Moist Howlette (kkg) Sat 31 Jul 99 12:29
I should also mention engineer Dave Nelson at Outpost Studios, who is really more of a co-producer, and stalwart sidemen Michael Ross, David Phillips, Peter Tucker, Billy Lee Lewis, Chris Kee, David Golia, Henry Salvia and Kathleen Enright and Keta Bill who did most of the background vocals with me as the "Tourettes" - also Dian Langlois who did some background vocals. There are many many many others, everyone worked for peanuts with a great attitude and a big heart, not to mention talent.
Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 1 Aug 99 11:07
How did you figure out the song order on the CD's, Kathi? For example, when I got my copies, I immediately noticed that "Proud Mary" came after my song. This is obviously not a coincidence. Also, while we are at it, did any author turn you down when you invited him or her to jump into the world of music?
(my|pi)thical (satyr) Sun 1 Aug 99 15:37
> song order Flashcards?
Moist Howlette (kkg) Sun 1 Aug 99 16:03
Actually, we went crazy trying to figure out song order. There was no obvious way it was "supposed" to be because of all the different musical styles and voices. And actually Mary, I didn't until this second realize the "Proud Mary" connection...Duh. Starting with the fact that we decided not to pare down the number of songs to what would fit on a single CD, we figured we might as well use everything we had and make it an extravaganza. We tried a lot of different song orders (at onepoint I tried bunching songs by musical style - a "rock" section, "country" section, "calypso" section etc.) and none of them really worked very well. What I ended up doing was this: I pretended I was giving a dinner party and had to seat 32 people at 2 tables. What arrangement would make for the liveliest conversation and the best party? Who did I need to separate so they wouldn't punch each other out by the soup course? So - hmmm, let's see...Cynthia won't mind if Oscar makes a suggestive comment or two. Molly adores Robert Reich and vice versa. Amy and Norman seemed to hit it off at a recent party, and I know Maya is a fan of Dave Barry. Walter would love to talk movies with Leonard, and Mary and Tananarive would adore meeting each other - I have a feeling they'd really hit it off...Steve, Dave, Amy, Leonard and Molly will have to table-hop, but they won't mind. Steve has raised three kids and I'll bet he read Tomie's books to all of them...and that was my ultra-scientific sequencing system. Pretty "girlie," huh? But I think it worked. I have to say I have never been turned down in so many words, by anyone. And in fact there are people I wanted to record that we didn't get to - I ran out of time and money and it was already too long. There were a couple of folks who didn't show up for their sessions, or who might have said "no" if I'd pushed harder. But basically by the end I was recording people who were the most enthusiastic and kind of met me halfway. There are a couple of songs we didn't use, but I'm saving them for future projects.
Mary Mackey (mm) Sun 1 Aug 99 19:09
So what are the titles of these songs you have in your back pocket and who sings them?
Cynthia Robins (cynthiar) Mon 2 Aug 99 13:09
YOu mean Oscar put the make on me and I didn't even notice?????
Moist Howlette (kkg) Mon 2 Aug 99 13:55
You were probably too busy doing Marx Brothers routines with Leonard Maltin.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Mon 2 Aug 99 14:02
Anyway, Mary - future projects include: "Come and Get It" - a CD of food songs chosen by Roy Blount Jr. (He has collected over 1500 food songs and will pick his 15 favorites or so. I plan to use Decca and Maya's "One Fish Ball" song, and a Norman Mailer food poem and a couple of Roy's food poems, too.) "Kathi's All-Star Jam" - a way of doing my own CD without reallys aying so. I've chosen some of my favorite moments from the jams at the Paradise Lounge, and have started recording those people doing their most original and quirky material. Several duets with friends, including the famous "slut song" by the Kath Sisters, a rare vocal appearance by Joe Goldmark...a few surprises. Tony's next project, whatever he decides to call it. He REALLY wants to do another CD, and has been writing away.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 2 Aug 99 16:18
What is this "famous slut song" of which you speak, Kathi? Can you post some of the lyrics or is it a visual thing?
Moist Howlette (kkg) Mon 2 Aug 99 18:55
Oh - well, I'm not sure the song translates well just to read. But I'll give you some background: My pal and sometime song-writing partner Kathleen Enright and I went to SXSW Music Festival in Austin in '98, to sing backup for my "Molly Ivins, Honkytonk Sweetheart" showcase. One night we were watching another showcase with my wonderful group of crazy Texas girlfriends. We're all "of a certain age" and get together a couple of times a year to relive our rock & roll glory days. The most amazing looking long-haired young man walked into the club, eliciting a lustful reaction from my pals - I caught a look exchanged between Lisa and Kath that was priceless - but as the gorgeous thing walked by it was clear that we were exactly as interesting to him as the wallpaper. That night in our hotel room Kath and I wrote the song "Older Than Him" which is also known as the "slut song." The most requested song ever played at the Paradise Lounge jams, it serves the ultra-exciting double purpose of making our husbands uncomfortable when they hear it performed in public. I've also hauled it out at a bunch of Well parties, which was why I assumed anyone reading this might be likely to have heard it. We recorded a cheapo version in someone's garage, but I have to wait for the recording fairy to leave some studio time under my pillow, in order to really do it justice.
Roberta Piazza (rpiazza) Mon 2 Aug 99 23:03
wishing I were the recording fairy....
Mary Mackey (mm) Mon 2 Aug 99 23:35
I *love* the slut song. Kathi kindly sent a copy to my blues singing sister, Zain (lead singer in the blues group O2R in Bloomington, Indiana, says the proud sister). It's a great song for any woman who lived through the '60s. Heh. Okay Kathi, this seems like a good time to ask you a question I've been saving. One thing I've always loved about you is that you have fun and everyone who is with you has fun too. You play better (and think up more ingenious ways to play) than almost anyone I know. You always have the courage to be outrageous and silly. So tell us: what is the importance of having fun? What does it do for you, and for the rest of us? What's the most fun you've ever had (that you're willing to post in a public venue)?
Moist Howlette (kkg) Tue 3 Aug 99 00:52
Oooh Mary, that is a good question. There's an old Kinky Friedman quote that comes to mind: "Some things are too important to be taken seriously." - which kind of relates. Somehow we get this idea in our heads that stuff that's really important can't be fun, or something. That has always felt very very wrong to me. I've been lucky to have some very good teachers and role models in this area, and have always felt that "just for the fun of it" is a great reason to do something...I think a lot of this comes from my grandmother, Clara Banoff, who used to wear her long hair in braids and yodel when she washed her tenement windows in New York. She was able to see the funny side of anything. She was also skilled at making clever and fanciful toys out of pretty much nothing - dollhouses out of cardboard and scraps of paper, puppets out of paper plates, that sort of thing. She didn't have an easy life, especially as a young mother, but her two daughters were indulged with fanciful and imaginative toys, games, stories and outings, most of them made up from whatever happened to be around. Up until her very last years, she had a sense of playfulness that was contagious. So did both of my grandfathers, who adored practical jokes and funny stories. It is really really hard to come up with THE most fun moment ever! Many of the high points of my life recently have involved performing, but that really belongs in a different category (hint hint: ask me why later, OK?) Writing songs with Kathleen, or with Gretchen - that's up there, because it always feels so cooperative and effortless...not effortless exactly, that's the wrong word, but comfortable. BUT REAL FULL_TILT FUN...hmmm... the first time I stayed out way too late playing music with friends, or jumped on the back of a boy's motorcycle as a teenager...dancing to zydeco music at a crawfish festival in Louisiana...taking my first, last and only flying lesson at lake Elsinore...playing silly games with my son when he was little...sharing breathless earthquake stories after a very close call in Mexico City (for YEARS - and the stories get better as the years go by!)...but for total no-holds-barred hilarity my thoughts keep drifting to one particular night about 30 years ago. You have to trust me that this was incredibly funny: Our family grew up with another family with kids close to our ages, the Lipmans. The Lipman boys spent a lot of time at our house, and vice versa but by the late 60s we were older and had drifted into the beginning of our real lives - I was home from Antioch College on break, and for some reason all three Lipman boys were visiting - also on break from college or whatever they were up to then. We decided to take a midnight sail in my family's small sailboat...of course, because it was the 60s, we brought a guitar along (on a SAILBOAT? I know...but we did.) It turned out that a group of boats, a regatta from Connecticut was peacefully moored out in the Harbor. Every boat appeared to be filled with sleeping families. So - we decided to have a funeral at sea. Jon played a Civil War dirge on the guitar. Mike stood up and recited a memorial service. I cried softly and (I hoped) dramatically. The younger boys murmured sympathetic nonsense. One by one, lights appeared in the portholes of surrounding boats. We carried on until we had a large enough audience, and then threw a heavy object overboard and returned to shore, trying so hard not to laugh that we nearly all wet our pants. There was something about the lateness of the hour, and the spontaneous and theatrical and cooperative nature of our prank, all mixed up together that makes me remember that night as one of the most fun ever. Why? You got me.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Tue 3 Aug 99 00:58
P.S. It is also a proven fact that fun is good for you. It really is! There are studies...somewhere. Also, Mary's sister is an excellent singer! I've heard her impressive CD.
Mary Mackey (mm) Tue 3 Aug 99 16:22
She's the only one in the family with any musical talent. The rest of us sound like sincere frogs. Okay, I'll bite. Tell us about the peak moments of performing. Tell us about the songs and scenes that made you bliss giddy.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Tue 3 Aug 99 16:57
Is this where I get to get up on my soap box? Yeah! See, I have this philosophy about music and performance that goes back to what may very well be my romantic fantasies about the origins of both. I like to think that everyone in the world is born musical. And there is at least one song that everyone can sing. I imagine our origins as tribal humans and (again I hasten to add this may be pure fantasy) gathering in circles where music and performance are sacred acts. There is no headliner and there is no audience - everyone participates to the best of his or her abilities, and there is a place for the children, the men, the women, the old people in the tribal circle. Maybe people take turns venturing into the center of the circle to "take a solo" but no one is excluded. The modern idea of separating the "talent" and the "audience" has always felt stupid and artificial to me. And there is nothing more boring than a perfect, polished musical act with no energy or soul - we've all seen those a million times. That's why I like to do jams where anyone can participate, and why I found it so thrilling that each and every author who sang on STRANGER THAN FICTION! walked into the studio and did the musical equivalent of jumping off a cliff blindfolded; they all landed on their feet, relatively unharmed. So what I try to do with the CD (and to an extent what I was trying to do when I started the Remainders too) is say, "Look how much fun this is! You should try it. Don't cheat yourself of this experience. Go find some friends and start a band. Take an improv class. Learn to do something wildly creative and fun that you've always wanted to do. It's never too late. What's the worst that can happen?" When I DO find myself in front of an audience, I try to give the performance the respect it deserves. I still believe that performing is -or can be- transformational and sacred. The best performances are always that, in a borad sense. I believe in dressing up for gigs, in giving them total attention and concentration and best effort. Anything less is not only cheating the audience, it's cheating yourself. So the most fun I've ever had, the highest I've ever been, is when that harmony kicks in just right and everyone has their parts down and you don't have to say it cause everyone feels it...it's the closest thing in my life to church, and it's happened as often in the "bad" bands as in the "good" ones, maybe more often. It's what I live for. Now back to our regular programming.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Tue 3 Aug 99 17:00
Playing a song with Bruce was pretty cool, too.
Moist Howlette (kkg) Tue 3 Aug 99 23:44
And, if anyone wants a far more articulate and well-researched treatise on music as a verb as opposed to a noun, try to find Mid-Life Confidential and read Dave Marsh's chapter. Another really good book that touches on this stuff is Deep Play by Diane Ackerman.
Cynthia Robins (cynthiar) Wed 4 Aug 99 08:43
Kathi is so right on about the higest moments you can have is when you know you've hit a groove when the harmonies are so accurate and sweet, they shimmer in the air. Sometimes, when I'm in front of a mike (and the only times in the last 5 years have been courtesy of Kathi and her jam), I'm more relaxed and happy than I am in front of my keyboard. I write for a living; I sing for my heath. I've sung all my life. STudied from age 13 to 33; sang opera; performed in musicals in high school and college; went to national Music Camp and have never ever been able to share the elation I feel when I'm performing . . . until now. It's often better than sex. However: I think some people have an ear for music and some people have an ear for appreciation. NOt everybody CAN carry a tune and not everybody should. But music is the interntional language, the soother of troubled minds and the sound track to our emotions. Second only to the sense of smell, music carries atavistic associations that can put us back into situations we haven't thought of for years. Whenever I am in the Synagogue, for instance, and I hear the music of the minor scales that set Hebrew and Jewish music apart from other music, I start to cry. It brings up such incredibly deep feelings and associations for me that go beyond memory. . .Music that has been bred in the bone. . .
Mary Mackey (mm) Wed 4 Aug 99 10:25
Wonderful post, cyn. So Kathi, if you could record anyone in the world for your next project, who would it be?
Moist Howlette (kkg) Wed 4 Aug 99 11:14
Ooooh... How about Gore Vidal's Christmas Album? Actually, if we could bring Decca back for one more recording session, that would be my first pick.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 4 Aug 99 11:57
LOL at "Gore Vidal's Christmas Album"!
Mary Mackey (mm) Wed 4 Aug 99 22:50
Who else? Dead or alive . . . .
<kkg>'s smarter brother (pk) Thu 5 Aug 99 00:28
Decca and Studs Turkel were gonna do "You Say Tomato..."
Moist Howlette (kkg) Thu 5 Aug 99 09:51
Yeah! I wanted to do that. But Studs never actually said yes. I would REALLY like to do2 series of duets: "Strange Bedfellows" - almost any 2 public people you could never imagine together - and "Mutual Admiration" duets (We did a tiny bit of this on STF!) - combining a real musician and "lit-rock" celebrity who adore each others work. The Stephen King/Skunk Baxter vocal/guitar duet is one example of that. I'd also like to figure out a way to license some of the stuff I already have to books-on-tape producers. It wouldn't work in every case, but for example if Roy Blount jr. recorded a book-on-tape of "Be Sweet" ...it would be lovely to hear him sing "Roly Poly" at the end - and that would be true of many of the others, too. So far I've made some inquiries and have gotten exactly nowhere, about this.
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