Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Down From The Skies: Silver Anniversary

OK, here's a song that's always held a dear place for me. I wrote it 25 years ago today during the on phase of an on-again/off-again relationship. I'd recently been to some kind of Laser Rock show (as was the style back in the late '80s/early '90s), with a mix of psychedelic music rather than the usual Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin focus. I remember coming out of there and thinking I wanted to write a song like "Magic Carpet Ride", that Pat could use his fancy new phaser pedal on.

I'd also just TA'd the Intro Observational Astronomy class the previous semester, at a point when the aforementioned relationship was off again but she was taking the class. The second verse was a nod in that direction, with its mention of "so many nights spent under the stars" and reference to bringing her home (since as TA I dropped everyone off at their dorms after driving them back from the observatory in the Mighty EAPS Van (tm)). Between the time the semester ended and the time I wrote this song we were back on again.

This immediately entered the Dr. Lüst setlist, and we played it at both Battle of the Bands appearances.  Dan came up with the riff, which has stuck around ever since. When the relationship was off again, and as we came up with more and more songs we wanted to do, the song slipped out of the setlist. Without Pat and his fancy phaser pedal (or Dan and his keyboard), none of my subsequent bands picked the song up.

However!  I've happily stayed close friends with the subject of Down From The Skies, and it remains a favorite of hers whenever we're together and there's a guitar available. Of course, she also purports to like the songs I wrote about her during the off-again periods of the relationship, so the bar may be low. And while it didn't get onto The Red Album (which was mostly songs that Science Diet did), it did make it onto a subsequent album.

I present here four versions of Down From The Skies, because apparently I can't help myself.  They span the entire period from 1990-2015, from live with Dr. Lüst to live solo to a couple of Gedankenband versions.  Enjoy. But even if you don't, I know at least one person who will. :)

Down From The Skies (Dr. Lüst live at 1990 MIT Battle of the Bands)
Down From The Skies (solo live on Mars Hill, 1995)*
Down From The Skies (from 2005's Do Not Tip Or Rock)**
Down From The Skies (Gedankenband Unplugged version***)

*also about an octave too high for my actual range.
**Yeah, I'm sending you to the Bandcamp page to download or listen there.
***Blame Katsumi for the harmonica, I don't know what she was thinking.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Surf Titan!

Another oldie.  I didn't really intend to post anything so soon after the Passerby post, but it's the 10th anniversary of the Huygens landing on Titan and I remembered I'd written a Titan-centric song long ago.  So I figured I'd record it for posterity. Here for the first time ever:

Surf Titan!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Passerby: Not Quite Silver Anniversary

As I just mentioned on Twitter, I seem to have written a lot of my favorite originals during the winter of 1989-1990.  So you'll be getting some Silver Anniversary posts, just as I've marked a few other anniversaries.

This song, Passerby, is not quite one of them.  It was written 24 years ago yesterday.  That means in theory that I should have posted this yesterday, but I only just happened to notice and you know how these things go.  I was still very early in learning how to play guitar, and a lot of my songs went C-Am-Dm-something. In this particular case, something is Fm (which was super-hard as all novice guitar players know). The content was sort-of inspired by the Replacements song Skyway, which is needless to say superior in every way and is a fan favorite

I've always loved this one anyhow, which makes it a bit surprising to me that there are no versions on any of the Gedankenband albums, nor did I even record it with my old 4-track.  I think it's quite likely that I'll remedy that for real on the next Gedankenband release, but until then, for the first time anywhere:

Passerby (live to one-track)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 In Review

Time to recap!

I wrote 43 blog posts this year, including this self-referential one. Those included 11 songs specially-recorded for the blog, 5 songs from a party gig in 1991, and a few reposts. In theory I had upward of 5000 views this year, though I strongly suspect the vast majority of those are bogus. That just makes you, the reader, even more special.

Favorite song post of the year: Lo-Fi Mini-Concert. Even with all the distortion. That's what makes it Lo-Fi.

The majority of posts this year (as is typical) were for NaPoWriMo, which I completed for the fifth consecutive year and led to the annual spike in (plausibly bogus) site visits. Once again, I went with space/astronomy poetry, but with the added degree of difficulty of doing half of it while on another continent at a telescope. I did also post one non-NaPo poem.

Favorite poem of the year is a toughie.  No real grabbers for me, I'll pick two among equals:
Swapping Stories
The Summer Cottage

The Gedankenband and I did release an EP early in the year, called Unselectable. I had a post here about it because, you know, that's the point of a music blog.

Spotify:  I have made an astonishing (to me) $0.10 on Spotify this year. I only have stats for less half of the year, too-- I uploaded music starting in June and only have a report through October. I had a total of 29 plays of 18 different songs. 21 of those plays were from the USA,  second-most are from...Belgium.

My #1 song on Spotify is "One Thing to Do", with a massive 4 plays.

The Gedankenband Bandcamp site stats look like this:
There were 244 "plays",  with 94 of them complete plays.  The most listened-to song this year was "MarcoPolo", with 10 full plays.  Tied in second place with 5 full plays is MarcoPolo's B-side (an acoustic rendition of OBAFGKM), and "Lost in the Artifacts" from the Unselectable EP. 45 different songs got at least one full play this year.

There were 17 downloads (songs/EPs/albums all together). The most-downloaded item was the Holiday Single (of all things).

So, no real point here.  Just looking forward to a good 2015 and wishing the same for all of you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Chanukah 5775

The holiday season is upon us and Chanukah starts tonight, so I figured I'd record something seasonally appropriate for you-- a live one-take recording of the Gedankenband's Holiday single, both A and B sides. Admittedly, since the B-side was already a one-take thing you may not notice too much of a difference.

May your latkes be crisp, your gelt be tasty, and your dreidel always come up on gimel (whether or not you're #TeamAppleSauce or #TeamSourCream.

Judah and the Maccabees (live, acoustic)
Sevivon (live, acoustic)

Still available are the Gedankenband versions!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Going Back To Tucson

I'm heading to Tucson next week for the Division of Planetary Sciences Meeting. Since I spent a big chunk of my 20s in Tucson between grad school and a postdoc job, I am naturally feeling a bit sentimental.

I wrote a lot of music during my time in Tucson, played in several bands, recorded The Red Album there as well as stuff on the ol' 4-track. The city even worked its way into the lyrics of at least one song.  So I thought I'd dash something off here to mark the upcoming trip.

While "Going Back to Tucson" would have been a great choice, I couldn't find any chords. I seriously considered "Sweetheart" by Caitlin and the Stickponies. But in the end I figured I'd record one by The Sidewinders (aka The Sand Rubies).

So here's another one-take acoustic guitar and voice wonder for all my Old Pueblo pals:
Came On Like The Sun


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Non-bloggy stuff has been taking up a ton of time, but that doesn't mean I can't post something for Halloween. Jen is a big fan of the holiday, and we've spent much of the last few days listening to Halloween music. Today it's been a streaming Halloween station, which has mostly been the equivalent of using "Monster Mash" as the starting condition for a Pandora station. 

I started thinking I could do better.

Then I realized I have done better!  At least from my own, slanted point of view.

So here for your spooky enjoyment is a Gedankenband Deep Track from The Cheese Stands Alone:

My Vampire Love
"Bonus" (of sorts): My Vampire Love (demo)

Enjoy!  Or don't, you know.  Free country and all.