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Olympia, WA

Olympia, WA

Notwithstanding recent offenses to humanity, Tim Armstrong is probably the most underrated songwriter of the last 50 years.





Always remember that there are people who will take advantage of you if you let them.

It's not their fault; it's their nature. They are born wild, strong, hungry.

It's your fault if you feed them.


Lay It Down Slow

Lay It Down Slow


So I don't like the term "resolution" because I don't think much of anything can be resolved on an annual basis. There is very little worth changing that can be changed in a year.

That said, around the first of this year I found myself with two projects. You are reading and listening to one of them. The other project -- the one that probably more closely nears the thing that people talk about when they use that word I don't like -- is much more personal.

See, I've begun to realize the way I use people: I use people to feel useful. I insist that they lay it on me, so that I can be needed -- the thing upon which things are laid.



You Or Your Memory

You Or Your Memory

How to fake it? Come home drunk and half-ass a version of the best song ever written about wine coolers and chewable medicine. You are shitting on what made you great. This took literally 9 minutes. Don't bother.


Personality Crisis

Personality Crisis

"Your mirror's getting jammed up with all your friends."


These Days

These Days

This is a song about my feelings.


That Was Your Mother

That Was Your Mother

With one verse, Paul Simon cements his status in my mind as one of if not the greatest songwriter of all time:

"Along came a young girl, as pretty as a prayer book, as sweet as an apple on Christmas day. I said good gracious, could this be my luck? If that's my prayer book, lord let us pray."


Her Dress So Green In The Moonlight

Her Dress So Green in the Moonlight

The greatest ever love song about a one night stand. Three takes at once.


The Chauffeur

The Chauffeur

I was telling my buddy Jim how doing these covers is like taking the song apart from the outside and then trying to put it back together around yourself -- it's harder than you might think at first and it really makes you appreciate the craftsmanship of the thing. Especially true of The Chauffeur (which, incidentally has one of the greatest music videos ever [warning: contains boobies])

This wasn't easy. I'm epically hung-over today. But I think it works!

Tech notes: I'm finding that the WAV files I'm mixing down end up with much hotter (louder) vocals than the Audacity files I start with. Can't figure it out. Will try to work around it. Am increasingly attempting to view technical limitations as touchpoints for creative adventure.


To Beat The Devil

To Beat the Devil

There's really not a lot to say about this song that it doesn't say about itself:

It was winter time in Nashville, down on music city row.
And I was lookin' for a place to get myself out of the cold.
To warm the frozen feelin' that was eatin' at my soul.
Keep the chilly wind off my guitar.

My thirsty wanted whisky; my hungry needed beans,
But it'd been of month of paydays since I'd heard that eagle scream.
So with a stomach full of empty and a pocket full of dreams,
I left my pride and stepped inside a bar.

Actually, I guess you'd could call it a Tavern:
Cigarette smoke to the ceiling and sawdust on the floor;
Friendly shadows.

I saw that there was just one old man sittin' at the bar.
And in the mirror I could see him checkin' me and my guitar.
An' he turned and said: "Come up here boy, and show us what you are."
I said: "I'm dry." He bought me a beer.

He nodded at my guitar and said: "It's a tough life, ain't it?"
I just looked at him. He said: "You ain't makin' any money, are you?"
I said: "You've been readin' my mail."
He just smiled and said: "Let me see that guitar.
"I've got something you oughta hear."
Then he laid it on me:

"If you waste your time a-talkin' to the people who don't listen,
"To the things that you are sayin', who do you think's gonna hear.
"And if you should die explainin' how the things that they complain about,
"Are things they could be changin', who do you think's gonna care?"

There were other lonely singers in a world turned deaf and blind,
Who were crucified for what they tried to show.
And their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time.
'Cos the truth remains that no-one wants to know.

Well, the old man was a stranger, but I'd heard his song before,
Back when failure had me locked out on the wrong side of the door.
When no-one stood behind me but my shadow on the floor,
And lonesome was more than a state of mind.

You see, the devil haunts a hungry man,
If you don't wanna join him, you got to beat him.
I ain't sayin' I beat the devil, but I drank his beer for nothing.
Then I stole his song.

And you still can hear me singin' to the people who don't listen,
To the things that I am sayin', prayin' someone's gonna hear.
And I guess I'll die explaining how the things that they complain about,
Are things they could be changin', hopin' someone's gonna care.

I was born a lonely singer, and I'm bound to die the same,
But I've got to feed the hunger in my soul.
And if I never have a nickle, I won't ever die ashamed.
'Cos I don't believe that no-one wants to know.

I tried to practice but it didn't feel right so I just kind of winged it. On his recording, Kris opens by saying the following:

A couple of years back, I come across a great and wasted friend of mine in the hallway of a recording studio; and while he was reciting some poetry to me that he'd written, I saw that he was about a step away from dyin' and I couldn't help but wonder why. And the lines of this song occurred to me. I'm happy to say he's no longer wasted and he's got him a good woman. And I'd like to dedicate this to John and June, who helped show me how to beat the devil.


Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sunday Morning Coming Down

There's very little to say about this Kris Kristofferson song that Johnny Cash hasn't already said better. His shadow (Johnny's) looms large over the song.

I recorded it in one take, without really practicing or knowing the song, so you can hear me fuck up. What is more interesting is that despite the fact that I start the song making a conscious effort to sing in MY voice, you can hear Johnny come through in the wavering huge vowels in the chorus. He owns this song now.

Tomorrow, part two of a Kristofferson double-header.




Today: more Casio, less song.

At first listen, I made the default assumption (as I find myself doing with so many songs) that this song is about a girl. But a girl named Woody? Surely not. What, then? A friend? A roommate? A child?

No, none of these. It seems sweet little Canadian singer/songwriter Hayden named his cat after Woody Guthrie. An act which endears him to me almost as much as his ability to write a solid narrative pop song that clocks in under a minute, giving me a nice little rest.


Big Dipper

Big Dipper

No, not Built to Spill. This is the "Big Dipper" by Cracker, a band for which I owe my adoration of completely to my friend Aaron (recently of Thailand, now of Berkely). Of those people I know who said, in 2003, "if Bush wins again, I'm leaving the country," Aaron is the only one who kept his word. For this, for forcing me to listen to Cracker despite my strong dislike for their only radio hits, and for many other good reasons, Aaron is one of my favorite people.

Interesting facts about this recording:

* It took a really long time. Like 6 hours.
* I was not consciously trying to make it sound like Casiotone. That just happened. But also, I just happened to use a Casio keyboard for just about everything you hear. So that might explain it.


Here In California

Here in California

I grew up with the songs of Kate Wolf. Along with Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and the Beatles, her quiet folky little songs were one of the few things our whole family could abide listening to on our frequent road trips. This is perhaps her most iconic song, and contains most of the lyrical themes that are her trademarks: epic narrative verses, big choruses, a bittersweet and bipolar relationship with love, and the state of California.


Oh Me Oh My (I'm A Fool For You Baby)

Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Baby)

In high school, my friend Brady introduced me to the Buster Poindexter verson of this song. Only recently have I heard Aretha do it. In looking for the Aretha version, I found the original version by Lulu. Rediscovering the song made me appreciate how well-crafted a song it is.