Thursday, March 30, 2006

On a trip recently, we passed a sign for a town in Iowa called "Swaledale". I told my friend they should start a brewery there. When she asked why I said so they could brew

Swaledale Pale Ale

Then I thought how awful it would be if that particular brew went bad. You would have

Stale Swaledale Pale Ale

And what if the reason the brew had gone bad was that the U.S. Postal Service had taken too long getting it to its destination? Then you would have

Snail Mail Stale Swaledale Pale Ale

But what if you had a great story about serving it one time only to find out it had gone bad? Then you would have a

Snail Mail Stale Swaledale Pale Ale Tale

And what if a musician heard your story and was inspired to create a boisterous song? Then you would have a

Snail Mail Stale Swaledale Pale Ale Tale Wail

It would be sad if the musician was playing a show and that song didn't go over well, because you would hate to see the

Snail Mail Stale Swaledale Pale Ale Tale Wail Fail

Although it would all be worth it if the musician left music and started a business with trains and train tracks and made a ton of money running the company that would of course be named after the incident that caused him to switch careers, which is to say the company would be called the

Snail Mail Stale Swaledale Pale Ale Tale Wail Fail Rail

Then years later the historic "golden spike" that was the last component of the main line of the main train would be in a museum labeled as the

Snail Mail Stale Swaledale Pale Ale Tale Wail Fail Rail Nail

Feel free to continue this nonsense in the comments if you dare.

Friday, March 17, 2006


I was going to the library to return some books and get some new ones. I put on 89.3 the Current, which I almost always enjoy. Its only real competition is 88.5 Jazz 88. The Current was playing Neil Young's electric version of "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)". The electrics were spitting and snarling with the heaviest guitar sound ever recorded. I've always loved that song and I hadn't heard it in a long time. He sang

It's out of the blue and into the black
They give you this, but you pay for that
And once you're gone you can never come back
When you're out of the blue, and into the black

A long time ago on a beach in Ohio I was sitting with my sister looking at the lake. We had been silent for a while and she asked me what I was thinking. It was shortly after "Freedom" had come out and Neil Young was popular and in vogue again. I said I had been thinking that if I bought some Neil Young and listened to it I bet I would really like it. My sister thought that was very funny and indeed it was. With great affection and appreciation, she said, "That's really what goes on in your mind, isn't it? You were just sitting there, looking at the sand and the water and the sky and you were thinking, 'I bet I would really like Neil Young's music if I bought some of his albums.' That's great." We laughed because it's true.

As I drove on, Neil Young sang

"The King is gone, but he's not forgotten."

I thought about Elvis and how much his music has meant to me. I thought about all the songs I've played that are either about or inspired by Elvis. "Dream I Had Last Night", "California" and Karl's trilogy of songs. I thought about that time long ago on a beach. I thought about all the music I've made that I'm often tempted to just give up on. I sometimes see no reason to do anything but let it rot in the basement. Sometimes it just feels like a nuisiance to even be a musician. Nothing else makes me as happy as being a musician. I often wish I was happy being something that made money, helped my family, and made sense instead of something that requires money, takes time away from my family, and occupies my mind with senselessness.

I drove by a church. The church often has a funny saying on its lit up sign rising out of the ground by the road. I thought about Elvis. On the radio Neil Young again sang "The King is gone, but he's not forgotten" The sign on the church said

GUH Fall CD Progress Report

I am trying to find out how to obtain licenses to legitimately release the cover songs on our CD. I've looked at

1. I think four of the tunes are licensed from there and it had publisher contact information on four of the songs.

2. Representatives of Lou Reed, TMBG, R.E.M., Billy Bragg. Site was fairly useless, except for its link to...

3. All but Sweet Child are represented by the harry fox agency and we can obtain mechanical licenses in 24 hours online. Here's the catch - they only do licenses for 500-2500 copies of CDs. We can get the right to print (up to) 500 CDs for $400, not including Sweet Child. We are likely only going to print 50 or so, as we are not technically a terribly "popular" music group.

I'm thinking that even though it will take longer I will try to get conact information for the songs' individual publishers and write, call, or e-mail them explaining the situation. I have addresses or phone #s for four of them already. I am hopeful that process will not take a terribly long time and may result in some or all of them saying, "just go ahead." or "just send us a check for 15 bucks." So that's where that's at.

I didn't go to Memphis South, our graphics preparation haven, because of the snow today, so no further artwork progress. I'm going to take a picture of the rock garden where the heads were, which is now 2 feet deep in snow. I will now call the photo series "Apr├Ęs L'Automne, L'Hiver". Assuming we go with a clear tray, there will be a very generous 6 (six) high quality artistic photos included with the disc at no extra charge. I will also be previewing these on the web at the earliest opportunity.

It's after midnight now and I'm too tired to continue. Inspired by Chazz Vader's blog, I was going to put up a bunch of stuff about setting goals, finishing this CD and thinking about other future CDs, promotion, promotion of songs, etc. But it's simply too late. This is an interesting quest, as production of a CD always seems to be. One of these years perhaps I will get the whole process down to a science and release like ten CDs all in the space of a few months. That would be sweet. The music is all there and mostly even good!

p.s. Recording on Great Uncle Helmer's next original music CD will continue at Mandimae in Deer Park on April 1 with the latest composition from the band, Bass Guitar, being the only currently targeted composition. Now I have actually fallen asleep and am only typing with general momentum. Zzzzzzz...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Fall (GUH Covers CD) Update

Good news. I got a very professional looking "p in a circle" font from this British guy. It has 26 ps in a circle for matching several fonts. I sent him $5 for "drinking money" and lo and behold it was legit. If only a bar code series was so cheap.

One more visit to the Memphis Evans graphics wizard and we will have finished the artwork. The ceramic and paper maiche heads are dazed but unharmed after being
1. placed in a bed of leaves and given "headstones" (pun intended - back of booklet),
2. camouflaged in a rock garden (inner booklet spread) and
3. cuddling up to whisper secrets to one another in a fallen tree trunk (front (wide angle) and back (close up) covers).

I have put "call Brad Cassetto" (the guy who mastered Generic Mayhem) on the refrigerator whiteboard and in the "home love opportunities" binder, which means it will likely get done, possibly as early as today or tomorrow. I have located the necessary Karl Kreated Data CD dated 12/11/04 featuring the 24 bit stereo masters for the 8 songs. These represent our second and, I hope, final round of mixing.

Depending on Brad's schedule, the April 21 show has a small outside chance at being a CD release party. Assuming, of course that I get the finished master, listen to it at home, and fall immediately in love with it, which always happens. Ha, ha. Is all this activity happening because I happen to have had two caffeinated drinks every day for the last three days?

It makes perfect, perverse sense to me that the photos for a Great Uncle Helmer CD entitled "Fall" should be taken on a sunny morning in the middle of March using washed out leaves that have been through the freeze and thaw cycle several times. Thank goodness my wife had a tremendous pile of them covering her garden.

If you are confused and did not realize that Great Uncle Helmer had recorded a covers CD, you can get the back story for this episode of the Memphis blog right here. That currently extremely minimal site will be updated this week as much as baby naps allow. I would like for it to eventually include the following:
1. An essay and/or fake interviews about the CD by me and another by Karl, probably about what the songs mean to us, how we came to learn them, etc.
2. Complete information about the songs' original authors/performers
3. Information on obtaining the right to release someone else's songs on a CD similar to the information we provided in lieu of lyrics for I in the Sky from Generic Mayhem.
4. A link to purchasing information (once the CD is done).

Fascinating p.s.: When I spell checked this document using blogger's own spell checker, it did not recognize the word "blog".

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Post Oscar Haze

I really liked Syriana and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which were about the only two movies I saw in the theater last year. Obviously I went to them for vastly different reasons and had different expectations and both exceeded my expectations. I think the academy could definitely loosen up and reconnect with more popular, fun, humorous movies. Either that or they should just be up front and change the award name to "Best Dramatic Picture" or even "Best Dramatic Unpopular Picture".

Crash I saw kind of by accident on DVD and wasn't expecting much, but it was quite good. Best picutre? Maybe, but I didn't see enough of them to know. Didn't see "Brokeback" and was never interested. My wife asked me why not. I asked my wife if she would be interested if it were two women. She said no, probably not. I am glad a "gay themed" story got so much attention and I will be so much more proud of our country when gay people are allowed to marry each other. However, I don't like the lead actors that much and I don't really want to see them make out.

Movies are not nearly so important as they were a few years ago and my expectations for a theater experience are extremely low. I avioded seeing "Match Point" in the theater because I like Woody Allen and Scarlet Johanssen so much I would hate for the movie to be ruined by some losers. "Gosford Park" and "The Two Towers" both were completely ruined for me by idiotic discussion and laughter happening around me. But "Match Point" is already in my netflix queue.

The last truly great, magical, communal theater experiences I had were "About Schmidt" at the Uptown and "Vanilla Sky" at Grandview. What was that, five years ago? I've given up on it.

As far as "deserving" awards goes, John Stewart (who I thought was a great host) summarized the Oscars (and all the other "major" awards) when he said, "Martin Scorcese, zero oscars, 3-6 Mafia, one". The "deserving" are not rewarded. Take the grammys (please!) and Elvis. Elvis won two grammys - both for the song "How Great Thou Art". Elvis in the 1950s? Bob Dylan in the 1960s? Zero grammys. Indefinsible.