Taking a change up here, or curve ball, or any appropriate baseball metaphor.
Dave - guitars and vocals
Brian - bass, engineering, mixing
Andy - drums and percussion
Written by Brian Lutz
Bird Essay 10 October 2019\
I wrote a verse in this specifically for Brian. He shares way more on our podcast than I'm comfortable with so I'll share this about my buddy and coproducer Brian Lutz. He's been going through a country song of a stretch in his life. These words are specifically for him: "Inside your crumbled world know you're not alone / Outside the insular lonely people roam / dreamers and malcontents and rebels scared to win."
Nothing ever works out according to plan. That's what ol' Lennon was saying in "Beautiful Boy:" "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Initially this song grew out of a piano jam we did in Forgotten Sons in the 80s. C major. That's a dead give away. It was always in the Big Opera and then when we set about digitizing that motherfucker it wasn't. I tend to fall into the dark side of my personality and sometimes write overtly positive songs. Maybe as a self pep talk? Maybe I'm trying to talk my way into a good mood. Ugh. I don't know. I'm in the cavernous abyss right now that's for sure.
THIS version of this song, you see, uh. Who cares. Whatever, right? Fuck. I had a lot of fun tossing around the word "ennui." I like how it sounds. I like that it's French. The Gauls and the Goths were epic awesomeness, am I right? Yo check out my keyboard wizardry on this'n. The Hammond B3 at the end, I couldn't do the right and left hand parts at the same time! Hah!
I really really like C-major. It's jaunty. It's the opposite of Nigel Tufnel's the saddest of all keys. Here's some examples of the vibe of C major. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "The Ballad Of Curtis Lowe." You know what else is in C-major? "Imagine." "The Card Cheat" off of LONDON CALLING is C major. Shit, yo. I'm spinning muh goddamn wheels! Tell you what, friends, the gears are most definitely engaged. C and F. Love them. LOVE EM!
I have existential angst at the moment. I have it to the point where I feel as if I don't deserve it. As if I haven't EARNED mine own angst! I'll tell you what, folks. I had the opportunity to work with a bunch of men and women from the post Gen X generations. Here's the reality, fellow middle age dorks and dorkettes. We fucked everything up good for today's young-ins. We've poisoned the land. We've destroyed the ecosystem. We've modified the earth so that we are no longer a part of it. I say it constantly, right? Team Thanos every day and twice on Sunday.
Our party was way more intense than that of the Baby Boomers. They were naive little sissy-pants jag-offs. We knew full well that the heart that beats in the center of the party is dark. It has consequences (*PLUG* check out the song "Consequence" from TRAVELOGUE IV!). We were fucking and getting fucked up in college. Today's youths are assuming mountains of debt. A good trend I've seen is that the next ones ain't to keen on breeding. I love that. There are far too many human beings on Earth.
I'll tell you why there's the greatest wealth disparity in the US since the 1920s. It all started with my homeboy Ronald Reagan saying "more government can't solve the problem. Government IS the problem." He was right. Governmental bureaucracy was bloated and self sustaining. It was an AI. Scaling back was the right thing to do. But now we need another course correction. The 1950s was a pretty good era economically. We ruled the world through normal traditional war ways and through culture. This was when it crystalized for me. It was the stimulus package passed by our gubmint in 2017. All the tax cuts for rich folk and for mega businesses are forever whereas the ones for working stiffs are temporary. It pains me to say this but the Democrats are the more fiscally responsible party. How the fuck did that happen? They try to at least pay for a portion of what their abdicating. Not the Republicans. Dammit. I was 100% down with the GOP's obsession with fiscal responsibility during 44's presidency. And then they passed that stupid fucking tax cut and exploded the deficit. There's ANOTHER way we're fucking the next generations. There you go, guys. Have fun cleaning up our shitstorm!
We fucking suck.
For fear of everything the ancient pilgrim moaned
Alive forever brings whatever else was loaned
There is a specialty that no one does dare speak
Here in the aftermath of creaking banshee shrieks
Inside your crumbled world know you're not alone
Outside the insular lonely people roam
Dreamers and malcontents and rebels scared to win
If even everywhere there's that humming din
Like a bird with everything insaide
Plummets shivering shores collide
If it ain't true than we're forever blue
If it is I must oblige
I feel so bad you see 'cause I can't get wat I want
With the assumption that our languages just taunt
Here on peripheral like lightening in the sea
And forged in question marks a language I can't speak
Hell, man, it's everywhere a humming tired ennui
Of shit that's happenstance we're chosen randomly
Directions all a joke salvation is a lie
Flyin' like a bird, you see, says "say hey bye bye."
Like a bird that soars across the sky
Keep on flying 'til we die
A new born curse
A worn out universe
Love and life fall from my eyes yeah
Embryonic Tonic Essay 10 October 2019
We all know about the opioid epidemic in the US. Everybody knows somebody. It's at the point now where the children of friends are dying. The Sackler family should be in prison. Rich people never pay for their crimes. Everything is set up so that the rich and powerful stay that way. The only difference between now and how it's always been is the perceivable air of transparency afforded to the free world at this particular point in time. That's why the USA is so goddamn radical. The ruled having a say in how they are ruled is a break from the tradition of subjugation.
The willingness of the masses to believe anything they're told if they are told often enough boggles my mind. Even though incremental progress is made in terms of compassion winning out over greed, the greedy know how to manipulate enough people so that they stay in power. This nation is a Petri dish for the idea of an idea as government. We all know this. The extent to which people are ingrained in their corner infuriates me. Intolerance is stronger than ever. Intolerance is a uniquely personal sin at the same time as being a form of governance. Look, man, along the way I bothered to find out how the government in America works. I also have tried to have at least a basic understanding of how the governments of other nations operate. It drives me fucking crazy that a basic knowledge of civics isn't required in order to vote. Yeah, I know, that's the hole point of the American idea.
A way around having the same say in how your life is administered as somebody who is willfully ignorant is by lying to dummies. Sociopathologically everyone knows this. We live in times now in which Lincoln's plea to rely on "the better angels of our nature" is being obliterated by bad faith actors. I have a feeling in my gut that freedom is wasted on Americans. In a way we deserve what we get. The only catch is that I'm an American and I want more. You know what I want? Consistency. That's it. All I want is consistency. Wait, that ain't true. I crave honesty. I loath belligerence.
The standing of the United States in the world mirrors that of our individual citizens. We as a nation are isolated. We as individual people are isolated. People thought I was joking when I sang "Peace and Love, Motherfuckers" but I was most certainly not. This song is about addiction. If there's an over riding addiction nowadays it's an addiction to outrage. Basically you must explain to me why you are right. A more intellectually honest approach is for me to figure out why I'm wrong about you. Accepting blame is anathema. God fucking dammit. I get in these moods, you see. The clouds gather and the walls become a ceiling. Spelunking feels like relief from the claustrophobia. And here we are. I haven't been scooting around my beloved trails for far too long. I am adrift.
I don't want to explain this song. I want you to love it. I want one other person to see THE NEVERENDING OPERA. I mean "see" in a metaphysical way. Really, though, I'm proud of this song. The flute you hear is a little gimmick toy I got in the Philippines - or maybe somewhere else. I don't rightly recall. Brian is proud of this one. He did a fantastic job mixing. I like how Ochster switches up double time and half time and what not. It lends depth to the proceedings, like cinematic smoke billowing through a miniature set to create epic awesomeness. Epic awesomeness. Is that too much to crave?
Embrionic sludge suck it down tonight
Down the delusion make you feel alright
Just don't wanna know just don't want to see
Just don't want to care just don't want to be
Listen, man, I dig everything is wrong
Such a stupid thought put it in a song
It's a pennt ante world that don't amount to shit
Ain't got the guts to die so numb yourself to it
Here's to you again
Pain will never end
Time to say "goodbye and hello nanobytes"
Let them pull the load you have earned that right
With everything you done and everything you know
Give yourself to it you deserve it tho
You won't come back again
Won't feel anything
Let that tonic breath let it fill your soul
Let it make that real let it gain control
Here's to nowhere friends
Never ever ends
Tin Foil Girl Essay 23 September 2019
This song was originally written in the mid 80s, or the origins of it at least. I vaguely remember the Replacements LET IT BE changing my life. One thing I shared with my Minneapolis heroes was alcoholism. The line from the original writing that sticks out to me 35 years later is "drink up to the times/drink up to yourself/live your life that's what you gotta do/but how can you live with nothing to give/I'll be unknown before I'm through." I'll leave that there.
I came up with the character of Tin Foil Girl in my basement at some point. A writer writes, right? I finished up the lyrics a few years back in anticipation of recording it with Brian and Andy. My entire life I always wondered what it would be like if someone ran for president of the USA who didn't give a shit about anything. I imagined a soulless creature who said and did anything because this individual didn't actually care about the nation and the inherent promise of a Republic built on ideals. Well fuck me if that didn't happen before mine very eyes. It's what "Tin Foul Girl" does in the song. Having it actually happen was as jarring an incident as 9/11. If anything this guy's hatred of compassion has made the GOP into a bunch of sychophantic pussies. I have to hand it to Trump for remaking one of the two (TWO) American political parties into his own image. It functions as Nixon's southern strategy blooming in full. Guys like Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney are caught up in an inversion of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rains Gonna Fall" namely the line "you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone."
Shit. I guess this is now a political essay. I remember Robert Mueller's hearing. He had a look on his face that said "for fuck sake, Democrats, it's all here spelled out for you - high crimes and misdemeanors - do your fucking job." This Trump guy's a destructive whirlwind. The political stuff can be reversed. This is why I hate this motherfucker. He provides cover for bigotry plain and simple. This nation's bonkers. Presidentialy the pendulum swings wildly. The Obama Reaction was going to happen.
Look. I'm a sociopath. I generally don't care about the human race. Our biggest accomplishment has been to poison the earth. Yay. I do, however, believe that, even though collectively we may deserve annihilation, individually we deserve dignity. The world is a grim place. 99.9% of human existence has been overt suffering and death. It's how nature works. It's benign. I understand why people fearfully flock to religion. It's a comforting message to know that one day your suffering will end. That's also one of my main beefs with monotheism. Everything's about "suffering" with these motherfuckers. There's so much we need to figure out. Having to deal with a majority of a genus and species that believes in Santa Claus is counterproductive. This is how Trump got elected. Facts mean nothing. Truth is now a construct, apparently. Porky the drummer can't understand Trump supporters because they have an endless appetite for eating shit, getting ripped off, and dying young. It's exactly the same with monotheism. It brings individual existential comfort and is devoid of reason and an affront to reality. That's why hysterical liberals and never trumpers call it a cult, because it is.
Blind acceptance is mostly how civilization has functioned since settled societies emerged. This country was the first that attempted to be NOT built on blind acceptance. There was always a chance that a demagogue would ascend and feed into the worst impulses of the populace. Trump is the anti-Lincoln. Whereas Lincoln pled for a reliance on "the better angels of our nature" this motherfucker is burning it down and lining his pockets in the process. Actually, I'm into a lot of what he does. I like how he blatantly tells the working man that he's going to take their money, healthcare, and clean air. It's brilliant. When his supporters say "he doesn't lie" they're referring to how he's honest about how he doesn't like people of color. He's honest about the crimes he commits to line his pockets. He's honest about the things that american voters have long suspected of politicians in general. They are relieved that FINALLY a politician has told them that he only cares about their vote. He hates the same people and that's good enough.
It's breathtaking, isn't it? The most startling thing is that people act surprised that an amoral charlatan won the election. He never pretended to be anything else.
She hates her clothes and so she walks around with nothing on
She's all butt naked at the mall she gets arrested, son
Spends the night in jail
Only thing she wears
Is just the ti foil on her head
The shrink think's she's crazy so he tries to fill her head with drugs
He don't believe the foil transmissions from her kitchen rug
Wall to wall by the sink
Don't make no sense
Just another reason she's insane
She tells the shrink exactly just what he does want to hear
Her plans have gotten bigger and she sees her time is near
Hit's a temporal note
A subsonic wave
And now the doctors are her slaves
Tin Foil Girl she knows exactly how to make some money fast
Makes the doctors clone a formula that makes the highs just last
Sells it to the numb' Cause they hate their lives
Just enough to start her own damn bank
When she multiplies the algorythm it's now on its own
Keeps on making shit be new it knows the sequence of the clone
Tin Foil gets her cut
Parties like it's life
And then becomes the president
She gives a speech up on the mall in downtown Washington
Just tin foil on her head and nothing else got no clothes on
Cut's her promo well
Hits the buller points
The pundits duly play their parts
Because she's turned us into marks
And only did it for a lark
We need a second Noah's Ark
Titular (SGnB) Essay 23 September 2019
I wrote this basic song in my dorm room in Cumberland Hall at the University Of Maryland College Park in 1987 or 88. People tell me I have an unnatural gift for remembering songs. I suppose that's true. I honestly don't know. I know this, though. By the time I bring a song to a bunch of players I've played it at least 500 times. That's why I get mad when people ask to change something. It's like asking someone to change the function of their cardiovascular system. Sure it's possible. It's supremely unnecessary. That doesn't mean I'm not open to suggestion especially in a project as expansive as THE NEVER ENDING OPERA.
I understand the problem. The way that popular music has evolved since the proliferation of electricity has served as a limit to people's imaginations. The concept of the album is arbitrary. I owe it absolutely no allegiance and neither should you. Why should the limits of what can be pressed onto a slab of vinyl in the 1950s be the template for whatever the fuck I'm goddamn writing? Please tell me I want to know.
The problem is mine and mine alone. Of course one can parse the blame around but, being as complaining and whining are now the bedrock of the United States Of America to such an extent that this nation has elected the king of whining and complaining and blaming as the motherfucking president (just right quick before I move on - Imagine General Lee blaming his troops for his loss at Gettysburg - It's unfathomable - But in the words of Bob Haney "I digress" ) the problem is mine. Here's the reason. I'm the only person I've ever met who has a problem with the album system. I've been attempting to change the way that people think of popular music. I haven't succeeded in the slightest. I haven't even convinced the members of the SFP collective.
That's fine. I don't want to put too much on their plates. It's MORE than enough that they're willing to help AT ALL! I can't express the deepness of my love for these people. If any word sums up my attitude to those I share creativity with it's gratitude. Also this, yo. We're all middle aged punkass motherfuckers bitten by the need to rock (silly but true) when we were fucking children. I believe it's in all of our DNA. I merely want to establish a completely new template upon which to display out creativity.
I can hear you getting pissed. "Stop being so vague, Dave!" your shouting at your blue tooth device on your way to work. "I'm already pissed I got to go to fucking work and now you're berating my because YOU haven't explained to me what I don't understand." Well, commuter, today's your lucky day.
I write a lot. When I was a kid pouring through rock bios of the Beatles and the Who what struck me was the business like approach to songwriting that Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Townshend employed. Later on I discovered the Velvet Underground and how Andy Warhol nudged Lou Reed in the same direction at "The Factory." Write like it's your job. Also, in my formative years, I stumbled across the saying that all young writers stumble across: A writer writes. So that's what I did.
As a fan of music, and by music I mean certain combinations of notes, beats, and language, I became curiously amused at how Broadway was taking pop artists and constructing musicals around them, jigsaw puzzling "plots" from hits by the likes of Abba and Frankie Valley. It made more sense to me to produce the Who's Tommy because it was written as a narrative. Aye, there's the rub! It was written as a narrative because Pete said it was. I went about constructing operas out of my songs. My thinking has always been that there's never a good reason to NOT try something artistically. If you fall into that trap you're not an artist. Obviously that's totally cool. Trying to force people into being something they ain't is for the fucking birds.
I'd been writing narratives with songs since I was literally a child.
Dammit. I just realized I spent a bunch of words explaining something and the answer is not anywhere more near than it was at the beginning of this sesh. For fuck's sake. Really, I've spent a lot of time making sure that shit lines up. I just wish we didn't need to be hassled with subsistence so that we could release the NEVERENDING OPERA on a schedule that only paused for holidays.
Goddammit. Still. Why should you believe me? Ain't it too much to ask that someone attempts to understand an artistic POV with no beginning and no end? I say it isn't asking too much. That's what the originators of civilization asked of their workers eons ago. They came up with religions and gods and retributions and salvations and blabbity blues. All I ask is that you enjoy these songs.