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Feb 26, 07 12:23 PM

Jennifer Hudson Is Just Insanely Cute, Isn't She?

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Tremendous brunettes around, indeed. I am happy. And it snowed! And I'm writing songs! And going back to Berlin! Happy happy.

I went over to Scrap's in WBurg yesterday. We went through the songs we're gonna do at the Old Knit celebration on Thursday. He's a great guitar player. Marc Ribot used to use bass players as his guitar players in his circa-1993 group Shrek; now I see why. He doesn't suffer from guitar-player-ism.

Scrap is just a musical dude, too, unlike the majority of this planet's guitar players. He picks amazing notes to augment the chords. I keep encouraging him to get weird in the breaks, and when he busts out with some weirdness, it's giddy and divine.

I'm sure there are more guitar players than any other kind of instrumentalists in the Western World; I'm also certain there are fewer good guitar players than any other instrumentalist. What is it about that instrument? (ps, not that I'm absolving myself!)

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I told Scrap I'm going home to watch the Oscars.

"Is Matt Damon nominated for anything?" he asks.

No, I say.

"Then I'm not watching," he says.

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I am cramming the German. Going through flashcards of irregular verbs and adjective endings on the train. Pronouncing the words to myself, unafraid to look stupid.

I'm flying back to Berlin on Saturday night. Staying in an apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, which is exciting--being right there in the middle of my favorite neighborhood, living semi-real-Berliner style, not being in a hotel. Cheaper, too, which is key, as I need to get back there often in order to really get this Deutsch thing down.

My plan is to be constantly going to 12-step meetings (Orthodox 12 steppers please note I'm still keeping anonymity intact). That there are meetings all over the world--I've been to them in Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, you name it--is a fantastic resource for getting to know local people outside the traveler's circuit. All I can really say in German (that's pertinent) is something like: I did lots of drugs, I hated myself, I didn't want to die, I love life, I am happy now.

I intend to be stubborn and speak only German. Germans are generally really nice about this, and pleased that you want to speak their language, in spite of the fact that nearly all of them speak English flawlessly.

Expect photos of currywurst from Konnopke's Imbiß. And fries with mayo, WHICH I AM TELLING YOU IS DELICIOUS. Is their mayo different? What is it? When I was a kid, my Dad (military) was stationed in Europe, and we got into that combo. We tried to recreate it when we rotated back to the U.S., but it wasn't the same. Maybe it's not the quality of the mayonnaise, but some inherent pervasive cultural hoodoo imbued in the atmosphere that seeps into the food.

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Songs are coming easy. I'm not exactly sure what I'm writing them for; whether I'm going to call everybody back to the studio and record them for the new album, or keep that album what it is right now.

Dan's told me that Rick Rubin tries to push songwriters off that write, then record, then tour cycle; it becomes an endless wheel.

I said before that being brokenhearted wasn't going to affect my writing. I guess I was in denial. (Why?) All these bitter/tender/loving/spurning feelings are finding their way into the lyrics and the melodies, and it feels great to sing them out.

So many fights are about something so, so old; nothing to do with your boyfriend/girlfriend. I feel sometimes like a civil war re-enactor; you were you just a moment ago, but suddenly I've cast you as the Confederacy, slash, my Mom!

But when is it done, when is it done? I have thought it was done at every stage of this round, and been proven wrong. Marianne Moore used to re-edit poems at age 80 that she wrote at 35.

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I took an old country melody and I've been writing my own lyrics over it. It's so difficult, doing lyrics to this specific rhythm scheme. It's like writing a poem to a form, a sonnet or sestina. And yet, the tune is so elemental. There's nothing so hard in songwriting as simplicity.

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I am making my American Idol predictions right now. Final three: Sanjaya, LaKisha, and Stephanie.

I know you think I'm loopy, but I'm telling you: Sanjaya. What tone!

I have a good record with Idol predictions. I've gotten them right almost every year (I called Daughtry and Taylor as top two last year; and foolishly disdained Carrie Underwood in favor of Bo Bice, and I always make my call around Top 24 time, if not earlier. I called Kelly Clarkson on her first audition! Art be damned, that will be my legacy.

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I am recommending:

Sean Hayes. NOT the actor from Will & Grace, but a brilliant songwriter from San Francisco that I've been listening to, and taking a lot of influence from, lately.

The Lives of Others, which won the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Much to my joy! A German movie (yeah, yeah, that's why I went to see it, to hear the language and try to understand--which I'm getting better at!--and when you hear Germans speaking it, it just sounds so lilting and poetic) about the East German police monitoring a playwright and his actress muse. Just aching and lovely.

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Posted by Mike at February 26, 2007 12:23 PM