Back in 2005 I saw The Dresden Dolls for the first time. I had heard Coin Operated Boy on WCYY’s Top 5 at 5 and nearly had a brain aneurism when I discovered that it wasn’t just a one-off foray into cabaret sound land. As a pretty socially isolated teenager who found solace in Judy Garland movies and Tori Amos and they seemed to be the magical bridge I was looking for between the two. I saw them at the Bullmoose Warehouse in Scarborough and was blown away by their acoustic set and was then moved to tears by their full set at SPACE Gallery. For your “old school” pleasure, here is a poorly lit picture from that day:
That’s also the day I decided I shouldn’t use a disposable camera without flash for documenting important events like concerts.
I remember one clear thought during the SPACE concert, where I looked at Amanda and thought: “I want to do that.” That’s what got me into this silly little mess that I’m in right now with my music—seeing her pour her soul out on stage (if you’ll forgive the cliché) turned on a switch on my head (another cliché) that suddenly connected how I could get my frustrations out, how I could communicate things to people that I couldn’t find the attention span to speak (those who know me and interact with me on a daily basis will know that I speak like Neil Gaiman’s Delirium a lot of the time in terms of conversational content).
Either way, it gave me the courage to take a step and perform Tori Amos’s “Pretty Good Year” at the senior talent show in 2005:
At the time I thought I was awesome, but seeing the video it’s almost painful to me how not-awesome I am. I’ve learned a lot about stage performance since and I know I still have a hell of a long way to go but….yeah. Kind of embarrassing.
ANYWAY! My point is that Amanda Palmer, by virtue of being older and more ambitious, tends to do cool things because the idea for similar things is even fully incubated in my mind. For example, I’d been taking dead photographs of myself for about 6 months before she announced what would become the Who Killed Amanda Palmer book. I love that, though—it shows me I’m on the right track and it gives me a challenege to deviate in my own little ways to keep things interesting.
Such is the case with what I’m doing right now.
I’m sure you remember I was in a band this past summer, right? Gin Circus? No? Well, here’s a video of us to remind you:
It was a tough summer for me for a lot of reasons. I booked our first show the night that Michael Jackson died and considering Michael Jackson was my first hero I saw that as a good sign for the musical future that my first performance of my adult life was booked as he did the “off this mortal coil” shuffle. I don’t deny I learned a lot about myself between then and now, but I also ended up going through various levels of emotional hell that I’m only now beginning to genuinely get over. However, as I’m getting over things I’m not angry enough any more to go into detail. Suffice to say that a bunch of things led to me writing a handful of songs that for many reasons could never be Gin Circus songs. Months after, though, it’s proving good therapy to polish off recordings of them and put them out there, to be done with them.
So that’s what I’m doing here:
I like that cover as well. I took it outside Alex’s house before practice one day. Apparently it had run into a window pretty fast because it didn’t have a head left, just a disintegrating body. It’s gross now, but I was in a morbid mood at the time and took a bunch of pictures of it. It made sense to make it the cover considering the location and the title, which was from one of our songs, “Clementine.” The line being: “I’d crush your little skull in, girl, to get him out of your head.”
The nice thing about my constantly having my camera with me is that I have an image that corresponds to each song within the timespan of a week. In other words, the album art that’s on my fan page on facebook right now is a picture I took within the same time as when I wrote the song. You can see what I looked like, what I was doing, and, by inference, what influenced the song.
This one is my favorite because it encompasses the downfall of everything I thought was stable back then. The post-crash car, the person looking at the car, the house it’s in front of—they all ended up in songs and I think twenty years from now, when people no longer hate each other and these things are simply documents relating to a few months in the lives of a few people, it’ll be a beautiful connection:
But none of that is ready to remotely release yet. Other than a rough draft CD to my friend Mary.
But here is the question of the day: If I went to all the effort to release this fabled CD in some form, would you buy it? Would you see me perform it?
While you answer that I’ll go bake some more cupcakes: