ASTRID

Astrid
EP, CD-R and Download
area1234/Not Silent, 2003

1. In The Presence of My Love
2. That Was My Song
3. Baby’s Eyes
4. Not My Enemy

Astrid is the “project for old people” I’ve been threatening to put out for a few months now. Although some of the songs still might be a little too out there for most people my age to get into. These songs have already existed for a few years unrecorded because I put nearly all my energy into Frank’s Enemy during that time. I really wanted this project to be a 180-degree turnaround from what I am normally associated with. I kept the distorted guitar out (except in Not My Enemy), and paid a lot of attention to my singing. I discovered I have a tendency (not to say an affinity) for improvsed vocal scatting. Adventurous stuff for me.

I also meant to fade most of these songs down at the end, so I recorded pretty long codas for them (the word interminable may come to mind). But I ended up liking the way they sounded without the fades, so I left them in. I tried to label the styles of the songs as clearly as possible so no one gets any surprises upon download. I am not afraid to call this “pop.”

The drums are taken from a drum loop CD-Rom I bought called Rhythmic Journey by former Journey drummer Steve Smith. It probably wouldn’t have been my first choice but it was the only one they had at the local Guitar Center. For these pop songs, however, the loops were more than adequate. On my next project, we’ll see how Steve fares as a member of Frank’s Enemy.

I gave this project my daughter’s name as a title because my songs are almost children to me as well. The songs on this project also all deal with elements of my marriage to my wife Kristina, and Astrid herself is a product of our marriage too. Finally, whatever future projects I put out which consist of these types of songs will be named after our other children as well. So Astrid (the virtual CD) is actually the first of a cycle of projects consisting of pop songs dealing with life, love, grief, faith, etc. I’m really interested in hearing what you think about Astrid, so email me. (08.04.2003)

IN THE PRESENCE OF MY LOVE

I wrote this, words and music, to my wife and about my wife back in April 1991 when we were just starting to date. I didn’t necessarily set out to make it Caribbean-sounding, but in fooling around with the overdubs of guitar and my daughter’s toy piano it came out like this. I got the steel drum sound by pitch-shifting the toy piano down an octave. It’s probably the least-edgiest thing I’ve ever done (notice I didn’t try to label it “alternative” above), but this is not the kind of song I write every day. And I never write what I don’t feel. It is a sincere and non-ironic declaration of love to my one true love. I go a little wild at the end vocally. I just sang it as I felt it, like a second-rate Van Morrison. (08.04.2003)

I’ll dress up nice and neat
Put on my best cologne
This feeling is so sweet
Just hung up my telephone
In her job she waits
I’ll show up right on time
Lovely she’ll emerge
I’ll kiss her lips with mine

I’ve got them butterflies
I’m a little bit in awe
Happens when I know I’ll be
In the presence of my love

Look at the way she walks
And how she dresses so fair
Her hand so delicate
Like the bow in her hair
Her eyes so full of wonder
A window into her soul
I just want to take her hurts
And make them all my own

She’s a vision of spring
Like the sun on a meadow
Smells of honey and rose
Twilight so mellow
Frosty moonlit blue
A gossamer lightness
Playing ‘round her hair
A small quiet brightness

4/8/91

THAT WAS MY SONG

This is something of a semi-fictional, bittersweet look back at a life filled with regrets after it’s too late to change things. My sister-in-law Claudia did the la la la female vocal (after much persuasion from me). The music is somewhat influenced by OMC’s How Bizarre and BAD’s Rush. The music was heavily cut-and-pasted in ProTools; I did very little actual playing. I just love thes computer recording thing, I only need to play a riff once or twice and then I can just cut and paste away. I know my sister-in-law was pretty relieved that she didn’t have to sing la la la la la 8 million times. I only needed one good la la la. It took a few times to get it, though. (08.04.2003)

I guess I’m free
At last, as they say
I’m sorry I ever
Lost my way
Never saw it come
I wasn’t going to run
I can’t apologize
I just laugh it off

What I gave the world
For better or worse
Was sometimes a blessing
Sometimes a curse
I don’t think I
Was ever understood
But there’s a lot I’d take
Back if I could

Bombs in my past
I suppose I just had to run
Show me a man
Who didn’t want to be someone
I’ll be judged harsh
And deservedly so
Can’t say there was too much
I didn’t know

Sometimes I wonder about love
This thing I’d love to grasp
Seems so hit and miss
So flunk and pass
To not watch my back
Can’t live in my veins
Somewhere in my soul
There’s a collection of names

I can revel in the tears
That are wiped by the years
And the iron that follows
Cauterizing the fears
A little more dead
Aren’t we all
As we accept the crawl
Each to his own fall

This pottery’s pure clay
But the time is past
Someone else is first
I did not last
I just amassed
And the victor gets spoiled
Mercy upon him
From the loser’s toil

2/3/99

BABY’S EYES

I tried very hard to write additional lyrics to this song, but I never was able to get happy with them. Those few lines could almost turn into a mantra if they weren’t slightly sarcastic. The song pokes fun at the prevailing attitude in this cross-cultural city I live in that obsesses over the eye color of one’s child. As a brown-eyed “handsome” man myself, I never really cared one way or the other. Then I started hearing about subtle favoritisms within extended families towards kids with lighter eyes, which I think is pretty messed up, to say the least. Not in the Jim Dobson manual of child-rearing, no matter what the ungodly ones say. The song degenerates into me scatting away like at the end of Presence Of My Love, except I’m also doodling around on guitar at the same time like Les Paul with two fingers cut off. (08.04.2003)

What color are baby’s eyes?
Are they blue and is his skin so white?
Gonna give him an American name
Eliminate all chance of family shame

You don’t look Jewish
You don’t look Black
You don’t look Latin
How ’bout that?

3/13/98

NOT MY ENEMY

I tried very hard to write additional lyrics to this song, but I never was able to get happy with them. Sometimes you can say more with less. The mad distortion is my venerable DOD Buzz Box wreaking havoc on my acoustic guitar (I hooked the box to the removable pickup I put on the guitar, and I miked it clean as well). I put it on my bass, too. I tried to sound like some cheesy crooner from 1952 against this sea of white noise. I got my wife Kristina to sing a verse, too. Wow. The guitar solo was another adventure. It’s double-tracked with the two guitars attempting to play in unison. I say “attempting” because I recorded myself playing those bends all the way from the beginning of the song, thinking I could simply use the best-sounding ones for the actual solo. By the third go ’round my fingers were killing me (no time to practice), and I was fumbling a bit. Call me warped, but I preferred the accident-laden way the bends came out at the third go ’round. So I used those. Keep in mind that I could have had that cat-strangling guitar going all throughout the tune if I wanted to. (08.04.2003)

Who knew what we were getting into?
Not me and I guess not you
Who saw what we where headed for?
Not me and I know not you

You’re not my enemy
I guess you never were
You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for

5/15/01

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