Doesn’t have a name yet. It’s a song cycle. Or a concept album. Or a musical. Or a rock opera with an acoustic guitar. Or just a batch of songs about being young, hormonal, and incredibly insecure (but with a kick-ass Ipod to help get you through the rough spots).
I tried to explain it all here. Haltingly…perhaps not very well…but so it goes.
Anyway, I’ll try to give some glimpses into the creative process as I move along.
Lyrics….ideas…..doodlings. Maybe some prose. Eventually flip videos of songs I think are ready to be heard. We shall see.
Come along for the ride. It’s more fun than doing it alone.
I’ve been fascinated by teenagers ever since I was a teenager….sitting alone in my room with rock and roll blasting wondering why everybody seemed fascinating except me. Lately, I’ve been writing and thinking about little else.
Two years ago I released a batch of songs called Pete Townshend’s Ghost. It was a quickie song cycle dealing with…well, a mixed up teen. Some songs worked (Suzie is still one of my personal favorites. I’m Still Me still sounds sufficiently pissed-off), some songs were good enough to work but I was going so fast I didn’t give them time to breathe. And some songs were dead on arrival. But all in all the entire thing got my juices flowing like nothing I’d worked on before. Or since.
I wanna be Pete Townshend’s ghost
wanna lay bare my soul
make it loud enough
just don’t wanna be young
before I get old
So yea….what I’m working on inside my head, and trying to explain with these keystrokes, is nothing new. But this is a new beginning. As I age I become more grandiose. And why not? If I don’t hear what I want to hear, I’m still cynical enough to think I can create the sounds myself. If that’s not the case, why bother? I didn’t spend all those Friday and Saturday nights alone in my room banging away on my $125 guitar to sit in front of a damn campfire and lead singalongs. I was gonna change the world. I was gonna lead a creaky Pete Townshend off the stage and pick up where he left off. Using the same volume levels.
Well…yea, ok. Kids believe in the Easter Bunny too.
Ok, so dreams die hard. But still, I’ve never once led a singalong in front of a campfire. To the contrary, there’s been a few nights when I played so furiously that specks of blood splashed around the sound-hole of my guitar….nights I remember even now with a sort of masochistic, maniacal glee. Observers (if there were any….come to think of it I may have been playing to the mirror) must have stepped back to avoid the carnage.
Rock and Roll has always been sacred to me….the kind of thing that doesn’t just inspire kids….but actually saves some of them. A specific song at a specific time can keep a kid off the ledge. Of that, I’m totally convinced. I don’t think any other form of music has that type of power. I don’t think you can listen to another type of song and say….”that’s me“. All this is why I’ve always ignored those who merely dabble in it….and focused on the ones (Townshend, Springsteen, Cobain) who understood its power and tried like hell to push it even further. Even if it killed them (like Cobain), or rendered them deaf as a post (Townshend).
It’s been said over and over that “rock is dead”. It’s not of course. Great young (and not so young) bands abound. “The Hold Steady”, “Lucero”, “Foo Fighters”, “Dropkick Murphys”, “The Gaslight Anthem”, “Pearl Jam”, “BoDeans”, “Los Lobos”, “Green Day”, “Old 97s”,”The Wonder Years”, “ACDC”. The list goes on and on. The fact that radio doesn’t play rock and roll anymore doesn’t mean that rock and roll doesn’t exist, anymore than the fact that the sun is out today means it’s not going to rain tomorrow. They’ll always be some snarling kid with low or no self-esteem who gets his hands on a guitar and has a mother who doesn’t mind the noise. Since the day Muddy Waters invented electricity, there’s always been at least one outlet for the tongue-tied.
And there’s nothing cliquey about rock. Since it was created and has been sustained by the kids on the fringes…the weirdos below everyone’s radar, there’s no in-bred snobbishness. The captain of the football team ain’t the one writing “Seems Like Teen Spirit”. And the captain of the Cheerleaders ain’t the one nurturing the oddball who is writing it. So yea, while “fitting in” drives the best rock and roll songs, it’s the kids who don’t writing them. I’m just not that interested in the well-adjusted I guess. They’re boring.
Anyway, back to me and my schemes.
Why would a 40 something armed only with a Gibson jumbo attempt to create NEPA’s version of Quadrophenia anyway? What is it about this teen stuff? Maybe it’s because my own daughter just turned 13…and seems as affected by music as her old man? To her…..music is serious stuff. The one at the concert with seats in the back who pushes her way to the front and ends up at the lip of the stage? That’s her. The worst form of punishment to inflict on her is to take away her Ipod. I don’t have the heart. Well, mostly I don’t have the heart.
But no…..this is for me. I told my daughter my plans and she said, “That’s good Daddy. Don’t get too weird. Can I have some money?”
I thought, “perfect”. I’m more proud of her than I could ever convey.
The nuts and bolts are this.
A story. About a kid. Maybe 20 songs. Some prose that leads into each one. I’ll record acoustic versions on my flip video and post them here as I go. The plan is to document the entire process as it takes place. False starts and all. When the songs are done…..we work on recording them officially (whatever this means….generally “official” means I need money but I’ll worry about that bit later). Then, if it holds together, and if it’s sorta coherent, I’ll start to break it down into chunks for the stage. A musical. Since I’ve no idea how to structure a musical I feel totally qualified to structure a musical. Rules are not only meant to be broken, but are best when I don’t even know what they are to begin with.
So that’s that. For now anyway. This could all change tomorrow. But for now I still think rock and roll is worth it.
So onward I go. Please check back. Every sordid detail will be published. I promise.
In a bit..
They’re falling like dominos.
In a bit…
Ever get the feeling that Hannity and his fellow stormtroopers relax after a long day’s hate with some Tiananmen Square massacre and Operation Hummingbird videos?
It’s scary out there.
In a bit…
The Kids are Alright……but that doesn’t mean it’s not bloody difficult being one….
The muse is a difficult thing. But wondering and worrying about kids will always bring it ’round.
In a bit..