So Much Depends on a Yellow Toyota.

February 23, 2008

nuge1.jpg
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.
You can hear “Fort Hood” on my Myspace. I put a sample mini-set of my electro scene up at dubiousluxury.net.
nuge6.jpg
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.
nuge7.jpg
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.
DSCN2620.jpg
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.
nuge4.jpg
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.
nuge5.jpg
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?
nuge2.jpg