Don’t Sleep

It’s the human condition. We make progress, smile, and slip back into our self-satisfied slumber.

America passes the Voting Rights Act, and follows it right up with more Gerrymandering and black voter suppression. The Selma March makes history and changes the world, and then people think “Mission Accomplished“. It wasn’t. We fucked up the endgame, as we always do.

Please don’t let that happen this time.

Change is hard. Really hard. It will take a sustained effort from absolutely everyone to end this national psychosis. We can do it, but we have to make that effort. We’ve done it more recently than you might think: odds are you have a living relative older than the right of a black American citizen to vote. We can make that kind of change again now, but we absolutely have to keep pushing.

Now I said all that to say

My previous post spoke to an album about these issues and more. I wrote that post as people took to the streets, and here we are two weeks later and it’s taken me that long to point you specifically to the Black Lives Matter track on that album, which was really the point in the first place. Two weeks.

Don’t sleep. Just because we are making progress – and we are, slowly – doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near done.

Listen to the track. Do the work. Make the change.

Now More Than Ever

99:1 is an album that is long overdue for attention – but then again, Hyp always was ahead of his time.

I was looking around for some books to send the kids, and I was thinking “Wow, if only there were a sort of entry-level version of Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow. Something like … excerpts spoken over music, something accessible …”

… yeah. It’s only been out for three years.

But: not only better late than never, I’d definitely say now more than ever. If you need an entry point into the discussions we all need to be having, start right here.

Check it out.


I’ve no idea how this passed me by, but my second Nerdcore Justin Timberlake song went unmentioned by this blog. So, here it is.

The story behind this was: after the completely unexpected response to my cover of Friday, I thought I’d build something for submission to the 2012 Pwnie awards. I was going for a more serious effort this time. I was much happier with the result of this than with the last one.

And it went over like a lead balloon, and no traffic came to the site when I published it, and that was that. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.

Two notes:

1. This is the only song I’d ever recorded with a fretless bass that I was borrowing from a friend and that I had restored to this recordable condition. I miss that bass; it really sounded great.

2. This arrangement is not mine in the least: I lifted it from Lake Street Dive’s cover of Faith. Support that band (Venmo or Paypal) cause they’re amazing.

Pittsburgh Through the Windshield

So, I’m watching the first season of Inspector Morse (for absolutely no reason), and during one of the episodes, they show a poster for Last Tango in Paris. That movie was (ehh, slightly) before my time, but it of course called to mind the song Last Night in Paris. That was of my time, and it dislodged a few memories…

… Back in my Pittsburgh days, Brother Ra and I used to do everything together. (Too many things, some might say. Five or six in particular, in fact, but those are stories I’m not telling.)

Besides Super Mario Brothers, Queensryche, and thermonuclear Mac and Cheese, one of the things we used to do was drive the circumference of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s freeway system is one of those where you can orbit the city center like a roundabout, without ever taking a freeway exit.

For the price of 20 – 30 minutes and half a gallon of gas, you could circumnavigate the Three Rivers, take in the sights of Pittsburgh, and – if you happened to be in your early twenties – get your angst and frustrations out via a nice fast car ride to a background of very loud music. Ra knows his cars, driving, and music, and he was a very … therapeutic … driver.

When I left Pittsburgh to drive out to Cali, he saw me off with one of his mix-CDs: “Pittsburgh Through the Windshield”. It was a cross-section of the tracks we used to blast during our drives. It was a tribute to our Tin Lizzy Therapy. It was a reminder that we’d always have a way to deal with the bullshit life threw at us. Most of all, it was one of only three CDs that kept me company on the cross-country drive.

These are the memories that define us. Build some for those you love.

Here, I’ll help get you started:

Crystal Ball
Lunatic Fringe
Whatever I Fear
Story of a Girl
Crazy On You
Last Time in Paris
Livin’ on a Prayer
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
The Idiot Kings
Break It Down Again
One Thing Leads To Another
Heart of Glass
Meet Virginia
What You Need

(the ones in bold are the ones I particularly recommend checking out.)

… Don’t Get To Be Kong

Complete At Last!

(For KNH.)

… Just silliness, really. Also it was an excellent reintroduction to music production in general, and my music production software in particular. And it was kind of fun.

I tried to end it with a recording of the Eight O’Clock Marin Coyote Howl, but I wasn’t quite able to capture it when I tried. Just as well, perhaps. Some things are better left in real-time reality.


The music is a cover of a Joe Cartoon Song.
The cover is clean, but Joe Cartoon is not for children and is Not Safe For Work.)

Dancing Monkey…

I had the honor of being at a good friend’s [redacted]th birthday party recently, and I can’t remember if I was asked to bring guitars (I think I was?) or if I just brought them for fun anyway. But I brought ’em, so there they were.

Turned out another one of their* close friends (they had quite a few) was the only person they had actually slated to play music. Either his playing was prearranged, or he was just an ad-hoc performer with an actual repertoire (as opposed to someone who just bum-rushes the stage any time he sees an opening for a bass player…)

Point is, it came down to him on a guitar and me on a bass. And of course I’d only met the guy on stage, so we didn’t have time to do any prearranged practicing or planning (hahahaha like that ever happens) so I just basically followed his lead, as I usually do when I meet people on stage.**

His repertoire was basically the Grateful Dead, and Johnny Cash. I’ve been playing jazz and hip-hop for the last twenty years. We made it work.

One of my abiding memories of that jam was when he was talking to me about the next song we were going to play, and he was describing it like “… and it’s another Johnny Cash song. It’s a country song, basically,” to which I replied: “Not any more.”

(I’m sure I got Johnny to roll over in his grave, but I’m even more certain he did it to the beat.)

All the above was to say: I just realized what my next song will be. It will be a cover of what’s basically a country song+. The song totally doesn’t need to be covered – it was done right the first time – except it’s also a message I want for the children, and I’m afraid it’s a bit unacceptable to younger ones in its current form, so that’s the only reason I’m redoing the song.

And Jamie, I will heed well the first rule of recording a cover song.

Update: Done!

* I’m not being intentionally gender-coy here; the birthday party was for one half of a couple, but I actually only met them, or had ever seen them, as a couple: so “they” are more or less the way I know them.

** Which happens more often than it has any right to, and I’m grateful every time.

+ Not any more.