franchise that lately seems best equipped to lull players into not giving a shit. I'm not even sure Mets fans care that much about 2007. But Philadelphia seems to have forgiven Mitch Williams (this WSJ piece from 2008 nails it; Google "A Baseball Goat Finds Forgiveness in Philadelphia" if you run into the Journal paywall). Which is to say, there's no reason at all to fuck Mitch Williams. If you see him interviewed about the pitch today (there was a good one recently where MLB Network paired him with Joe Carter to watch that game), he explains how it happened but doesn't make any excuses about it. I've even seen some Mitch Williams jerseys recently. You know whose jersey I don't think I've ever seen? Curt Schilling's jersey. You see way more Jim Thome jerseys than Curt Schilling jerseys — and Schilling was their ace in 1993. In retrospect, Schilling seemed like an overdramatic prima donna during that series, what with that towel over his head and such (funny — the WSJ article also mentions Schilling regretting that). So yeah, fuck that guy.

[Flip record over here, if this were one.] [If this were a record, I would also want "We have to do this song because we have to do it" etched on the Side One lead-out groove; not sure about what to put on Side Two.]

6) "Rockin' (In The Present Tense)" (mp3). One night shooting the shit with our favorite bartender Justin, he brought up the fact that most rock songs about rockin' are written in other tenses: "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)," "Rockin' in the Free World" (as in "keep on . . ."), "We Will Rock You" — the list goes on and on. I pledged to write a present tense rockin' song for Justin. I figured I should Google it anyway and found a fucking Chuck Klosterman piece about it. Clearly the lyrics had to be adjusted accordingly. And then I wanted to be Chuck D.

7) "My Team Came Dangerously Close To Winning The Super Bowl" (mp3). It didn't hurt as bad as World Series Game Three because "Who would have thought?", etc. but all the same there's still that same feeling of utter failure, writ large on the largest stage in the world.

8 ) "Here's To My Sweet Satan" (mp3). Of a piece with "Even For A Song," it's — if the chords on the Internet are to be trusted — that famous portion of "Stairway To Heaven" backward: Am, F/G, C; Am, G, C (or some semblance thereof) — then the supposed words. If you're unfamiliar with it, check it out here. The lyrics are a house favorite: "Sweet Satan," "Sad Satan" and "Toolshed" all are in our local lexicon . . .

9) "Turning Away Song" (mp3). In which I experiment with blockquote, a cross between a song and a research paper — Research Paper Rock. Another thing that's been in my head for a gazillion years is Phil Ochs' introduction to "I Ain't Marching Anymore" on the posthumously released "There and Now" CD (Rhino Records, 1990). He sounds so ridiculously resigned — the thing is devastating. Anyway, those are his exact words (I dug out the CD and noted them verbatim). Michael Schumacher's biography is not bad, by the way.

10) "All That Hot Air" (mp3). A true anecdote: We were vacationing in Florida and in passing I said something to a storeowner about being in from New York and he said "Oh, up where there's all that hot air?" This was in November. I slunk out feeling like an asshole. As Goober would say, "Take it to heart, man."

Boutique Drum Kit

Posted: November 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Songwriting | Tags: , , , , , , , ,