IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #7.3
THE ALBUM IS DONE
... Or so it would seem. This record has been very stressful to make and the stress isn't over yet. We've finally finished mixing which was a HUGE task. Twenty-eight songs in a week is harder than you think. Now that the record has been done for a few weeks, everyone is having second thoughts. I don't know. It's only natural. We always go through months of second thoughts. But I will say this: this is the first record we've done in a while that I really like to listen to. Sometimes I can be a total ego-maniac (is anyone surprised?). What can I say? Whether anyone else will get it, I don't know. I'm not sure. In some ways it's really epic (28 songs, an hour long, piano and guest vocals not to mention other studio trickery) and really small (16 tracks instead of the usual 24, less practice and more improvisation, very, very, VERY little sleep) at the same time. A lot of people are going to think it's very pretentious. A lot of people are going to think that it's our worst, though most adventurous record. There may be a little for everyone. But as a result, very few people will like the entire opus. Shit, it's 28 songs. It's an hour long. I know we're asking a lot. All I ask is that you try to listen to it all in one sitting. It works better that way.
Here's a song breakdown if you care...
This was gonna be the actual running order of the record with seven songs on each side. But it turns out that it would make side four 23 minutes long. Uh, that's too long. I think the rule is like 18 minutes a side or something. I don't know.
I don't know. I'm pretty happy with this record. I can't think of a time where I felt like all the work I put into a J Church project really paid off. It's a record that's really allowed us to go in directions we were only able to dabble in before. I don't know what the label thinks of that. Hopefully this is our Zen Arcade and not our Warehouse: Songs And Stories. Or maybe we can only hope to be somewhere in between. I don't know why. But I feel especially attached to this record and really want it to stand as the single vision I've worked on. Even if I'm the only person in the world that really loves this record, at least that will be enough. Hey, sometimes I have to let my ego come out and run amuck. Okay, that's it. I've totally lost my mind...
The cover art will most likely be a series of photos by my friend Sonja Pacho. She's a fantastic photographer who's mostly done stuff for fashion magazines and above ground music magazines. But she's cool and her best work is when she's allowed total artistic creativity in concept and execution.
THE '70S WILL MAKE THE '90S LOOK LIKE THE '70S...
Do you remember the end of the '80s like I do? All of my left wing friends were so confident that the '90s would bring all kinds of radicalism, fighting in the streets... You know, THE REVOLUTION. We all had such high hopes... What the hell went wrong? People used to say,"the '90s are gonna make the '60s look like the '50s" or something like that. The '90s were so bad that we started feeling nostalgic for '70s radicalism. We really started to justify a lot of things... That's how bad the '90s were to me. Fuck it. They're over. Good riddance...
But that's not really what this rant is about. It's about The Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips and what it means (or should mean) to my generation. I love this record. I really love it to death. It does that "thing" that Elvis Costello used to talk about. You know it's good because it reminds you of something. It reminds you of a great song, though you can't quite place what song it is.
This is a fairly simple process. Sure, when I was in High School I listened to Black Flag, Minor Threat and Crass. But when I try to write a song... When I try for that "thing" (that Elvis Costello... blah, blah, blah...), I reach deeper. I go back further in my mind for those vague memories that are pleasant. Or at least meaningful.
I may have been born in the late '60s. But let's face it. I was a child of the '70s. There's no avoiding the truth. The '70s were ten long years that exist as a big, mostly untapped region of my creative unconscious. I mention this because I think this is true for Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips as well. Not that we are anywhere as talented as them, but we come from the same school of songwriting (I think). I can hear him accomplishing what I can only strive to do (although sometimes successfully).
Bottomline, we are victims of Soft Rock, Folk Music and the dawn of FM radio. If you didn't spend your formative years at outdoor festivals, in the back of a VW or at least wearing SOMETHING brown and suede, you may never see the wood through the trees. Sorry, if you have to ask, you may never know.
Admittedly, I'm singling out the Flaming Lips because their new record is getting such well-deserved praise and is currently a constant in my discman. But after the fifth listen I started to really hone in on certain striking influences. Neil Young? Easy. That's way too easy. There's no challenge in admitting that you love old Neil. Shit, did Sonic Youth make him cool or was it really the other way around?
Well, how about this? Bread. Do you secretly yearn for Best Of Bread? Is it one of your guilty pleasures when you get your ten CDs for a penny? If it weren't for the schmaltzy production, couldn't Diary have fit nicely on After The Goldrush? I know it hurts. But it's there in our minds. We know it's bad. But we need it. In the same way that we know Entemann's is bad, but once in a while we still need the cream cheese danish and not the vegan oatcake.
Yeah, we all like the Beatles. No problem. That's part of the dominant paradigm in music we're only too happy to give in to. Yeah, we laugh at Oasis fans and Olivia Tremor Control fans for praying to their false idols. But we're all equal in Richard Starkey's eyes.
But what about Wings? I'll admit it. I own Best Of Wings ... Hold on. There's more. I OWN IT ON CD!!! It's true. Isn't there just a little Band On The Run on The Spark That Bled?
It's okay. Let it all out. Sure, the Monks, Love, Roland Kirk and the Velvet Underground are all great. But so are Steely Dan, ABBA, Joni Mitchell and the Electric Light Orchestra. Okay, maybe they aren't great. But they're there and a pure influence doesn't have to be great. It only has to inspire something great.
I went to see the Sensations exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum a few weeks ago. Y'know, the one where that asshole Giuliani made such a fuss that the turn outs are still big to this day?
I don't know. The controversial stuff was the least of note. I actually wanted more confrontation. Anyone who's bothered to see the exhibit knows that the Madonna painting with elephant dung is clearly in praise. Similar art with elephant dung pays tribute to James Brown and Cassius Clay amongst others. You don't hear people making a stink about that, do you? What all the idiotic Catholics are saying with their protests is simple: the painting is offensive because it portrays the virgin Mary as being black. Bottom line. Catholics who believe that the virgin Mary was white and couldn't possibly be black (or at least be interpreted that way) are either ignorant, racist or both. Hey, I really didn't think it was blasphemous enough. I was feeling underwhelmed (if that's a word).
More shocking was the giant painting of Myra Hindley. One of the Moors killers, she was famous for murdering children in the UK. The painting is from a very famous and very recognizable mug shot painted at a size at least 15 feet high. Looking closer at the canvass and the large picture blurs. You realize (as it becomes it's own unique piece) that the painting is actually made up of hundreds of handprints. Almost definitely children's handprints.
I don't know. I'm not really that knowledgable when it comes to art. There were a lot of things that I thought were really fantastic. There were a lot of things that I didn't get at all. Some stuff just seemed like a load of crap.
The only real comment I can make that isn't totally subjective is that most of the outrage is from people that haven't seen the exhibit. You can like it. You can dislike it. But can you call something blasphemous without having investigated it?
*** On a footnote, I thought it was really disgusting that some little twit tried to deface the elephant dung artwork a few weeks ago. Jeez, I wasn't even really impressed by the painting. Now I wanna exact revenge by defacing some boring old Italian Renaissance piece full of angels, saints and other "god" type stuff.
J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM
Maborosi: Finally got around to seeing this. The story is simple and very moving. A woman is deeply in love with her husband. For no explainable reason, he commits suicide. She eventually re-marries but still feelings resurface. Nothing is ever truly resolved. You just learn to cope. Very satisfying in it's simplicity and complete lack of dogma. Some absolutely beautiful cinematography as well. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen if possible. This was made by Hirokazu Kore-eda who more recently did the film After Life.
South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut: Haven't you already seen this? The Nation said it was the film of the season! I've seen it five times and wanna see it again! My God, does this make up for the Blair Witch crap.
MY HEART CONDITION
As you probably know, I've got a heart condition. Does anyone really care? I don't blame you if you don't. If you really want to know the whole story, I'll write all the gory details in the next newsletter.
Okay, that's it for this time around. Feel free to send me comments, hatemail, praise, fuck-offs, etc.
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