December 13, 2017

Love Is Dead

Another song (the eighth one so far) from that 1998 Seattle show I've been posting bit by bit. Why? Well, why does anyone do anything? I think it's an interesting, and unusually clear and distinct, "snapshot" of the way it was during a period a lot of people are interested in. Plus, I want people to get used to going to my fledgling youtube channel because I plan to post more stuff there in the coming year..

So.... Why is the song "Love Is Dead" not on the album Love Is Dead? The song was already mostly written when we were mapping out the album, but not recorded in those sessions. The album was "officially" untitled during the recording, though the notebook I had all my lyrics in did have "NAME: Dr. Frank / SUBJECT: Love is Dead!" scrawled on the cover (which I discovered and was surprised by a few years ago when I stumbled on it.) I think I probably didn't want to commit to the title prematurely, just in case something better came along, though obviously it didn't.

Anyway, the title had clearly been kicking around in my head, and when that happens a song often results. Leaving the "title track" of the previous album for the following record is a fun gimmick to connect the two that some of my idols have done (Robyn Hitchcock, Elvis Costello) and when it did come to organizing what came to be Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You it was like joining a kind of tradition. But at the time, it was just kind of random, the result of everything being tentative and chaotic. As was the case with the song that contained the line that named that album -- "I Was Losing You All Along" -- which wasn't on its album because we didn't finish recording it; and as with the song from whose lyrics Yesterday Rules was drawn, which may well be on the next MTX album, should there be one. These things happen.

For what it's worth, I do think this song would have weakened the Love Is Dead album by being too prominent as a "title track." It's better that the theme is danced around, so to speak, and not literally spelled out, and that's the case with lots of things. Which certainly makes it easier on those of us who aren't all that good at spelling things out. I've been asked about this a lot and I usually say something like "it's just one of those things," which is true as well.

As for the song itself, it's a pretty good essay at that Tin Pan Alley approach to lyrics and structure that I've sometimes stabbed at. The bridge is particularly ridiculous (meaning good), illustrating the initial vague notion of "emotional vertigo" with subsequent climbing of what turns out to be a tree, one of the limbs of which the narrator is "out on" etc. I love it when you can take things too far, to the point of stupidity, and somehow it simulates brilliance as long as your words are nice. Or so I like to think.

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:11 PM

St. Lucy

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:01 PM

December 12, 2017

¿No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:08 PM

Newishly Old?

Tuesday read: a post-mortem on Evergreen College, though the corpse is still twitching and its spirit lives on apparently. It is quite a tale, of which I'd only heard bits and pieces before now.

This quote from Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind might have been written about Evergreen President George Bridges rather than the 1969 faculty at Cornell he described:

Students discovered that pompous teachers who catechized them about academic freedom could, with a little shove, be made into dancing bears.

Then again, I'm not sure academic freedom is part of the catechism anymore, as this incident seems to indicate.

One thing that strikes me about the current wave of campus demonstrations is how quasi-liturgical and "religious" the program seems to be, the crowd repeating en masse sentence by sentence words of an officiant orator, the chanting.. it always reminds me of church. Check out the "canoe ritual" in the video.

"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen..." the words are different and the objective is arguably different, but it's a familiar sound and cadence from my childhood that I hear every time I see video of one of these protests. The ideologies of the past couple of centuries have always been ersatz religions by some reckonings (including mine) but this sacerdotal style seems to bring it full circle and to be something new, or newishly old. Where did they learn it? I wasn't aware of much of anything in '69, but the protests I remember from my college days in the '80s weren't anything like so liturgical. Maybe I'm misremembering though.

At any rate, they certainly seem to have mastered the art of shaming, casting out, and ostracism of non-believers and dissenters.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:00 PM

We Ae the Future People of Tomorrow

Yet another bit of that '98 RKCNDY show, for my sins.

This was an "orphaned" song from that great big chunk of material that was whittled down into Love Is Dead, released on the Joe Queer-curated comp More Bounce to the Ounce a few years later. I've always been fond of it, and considering that it's kind of a one-off throw-away tune it has always seemed to punch a bit above its weight at shows and such.

How anyone can hear it and not grasp that it's a sort of parody is beyond me, but it regularly happens (though possibly some of these folks are doing it just mess with me.) On the other hand, I do stand for freedom etc. if I stand for anything and I suppose I'm opposed to oppressionism as well, and opium in your masses must suck very much indeed. So maybe... irony-proof people, we are not so very different you and I.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:28 PM

Makes a Great Gift

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Gearing up for some Dr. Frank releases in the next year and kicking it off with a limited "pop up" Christmas package from Sounds Rad. All your Christmas shopping sorted, right here. Only 50 available so now's the time.

Shirt, pin, Christmas ornament, sticker-- check it out.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:46 AM

December 11, 2017

Novum Opus

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:37 PM

December 10, 2017

John Baptist in Prison

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:34 PM

December 09, 2017

Notebook

Individually and in the co-ordinated and purposive groups which constitute a healthy society, men and women display a certain capacity for rational thought and free choice in the light of ethical principles. Herded into mobs, the same men and women behave as though they possessed neither reason nor free will. Crowd-intoxication reduces them to a condition of infrapersonal and antisocial irresponsibility. Drugged by the mysterious poison which every excited herd secretes, they fall into a state of heightened suggestibility, resembling that which follows an injection of sodium amytal or the induction, by whatever means, of a light hypnotic trance. While in this state they will believe any nonsense that may be bawled at them, will act upon any command or exhortation, however senseless, mad or criminal.
--Aldous Huxley, The Devils of Loudun
Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:02 PM

December 07, 2017

Hiroshima mon Amour

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:02 PM

St. Ambrose

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:29 PM

Thank You for Not Being One of Them

Here's another one of these from that 1998 RKCNDY show. It took some doing to come up with an undone take on "us against the world" but I think this one does it. It was one of a handful of songs whose sensibility and narrative voice was appropriated for the King Dork books.

If nothing else, its existence is justified by the lines: "you don't hesitate to exaggerate and say that it's okay" and "later that night we hold each other tight and plot their destruction", the latter of which I've seen as a tattoo at least once, along with the song title's acronym. (And yes, it is so an acronym rather than an "initialism": pronounced "TIFF-un-boot.")

I often used to remain silent for the stops and let the audience fill in the line endings, which was great when it worked, but a bit embarrassing when it didn't, and you never know which you were going to get. For whatever reason I didn't do it this time, but you can hear the crowd joining in anyway (and if you were there, thanks.)

There was originally a third verse that looked toward a future of growing old together and cultivating an insular life of splendid isolation and loving misanthropy. I can no longer remember how it went, though it's written down somewhere no doubt, but "Population: Us" was in effect an elaboration on it.

(Please share, like, and subscribe. TYFNBOOT)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:50 PM

December 06, 2017

Deus, qui beátum Nícolaum Pontíficem innúmeris decorásti miráculis: tríbue, quǽsumus; ut ejus méritis et précibus a gehénnæ incéndiis liberémur.

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:43 PM

The new kid on the chopping block...

I remember this song being received with skepticism and a decided lack of enthusiasm by band and producer... someone (I can't remember who) tried to nudge me toward ditching it by saying it resembled something the Mentors might do. If only, and also, yeah, I didn't get that either and still don't. Of course, in the circumstances in which they enountered it (tiny practice room, inadequate PA, inept "chops", and total chaos enveloped by a miasma of defeatism and demoralization) its special un-Mentorsy qualities were no doubt rather hard to spot.

Nevertheless it became one of the more popular tunes and largely set the tone for what was to come in the next few years, song-wise and arguably sound-wise. It's got some pretty nice lines and it performs what I like best in a song fairly well, the feat of taking a dumb or unlikely conceit and making it work by sheer force. I brought in my old pal Dallas Denery to sing some basic backups for the recording. His verdict on the lyrics: something like "far out, daddy-o." Well, they are that. And that cat was dynamite.

I was studying Greek at the time I wrote this and the other "...and the Women Who Love Them" songs while hanging out at a Cole Street cafe in between visits to my father in the hospital, scribbling lyrics in the margins of Plato's Meno and wondering what to do with my life. (The fact that the answer turned out to be "the Mr. T Experience" is as questionable now as it would have been then. What can I say? I wish I had a better life's work, but you work with what you've got and it's the only one I had.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 01:33 PM

December 05, 2017

The relics of St. Sabbas the Sanctified, taken to Venice by Crusaders in the 12th Century, returned to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1965

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:18 PM

December 04, 2017

Ready Set Go

Another one of these from Seattle, '98. I was quite surprised to see this song in the set. It was not often performed, that I recall, by any line-up. (Maybe it was a request that we tried to "wing" -- there's some chord flubs in the bridge, not that that proves much as there are almost always a few of those.) Anyway, I do remember having the sense, at the time, that songs such as this from the 1992 Milk Milk Lemonade album were ancient, obscure artifacts that could be excavated from time to time as kind of stunt. Six years is a long time at any given point, perhaps, but nearly twenty years on from that point it all seems like everything is pretty much of a piece.

As for the song itself, it's a rather lazy attempt at an extended metaphor (the romantic object as terrarium pet) that goes off not fully "cocked", so to speak, like many songs of its era. Songwriting negligence of this kind always embarrasses me a little still, even as I recognize that such half-cockedness and the resulting blurred correspondences and off-kilter focus can be the most interesting thing about them, hardly achievable on purpose should that be a thing you'd ever want to do. I know this song is beloved by many, whatever the case. Maybe it's all in that riff, which, though I say it myself, would rule per se, whatever it was used for or in.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:18 PM

'twas Long Ago

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:22 PM

BBC

For a brief period we used to close our sets with this Austin Powers / “Ming Tea” song. It was fun, trust me.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:11 PM

St. Peter Chrysologus

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Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:07 PM

December 01, 2017

Another Yesterday

"Okay, I'm gonna make a deal with you: I'm gonna try to sing all the words to every song. Unless you knock the microphone away from me, then I'm not gonna be able to do it. So the choice is yours, you wanna hear all the words or not?"

"Another Yesterday" was an attempt to rein in my tendency to over-write and do something simpler than usual, almost a songwriting "exercise" in a way. I think it's got quite a lot going for it despite/because of that. I was always pretty dissatisfied with the recording: it feels rushed and slapdash. I'd meant it to be darker, more melancholy, and I had a pretty specific production concept to use a "Help You Ann" type vibrato on a few guitars layered and delayed. I wanted it to sound harsh but beautiful. I didn't get a chance to try that, though a very slight bit of it is mixed in in the recording (and it does sound pretty cool, just not anywhere near what was imagined.) So this is another one of those "what might have been" songs, a bit bittersweet like those always are.

It has a good energy live though, and it always gratified me how much people responded to it, given that there's nothing remotely "novelty" about it.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:31 AM