Feb 23, 08 12:15 PM
So Much Depends on a Yellow Toyota.
DUBIOUS LUXURY (my DJ party) last night at the Knitting Factory Old Office--a smash. Bex Schwartz and I raised some dough for the video we're making. It's for "Fort Hood," a political song on my album Golden Delicious. (Fort Hood is a base in Texas that's lost the most people in the war) We're doing it with no record company bucks, just to have it out there in the culture in this election year.
I played my own electro/house stuff (oonce oonce oonce music, for the most part) off Inscrutable, my old laptop. A friend said I was squinting perplexedly at the screen the whole time. I do my thing on Ableton Live, the best way to describe it is that it's like playing Tetris with drum loops, stacking up blocks.
"We had a bet that you were playing solitaire on that thing," said my friend Kasia.
There was drinking and dancing and general merriment. And a construction paper and glitter festooned donations box that Bex made.
Golden Delicious came out on Tuesday. I got a boatload of congratulatory calls from friends, but truthfully release week is dreadful for me. I go online and read all the reviews and remember only the terrible ones--there's lots of raves, and I can't remember them, but the excoriating ones I can recall verbatim.
There was one from a girl I bumped into in a bookstore. She said, Are you Mike Doughty? And I said yeah, and that I was in Minneapolis because I was playing a record release party at the Electric Fetus (a record store). And then I bought a book about Weimar Germnay. Then I found her review on iTunes which went something like: I bumped into Mike Doughty at a bookstore, and I'll never call him Mike because he's still M. to me, and his music is empty and has no heart whatsoever anymore. Yeah, thanks, and have a good evening.
So the surprise which is no surprise is all the people saying that it's OK, but nowhere as good as Haughty Melodic. I joke about this all the time, but it's so bafflingly true: everything I put out, there's a general reaction of, Well, it's not as good as his genius ______, which he put out two years ago.
So all the terrible stuff I read about Skittish--why did he make that awful mistake of leaving the Soul C sound for the acoustic thing?--has turned into, Why did he leave the acoustic sound for the Dan Wilson vibe?
I try to keep this in mind, but I'm ridiculously neurotic, and it takes me a couple of weeks to fully absorb that it's OK, the songs will find their life in the world, and that I meant what I said when I made the album and wouldn't make any changes.
What nags me is that I must come to accept that my records reveal themselves over multiple listens; because I myself almost never give something that I don't like on first listen a second one.
I also beat myself up when people don't like a particular song or two, and this is despite the fact that I rarely listen to any record straight through--that's pretty much been the case my whole listening life. I'm a song guy, not an album guy.
A lot of people love the song "Wednesday," which has been a big surprise for me. I really love it (inasmuch as I can love any recording I make, when the record is newish, and I haven't played the tune so many times in concert that it morphs into something else and the original recorded version becomes alien to me), but I didn't expect it to be loved by the audience. I guess I'll be playing that one live.
Other than that song's near-universally-positive reaction, every other tune has people that dislike it and people that love it.
The new version of "27 Jennifers" is doing rather well on old FM radio. Which is nice--to bring some new people in. I like the idea of revisiting old songs to rejigger them (not to 'improve' them). I'd like to do more of that--this time, perhaps, acoustic versions of Haughty and Golden songs, maybe with Scrap on cello, with the brave youngster John Kirby on piano. Something like that.
And I'm preparing for the tour, which ought to be fun. We're gonna open our own show playing freaky improvised music, using a John Zorn inspired music game I came up with called Face Calls. We're gonna be playing in disguise, so ssssh!
Then Scrap and Pete will be playing with the opening act, my first signing to my microlabel Snack Bar. I'll announce who it is soon.
And then we'll play. I'm not exactly sure what we'll play. Every tour I resolve to do at least one rarity a night, and then I get nervous about it and abandon the plan. So maybe this time.
Anyway, the general plan is to be funky and groovy and danceable and oo-party-party-happy-times-style.
All records come out Tuesday. I tried to break this universal rule when I put out Rockity Roll--I'm putting out myself, so why not?--but when people called up the number to order it on the Thursday, or whatever it was, that Andy HQ announced as the release date, they were told, No no no, all records come out on Tuesday.
It's baffling. I have an obscure theory as to why. There's this tradition of Ki'tov, which is Hebrew for, hmmm, twice? Or Tuesday? In the book of Genesis, God says "It was good" twice on Tuesday. Orthodox Jews often start things on Tuesdays--marriages, businesses--because they believe it to be good luck. Cool, right?
Posted by Mike at 12:15 PM
Feb 12, 08 10:41 AM
Backstage, Killington, VT; Pix by Tam Lee.
Posted by Mike at 10:41 AM
Feb 9, 08 02:54 PM
Pix by Listener Jay Kraft: Club Helsinki, Great Barringon, Mass.
Posted by Mike at 2:54 PM
Feb 8, 08 09:06 AM
I Think There's a Rush Lyric on This Subject.
I didn't vote on Tuesday. Because I would be happy with Obama or Hillary, and I didn't want to make a random choice. I feel guilty about it, but I'd feel guiltier if I did, because I'd immediately regret my choice, whatever it was.
When Hillary was supposed to lose New Hampshire, I felt sad for her. Then when she won, I immediately felt bad about Obama losing. So, where others might enjoy this opportunity to feel good, I choose to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Hillary is tough. She can run a fucking country. I'd like some of that Clintonian prosperity back.
Obama would instantly restore a tremendous amount of respect for us, worldwide. There's a bestseller in Germany called Der schwarze Kennedy--the black Kennedy. I'd love to go back to Berlin and feel good about where my country's at.
And NOW. I remember when McCain was considered all but out. There were some polls that found Democrats to have an abiding fondness for him. Of course. He's covertly pro-life, and in general independent of the backwards moralistic pandering that defines his party. I just can't believe that a modern, educated, worldly political elite, of any party, could believe the pap they spoon-feed the evangelical (incorrectly called "Christian") right for their votes. Reagan, for all his wooing, did little to advance a pro-life agenda.
I have complex feelings about the war (I don't want to go into them here, but listen to my song "Fort Hood," named after a base in Texas that's lost the most people in the war, on my MySpace) But I gotta give it up for a guy who supported the Iraq war when it was anathema, almost blew his chance at the nomination because he wouldn't hedge on it, and when the national wisdom came to believe that the war was going well again, he hadn't budged at all.
What if the Republicans abandoned the simplistic moral stuff and were purely a party of fiscal conservatism? Look, I'm an upper-middle-class white dude. When Mike Huckabee said, during the YouTube debate, that he wanted to abolish the IRS, I was captivated in spite of myself.
Right now I'm worried that the intramural Hillary/Obama (and ps, why does Obama have a last name, and HIllary only a first, like a daytime talk show host?) is gonna take up a lot of political energy while the Republicans gain steam and strength on a national campaign.
But of course, whoever he/she is that loses, I'll be bummed about it.
A luxury problem, right? I'm still angry at the 2000 Nader people. I'll never forget hearing Tom from Rage Against the Machine say, on MTV, "They might as well be the same candidate: Gush and Bore." I thought: What are you, new?! Have you listened to this Bush guy talk?!Posted by Mike at 9:06 AM
Feb 7, 08 10:21 AM
I've been studying German for about a year and a half, and I can hold a pretty decent conversation. There's a conversation group I go to on Saturdays, and the German artist lady who runs the group sends us articles to discuss, and we the students end up arguing about them--you'll find a lot more vocabulary within your grasp if you're getting passionate about making a point.
I'm scared that, facing this long year of touring, which of course I'm very excited for, I'm gonna lose track of my studies. I've been doing some side reading--a Deutsch/English side-by-side translation of Faust, translating a 12-step text that I know very well for myself. Keeping those muscles fit.
One fascinating thing about German is its gender pronouns. The pronoun for "she" and "they" are the same: sie. Not only that, but Sie (capitalized like that) is the formal pronoun--you address your elders, and people you don't know, with Sie. You can only tell which sie is being used by the context.
(I once freaked out an older German woman in a museum; I was trying to get change, held up a banknote, and asked: Hast du zwei Euro bitte?. I unthinkingly used the familiar pronoun, and she gave me the harsh stink-eye)
So: the female = the formal = the multitude.
There was a woman I had an on-and-off affair with, a couple years back. She died, very suddenly, of an undiagnosed brain illness. One day she felt fine, the next she was gone.
Her MySpace page is still up. Her profile's headline is "Life is delicious!"
Her age keeps ticking upwards as the years pass.
There was a guy who did interviews with celebrities/writers/artists/musicians for suicidegirls.com. I didn't know him, but you could tell he had a boundless enthusiasm. His interviews were perceptive and funny.
He, too, died suddenly. The last entry on his profile page, still up, is one sentence: "I'm so sick it's not funny."
I'm working on some stuff that's sort of Spoken Word. Actually, it's more like Yelled Word.Posted by Mike at 10:21 AM
Feb 6, 08 04:05 PM
I'm looking at a gigantic stack of CDs that I have to autograph for promotional stuff.
Did you ever sign your name repeatedly in your Social Studies notebook, daydreaming of a movie star's life?
Turns out--signing your name repeatedly for hours--not that fun.
This very surreal thing starts to happen where you suddenly realize--wow, I'm writing the same thing repeatedly and it's almost pure muscle memory--because of that, you become conscious of what you're writing, and then your name starts to look strange to you, and then you start to mess up parts of your name because you're thinking too hard. It's kind of delightful.Posted by Mike at 4:05 PM