Madness and Morals: DK covers it all — finally!

It kind of bums me out (DK here) that blogs are displayed in reverse chronological order since a post often refers to the preceding one.  Nevertheless, let’s refer away.  In the last post I tried to survey Madness and Morals as a whole and instead ended up surveying my (boring) biography.  What I love about blogs is that they allow for what some people might consider a degeneracy: a public self-reflection.  Like many (song)writers, I have done the journal thing for years, and it’s both therapeutic and artistically productive to reflect, complain, worry, rhapsodize, and expose guilty feelings in writing.  New(ish) technology allows that sort of thing to made public, a fact that strikes some as both a threat to privacy and a massive new wave of narcissism—Google-Facebook and reality TV.  The fact is, as Continue reading

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Madness & Morals: DK bares his soul

DK here.  These pages are supposed to be devoted to Louder Than Dirt, but in typical DK fashion I have made them about me.  Hopefully I won’t neglect my dear co-workers in the sonic vineyard.

What do I want to say about Madness and Morals?  First I want to say that what I’ve been saying in these pages is an attempt to tell the truth, not to promote.  So there is a complication and indeed a conflict within me: the conflict of artistic and commercial motives.  Well, my commercial motives are virtually nil; I’m long past the desire to be rich and famous.  Now cynics in the world will remain unpersuaded, but I’ve never really had Continue reading

All the Lyrics of Madness and Morals!

Madness and Morals   lyrics

1. Suspicions

Well you came home late mighty drunk last night

You weren’t walking right you weren’t talking right

When you started in asking me where I been

Ain’t no lawyer gonna fix the fix that you’re in

There’s a stranger’s voice message on my phone

When you’re sleeping baby I can hear you moan

Paranoia just won’t leave me alone

What I said what you said plant the doubting seed

In my head in your head all suspicions breed and they feed

Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness and Morals: STF

“STF” is the Parental Advisory song on Madness and Morals.  Sorry.  It’s always something.  The refrain, which gives the songs its title, is “Shoot that f—– where he stands.”  Consequently, I intone the f-word 10 or 12 or 16 times throughout the piece.  Honestly, I think it’s more shocking that I vow to shoot somebody all those times than that I should use a forbidden word.  In any case, I feel I must shoulder the responsibility of justifying abusive language and reference to violence in the happy little pop tunes that make up Madness and Morals and in much of popular culture.

I recently took my daughter, who is 14, to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which I found an excellent adaptation of one of my favorite novels.  In one scene, a young woman is shot dead as part of the torture of an English intelligence officer captured by the Soviets.  This event, a horrible shock in the film, is not in the novel, as I recall.  I felt bad about putting my sensitive young daughter through that shock and expressed my regret after the movie.  My daughter, with surprising wisdom, replied, “Well you know, in movies you have to show. . . .”  not just tell.  And I realized that we accept violence in art so long as it is integrated into the artwork and not just an optional extra.  This fact has been established for quite a while, Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness and Morals: Suspicions

Now we’re getting somewhere.  Now we are at the heart both of the social character of art and of the essence of creativity.  You should really listen to Madness and Morals in the order that we carefully devised for the songs, the order that begins with “Suspicions.”  If you listen to the proper sequence of songs, you will hear the album open with the bracing chords of “Suspicions”: chang-CHANG-ka-chank-chank.  And if I had heard those chords in my childhood, I would have immediately recognized them as the opening of a song that I loved.  Now, I would have been mistaken because the chords are not exactly the same as those in the popular song, but they are certainly close enough to exhibit a strong family resemblance.  If I had heard the opening of “Suspicions” in the tender days of youth, I would have recognized it as the opening of “Not Fade Away” by the Rolling Stones.  Of course, my sophisticated reader will have already corrected my youthful self: the Rolling Stones performed a distinguished version of this, one of many great songs by Buddy Holly.  But “Not Fade Away” is not by the Stones.  Beyond doubt the Stones (or their handlers) acquired the use of the song by the permission—doubtless accompanied by royalty payments—of the Holly estate, or whoever owned the copyright at that point in the mid-sixties.  So while I borrowed an instrumental figure, the Stones presumably paid for the use of a whole song.  Several points are worth noting here.  For one thing, let’s not sentimentalize copyright as protecting artists (or their heirs).  Once established, copyright is a portable, not to say fungible, asset to be bought and sold subject to market conditions.  And the market for copyrights can’t be as favorable today as it was in the sixties.  At the risk of oversimplification, for I’m sure there are exceptions, digital media are Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness and Morals: Polytoxic

Honestly, folks, I don’t know if discussion of the origins or inspirations for these songs is the least bit helpful.  Some critic once stipulated that the author’s intention is neither available nor useful.  Nevertheless, I derive double pleasure, selfishly, from these postings.  First, I enjoy recollecting the process of composition.  Secondly, and I hope more importantly, I enjoy contributing my special insight as composer and, along with the magnificent artists with whom I collaborate, performer.  That is, I hope to add to the world’s reception of certain artworks, which happen to be humbly my own and my band’s.  Unfortunately, my reminiscing over the genesis of the songs exposes me as a quiet, bookish, somewhat depressive scholarly type alongside the loud, boisterous, obnoxious rocker of the public persona that I do indeed wish to project.  It’s not that one is the real me and the other a falsehood; rather my true character is fractured and, um, variegated.  Not necessarily in a pretty way.  So, when I tell the truth, I use 5-dollar words and worse, drop names.  Many of my dear readers probably regard the mentions of Manet and Wilde and Keats, to say nothing of Hendrix and Pink Floyd and Robert Johnson, as showing off or parasitism.  On the other hand, if I’m truthful, I must attribute my creativity to these great masters, of whom I am aware and my awareness of whom I can’t just put away.  So anyway, “Polytoxic.”  See, I have to name Keith Richards and James Joyce.  Sorry. Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness & Morals: Patience on Approval

I admit it: I like show tunes.  I like opera, I like classical music and I like Tin Pan Alley.  I like Gilbert and Sullivan and I like The Wizard of Oz.  I hate that The Beatles did “’Til There Was You,” but I like The Music Man.  So when the inspiration for “Patience on Approval” hit, I decided to see how far I could go with the melodies and modulations that I associate with pit orchestras.  Specifically, I decided to admit as many chord changes as the melody might demand.  Now, I’m quite proud to have written a pretty good blues song with a verse and a chorus (unbluesy, that) but zero chord changes, namely, “Criminal Character.”  But as soon as I received the inspiration for “Pat on App,” I knew that the song would have a lot of chord changes. Continue reading