The 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs - Balance - 8

8. Balance

I'm mogging again today so excuse the initial formatting.

Originally when I made my list of 53 and ranked them this was much
lower, probably somewhere around 22. It made the leap over a lot of
good songs, and that's saying something. All it took was a couple of
listens to Joshua acoustic demo and I was hooked again.

This song is the conclusion of 12 Brothers. It provides the resolution
with great emotional impact. When Joshua sings "and now I know / now I
know / that we can be broth-er-er-ers," I don't know that there's a
more powerful single line. I get chills just thinking about it and
every time I hear it.

I love the acoustic sound that Joshua has going in the demo. My
preference would probably be to keep it like that. On the flip side
this is a song that just hasn't been played much so I'm not sure how
it would even sound with a full band. Certainly, though, if we go with
a few acoustic songs to provide variety and clarity of tone (and I
strongly suggest we do that) then this would be a prime candidate.

The only thing that bugs me still is the metaphors. "you want a ship /
to weather the storm" and "you want a ballot / to carry reform." I
think they're both good metaphors but the whole album has a metaphor
related to business so that feels more natural. In the past I had
worked up some alternatives but I'm not sure that we ever fully tested
them out.

And I have to say that Joshua deserves credit for this song even more
than usual since he wrote the music without any input from me, not
even a melody. He also tweaked the lyrics to his liking.


The 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs - Such Things To Such People - 9

9. Such Things To Such People

I'm mobile blogging number 9. I'm not sure how Joshua feels about this song but it was always one of my favorites. I always felt it was under
utilized in our repitoire.

The music is simple in an easy-to-like kind of way. The chorus gets powerful. The vocals have a unique feel to them (maybe Mellencamp-esque? Not sure).

The lyrics have this certain duality to them. There probably isn't
another Moon Is No More song that accurately nails the "everyone is
good, everyone is bad" theme that's so prevalent in Sans Hands. It
sounds personal because the uses the first person, so you really start
to feel for this guy. Then you realize how self-righteous he is and
you feel like turning on him. Yet at the same time you can't shake the

I recall that the one time we allowed Skippy to be part of the band we
played this song a number of times. He added a very interesting second
guitar to the mix. I remember really liking it but also having a hard
time singing to it. It threw off my rhythm. But I guess that's normal
when you don't play guitar with any rhythm.


The 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs - The Substance Of Nothing - 10

10. The Substance Of Nothing

Here's another song that went through radical changes. From the start, though, this proved to be our most popular song.

I believe this was the fifth song that we wrote as The Moon Is No More. It was probably the first that we really struggled with. So much so, that I believe we moved on to the next song before we were truly satisfied with it. I can remember sitting in Joshua and Angie's bedroom/music room rewriting and rewriting, trying to come up with something that would work. Joshua deserves a lot of credit for polishing up some of the lyrics, more so on this song than probably any other. He always had a knack for a catchty chorus and that's what propels this song to its heights of popularity. Who can resist the brotherly dual-vocal of "we can make / we can make amends / we will be / the best of false friends / the best of false friends"?

In the end we took a variety of lyrics and fit them all in together. It has some of the original mid-tempo verses, the killer chorus, the stream of consciousness stuff, plus, my favorite, the old school part. It became a trademark that whenever we played this song we'd get to that part and I say, "Play the old school part; the way you used to do it." It's funny, because kept getting added, but never trimmed. Some of the later verses could probably be cleaned up a bit. The only thing I can remember cutting was the opening spoken word of "Oh, Billy!" Joshua felt that was a little over the top.

And who can forget Angie's classic interpretation of the chorus: "we can bake / we can bake some bread."

In a way, this song is more like the later songs in it's sheer length (sometimes clocking in at 7 minutes, usually 9, once it was 11) and jam-ness. There is a bit of variety in the music, with four or five distinct parts. That's one of the things that sets this song apart. That's why cleaning things up and trimming it down is kind of a toss up. Yeah, it can get tighter, but maybe it works purely because it's different.

One thing that I've noted from people's reactions to this song, beyond their love of the chorus, is their true connection to the lyrics and the message. Usually it's women that comment on how true the concept of "making amends" with "false friends" is. Every single one of them is like, "That's me. I've done that." I'm proud that it rings true. It is true.



The 53 Best Moon Is No More Songs - The "Fuzzy Edge" Songs - 15-11

Sorry about the delay in getting this post out there. I've been too busy with business propositions lately to finish this off. I'm sure my two readers were waiting with baited breath, Johnny Most style. Anyway, another short post before we get to the top 10. When we get there I'm thinking about doing those songs up proper, including full lyric posting and MP3 recordings.

These songs are on "The Fuzzy Edge." OK. I don't even know what that means. I knew I shouldn't have named the batches of songs. These songs aren't really "Dangling Off The Ledge," though, because starting with this batch of songs we have very strong contenders that have a good chance of making it all the way. I'm declaring now that when we get to the final 10 I'm going to stop naming the batches.

15. An Automobile's Mass Of Steel, Plastic, & Rubber

Unfortunately for Joshua's sensibilities, this is the highest that a Leonard Gardner song is going to make it on my list. At least he cracked the top 15. I really do enjoy this song. It's a slow little ditty. Unlike most of our slow ditties, however, the lyrics seemed to flow off the tongue. And that despite the fact that the lyrics are not written in traditional form. I've been trying to think of a band or song with which to compare the lyrical style. I'm struggling. It's a bit of a disassociated stream of consciousness about equality through the story of cars crashing. Another one based on a true story. One night I had witnessed the aftermath of a car crash. This one involved only a car and a deer. The deer was killed on impact. But the deer didn't have opposable thumbs so no one cared much. This is normal. Driving by we noticed in the middle of the intersection a large object with a car hovering nearby. People were standing over the object and here's what it was: a dead deer illuminated by the headlights of the care that had recently taken its life. Good for the headlights. We went inside the nearby movie theater and told someone to call whomever is supposed to be called in the event of a dead deer in the middle of an intersection with people standing over it and a car hovering nearby. When we finally went back out to the intersection we found the animal had been pulled over to the curb. A trail of thick red blood followed it and it seemed as though the car had been pulled right along with the deer: it was in the same hovering position, spotlight on death. I took a picture for fun. I said this to a friend as my eye peeped through the viewer and my small mass of flesh, bone, and muscle compressed the button: "We're an unusually rare breed."

Some of what I just wrote is true. Some of it may not be.

Memory can be like that. This is normal.

Actually, this song is too good to not give you a link. So download it now. And read the lyrics.

14. An Homo Sapien's Mass Of Flesh, Bone, & Muscle

This could be the song that has evolved the most over time. It started out as a funky acoustic punk song; turned into a raucous punk rock song; turned into a peppy and fuzzy Neutral Milk-ish song; turned into a dark, dank wasteland of post-modern, post-grunge, pure Pig, rock. And you know what? It stinks. But inside there somewhere it's still a great song. It appeals to the masses. Sure, the references to homo sapien make it ripe for being made fun of, but it's tough, it can handle it. Sure, it's short, and the lyrics don't vary much, but the message is good and in the right form it's undeniably entertaining. There's no doubt this song needs to go back to it's "fun" roots. There was a time when we were trying to make the albums be something that perhaps they were not. Jeffrey L. Allen had to be dark. How it could be any other way? But you know what, there is another way. The songs need to be the songs; they need to be who they are. No more and no less. To try to alter them to fit some grand vision just doesn't fly.

On that note you have to skip the download you can get from http://www.727records.com/ and go straight for this version. Lyrics.

13. Pity Versus Sympathy

This is like the anti-Homo Sapien. It evolved, but for the better. When Joshua came out to Massachusetts to put the "finishing" touches on recording the lyrics for Jeffrey L. Allen I spent a lot of time preparing my vocals. This basically meant that to and from work each day I would sing along with the sing along CD that Joshua had made for me. One thing that struck me about this song is that it was lacking punch emotionally. What should be a desperate man just sounded blah. Just like that, while driving South on 495, it struck me. "I lost." That was the whole theme of this song, loss. We needed to accentuate that and drive it home, much as I was at the time driving to my home. The punchy part was going to get a makeover to add these chanted "I lost" statements. There were also some new lyrics: "i think i / can accept this / can accept this / except i cannot." I give Joshua credit for hearing me out and allowing the changes. I thought for sure he would fight them. We ended up recording the vocals the way I wanted, though I think it took about 4 hours to record vocals for this one song. Joshua was big on getting the entire performance in one take instead of having to piece together the best bits from various takes. You can only imagine. Again to Joshua's credit, this song probably suffers the least from the electronic drums that became the norm on Jeffrey L. Allen. Joshua spent a lot of time getting the drums just right. The variations in the hard part are beautiful and interesting and allowed for another of my suggestions, which was to leave the first chorus devoid of lyrics. In a way this ends up making the song because it allows the emotion to build, rather than confronting you with it right near the start of the song. Then when it hits you in the second chorus, and you're not expecting it, you feel it deeper.

Song. Lyrics.

12. An Ambitious Attempt At Failure Before One's Birth

This is a tough song to talk about. I can say that it started as a poem called Walking Backwards. It features some beautiful lyrics such as "angie / is the most / beautiful girl / in the world." Seriously, I dare you to click on the Lyrics link. Also, there's nothing like unknowingly singing a song about suicide to someone to just lost a friend to suicide. Shoot me now.

Song. Lyrics.

11. Last Resort, Part I

Beautiful song about divorce. A great message nicely represented by the lyrics. One of the few songs where we lived up to our ambient noise pact. This features our young cousins in the background playing and fighting. A neat note on the lyrical development of this song: every chorus originally was "when all else fails / try avoidance / when all else fails / try avoidance." (Yes, you now know the origin of the blog name.) Of course, we were also using this chorus in Part II of this song and over time I grew tired of it. It was boring and quickly became my least favorite part of the song. Then I thought of a great alternate line to mix in there so we turned the first chorus into: "we've tried tried and tried again / but all this failure leaves us spent / when all else fails / try avoidance." The remaining two choruses were unchanged and still repetitive. But in time, after having played the song with the new alternate chorus many times I liked it so much that I knew I needed another. So chorus two became: "but time time and time again / we fought our best without a win / when all else fails / try avoidance." Great! But this posed a problem. Now the absolute climax of the song, the final chorus, was the least interesting of the lot. I knew we needed something but it took a long time to finally pin it down. When I did, it was perfect: "but once twice and three times now / we tried our best to keep our vow / when all else fails / try avoidance." That line sums up the whole song better than anything and hits the absolute height of emotion for me. It still gets to me when I listen back. Perhaps for that line alone this song reaches number 11. So that's the story of how the chorus went from being the worst part of the song to the best.

Song. Lyrics.

Up next is the top 10. One ... by ... one.


Wildlifeless Decompression Update

The true history of the making of Wildlifeless is Brock's alone to tell. However, I'll offer some brief comments as an observer.

Saturday was the big studio shoot for Wildlifeless. At the end of June we survived an arduous trip to San Diego to shoot the exteriors. Saturday was the interiors that begin the story.

The Set - The interiors called for a very large canvas wall tent. These tents are pretty expensive, and a real tent would not have allowed us the manueverability we needed considering cranes and other filmmaking aparatus. So, the decision was made long ago to build our own tent set. It would be basicaly a 10' x 15' tent with three sides. When we built the smaller tents and tent facade for the exteriors, I used lightweight 2 x 2's. For the big tent, stability was key to support such large sections, so 2 x 4's were used. Heavy, wet, raw 2 x 4's. I precut the materials on Friday morning. Friday night we were supposed to have access to the studio to construct the set for a number of hours, enough time to get the job done. Well, when we arrived we found out that we had about a third the time we thought we would have. Beyond that, our drilling technique wasn't working so good. It was a fight to drive each screw. A half day prior to the shoot and we were already massively behind the eight ball. I was beside myself about the whole ordeal. I'm pretty sure it was tough to be around me at the time. I was fuming over the lack of cooperation from the school personnel, and the general lack of professionalism on their part. As it turned out, a lot depends on who you talk to. Saturday morning we arrived early and not much later, a much more helpful faculty member was there to assist us. It was a completely different experience from the night before. With better tools and techniques at hand, we got the whole set built (assembly and attaching canvas) in around an hour. Getting the thing in upright and supported was another matter. We used most of the C-stands and all of the sandbags in the studio to get it mostly stable. Beyond that there was the dressing: arranging of props, attaching of bamboo, faking a projection surface, etc. Tons of work, but well worth it. It looked great, and like a million bucks on tape. However, it was complex enough that we didn't get our first shot until around 2pm. Four hours behind schedule. Yikes!

The Shots - Before Brock conceived the storyboards for this film, I pumped him up with the following admonition: "Forget about limitations. We'll get a dolly. We'll get a crane. We'll figure it out. We'll make it happen. The sky is the limit." And eschew limitations he did. This film has more crazy camerawork than you can shake a stick at. Light years more than anything we have done prior, or anything I have seen in the local scene. Better still, every shot is in the interests of the story. That didn't make them any easier to pull off. We had crane shots coming up from toe to head, sweeping through the entire set, swooping around the characters, along with the simpler push-ins. Brock conceived of them, and we did our best to execute. They are some of the most beautiful shots we've ever done. If we have any issue, it will be that they are just too pretty compared to the exterior shots, which suffered somewhat from being my first time out with the new camera.

I really could go on and on about the how the day went, but I'll leave the rest to Brock. Just ten or so more pick up shots and we'll have our images.

Back To The Grind

I start my new job in the morning. It's with a company I've been around and people I have worked with, so it won't be an entirely new experience. It'll be smooth sailing as far as first day's go, as far as I can tell. The tough part will be getting back in the routine after eight weeks of goofing off.

I'm not entirely satisfied with what I did with those eight weeks. As it goes with time's of unemployment (voluntary or otherwise), there is some level of stress and unceratinty. Without knowing when or where your going to be working next, you never end up taking full advantage of the time you have. There is also the factor of dwindling funds in the bank account that makes unemployment very different than other periods of "vacation."

The first week or two I was going like gangbusters on Tim Nm, CPA. After a year and half, I actually pulled out the stack of tapes, captured, screened, and rough edited nearly the entire film. Darn, I'm just now realizing that I never got the audition scene shot, which goes to prove my point. Getting everything set for the Wildlifeless studio shoot would have been nearly impossible were I employed, as well. Other than that, I am aware I worked on a lot of things, but finished very little.

Well, time to get to bed, get to work, and get on with things. Let's hope this is the last job I have in Phoenix.