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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Half Cocked Musings by a Muso, Part 1

Leonard Cohen has said, “You’ve got to discard the author’s intention. It doesn’t matter what the author’s intention in the piece is, or what his interpretation of the piece is, or what his evaluation or estimation of the piece is. It exists independently of his opinion about it.” I agree with this sentiment. I don’t wanna talk about my songs. I don’t write them to explain them. I honestly don’t know why I write them or what they’re about. For the most part, they just happen without me, or at least the good ones do. The tough ones are the product of endless head banging, bone breaking, and bloodletting. In the end, none of this is important. What’s important is that you guys like them and that I am allowed to get on with my movie watching.

As you can imagine, people ask me what my songs are about quite often. I try to dodge the question as much as possible. Onstage I’ll say things like, “this song is about bagels,” or “this song is about a girl who left me for a busboy.” Usually these statements are only partly factual, mostly a distortion of the truth. Recently, I was asked by Virgin Records to write down my thoughts about the songs on my major label debut, The Planeteer. I found the process enjoyable, and thought it might be a good read. Here are some ramblings on 4 of the key tracks from the record. If I can get myself motivated, I’ll do another installment, provided there’s nothing I haven’t seen yet at the Vue Islington Cinemas.


I have a weary heart. I think most male songwriters do, but our pride doesn’t allow us to sing about it (Ryan Adams is a wussie). Love Again For The First Time is a page out of the Randy Newman book. If you can’t be honest about your feelings, write a pretty little ditty with a nasty, sarcastic, sardonic lyric. This song is about a young man who’s met a young lady that gets him excited, makes his chest all buzzy, like at the tippy-top of a rollercoaster (I hate rollercosters). Last time this happened it wasn’t pretty. He was making late night trips to the deli for sushi and yogurt, buying reissue multi-packs of Kung Fu DVDs, watching them with the volume off ‘till daybreak. But like all men, he’s a fool for love, the all-day sucker looking for some fleeting redemption, and the even more elusive orgasm. No ninja moves can save this boy. He’ll be crying on a stoop in a brown paper bag before long. Maybe it pays to be honest with your feelings. Maybe that’s why I hate John Mayer.


Everybody’s gotta get laid. It’s a fact of life. Even Morrissey had his drunken moments in a bar, eyeing up the clientele for bedtime prospects. Joni is about how when I’m drunk I will do anything to get laid. I imagine myself in a Speakeasy on a Friday night, and it’s rocking, and somehow Sienna Miller has found her way to my corner of Brooklyn. I’m four vodka sodas and two pints deep and I feel like Michael Jackson in “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough” (before the beat kicks in), mumbling nonsense about the ‘power’ and the ‘force’ in low boozy breaths. I’ll do anything to get this girl in my bed. I’ll jump behind the bar and serenade her with a beer tap as a mic. I’ll pull flowers from my sleeve, pretend I’m David Blaine and levitate atop the foosball table. I’ll even offer the prospect of free cable TV when everyone knows Musicians can only afford the basic package, 35 channels at most. Despite my efforts, I leave empty-handed. Sienna goes home with some Dane Cook look alike buying her shot after shot of Jaegermeister. I hate jocks.


Relationships suck. They drain your life force, your chi. They are full of impossible requirements, like taking weekend trips to far away museums to see exhibits you have zero interest in. Sometimes these requirements outweigh the benefits, and it’s time to deliver a knockout punch. Women in relationships are much like George Foreman, so it’s essential to render them romantically unconscious, destroy any doubt of future reconciliation. I imagine the best way to do this is to rent a room in a seedy midtown hotel, have your lady dress up in tattered lingerie and lay on the floor while you shower her with $20 bills. Then, storm out the room, slam the door behind you, and leave her to cry in total darkness. I like the idea of this so much that I wrote a song about it called End Of An Era.


A Dream is about my dreams. I have a two-ton conscious, a product of being a Jewish New Yorker (see Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick and Larry David). Being a Libran entertainer, i.e. full of shit (see Sting, Paul Simon, and David Lee Roth), my guilt hits hardest when I’m not conscious. Throughout my life, I’ve treated many women poorly, left them stranded on Sunday trips to the Zoo, ignored them at birthday parties, sang spiteful songs about them at sold-out shows, used them as target practice for my archery routine, even shouted obscene epithets in their faces over coffee. A lot of people ask me if this song is about someone close to me dying. I wish it were that deep. It’s about me being a schmuck and how my dreams haunt me.

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