I love the thrill of playing a song for the first time. I used to play them for my band first, in rehearsal—after a bit of stalling—”OK I have something, probably bad, not really finished, verses still awkward, chords are all wrong,” etc. Sometimes I’d know right away it was no good. Not from their diplomatic expressions—just playing it for them revealed that it was crap. When I finished they’d smile dimly and I’d say, “Hmm, needs work,” or something. (Somehow it’s even worse to get through a whole song and then say, “Oh, sorry, that was really terrible.”)
But sometimes it is good, and everyone feels kind of happy and interested, with a sense of possibility. And when I’m done I know it’s all right.
These days I’ve got a couple of little kids and I don’t see my band so much. I started this club to create a situation requiring new songs. I invited a bunch of good songwriters to make it scary. I figure the deadlines will get me to finish some of the many song scraps in my head. I’m curious to see what happens.
Favorite Songs (or lines from songs)
I know I should look up all the writers but sometimes it’s just the record. This is a tiny list off the top of my head. I’m skipping the whole world of Gershwins, Berlin, Porter, Hart, Mercer etc. because there’s not enough space on the whole internet for my love of those songs, and I would never get past them, or even get out of bed maybe.
This is the most fun line to sing:
Bet my money on a bobtail nag
Somebody bet on the bay.
Camptown Races, Stephen Foster
Oh Fernando, Why?, Arthur Russell
Down the highway, on the beaches
Just as far as memory reaches
I still hear Daddy singin’ those old Army songs
We’d laugh and count horses as we rolled along.
My Idaho Home, Ronnie Blakely
The Way You Do the Things You Do, The Temptations (Smokey Robinson)
She used to live in Shreveport then she moved
Goin’ to Louisiana, John Lee Hooker
You’re chickening out, aren’t you?
You’re banging on the beach like an old tin drum
Love is Everything, Jane Siberry
. . . I couldn’t tell; it was dark and I was lying down
I Heard Love Was Blind, Amy Winehouse
The shattered parts of broken hearts are scattered all around
The Home You’re Tearin’ Down, Loretta Lynn
That’s What Margaret Says, The Vulgar Boatmen (and all the songs on You and Your Sister, which plays like one big, melancholy song about a bunch of girls)
You’ve been cryin’, your face is a mess
Come here baby—you can dry your tears on my dress
Breakfast in Bed, Dusty Springfield