New lyrics: Nobody That Well

Joseph and I had a most enjoyable conversation tonight.  We discussed the great good fortune of having found our passions, our calling, Joe’s movies, my music at a young age.  (Which is not to say that Joe, who is a great filmmaker who uses Louder Than Dirt music exclusively, is not passionate about music, but that he is intensely passionate about movies, nor that I am not passionate about music, for I certainly am, so we make movies and music together, GET IT?)  And other topics followed, Joseph emphasizing more the anomy that accompanies the excess of consumable, disposable content, and I emphasizing more LOUDER THAN DIRT IS THE GREATEST ROCK BAND IN THE WORD and afterward wrote the song that contains these lyrics.  Ah, but first I quoted Yeats

And so I must go down where all the ladders start,

In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

And so I give you: lyrics of the new Louder Than Dirt song!!! Continue reading

How to write lyrics good like DK

A young songwriter friend of mine (you know this is DK speaking unless otherwise noted, right?) asked me how to write better lyrics, “to use metaphors and stuff.”  Kind of a big mistake, given my lust for commentary.  Indeed, I’m afraid that’s all I gave him, commentary—I think I just interpreted some of my lyrics instead of a. explaining where the song came from and b. giving general advice for songwriting.  I have noted that I am also (in my humble opinion) a lousy guitar teacher.  Part of the problem is that I’m self-taught, but the bigger part of the problem is that I started playing musical instruments in early childhood and can’t remember, much less come up with a method for, the steps in one’s technical development.  I was rather a late bloomer as a songwriter, but the situation is similar.  I’ve blotted from my memory the bad songs that one must write before establishing a decent batting average.  Well, I’ve been fretting and worrying over this topic, and as I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am all too happy to display my frets and worries 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

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness & Morals: Marche Pacifiste

Music is different from the other arts, isn’t it?  “It’s here and then it’s gone,” sings the speaker of “No Expectations,” one of the Rolling Stones’ great ballads.  But not quite accurately.  I’m not sure that you can capture this quality of music, which is also the quality of our experience of time.  Not, first here then gone; only, passingly here.  Some of these ideas are in the background of “Marche Pacifiste.”  Now I’ve complained elsewhere about the difficulties of discussing instrumental music, but I think that “Marche Pacifiste” actually gives me plenty to talk about.  And so I was noodling around on the guitar, or perhaps dumplinging, because I was playing in my beloved mid-tempo (the tempo of “Cathy Ann” and the folk song “East Viginia”) fat chords, not long, skinny lines of single notes.  In the key of B no less.  And I thought how hymnlike sounded the chords I was playing.  And I Continue reading

DK goes song-by-song thru Madness and Morals: “I’m Hurting”

“I’m Hurting” is probably the most traditional song on Madness and Morals.  My Communicative Education partner, Shane, heard it for the first time last night and observed that it sounds like “Elvira” by the Oak Ridge Boys.  He’s totally right, I discovered to my consternation.  The beat is certainly the same, but then virtually all of what in the U.S. we call “country music” has the bum-chicka bum-chicka rhythm.  The melody, at least of the first line or two, is pretty explicitly that of “Mercy, Mercy,” the first song on the Rolling Stones’ Out of Our Heads (1965), but the beat is the old timey bum-chicka.  So today’s issue, Dear Reader, is the problem of intellectual property and copyright and ultimately the nature of creativity.  On one hand, authors legitimately demand to be recognized for their Continue reading

DK goes song-by song thru Madness and Morals: Disco Superman (Michel Foucault)

Now this is a weird song.  I remember next to nothing about writing it, although it is one of the most recent songs on Madness and Morals.  And yet the refrain

Go head on

and even the melody of the refrain have been on my mind since I was a teenager.  (I’m 39 now, approximately.  Har.)  Where to begin?  I guess I should begin with the question of my attitude toward Michel Foucault, but a more interesting question is that of how (and whether) an author’s attitudes—or any of his conscious thoughts—manifest themselves in the work of art.  Obviously, there is no general answer to the question: various artists impose themselves variously in their artworks.  Equally obviously, the negatively connotative word “impose” tips the hand of my own taste.  In an earlier post I went on quite Continue reading