This is gorgeous. I love the interplay between Joe's and my guitars. We had an electric and an acoustic version. We mashed them up. This is the prettiest shit with which I've ever been associated.
Look. It was absolutely insane and unexpected when the Raves won their first Super Bowl. I had been traumatized by the Colts leaving in 1984. My brother and I had season tickets. That we (WE!) came out of nowhere and rode off into the sunset as World Champs, in a way, it made me believe that anything was possible. Little stupid Baltimore, nothing since the O's won the World Series in 1983. We didn't even have an NFL team for over a decade! No hoops. No NHL. This was a transformative moment for me. It's odd to be so invested in something over which I have absolutely no control. But, f'real, that's the essence of being a fan.
Another song for and about my wife. It's pretty catchy I think. These songs have a carefree spirit that is unusual for one of my records.
Kass and I went to New Orleans together when we were dating. It was achingly romantic and magical. We stayed at The Frenchman right on the southeast tip of The French Quarter. We befriended a bartender at a place called The Abbey on Decatur Street who had recovered from a stroke brought on by alcoholism. We called him "Strokey." That feels like a very New Orleansy thing. I had proposed to her soon enough after this. The band passed on this song for EUTAW STREET too! Harrumph. So this is "micro" in the parlance of the album SOCIETY FRINGE PLAYER.
Frustrated with Circle 9 and in response to Steve Earle's COPPERHEAD ROAD I wrote SOCIETY FRINGE PLAYER. This is an answer song to "Johnny Come Lately." Yo dig I fuck up the geography pretty badly. I only have a rudimentary understanding of America's involvement in World War II. Mainly it's from Hollywood. It's very very unlikely that Freddie fought at Guadalcanal AND Normandy Beach. I'll worry about the narrative holes never. This shit's done been digitized! The main story, though, is about young men shipped off to war barely having ever even touched a woman. It's the Samwise Gamgee story set in the 1940s. I don't want the gender roles to be rigid, however. It's more about a soldier lucky enough to return home and find love. Musically, as well as Steve Earle, it's a Pogues rip off natch.
I recorded a whole record while Circle 9 recorded EUTAW STREET because I was so frustrated. Eventually I talked them into doing operas. Tell you what. We passed over this song for EUTAW STREET and it pissed me off. So, being as I'm a Steve Earle acolyte, I figured it out on mandolin and did my own version of his masterpiece COPPERHEAD ROAD. First half macro second half micro. I named the album SOCIETY FRINGE PLAYER. Nowadays this is in the live version of TRAVELOGUE AMERICA PART TWO. It opens it up after intermission which for me means Twizzlers and Coke from the concession stand. These are some of the finest lyrics I've ever written.
Here I'm name dropping my wife in a song title AGAIN! ;-) This is Hamer supplementing the mighty 9 on trumpet and Marge from Duku singing the back ups. This also has stayed in the live set forever. It's as true a declaration of love as I've ever gotten. Unapologetic love songs are tough. I don't know how the Beatles did it without ever sounding like a bunch of drips. I reflexively want to sabotage lovely little odes with profanity. I still am pretty much a 14 year old boy at heart. Also, the vocal/guitar line is inspired by "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" by the Beatles off of Abbey Road. It's a C-major so I expect to be weeping at some point.
I love my country so much I oft get emotional when thinking about the undoubtedly excellent shit that we have established. We're also Robespierre levels of dangerous bonkers. Our two main freedoms collided together with the Branch Dividians, the freedoms to arm and worship. In this nation they go in that order. Distrust of governmental forces is engrained in certain strains of Americana. Of course it is. This is a nation built on people fleeing other nations. I remember reading an in depth article about Koresh in either Spin or Rolling Stone (pretty much indistinguishable to a hipster Gen Xer) and it boiled down to him being an American version of Mike Meyer's Wayne Campbell and WAYNES WORLD. At least that's what I took from it. Party on!
I was trying to write a version of Crazy Horse's "Cortez the Killer" for Circle 9. I STILL want to work up a live version of this with Bri and Ochster. I have an acoustic arrangement too. I want it to be SFP's "out of the blue and into the black." The fellas never wanted to play this one. We were doing mostly 45 minute sets around this time so we would only have 1 longish song. Bidnizz, jack! This is my favorite Circle 9 performance. Also, I didn't realize it at the time but Joe Gallagher introduced the SFPeeniverse with "Moai," "Gateway Of the Sun," and "Pyramids Of the Moon." I'm forever in his debt! You can hear the "Moai" riff during the calm down part. Obviously the SFPeeniverse begins with Circle 9's THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES.
I'm old enough to appreciate westerns. Yo dig. I was struck by something that conservative commentator David Brooks said during the upheaval of 2020. While discussing the protests sparked by the execution of George Floyd on PBS he said "(F)or many decades, the pioneer experience was the defining American experience. And then the immigrant experience was the defining American experience.
Now the struggle for racial justice is the defining American experience." He's absolutely right. This here song is a romanticisation of the initial American Experience at the tale end of the European Conquest of the Americas. As a nation we need to talk about this shit. Millions died. Also this is an obvious nod to the "pioneer" of Outlaw Country, the legend known as Hank III.
Being a rock and roll kid I didn't realize until much later that you could write songs based in historical times. Fantasy is well represented but actual history is almost nonexistent. Being a big Steve Earle fan and having been introduced to the Pogues by the woman I would eventually marry it was like a whole new world of possibility exploded upon my essential existence as a songwriter. The further back I went the more and more it felt absolutely right to base songs in a time period that decidedly ain't America from the 1950s on. It's such a miniscule sample size! This is my first stab at writing about a different century. They're all just cowboy songs anyway.
This song was originally called "Life's a Beach" and I wrote it in 1987 whilst living at Ocean City, MD for the summer. I remember people crying when I would play it. I just RECENTLY realized that these piano middle C power ballads are very effective in bringing forth emotion. I repurposed it for THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES. I used my wife's name. This is absolutely inspired by Ken Burns The Civil War which I watched over and over again. Growing up in Maryland we're there.
This is inspired by Clint Eastwood's THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by the Band. In today's polarized world it's a challenge to attempt to see each others' perspectives. Philosophically it's eminently frustrating. Here's a different approach. I used to be a construction worker. Every cliche is pretty much rooted in reality. Everybody is racist or homophobic until they're working with a person of another race or sexual proclivity. Once it's proven that a worker works they transcend the stereotype. It always bugged me that this enlightenment stayed on the job site. At least that's how things appeared.
The US is completely insane. The threat of violence is always present. That's what the Axis didn't understand during World War II. We are ahead of the curve always in terms of a willingness to inflict harm on other human beings. I also find the image of Europe looking on in concerned fascination while we butchered each other with iron clad war ships amusing. One day we'll come to terms with our vicious soul but I ain't holding my breath.
Here's the big shift from bar band to rock opera band. We opened with this for years, especially in showcase environments. I loved opening with it because there's awesome head bang breaks where I made my hair look crazy. I shit you not. We were in denial for YEARS about boastfully being willfully ignorant of the way we presented ourselves but that was total horse shit. We absolutely played up the working class apocalyptic drunken mountain men on speed look for years.
This was one of the first songs I had to go back and change the lyrics because I got the geography fucked up! I was mimicking "Answering Machine" by the Replacements off of LET IT BE. I played this live until Ochster solidified himself as the SFP drummer. I was also trying to tell a sorrowful tale along the lines of another Replacements song, "Little Mascara" off of TIM. The open B minor would hurt my lil fingies when I played this acoustically.
This was recorded during the same session as "Agenda." I was very proud of this. Honestly? Joe Gallagher is the only other guitar player I'll play chords behind. I was glad to hear him rock out here. I remember when we released this as a 45 we got feedback that Staten Island's college station played it muchly. This is me realizing that youthful rebellion turns into simply acting like an asshole at some point.
I wrote this between the Baltimore Colts and the Baltimore Ravens. It's my first, and almost only recorded, rapping. Even so, I write a lot of raps but they come out like singing. Everything always comes out a little differently (or even a lot!) than what is intended. This is the Dennis Barth Circle 9. Joey Joe Joe playing his old GEE-tar with the Egyptian symbols, and Pork on drums. This was the 9's first time in the studio. It was the first thing I recorded that turned up an a CD.
1. Picket's Charge from The War Between the States Disc One South
2. Kiss the Snake from The War Between the States Disc One South
3. Death In America from The War Between the States Disc Two North
4. Educated Man from The War Between the States Disc Two North
5. Sherman's March from The War Between the States Disc Two North
6. Long Walk Home from The War Between the States Disc Two North
7. Fandango from The War Between the States Disc Two North
8. Roam, Sucker, Rome from Travelogue Act 1
9. Here We Go from Travelogue Act 1
10. Trip To the Grocery Store from Travelogue Act 1
11. Zero from Travelogue Act 1
12. Texas Thunderstorm from Travelogue Act 1
1. Nostalgia from If It Was Up Your Ass You'd Know It
2. Soulprice from If It Was Up Your Ass You'd Know It
3. Gateway Of the Sun from If It Was Up Your Ass You'd Know It
4. The Revolution's Come & Gone from If It Was Up Your Ass You'd Know It
5. Come On Now from If It Was Up Your Ass You'd Know It
6. Sunday's Blind from If It Was Up Your Ass You'd Know It
7. Roaches from Eutaw Street
8. David Koresh's Last Words from Eutaw Street
9. Update from Eutaw Street
10. Suzi's Not a Virgin Anymore from Eutaw Street
11. Hogneck from Eutaw Street
12. Moai from The War Between the States Disc One South
13. Rebel Stand from The War Between the States Disc One South
14. Miss Kathryn from The War Between the States Disc One South