WFMU does a tribute to Todd Colby.

WFMU’s doing a three hour show–right now!–of people doing versions of the Todd Colby poem “Cake.”
My girlfriend and I did a few versions and sent ‘em in. I’m actually quite excited to hear myself on WFMU–I don’t know if they’ve ever played me on there before.
If you’d like to hear all 208 versions of “Cake” clicky linky.
I specifically recommend Todd Colby’s original version of “Cake,” this Spanish version of “Cake,” called “Torta”, three-year-old Irving Sendra’s version of “Cake,” and this mash-up of Todd Colby and the Who.

As I Try to Make the Rock.

Trying to rock by example.

Been sleeping poorly. I don’t know if it’s too much coffee at night, or obsession with work, but in any case, I’ve been running my own tunes over and over in my head as I toss and turn in the sack. Pruning a lyric here and there, occasionally having to interrupt the hypogogic state by scribbling a phrase down.
Daniel Johnston’s guileless, lit-up style has been haunting me lately. I lay awake, thinking: How do I write a lyric like this?
He was smiling through his own personal hell
Dropped his last dime down a wishing well
But he was hoping too close
And then he fell
Now he

McPhee Reconsidered.

OK, maybe rethinking her a little.

There’s a questionaire on the Fox site for each contestant–Tiger Beat style–and her answer to “Do you think the audition process was fair?” is: “No, they let go of some really good people and kept people who were pretty.”
The other contestants all pretty much hold the party line, yes-of-course-it-was-fair. Perhaps in the interest of their own self-esteem.
I still find her to be the bland bland bland and the terrible awful.

Loathsome McPhee.

I hate her. I hate her. I hate her.
And now that I’ve said that, I will likely end up at a dinner party seated next to her.

And: I bet she might win. Bleh.
Taylor fucked it up with “Country Road” which baffled me–if Toots Hibbert can make that song soulful, can’t our brother Mr. Hicks? What I love about the man is that he plays it straight–avoiding those tiresome vocal runs that the youngsters are always doing. The first week I haven’t voted for the man.
“Country Road” was my first favorite song. At age 4, I owned the cassette of John Denver’s Greatest Hits and listened to it in the family Oldsmobile, ear pressed to a tape recorder. So double my disappointment.
Chris the Rock Guy–dug him. Dug him big. Very real, owned the tune. Three votes from me for Chris the Rock Guy.
Paris–dug her. Dug her almost as big. Again: inhabited the tune. Voted twice for her.
Bucky: also loathsome. Fucked up his tune on country night! HA!
What’s up with none of the girls doing Patsy Cline? Who couldn’t nail a Patsy Cline tune? Big notes (suitable for those wretched runs) and everything.

The Usual Speculative Hooey About Who’s-Really-the-Crazy-Man-Here.

I saw–and highly recommend–The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Daniel Johnston (official-ish fan site here) is this incredibly compelling outsider artist and songwriter that was sort of the pet naif of the late-80s indie rock world. His recordings are these primitive documents taped on cheap tape decks, staticky and strange, in the garages and basements of relatives. He dubbbed them onto cheap cassettes and passed them around–often to customers at his job at a McDonald’s in Austin, TX.
My interest in him was recently revived when Mike McGonigal showed me an old VHS tape of Daniel singing “Don’t Play Cards with Satan,” this sublimely ridiculous and very sincere-seeming folk-art-gospel tune; Daniel weeps, and then gets weepier and more anguished as the tune goes on. It’s just wrenching. Then he hits the final chord, and, on a dime, picks up a copy of his album and holds it up to the camera with a smile on his face.
After seeing the movie, I downloaded three albums–More Songs of Pain, Yip!/Jump Music, and Hi How Are You?–and I’m loving them. The guy knows from composition–really well-built tunes–but the over-the-top oddness and sincerity, and the lo-fi production, turn them into these haunting documents. It’s the closest anything modern comes to the terrifying oddness of the Anthology of American Folk Music.
Listening makes me want to throw all my gear away but a cheap guitar and a hand held recorder, and make all my albums messily, with the TV blaring in the background.
What’s fascinating about Daniel, and about primitivists and folk artists in general, is the degree of awareness in their art. Daniel would skip his medication in preparation for gigs, so he’d be crazier for them.
My personal observation is that suffering doesn’t improve my music in the present tense. Now, in this happier life, I’m still drawing on the suffering in the past. Without that suffering of my past, would I need to make music? Isn’t it dangerous to romanticize pain, addiction, depression? What price? Death? Or the debilatated life that Daniel leads–obese, struggling to keep a grip on his consciousness, living in his parents’ basement?

Of and By the People.

Am I running for the New York State legislature? No, I’m not. That was Mike Doughty HQ’s annual April Fool’s joke. All hail the genius of HQ.


The Bad Neighbor.

So after yesterday’s blog about morning rock, the guy in the apartment next door knocks on my door in his pajamas, asking me to pipe down. Sure, you’re a Mike Doughty fan, but would you be into hearing me yelping the same two or three phrases endlessly at 10 am on a Saturday?