The 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs - The "Dangling Off The Ledge" Songs - 20-16

I'm going to do a short post tonight for the sake of time and dramatic effect.

These songs are "Dangling Off The Ledge." Why? Because they're so close to inclusion but ultimately they probably won't make the jump.

20. Three Fingers

This song is based on a true story that I heard at work. The events described in the song actually occurred at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts. No lie. In short the story is that this no-legged, one-armed cripple with three fingers was sitting on the ground, probably watching the parade go by, when someone stepped on his fingers. I mean, what are the odds, given how few he had? Fortunately this moment of irony has now been forever preserved in Three Fingers. Musically I'd say it's quite a departure from most Moon Is No More Songs. Originally recorded on accoustic and this seems like the type of song that should stay that way, what with it's gentle plucking and all. Lyrically, I always felt the rhymes and flow of the words, though simplistic, worked well. A sampling from the chorus-y part of the song: "he didn't look appealing / looked like he was kneeling / seemed like he was feeling / sad for what he's missing." The nice thing about this song is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, yet it stops short of being goofy. Originally we had an incorrect line: "he didn't have arms / didn't do much harm / missing a finger and a thumb / just a cripple though not dumb." I believe it was Bam! Bam! Emily Brown that pointed out the fact that he would obviously be missing a finger and thumb if he had no arms. The line was easily changed to "he had just one arm."

19. Pitying Bowls Of Saucy Lovelessness

Wow! I never thought I would live to see the day that this song would rank so high on a Moon Is No More list. Unfortunately, there was no denying the energy that this song brought to the table when we played it live at the final Moon Is No More show at the Zeitgeist Gallery. The guitar hook and driving drums were unstoppable. Because of the style of the song my lack of vocal talents are minimized. I'm basically talking really fast with a slight funny accent. The lyrics come from a short story I had written and I'll reprint them in their entirety here since they're so short. The song consists of me speaking these lyrics at varying speeds three times. "you've reached equality and that can't be good for your head to be giant apples of wisdom does harm like rational mosquitoes that comment on your sweet refined blood your pitying bowls of saucy lovelessness." Yo! Yao! Far out!

18. A Good Conscience Is One You Have Yet To Find

A happy little song about compulsive dishonesty. The bottom line is we play this song very well. We always have. It's a short, easy to like grungey pop song that features gourds. How can you not like that? And I even get to play the gourds, marking one of my very few moments on an instrument (if you can call it that). I sing it decent, in a raging, rasping kind of way. We developed a great way to record it: the song starts with acoustic guitars and no bass and then all of a sudden jumps into electric and bass and drums and then finishes back where it started. It's just solid, not much more to say. Plus, how many songs do you know have the phrase "ad naseum?" I almost titled this A Good Conscience Is One You've Yet To Find and then realized that I hate to have contractions in my song titles so I went with A Good Conscience Is One You Have Yet To Find. And that little story is a explanation enough why song titles should be short. And that's the ideal segue to talk about...

17. Investment

I could easily be convinved to move this song higher, if only because I think the 12 Brothers EP is solid every which way around. This is one of the weaker ones of the bunch, though so here we have it at 17. As Joshua tended to do with 12 Brothers, he nailed the music. The anti-chorus slowdown is a perfect fit for Investment. A lot of research went into the lyrics for this song to ensure that the investment terminology was just right. When we talk about cattle options and whether we're selling or buying it has to be accurate. I mean, I work at an investment company. If I can't get that right I'd be in big trouble. Fortunately, Consultant Maikowski provided some insights into the world of option trading. It's actually a very interesting methodology but you have to really get it down before jumping in and I'd say it requires a bit more time than normal stock trading, though you can hedge your bets and decrease your risk quite a bit. But I'm getting off topic. Of course, this song is about brother number 12 getting back into the business world in the Southwest, after sneaking back over the border from Mexico. He gets an entry level position at an investment bank. "here's your cube and welcome to our firm / you can make it here if you can just grin and bear it / though the ladder climbing's slow here / so your shoes had better wear." That's a great verse in my opinion, not for emotional impact, but for pure flow and word usage. It's actually one of my all-time favorites. Of course, #12 has some bright ideas and he's willing to share. "senor this offer's window's getting narrow / so you need to sign up quick / if you dream of spending millions / then i suggest you listen to my picks / and i'll be right here to help you understand the risks" Another great verse. Joshua may have tampered with the ending to this one for the better so he deserves some credit. Then we get to the chorus. "cattle options / expire in seven years / you can sell them / in two thousand eleven." What can I say? It was 2004 when I wrote it so the numbers worked. Seven was the key figure we had to go with (for obviously reasons if you know the story) so our timeline got set in stone. Then we break into a little more Spanish just to prove we're in the Southwest (but I think it works). "mijo you've made some wise decisions / and now we'll be sure to make it through this famine / you've earned your new promotion / more money and more power in the balance / more money and more power in the balance." First, this verse is easily the weakest in this song but it's not terrible. It just needs a little polishing. Mainly this is what drags the song down to this spot on the list, it's incompleteness. I do like how we use the word "balance," which is the title of a later track. It adds to the symmetry. Then we go two more rounds with the chorus and altered chorus. "cattle options /expire in seven years / you can sell them / in two thousand eleven / cattle options / expired this year / if you ignored the warning / you'll go hungry i fear." Again, the altered chorus needs more polishing. OK, I've offically written far too much about this song.

16. Room 203, Part I

A simple easy-listening song. This was the fourth Moon Is No More song written and it holds up well. The last recording we ever did of this song came out very well with a full band. The story is about William Donovan Junior being taken to the hospital after the incident at Leonard Gardner's house. He sits in his hospital bed and pesters and nags Jeffrey L. Allen for sympathy by recounting various stories. This song has it all. Hospital references written before Pedro The Lion's Priests and Paramedics. References to suicide. The use of Biblical "times." A great "saved a boy from the wash" line. Probably best of all: Angie "plays" the pillow while I sing "you're so shallow / filled with sorrow / i'm a pillow / i'm a pillow." Any song featuring a pillow as an instrument gets an automatic bye into my top 20.

Next up we'll be discussing "The Fuzzy Edge" songs, 15-11.


The 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs - The "Sitting On The Fence" Songs - 30-21

As we get higher on this list we get into some very murky territory. It becomes even harder to differentiate rank at this level. That's why I'm calling this batch "Sitting On The Fence." In all reality, it is quite possible that half of these songs could jump much higher and end up in the final cut. For now, they're probably out.

Between posts I found my Moon Is No More MP3 CD and have had a chance to give a lot of more obscure songs a listen. This has definitely helped revise the list, though there weren't many changes to the songs from the previous posts. Last Resort, Part IV was not what we thought and it moved down to 39.

Let's get to it.

30. The Gradual Progression Of Loss, Part I

As was mentioned, I found the Moon Is No More MP3 CD. As I mentioned in my original post regarding this song, if my memory was jogged this had the potential to move. With the additional information provided therein I did feel the need to bump this song up a few spots. Somehow we made the song with no melody work. That alone has to be worth at least two places on this list. The full band rendition featured a great mid-song change from brushed bongos to full drums that works really well. The lyrics make for an interesting bit of poetry (their original intention) but a less-interesting song. On the other hand, the lyric file for this song contains one of my favorite notations under MUSIC: "Chan style: C". Hopefully you know what that means.

29. On Account Of The Abuse

This is a slow jam that Joshua really seems to love. For me, it's OK. There's definitely something trippy about it and we've only played once to my knowledge. That makes it kind of hard to judge. It has some good potential, though. The lyrics are off the wall and feel somewhat disconnected throughout. "I am ill."

28. Ghetto Gap Gay Guy

4G's. In our original recording this song was far too repetitive. However, it had a nice alternate part near the end. If this were mixed together a little more effectively we might have something.

27. Last Resort, Part II

When I originally wrote the lyrics for Last Resort, Part I and Part II I always thought I would like Part II better. It seemed to snap better. Alas, it was not to be. Part II eventually turned into a nondescript punk-pop song that lacks pop. It still has a nice flow but it's lost some of it's effect over time. It isn't as re-listenable as most of the other songs. In this song we see the reuse of the "when all else fails / try avoidance" line which kept popping up in my lyrics. I thought the harder rock song would deliver a better delivery on that chorus punch, however it turns out that Part I's slow, but more heartfelt, delivery tops it.

26. G.O.D.

Stands for Guaranteed Overnight Delivery, which is a delivery company. I really have no right to say I have anything to do with this song. It was recorded long before The Moon Is No More was a twinkle in anyone's eyes by Joshua and J. Michael Palermo, Part IV. It did not get mixed, however, until The Moon Is No More was in full force. I threw in some "perhaps / perhaps / perhaps" vocals that you can barely hear. This song has staying power, but it's frailty lies in the fact that it's a throw away song at 40 some odd seconds. On the flip side, everyone seems to love it. It's an easy song to grasp. That means that it could go as far North as 1 or as far South as 53. Instead, I've placed it firmly in the middle of this list.

25. Allowing Oneself To Neglect Responsibility

Another song that was originally just a poem. This song features cool callback vocals between myself and Joshua, followed by a cool little jam. I always liked this one.

24. It's The Children That Are Hurt The Most, Part I

I can just see Joshua getting scared as he reads that title. Don't worry, we're talking Part I here, not Part II. I wish I could remember the original title of this song, back when it was written 2 years pre-The Moon Is No More. This was my follow-up to Come & Gone. The original intention when writing the lyrics was for this to be a slow little ditty, probably conjuring up images of Sparklehorse. It even features a Sparklehorse line, "the flowers of evil," from Gasoline Horseys. When it came time to put this to music we just ripped on through it like a cowboy rock song. Joshua did a lot of good work on the music and official recording intended for Jeffrey L. Allen. He made it very palatable and interesting. It features a bass, guitar, and drum mini-solos. And that's saying something because solos were not something we did very often. The final version always had a little hard hitting country feel to me, in a good way. Maybe this should be higher.

23. La Fin, Part II

When I first made my list this one was quite a few spots lower, bordering on the 30s. After listening back to it I had to make a move on it. In fact, given time, this could move even higher. All I really need to say about this is that Joshua sings it in French. Maybe The Arcade Fire are having too heavy an influence on me, but that sounds like a darn good idea to me. In a later version he sang French while I spoke English all at the same time. That does not sound like as good an idea. But with Joshua in French it had a great melody and simple acoustic guitars. That's the way this song should forever stay. "c'est normal / c'est normal." When we were slated for three-discs this was going to be the final song. On a side note, was this some sort of weird precursor to Tim Nm, CPA and Days Of Being Wrinkle Free? I'll let the reader be the judge.

22. Quality Over Quantity

Here we go. The first song written specifically for The Moon Is No More. To call it a song might be an overstatement, given that it's mostly spoken word. It's possible I'm ranking this too high on a purely nostalgia basis. In a way, though, this is a historically important song because it set the tone for what The Moon Is No More was going to be about. We were not simply going to deliver "normal" music. We were going to do what felt right for us and make music along the lines of what we would like to listen to, even if no one else would want to listen to it. With time this song matured and Joshua did a lot of fine work revising the music. My favorite versions featured dueling vocals and a Karate style guitar/bass.

21. Standard Issue

Lyrically, this was written during a boring Arizona summer-time (again, pre-The Moon Is No More) with references to various objects around Joshua's house. Musically, this was part of the William Donovan Junior creative burst that took place on the Cape. Later it came to include either bongos or brushed drums with a creepy violin layered on top, courtesy of yours truly, with the help of the Hooper borrowed violin which we kept for like 3 years. One concern I would have for this song would be if I could recreate the violin solo. It was probably about 6 strokes long but, not being classically trained in violin, I'm not sure exactly what string or where my finger placement was. I wonder if we ever wrote that one down. I could easily see this slipping into the "Dangling Off The Ledge" songs.


The 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs - The "Living On A Prayer" Songs - 40-31

*** UPDATED ***
One song has appeared and one has disappeared. I'll let you figure out which.

Time for the second edition of the 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs, in honor of Joshua's planned TMINM super-album. This batch of songs, from 40-31, have almost no shot at making this super-album. We still have a few that don't have music as well as some pretty poor work, but also a surprising song or two that Joshua may disagree with. We'll see how it all shakes out.

One thing to note is that this batch contains at least one representation from each of the "releases" that we had crafted. Even Jeffrey L. Allen gets into the mix in here towards the end.

40. A Thick, Wet Snow On A Cold January Morning - This was to be the second to last song of the three original albums. I like snow and this is the only song that includes snow in it, so maybe it gets an artificial boost. In my mind the lyrics were never really finished; they had never been refined. Maybe it gets another boost because I feel the refinements would have made this a really solid song. It's more coherent then most of the songs that I was writing at this point. It's also to be noted for being the second "cold morning" song (more on the first later). I must have had a thing for cold mornings.

39. Last Resort, Part IV - I think Joshua had told me that this song was really good and that I just needed to give it another listen to. Well, I found my CD of Moon Is No More MP3s and I could not for the life of me find a recording of this song. That just confirms my suspicions that it was bogus all along. Therefore this makes a move right down the list.

38. Monday, Part I - Here is the introductory song to the Schoolyard. It really has nothing to do with the characters of the story, but it sets our schoolyard theme of literally being in a schoolyard. It tells the tale of heading back to school on a Monday. In fact, that's the best part and the only reason it ranks this high. The chorus had such a good ring: "summer ends on / a sunday / and school begins on / a monday." Angie later informed me that real school children start school on Tuesdays. That really ruined things for me. Tuesday just doesn't work.

37. Accident - Still no music, though the melody is still floating around in my head, a slow dirge. The lyrics are actually pretty good, but they get extremely clumsy in the final verse. This is a setup song, in a way, to give reason for the protagonists' initial anti-gun stance. Sad, sad stuff.

36. Memorial - This song, intended to be the final song on the Schoolyard, provides a nice wrap-up to the EP. It recounts a memorial service held for the victims of the Schoolyard incident narrated by the deceased protagonist. Walking through some of the lyrics here are some highlights: 1) A Cleary lyric sighting within the first verse. This was more like a tribute than a rip-off (but that's what I always tell myself). "as i watch the sun rise / through another person's eyes." 2) Maybe it gets a little too cutesy with the listing of student names: "billy, kim, and timothy," then later "dawn marie and little joe / jane and jim and chris." 3) A nice comment on infamy: "through all of this despite my fame / there was no mention of my name / apparently there was no bearing." 4) And just to remind us that he's actually dead, and perhaps to confuse us as to his level of remorsefulness, we sum it up with this comment: "it was the most beautiful service / but i am not conscious / of any of this." Still never put music to this.

35. Transfer - Another song with that never received music, though I have memories of trying to craft a Pedro the Lion-esque guitar riff for this with Joshua. In my mind this is a really great lyrical compliment to Popularity. It follows a similar pattern: it starts happy-go-lucky but then quickly turns more sinister. This case is marked by slightly darker shades towards the end as the transfer student gains more and more power amongst the school's elite until a friend informs our protagonist (if you can call him that) regarding his girlfriend: "i heard he drove her home / he's taking over her." All in all in does a decent job of avoiding the typical Schoolyard goofiness, it sets a clear tone and feeling, and it has a nice story arc unto itself. I always enjoyed the chorus, too: "fooling around with us / will make you better off / you'll be productive in / the non-school product."

34. A Root Of All Sorts Of Injurious Things - This song always grated my bleeding ears. The music was only ever so-so and phrase "money money money money money money money money" gets repeated far too often. It's only saving grace is "sister had her needs / so overdosed on speed / failed first with codeine / but the doctors were so mean."

33. A Common Path To A Common Problem - It was tough for me to rank this so low. It had such promise but even at its best it would never be more than a decent, faceless and emotionless pop rock song. There is nothing about it that ever stood out. Joshua came up with great guitar bit for this but it was never a perfect fit. This song has always stood flawed. Too many times we would find a really good guitar part for the first verse of a song, then just reuse it for all subsequent verses, regardless of whether the lyrics worked or not. Too often we were reluctant to change the lyrics of a song, though I'm not sure why. Maybe Joshua can shed some light on that. In any case, it's opening verse, "through the jetway / and onto the plane / daddy can't save / from beyond the grave," was a great setup for An Ambitious Attempt At Failure which was originally slated to come too songs later. It's downhill from there. This song also features a repeated "fail miserably / be happy" section towards the end, a phrase we reused far too much. Believe me, there are no two phrases that work poorer when put to music than those twins.

32. Sunsets - This was originally a Bad Larry song called Anti-Global Rotation (I think). The Moon Is No More stole it to serve as the atmospheric centerpiece for 12 Brothers. It's a jam song, which would have been a tough thing to record in real life. The original recording features some great guitar work by Joshua, some decent bass work by Carl, considering he had never played bass before, some strange ambient sounds by Angie, some truly horrid yet moving drums by myself. On top of all that was layered some half spoken word / half sung lyrics that were actually part of a short story I wrote during a convention break entitled "A Quite Inconsequential War-Time Tale." This just would have never worked on tape.

31. A Telephone Conversation On A Cold September Morning - Here is the first song from the 10 track Jeffrey L. Allen concept, the concept that Joshua and I have been kicking around what seems like half a decade now. Oh, wait, it has been half a decade! In any case, you can imagine how hard it is for me to put this song on here. It started as an undoubtedly acoustic affair and then somehow morphed into an electronic track a la The Postal Service or The Headphones. In actuality by doing so Joshua made this song into so much more than the sum of its parts. I was never built to sing this song, we could never find the necessary female vocalist to complete it, and it just gets too boring towards the end. However, it still remains interesting to this day and may just be a few tweaks away from being resurrected. That's why they say it's "living on a prayer." You just never know.

Join us next time for the middle batch of songs, the ones I've termed the "Sitting On The Fence" songs, 30-21.


The 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs - The "No Chance" Songs - 53-41

I had asked Joshua to put together the previous post to allow him to fully express his vision for what might transpire next for the Moon Is No More. I didn't expect he would put it together so quickly. Good job! In any case, he did not fulfill his entire assignment. I asked him to rank every Moon Is No More song from number 53 down to number 1, as far as likelihood of being included on the super-album. He was also supposed to provide a brief commentary on each song. Since he failed to complete this task I decided to take it upon myself.

How do you rank songs? It's virtually an unexplainable process, at least for me. It's extremely arbitrary. I could break things down and rank each song in a number of categories such as Music, Lyrics, Melody, Popularity, etc. However, each category would in itself be arbitrary so I'm going to save myself and the reader the time involved in such a pursuit. Instead, I'm going to go with my gut. In fact, I haven't even listened to most of these songs in a long time. In some cases it's probably been years since I've heard the song. That's OK. This is all about feeling the flow. I reserve the right to change my mind at a later time. When I'm done I'll post a Google Spreadsheet that will serve as the living, breathing list if we decide to pursue this project.

So, with all that having been said, let's get to the songs.

The "No Chance" Songs - 53-41

These songs have a less than .01% chance, in my opinion, of being included on the super-album. There is not one song on this list for which proper music has been written. That's a good indicator that it's going to rank low on my list. Perhaps there are some good lyrics in this bunch, but more than likely not. For the most part these songs didn't have music written for them because the lyrics were so bad to begin with.

You might notice that there are exactly zero Jeffrey L. Allen/12 Brothers songs on this list. It's worth mentioning. Jeffrey L. Allen was the first album we wrote and while it was immature at times it was also the most straightforward as far as likeability and it probably exhausted most of my creative juices, where towards the end of the writing process of the original 39 I was spent mentally. 12 Brothers is just solid all around. Enough said.

In future posts I will rank songs on a one by one basis, as opposed to merely as a group. However, in this case, because these songs stand no chance it just didn't make sense to spend the time on that. So here they are in order of when they were written:

Room 203, Part II - I always enjoyed in the book how Jeffrey L. Allen ends up in the same hospital room that William Donovan Junior is in towards the beginning. This song is probably more about my enjoyment of that thought than about anything having to do with good music. The chorus, while it has a decent ring to it, is way too preachy: "make your life mean something / make a difference / accomplish something / of some importance."

Last Resort, Part III - This is tough, because technically without Part III how can you have a Part IV? The lyrics are poor at best, though it does have a standout line involving "retnal repitition." Thinking back, I feel a lot of the later songs that I wrote for This Is Normal hinged on a single phrase or line that I enjoyed. The rest of the burden of the song was simply hung up by that tiny nail. Most of these songs collapse from the weight.

Morality - The lyrics have no real structure. They are simply intended to comment on the moral of the whole story. The music was intended to be Radioheadesque, Kid A variety. The lyrics feature the classic "Who's to say?" line which was a real hit that summer and eventually morphed into "Who-Ta-Swane" and "Who-Ta-Sweeny." I think Skippy may have had something to do with the line "the imperfections of humanity are beautiful."

The Gradual Progression Of Loss, Part II - Actually, we may have come up with music for this, or maybe what I'm thinking of was just a variation for Part I. In any case, Part I doesn't rank to high on my list so a song with the exact same lyrics and no music can't rank higher. What arrogance to think that I could have two songs with the exact same lyrics and somehow make that fly.

The End, Part I - Worst. Song. Ever. This song feels more like a baseball game recap of the whole story than like a song in its own right. Terrible. Let's move on before I get depressed.

A Study Of Human Possibilities Through Household Decoration - Many a time we tried to start writing the music for this song and dumped out after the decent opening line: "oh angel eyes / make sense through signs." All discernable melody vanishes after that.

Moment And Moment II - Terrible lyrics. I remember one time I started feeling cocky and decided that I was going to write the guitar part for this song all by myself. There's probably even a recording of this, considering that we recorded everything. I was left greatly humbled and have scarcely touched a guitar since.

Driving Faster Than One Should On A Wet Road In A Thick Midnight Fog - What can I say? It has the longest song title of any song I've ever written. Really, that's all I can say.

Allowing Oneself Time For Reversible Reflection - At one time I thought this song had promise. It didn't and doesn't. I believe this may have started as a poem. I don't believe the poem was any better than the song.

Girlfriend - Now we get to the Schoolyard material. Looking back I realize that I overvalued most of the lyrics from this 9 song EP (is a 9 song EP even possible?). There were a few standouts, but more like this song. I was going for a Neutral Milk Hotel style fast, crunchy, pop song on this. I failed miserably. What exactly does it mean to "lick my lids?" I have no idea, but it sounded like a Neutrally bodily reference. And that's probably the high point of the song.

Protest - A nice anti-violence protest song. Too bad it's so goofy (which seemed to be a Schoolyard trait) and lacks any thing that could be called a melody.

Betrayal - I'm running out of self-depricating things to say at this point. This is a throw-in song to move the story along.

Monday, Part II - Starts goofy, then gets far too gruesome for my tastes. Much like all of these songs, this stands no chance of inclusion.

There you have it. Songs 53-41 that have no chance of appearing on the Moon Is No More super-album. Thank you for wasting 15 minutes with me. In our next article we'll discuss the "Living On a Prayer" songs, numbers 40-31.


Keeping Up with The Moon Is No More

The Moon Is No More began over five years ago. Around about the time of my wedding (June 2, 2001), Jeremy took Sans Hands (and assorted other short stories and poems) and converted them into lyrics for 39 songs. He did this by hand, one sheet of white copy paper per song. Quite a stack of paper. It became even more unwieldy after being exposed to moisture, after which the pages became wrinkled and full of body.

It was a chronological retelling of the intertwining stories of Jeffrey L. Allen, William Donovan Junior, and Leonard Gardner. It was much like the script for a stageplay, with character names next to the lyrics. There was even a narrator. There was a title page, too. A guide to the whole lot. It specified three albums, an album for each of the characters. The project as a whole was entitled "This Is Normal."

jeffrey l. allen
1.01 quality over quantity
1.02 a homo sapien's mass of flesh, bone and muscle
1.03 pity versus sympathy
1.04 room 203, part i
1.05 the substance of nothing
1.06 a good conscience is one you have yet to find
1.07 a telephone conversation on a cold september morning
1.08 such things to such people
1.09 implode
1.10 the gradual progression of loss, part i
1.11 g.o.d
1.12 it's the children that are hurt the most, part i
1.13 last resort, part i

william donovan junior
2.01 last resort, part ii
2.02 the root of all sorts of injurious things
2.03 standard issue
2.04 $545.78
2.05 three fingers
2.06 ghetto gap gay guy
2.07 come and gone
2.08 pitying bowls of saucy lovelessness
2.09 a common path to a common problem
2.10 room 203, part ii
2.11 an ambitious attempt at failure before one's birth
2.12 it's the children that are hurt the most, part ii
2.13 last resort, part iii

leonard gardner
3.01 morality
3.02 heaven express
3.03 the gradual progression of loss, part ii
3.04 the end, part i
3.05 a study of human possibilities through household decoration
3.06 moment and moment ii
3.07 driving faster than one should on a wet road in a thick midnight
3.08 allowing oneself time for reversible reflection
3.09 an automobile's mass of steel, plastic and rubber
3.10 last resort, part iv
3.11 on account of the abuse
3.12 a thick, wet snow on a cold january morning
3.13 la fin, part ii

I have no idea how long this process took. I have imagined that it went quite quickly, like a week or two at the most. Jeremy can educate me there. Nevertheless, it couldn't have taken all that long, since the "lyrics" were not really written with song structure in mind, just sort of spilled worth from the pages of Sans Hands.

Before we ever sat down to write music, we did some planning. One Sunday at Olive Garden, we sketched out some logos on a napkin and wrote a big list of everything we would need to make this project a reality. That included instruments, software, equipment, and people. There was a timeline for releasing the triple album. Just over a year to get the whole thing done.

Piano (J&MB)
Electric Guitar & Amp (Eric/Mustang)
Acoustic Guitar
Violin (Katie/supervised)
Live Drums
Drum Loops (Beazy)
Chello (???)
Xylophone/Fisher Price Piano
Keyboard (Beaz/Josh)

Acid 2.0
Sound Forge 4.5
Logic Audio Platinum 9

Room Mic
Vocal Mics

Jeremy (Vox, Violin, Live Drums, Ambient Noise)
Josh (Vox, Guitar, Live Drums)
Graham (Vox, Bass)
Bryan (The Beaz) (Drum Loops, Noise)

This was followed by a trip to Toys 'R' Us to procure assorted toy instruments. Overall, it seems the original vision was more of a ambient/loop oriented music. This would change, along with many other things on the list, especially people.

Each Wednesday and many Mondays and Fridays, Jeremy would come over. He'd take a page off the stack, tell me what the emotional context of the song was, how he envisioned it stylistically. Sometimes this was straight-up punk music, sometimes weird pop, or funeral dirges. I'd play around on the guitar until I hit on something that felt right. He'd try to sing along. I'd suggest alterations to the lyrics to fit more of a verse/chorus structure. When we had something, we'd turn on the mic and record it. It was just Jeremy and I in front of the desk, recording into the computer mic. The date on our first recording is July 8, 2001. From the start, we recorded nearly everything we did.

On the original papers, we'd jot down lyric and structure changes. I'd write down some guitar notes, either quick tablature or just chords and capo position. When we brought in Carl as a bass player, he'd jot down his version of bass tabs on the back of the sheets of paper.

Sometimes it wouldn't work quite that way. I might have hit on something on the guitar that was good, but not right for the current sheet of paper. In that case, Jeremy might fumble through the stack until he found lyrics that did fit. So, although we tried to wade through it all chronologically, we jumped around from time to time, and those were often our finer moments.

The first few recordings have both me and Jeremy on vocals. It didn't take long before Jeremy was the sole vocalist.

On July 9, 2001, we were back at it, recording 1.03. It's a slow, mournful song about death and war veterans. It features Angie's music boxes in the background, a staple of that song to this day. 1.04 is a slow, more jazz-influenced song about a stay in the hospital. It started with Jeremy drumming on the desk, and towards the end Angie can be heard drumming on a pillow, to complement the lyric "I am a pillow/you're so shallow."

On July 10, 2001, we recorded our first multi-track song. It's was 1.01, the beginning of it all. I recorded three acoustic guitar loops, Jeremy hit the snare drum and hi-hat. We both recorded some vocals. The drum loop and guitar loops didn't really match. Not at all. We did it anyway. To us, it's a classic.

On July 13, 2001, we wrote and record 1.05, The Substance of Nothing. In a later form, this would become the most requested, quoted, and sung TMINM song. This was a poppy modern rock song in its original variation.

We got together four more times that July, and finally on August 1st. By that time, we had worked our way through the whole first album and onto a couple tracks from album two. All by ourselves, all acoustic. We had something to work with, and it was time to bring in the rest of the band.

August 2, 2001 marked the first full band practice/recording session for the band. Angie played drums, Graham played bass, I played guitar, and Jeremy sang. We made out way through four of the aforementioned songs during this session. Angie is no drummer, and Graham had only recently picked up the bass, so it's rough, yet has a charming garage-band quality to it. Jeremy took up plugging mic in through a distorted guitar amp for a unique effect we would use extensively later on.

That weekend, we went to our grandparents house on Cape Cod, and brought along the acoustic guitar and the stack of papers. That's how it was that in one creative burst on a lazy afternoon on Cape Cod that we wrote the music for 2.02 through 2.06. Not only was this five whole songs, but an amazing variety of styles. 2.02 was a Rolling Stones-esque riff rocker about money, 2.03 was a creepy night music meditation on common objects, 2.04 is chilling and frantic account of murder in a style somewhat reminiscent of REM, 2.05 was more playful, like Pedro the Lion at the carnival, 2.06 was an chimey, ethereal meditation on family with a Fisher Price Littlye Tykes intro. When we got back home on Monday, the 6th, we recorded these up acoustic, along with cleaned-up versions of some early songs.

The next major recording session happened over a month later. What happened in the intervening time was most interesting. We had a number of sessions to try out other performers. We found Graham to be not as committed to practicing as we would have liked. We tried out our friend T.J. on bass, but weren't feeling that. We brought in Eric Liversage (AKA Skippy from Cleary) as a second guitar, but were dissatisfied with his lack of timing and penchant for punk rock. The upside was the inclusion of our brother Carl to play bass. Carl had never played bass before. He may, in fact, have purchased his instrument and amp specifically to join the band. The other big find was one Vinnie "The Fish" Brovaco. He came over one night to play second guitar, which he did magnificently. However, the night ended with a conversation that went something like:

Josh: Wow, you're really good on the guitar.
Vinnie: Thanks, you guys are really good, too.
Josh: What we really need is a drummer.
Vinnie: You need a drummer. I can drum. I'm your drummer.
I'm drumming, look.

Vinnie sat down and started to drum along to our songs. He caught all the changes, and really brought something new to our music. To us, he was the best drummer we had ever heard. It was only much later that we found out that Vin had never drummed before.

Now, we must talk about Vin (also know at times as Rocko Brovaco) for a minute. We were all in our late teens or early twenties. Vin, on the other hand, was probably already over 40, and a devotee to prog rock bands of the 1970's. He was going through a divorce at the time. Maybe that in some way motivated him to come play us, as an escape. For whatever reason, he did, and he stuck with it. He was a faithful practice partner. It was a quite a juxtaposition to have him there with all of us young guys playing this weird music, that we didn't fully appreciate at the time.

By the time we next turned on the mic on September 5, 2001, it was to record a full band multi-track demo of 1.01. We weren't really set up to record multi-track properly at the time, and certainly not configured to record drums, but we managed somehow.

For the next six months, we were there, at least once a week, and often twice, playing as a band, recording often. We got really good at the core early songs, and eventually worked our way through the rest of the second album as a band and occassionally jammed on songs from the third album. Along the way, Vin got better at the drums, Carl got a lot better at the bass. By the end, we could pretty quickly tear through a new song, with Carl inventing original basslines that weren't mere copies of the guitar line, and Vin always coming up with accurate emotional interpretations on the drums. The last recording of this band configuration was January 18, 2002. It was 2.11, a song about suicide and happiness, with a poppy guitar picked part, a loopy bassline, and stomped out drum beat. It is wonderfully reminiscent of The Velvet Underground, and perhaps our shining moment as a band.

May 2002 brought tradegy. I was laid off from my job, and slipped into a funk for the rest of the year. Depression, illness, my life was a mess. The job market was as tough as it had ever been. Most days I'd sleep until 4 or 5 pm, get up and toss a couple resumes out through Monster and get no response. Then we'd go out to eat, watch some television, and I'd play some online game until 1 or 2 am. Rinse and repeat.

In late Novemeber, I got a call from an old co-worker in Phoenix with a job offer. It was an offer I couldn't refuse, not after six months of unemployment. Somehow through it all I had managed to get Cleary's album done and ready to release. That was how Cleary's CD release show became the first and perhaps the last TMINM show.

It was November 29, 2002. TMINM opened the show, with Carl on bongos and Micah on second guitar. Even in the local art gallery, we went for it in dramatic fashion. We started the show with the lights down and with 1.11, G.O.D., paying. This track is a 45 second industrial style track crafted out of very old guitar and organ samples that pre-dated TMINM. Just as that track ended, the lights came on, and we kicked into 1.09, Implode, a grinding metal-riff-rocker and kick in the face. Jeremy was the consumate front-man, putting on a show that involved a lot of attitude, a little dancing, and smashing of bell-sticks. Random Kate was next. Cleary headlined, but since Skippy bailed out, I was forced to play his songs solo. Sad.

That might have been it for the band. I think most people would have called it quits, having been split up by a couple thousand of miles. Yet, for some reason, we continued to collaborate. I started from scratch, and began recording all of the instruments for our first album. In September or October of 2003 I brought the laptop and some gear out to Mass. and Jeremy recorded all of his remaining vocal parts. Now I had all the tracks necessary and went to work, mixing and re-mixing, but never finalizing and releasing anything.

For my mega-vacation of two weeks spannign December 2004 through January 2005, I got crazy and booked two shows for TMINM. The idea was to get out to Mass. and assemble a band, targeting Carl and Micah, practice up and play the shows. It was a crazy idea. To top it off, we went with two completely different setlists for the two shows, so we had somewhere over twenty songs to learn in a couple days. Meanwhile, we shot a music video for Random Kate, shot a feature film starring Jeremy, and attempted to document our crazy band project. We even had an EPK to promote the shows to the press that I forgot about.

The end result was one poor show and one very memorable show. I've only watched back the first show at AS220 once. At the time I was surprised that we weren't as bad as I remembered. I thought we were really bad. We weren't. We were just really boring, which is just as bad, if not worse. It was a low point for the band, I think.

Two nights later, we played in Cambridge at the Zeitgeist Gallery. The place was packed, the crowd was friendly, we were engaging, and the songs were our newer songs, that were written mostly after the band had gotten together, and they were just plain better songs. It was a memorable show. I collapsed at one point from shear rock power.

Now that show may indeed be the end of the band. Since then I haven't so much as touched the tracks for the first album. I handed them over to Brock at one point, and he gave a positive review, but maybe he was overly optimistic? He gave good points to the thematic and storytelling aspect of the album, but as much as admitted that there was something unique and different about the music, and not necessarily in a good way. More in the way of 'this doesn't sound like normal music.'

OK, so having laid out the history of the band, I want to talk about the future. To me, the band is not dead. In a way it continues since Jeremy and I continue to collaborate on musical projects, including Schoolyard and Twelve Brothers. Jeremy has no problem churning out albums or mini-albums worth of narrative lyrics. It's me that has the problem getting the music to a state that is fit for public consumption. So, let me put it out there and get some feedback.

What we have recorded, the first album, has never sounded quite right. This is owing in part, to the low-budget, lo-fi manner of recording. Everything involved was crappy, from the guitars and amps, the mics and preamps, and even the software used to sequence it, and the lame effects used to punch it up. If it were up to me, I'd re-record the whole album.

But that's just the start of it. I think we have a more fundamental roadblock. Most bands write a vast quantity of songs to create a single album. They may write thirty or forty songs, work through them, and pick the ten or twelve best for their album. This is the way Micah got to his excellent album that should be out early next year (maybe just in time for his return next year). TMINM, on the other hand, started with 39 songs, and pretty much is ending up with 39 songs. It's as though it doesn't matter to use that some of the songs are subpar (and a number are), because we need them for the narrative construct of the album to work. It would be like a film with a missing reel. I think this may be a fatal flaw. We might be better off to reset ourselves and look at ourselves as a band, not a band based on a book. If we had the freedom to toss out tracks (like 1.07, which became 1.04, which has never been solid, and is downright annoying at this point), we surely do have a goodly album's quantity of good or great songs.

The other flaw is that once I got in to actually record songs, I took them in directions that may not be true to the music or best serve the songs. I tried to retain those unique qualities of the original recordings of Jeremy and me at a desk. Yet, Homo Sapien went from a garage/surf punk song to a dark-pseudo metal piece of trash. The aforementioned Telephone Conversation went from a folky song to a loop-based, keyboard song. Pity Versus Sympathy got too dramatic. Come and Gone got too poppy. And again none of them sound like real music, because I just don't know what I'm doing on the recording and mixing end.

But consider the songs we're getting hung up on. They are the first songs we ever wrote together. There are so many better songs we wrote later on in the process, and with more people involved. This original batch of songs are very generic. Often the bassline just follows the guitar part, there isn't a lot of variety within songs with the guitar parts, and simple things like congruence of bass and drum parts isn't even there at times. The songs we wrote later on were more interesting in every way imaginable, yet we may never get to them.

So, I have a couple of proposals for discussion.

1. We have to throw out the idea of three albums. While we do have three albums worth of songs, we do not have three albums worth of good songs. We need to pick and choose from the completed songs only the songs worth releasing, and go from there. Also, there's no way I can afford to release three albums that won't sell. One album is bad enough.
2. We need to get back to the essence of the songs. Every song does not need the full double-guitar, bass, and drums treatment. Some will be much better with simpler instrumentation, such as our original desk demos. In fact, we have to ready to release an original demo or two if they stand up.
3. We need to ensure some basic quality of instrumentation in all the songs. If the bassline and guitar match each other, we need to throw some diversity in there. Keep one or the other, and write a new part to fill in.
4. Real drums. The album suffers so much from the drum machine drums. We need Micah on this. His drumming at our live shows was amazing, and not to be matched by any drum machine in the world.
5. Seek professional help. I need to take a course, get some help, or something, to get the mix and effects on the tracks to resemble other commercially-released music. Normal music.
6. Re-record. Many of the tracks simply could stand to be re-recorded. If we are going to record new drums, and new bass and/or guitar parts, then we might as well re-record everything, you know.

Listen, we worked too hard and did so much, we can't just let this die. We need to release one album before we die. One big TMINM album that will be a testament to everything this band meant and did. I may need some help with this. I may need some independent evaluations of our songs (Brock and Gabe) to see what really is worth releasing and what is not.

Does that give us something to think about? More to come...


Rebecca Kinkead 2006

Hey, it's that time of year again. I get a CD in the mail with all of Rebecca Kinkead's latest works of art, and update her web site. This time around she's working in a style unlike anything she has done before. Her solo exhibition at the Clark Gallery runs through September.


Tim Nm, CPA, Part VI

The big news today is that Subterranean Jazz has offered to allow use of their music in the Tim Nm soundtrack. As you may or may not know, I have felt that a sort of free-form jazz would be a good complement to the freewheeling and jump-cut heavy feel of this film. I have been editing to SubJazz tracks as inspiration, since they impressed me at the A3F 2005 screening. I've got their whole catalog on order. They've got such a wide variety of styles, it won't be hard to find tracks to match the feel of various sequences.

SubJazz are my new local heroes. Matter of Chance will owe them in a big way. We should check them out Saturday, September 2nd.