Thoughts on the Songs
Each song has a narrative – a story – holding it together and guiding and reflecting the music.
‘Who You Gonna Run to?’ for example, is an older guy giving advice to a younger, married guy. The younger one is considering doing something stupid in his relationship. The older guy is being ‘Socratic’ by asking him these leading questions. His questions are blunt and to the point. The questions intimate a harsh reality as the consequence of ‘Younger’ fucking up.
Then, there’s the bridge – that is the soothing part of the avuncular advice offered by ‘Older’. It should be almost heard as a lullaby. (There, there, it’s not so bad. Just don’t fuck up.)
The off-kilter melodies; the one that acts as opening riff and the other as the bridge, settle into place at the end, but it seems rather unsure…
‘All I Need’ – is less a soliloquy then a disjointed play-lette. There are three voices, not characters really, but collective voices rather like ‘commedia dell’arte’.
The first voice – a sort of Candide – proclaims that he is happy and satisfied with his life; ‘All I Need I have right now’.
The second voice – the villain – tells him that something is missing (e.g. clear skies, time, a scorecard, the means to obtain it, etc).
Third voice is the voice of Temptation, offering a mountain, a promise of fortune, ‘all you need is waiting there’.
Then the first voice, Candide, rejoins that he has all he needs right now. The second voice ups the ante. The third voice offers the same tired vision.
Wildwood – This is a melodrama based on personal experience and framed by story told in the fantasy series entitled ‘The Kingkiller Chronicles’. I think of it as my own version of a ‘Childe Ballad’ – when tales (i.e. ballads) were told in song. It is a tale of seduction.
The woman leads the Lover through a labyrinth called the Wildwood. His mind and senses are awakened in a dream world; he sees the stars wheel in the sky, watches day pass to night, hears silver beetles, chiming, is enraptured by her scent, etc.
Then, the Temptress leaves our hero to pine and wander endlessly; lost in the Wildwood.
Most of the song is told by the narrator – the Lover-hero.
The bridge is wordless; it’s meant to invoke that dream-like state of being in the enchantment of Love.
Baby, Come Back – is a comedy of errors. I call it a cynical love song. The singer is a schmuck, a cad, a lay-about, a schlemiel, a bounder and a manipulator. The woman, ‘Baby’ was right to leave him. He’s a top-drawer arse.
He cheated on her with her friends. (e.g. Had some babe in their own bed. Uses the ‘C’ word. Uses drugs. Is unemployed. Contributes nothing to the household. Does no chores. He blames his mama for being like he is. He takes no responsibility for anything.
He tries to sweet-talk her and still address the reasons why she left him. He plays the pity-card ‘You treat me like a dog.’
He also slips in little asides that reveal his true feelings; ‘Most likely I’ll regret this’ ‘You ought to be flattered’, ‘My guitar is still in pawn’, etc.
I honestly hope she’s smart enough to tell him to fuck off.
Bull Toad Blues – is a cautionary tale. It just as easily could be called ‘Arsehole Blues’. That’s what Bull Toad means; arsehole. The story of this song comes from when my former band, BoPoMoFo, played at a certain venue in Taipei. The owner was a piece of work. the ownerl is the Bull Toad – the arsehole. We used to refer to him as ‘the Bull Toad’; he reminded us of a toad and he was a bully, plain and simple. Stories are epic and legendary about what a total douche this guy was. (For instance – he fired the band by text at 2:30am because a guest artist thought he was getting his drinks for free as he was playing without pay. This sent the Bull Toad off the deep end despite the band paying the bar tab as a courtesy. )
All reference n the song are to swamps, croaking, amphibians, warts; ‘Bubba, you can hop on this’. This is a very aggressive song. My buddy, Bill Janssen said in his review of ‘Feeling Fifteen Again’ (on this site under reviews, BTW); ‘the sinister and vaguely threatening rhythm section who probably wear zoot suits, carry prison shivs and would gladly cut you in some insane monkey knife fight. Want proof? Check out Bull Toad Blues.’
The moral of the tale is that ‘Everybody knows a bull toad (arsehole)’ and it’s best to get them out of your life, although it’s conceded that such separation is not always possible. (‘Might be your boss. Might be your wife!’). We have to deal with arseholes. It’s a fact of life.
Bloodied But Unbowed – The feeling I want to convey is that you must be true to yourself – as Shakespeare states through Polonius in ‘Hamlet’ ;‘To thine own self be true.’ The cost of that philosophy can be dear. The moral is one must stand by one’s convictions and suffer ‘the slings and arrows’. Stand bloodied but unbowed. So, the chorus of the song must be a joyful and proud statement. “I’m bloodied but unbowed’.
This is one example of a song based on collective life experiences rather exclusively on my own. The ‘Boss-man’ is a compilation of lots of bosses I’ve had. (Even the Bull Toad!) The ‘Preacher’ is lots of religious types I’ve encountered. The ‘Woman’ is a composite of women I’ve known. The ‘miserable people’ can be seen everywhere; misery loves company and those in misery quite often resent those who are happy. They ‘like nothing better than to tear’ other people down.
All four are also drawn from the experiences of other people.
(I’ll let you guess what ‘vertical smile’ means.)
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