of the Land of Oaks
The first three songs in this session came out of improvisations I did at Salane's keyboard to kill time while Muffin the cat went on patrol the weekend previous. Cat-sitting turns out to have been a creativity goldmine. Who knew?
I tried a new time-saving technique: use the previous song as a template for the next one. This worked great until I was finishing up song 5 and realized I'd saved it over song 3. The final two songs come directly from that experience. Who knew bad file management could be so good for creativity?
Why isn't my Reason dongle working? Not a great way to start a session I'm only beginning at 1 p.m. Plus allergies wiping me out. Plus hosting ICS. So I wrote words, calmed down, got the software going. Then had time for two tunes.
When I heard Michael's doomsday cult CD, I couldn't help but want to try to sample it for an ICS song. But it was ridiculous to think I could start my session by listening to the whole CD, or that I could sample a bunch of different sections in anything approaching a timely fashion. So I grabbed a sample of Elizabeth Clare Prophet's invocation and made the rather crude first song. The second tune is one of my sad but hopeful ukulele ballads. The third song acknowledges the birthdays of fellow Wiglodge members Nicholas, Mick & Salane with some uke-based funk. If I had to sum up this session in four words, I'd call it, "Four minutes of awesome."
This session was interrupted early by the discovery that our ancient furnace is something of a fire hazard. Still, I managed to get five tracks done. The last is a partial cover of Darling Freakhead's fake standard, "Mamndy Pim," which I bring to you thanks only to the miracle of MIDI.
Doing Pretty Well
(I Can't Even Play) Fake Jazz
Self-reflexive ICS songs? Check! Songs that sound like songs I'd previously written? Check! A rare session I didn't hate as I was doing it though, for what that's worth. People at the meeting last night seemed to like the final song quite a bit. I remixed it this morning just to get the volume up a bit.
My Day to Create
Heard It Somewhere Before
Get with the Progress
Pleasure is Real
Session 2012-12: A.M. Session
Here's a special holiday treat from Andy & Michael, in the guise of their infrequent project, A.M. While we were noshing during a short break in the middle of my session, Michael proposed collaborating on a song in the vein of Brother Steven's classic "Scary Christmas" compilations. Behold the result.
I didn't do an October session. I feel bad about it. But what's undone is undone. Moving on. It was a beautiful warm November Saturday. My time was limited, because I wanted to go to Isabel's art show opening at Varnish in SF. So that was on my mind. The impending election was also on my mind, as the first song might indicate. And, of course, the Halloween candy hangover gets a song.
Just One More
Good Luck Izzy
This session was delayed by the usual Saturday stuff – a trip to TJ's, Arizmendi and the Grand Lake Farmer's Market, and three walks with Olive – but this time I also had to contend with a Burning Man party Michael was having that got underway while I was still working on the third and fourth songs.
Also not helping: I decided to try using Reason alone, instead of doing my session in Logic with Reason rewired in. So I didn't know how to do some basic stuff, like mix automation. Did I read the f'in' manual? The first song addresses that burning question. The second and third songs address politics, if slightly obliquely, and the last is a boogie woogie piece with my take on a Darling Freakhead-style voice over.
If Life Were Fair
request from a neighbor
The first song is an experiment. I wanted to see if I could write a melody for a chord sequence in which each chord is the IV (that's Roman numeral 4, not an abbreviation for "intravenous") for the preceding chord. Was it a successful experiment? Perhaps not, but I kind of like it anyway. If I'd had time, I would have adjusted the MIDI so the melody would bear some relationship to the chords beyond the first verse, but hey, it's ICS. [Freakhead said at the meeting that he was inspired by the concept of strict chords and unhinged melody, which is pretty cool.] The second song just seemed like a repeat of things I'd done before, but it's not as horrible as I thought that day. And the last song is a representation of how I felt about the first two songs at the time.
Good Times Come and Good Times Go
So Much for Progress
OK. My dog has a tumor. That's the first thing. So here's a maudlin pop tune. You can thank all my ICS buddies for making me feel secure enough to put it out there. Second song is an idyll/love song that was almost about how much I used to love R.E.M. Then I thought of a more universal subject: a happy gay marriage, 23 1/2 years in. The final two (mercifully brief) numbers just sort of happened on the uke. Balalaika Crap (the CVB reference is apt, the pun moreso. I played the melody line many many times before I got a take that was OK most of the way through). Bluke is a fun uke riff that seemed to work with a blues progression.
Lost and Sad
I Would Choose
How about some pop songs loaded with acute psychological insight, scathing political commentary, and lots of contradictions? How about if they're performed with bad rhythm and out-of-tune singing? What if the insight isn't particularly acute, and the political commentary isn't very deep? Still with me? OK, you're ready for this month's first two masterpieces. The third song is my usual self-reflexive ICS song about how I don't have much time left in my session.
Protest Song #274
I didn't let dog-sitting for Carsyn and Kanye get in the way of my session, though maybe it had a subtle psychological effect. First song is an apology. Second song just sort of happened. I didn't remember that Darling Freakhead already had a much superior song with a similar name. Third song is a blues number about guilt. Fourth song is another in the long line of my self-help songs. Allergies is hard-hitting political punk.
Out of Sorts
Andrew Breitbart dropped dead. I was going to write an angry rant about him, but the truth is, I didn't know much about him besides that he was a professional liar who had recently yelled at protesters outside this year's CPAC conference. He was also my brother's neighbor and his kids are friends with my neice and nephew. So I looked up some of his writing on the internets, and I ended up just feeling sorry for him and his family. That's what liberals do. Damn us to Hell. Anyway, I decided angry ranting will kill you, so I took a different tack in my memorial tune to him. Second song is kind of an Elton John Pacific Coast Highway driving tune. The last, mercifully brief, "song" is straight reporting.
Pick Up Nicholas
The Feb. 4 meeting was held at Mick & Salane's birthday party (yes, they have the same birthday). That explains the second song. The first track was a quick experiment created using the Animoog iPhone app for the first time, and layering on a couple of guitars for good measure. The last song is very short.
Animoog the Hero's Epic Journey (To the Limits of Your Patience)
Jingletown Party (For Salane & Mick)
I don't know what that first one is all about. The phrase came into my head and I made it into a song. Track 2 is my tribute to UC Davis campus cop and internet meme, John "The Pepper Spray Cop" Pike. The third song is a reverie about my new vice, coffee.
Gimme Some Gum
Wiglodge has pretty much dissolved and been absorbed into Origin Lodge. Which means when I go to a meeting, I'm surrounded entirely by exceptionally talented and accomplished art-rockers. Not the the Wiggers were slouches, but for some reason I find it more intimidating to play my music for O-Lodgers. Fortunately, they're all good people who manage to find something enjoyable in most of my songs. ND says "Tryin' to Be" might be his favorite of anything I've ever done in ICS. Yay!
Tryin' to Be
Black & Blue Friday
Timing is Everything
Really flexing my vocal muscles on the first number. Oof. Financial troubles and the upcoming election had me in a sad and angry mood.
After a cold, gray summer, we had a short heat wave. Not even a full-fledged Indian Summer, just a beastly hot couple of days, as if the heat of a whole summer were compressed into a weekend. The heat wave corresponded with ICS day. There was the heat, but then there was the feeling of days getting shorter, which led to a reverie. And the session ends with one of my standard pop-songs-full-of-self-recrimination.
Days Get Shorter
Guess what was on my mind when I did this session. Give up? Turns out I thought it was fascinating that the date could be configured in such a way as to look like a simple arithmetical equation. And I was worried that the Meserle verdict was going to lead to riots. I got a few details wrong in the Lament, but what the heck, so did Bob Dylan in "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."
Lament for Oakland
Riots (Never Did Nobody Any Good)
Usually while I'm doing my sessions, I get frustrated and hate everything I'm doing, but then when I play the songs for everybody, I realize they're not as bad as I thought. And then there are sessions like this one, which sounds just as crummy now as it did as I was doing it...Though the first song, in post-punk mode, is pretty good. And Mick praised my slide work in "Long Short Week," but I think it was the beer talking.
Long Short Week
National Donut Day
Mayday! Mayday! We're going down! Michael gave me the rhythm track for the first song, but it's not really a full-fledged A.M. song. Easier Said Than Done and No One Talks to Me at Parties are the big hits from the session. As I just wrote to Darling Freakhead, self-pity vs. self-loathing: like the battle between good and evil, it's a struggle that never ends.
Happy Birthday Marcos
Easier Said Than Done
No One Talks to Me at Parties
Inspired by a Haydn piece at the symphony the night before (yes, I know Haydn wasn't Baroque, Steven), the first track is an expression of my irritation at the convention of the trill and clichéd conclusion to a musical phrase. You'll want to express your irritation of that track, no doubt. How Do I Tell is maybe what Lebofsky would sound like if he were 12 years old and half as smart and talented. Triggered is my Pylon rip-off. Man, I love me some Pylon. And the last song is one of my country rave-ups.
Going for Baroque
How Do I Tell
I Didn't Get Much Sleep Last Night
Do what ya gotta do to make it work. A uke-driven folk tune and one in a series of attempts at post-punk, which is the genre I naturally gravitate toward when I start a track by recording the bassline.
This Day Can't Decide
Make It Work
First session of the new year. 2010. The year of the famous sequel. You know. 2010. In a letter to the campus newspaper way back when, my friend, Greg, called that film "a crime against humanity." Funny what you remember from 20-odd years ago. Anyway, my fabulous, electric guitar-based session may not be a crime against humanity.
Oakland Storm Warming
I actually started the first song on the 11th, when I thought I might not have the time to do a session the following day. So sue me. That song refers to an email in which this month's ICS meeting host, Michael Mellender, let it be known that, "The house speakers here are not really that bad. You just have to believe in them. And not show them your ankles. Ever. They wouldn't be very nice to you if they saw your ankles." The second song takes a 180 degree turn from the silliness of the first. It is dedicated to the memory of Rae and Link Lindquist, who did not make it home from Thanksgiving dinner a couple of weeks ago in Hana, Maui. Feeling a little overwhelmed by the feelings stirred up by that song, I created an experimental piece to clean the slate. And then I got silly again, if trenchantly political, with a punky final number.
Ankle vs. Speakers
Returning to the Sea
A one-song session dedicated to making a song to celebrate my dad's 75th birthday. Took me all day and into the night, because I can't play piano but for some reason I got it into my silly head that I'd like to do a kind of New Orleans thing.
Happy Birthday BLC
My first session back at the drawing board, without the boundaries that had made the cat sessions easier (lyrics written beforehand, music needing to be ukulele-based). The Halloween theme would've helped, if only I'd used it, but once I started with a birthday song for my brother, I just had to go where the muse led me. "The Beast of Capital Street" was meant to be a Halloween-themed tune about Olive, but it didn't quite work out that way. "Hot Air" is about the Balloon Boy hoax, for which said boy's parents and the media who fell for it ought to be privately chastised. Public chastisement would just play into their hands. "Application" is gibberish, done in about a half hour, which might have the potential to develop into a real song someday...
Happy Birthday Evan!
The Beast of Capital Street
Session 2009-09 (Official)
Well, folks, this is it. I've completed the song cycle, "A Curious Collection of Cats." And I even wrote a very complex and satisfying theme song for the book. Will the cycle eventually end up as a long-running Broadway show? It could happen. We could trick audiences into thinking it's a sequel. Ah, memories.
Prickles vs. the Golden Retriever
Cat Under the Blanket
A Curious Collection of Cats
Session 2009-09 (Unofficial)
I did this impromptu session when Michael went to his studio to silkscreen posters for this year's Campout. Yes, four more cat songs. I think I have set almost all the poems in the book to music; just a few more to go...
Bingo's Birthday Party
The Purrfect Scarf
When Michael and Nell went out to brunch on this foggy Monday morning, I had the house to myself for the first time since Michael returned a week earlier than planned from his silkscreening class in Santa Cruz. I had a couple of Betsy's cat poems already transcribed in my notebook, complete with prospective chords. I threw the chords out the window and ended up with the following two songs.
Yoga Cat Pose
05/09/09, 06/04/09, 06/06/09
I squeezed in a couple of mini-sessions before the regular meeting-day session on 06-06-09. And I bring you... yet another litter of cat songs adapted from the volume, A Curious Collection of Cats. Lyrics by Betsy Franco. Michael and I will perform some of the cat songs live at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park on June 28.
Veronica Goes Wide
The Great Escape
Cat Haiku 1
Q-Tip and Rosie
Cat Haiku 2
Her Royal Highness
A Tree for Samantha
The first A.M. session in a long while yielded this sparkling ode to the glamorous Mrs. Vera.
More cat songs adapted from, A Curious Collection of Cats. Lyrics by Betsy Franco. Michael and I performed a ska version of "A Question for Scooter about Squirrels" live at Red Hill Books in San Francisco on May 31.
A Question for Scooter about Squirrels
The Cat Peed on My Hat
Limerick on a Leash
A Tomcat's Yard is His Kingdom
The first song is a true story. The fifth is another of my attempts at bliss pop. The middle three songs are settings of concrete poetry by Betsy Franco, from the soon-to-be-released volume, A Curious Collection of Cats. Michael and I performed the cat songs live at Diesel Books in Oakland on April 9.
Lenny vs. Patch
My Time in the Sun
February: In which Andy tries explicitly to do a 20-song session and misses by only 14 songs, but still sets a track number personal best with six. As the only Wiglodge member at the joint Wig/O-lodge meeting, I was intimidated... until my songs got some laughs. Hey, if you can't be a king but want to hang out in the castle, you can always be a jester.
Draggin' Me Down
Put Yourself Down
January: January 30, 2009 marked the 20th anniversary of the night Michael consented to "go steady" with me. My session is all about trying to honor our relationship with songs that are sweet but not saccharine.
First 20 Years
Happy and Gay
I've Still Got a Crush on You
December: A busy month during which there was lots of holiday stuff and I got laid off from the job I'd been at for the past 4 1/2 years.
November: A joint Wig/Origin lodge meeting at Nicholas and Michael's pad inspired this quickie one-song session.
November: This post-Thanksgiving session features "Downtown Dreamwalk," a piece made mostly on my phone with the app RJDJ.
Discover 2 [unavailable]
Makin' It Up
October: This was a big music day for me. I did an ICS session, went to a BCO rehearsal for our legendary Cafe du Nord gig, then went to the ICS meeting.
Destroy All Monsters
Let My Marriage Be
September: The week before my session, I was alerted to the fact that I would be laid off at the end of the year. It was nice of them to give me so much notice.
What Do You Want to Do?
August: The month of clever song titles, apparently.
ICS I Say Yes
Song Number Three
Song Number 4
July: Another cold, foggy summer day. My first session rewiring Reason into Logic. In fact, first time using Reason 4 on the Mac, finally (hence the arpeggiator madness in the second track).
Everything is Sounding Great
Open Letter to the Woman Who Bypassed the Line at the Apple Store
May: A cold, foggy day, perfect weather to stay inside and make music.
Sugar Valley Forecast
Foggy Oakland Breakdown
April: I spent the entire blazingly hot weekend at my computer working on a freelance web job due first thing Monday morning. At 5pm Saturday, when I was intensely frustrated with the job and myself, Michael convinced me to give up on the HTML for the day and do a session.
March: Bethel's birthday provides the theme for the first three songs.
Michael returned from Fremont mid-afternoon and managed to put together one song on his own, and to do most of the work on this little ditty about California's controversial $75 million plan to spray pesticides over 12 Bay Area counties to help destroy the light brown apple moth.
February: The triumphant return of A.M., with a session based loosely on the theme of "animals," in anticipation of the February 29 installment of the Argyll Adventure Tree show.
December: My first attempt at composing with Logic.
Wrap It Up!
The Highland Stomp
September: I finally got my new computer this month. Now nothing can stop me.
Parental Advisory: Songs with apostrophes in their titles contain lyrics unsuitable for children.
Burn Down the Eye
Can't Play Blues
Waiting For Me
December: When I pledged to make lots of music in 2007. How did that
work out for me? See above. As for this session, I'll upload it soon.
Just Gettin' Started
Welcome New Year
February: A one-song session,
done as a thank-you to Flower Frankenstein, who arranged a bachelor
party for me and made sure it happened shy of my first wedding
November: the first A.M. session
of 2005. Five variations on the jump-rope chant, Little Sally Walker.
Reason by Michael, ProTools by Andy.
Little Sally Walker 01
Little Sally Walker 02
Little Sally Walker 03
Little Sally Walker 04
Little Sally Walker 05
May: summer arrives just in time for Memorial Day.
My first attempt to make music with ReBirth since 1999.
Rip That Bush Out
An attempted gospel rave-up.
This evening we had an ICS barbecue at Karl's house in Alameda.
April: a heat wave and a little rain.
Composed and performed on a ukulele.
Subconscious "Kitty Kitty Meow" ripoff.
This month's unfinished song.
This is the inaugural Olive session.
More dog thoughts.
Thoughts on dogs.
This is another A.M. session.
Based on a dream Michael had.
Inspired by an email Michael got.
Featuring a well-known guest appearance.
Andy cheated on this one and "finished" it the night after the meeting.
Wonderful New Day
This session is the first from a new collaboration between Andy & Michael. The project name is A.M.
Christmas Day at the North Pole
Cupcakes for Christmas
A love song to Amy Sedaris
Coming soon... really. I promise.
Other Projects by Brother Cow
Hear A.M. (tbd)
Rock out with The Pinecones
Climb the Argyll Adventure Tree