A sort of life

In more support of red wine

RICHMOND, Va. — It’s deep Friday morning. I’m watching an ‘Ove’ Glove commercial. Fantastic!

The only thing that would make this better would be if there was a midget belly dancing by the television. Or maybe if there was midget belly dancing on the television demonstrating the superior inflammability powers of the ‘Ove.’

Announcer: “Here’s this ordinary midget dancing in a pit of fire. Boy that’s gotta smart.

“Now watch as this other midget steps into an ‘Ove’ Glove to take a nap in open flames. Let’s see that again. Not one glove, but two…”

I hear sometimes of the women with maternal instincts. Or of women that have professed their undying desire to never have children, and how they get soft around a three year old with snot on his face. I’ve seen it happen.

I bring this up because I’ve got a few soft spots too. Three years ago I banished every guitar I owned, sold them all and gave them up for good. I’m getting soft now old friends. I have a strong desire to pull one out and bloody my fingers a bit.

It’s been even longer since I’ve been on stage. I always hated going up there, but it was the greatest highs I’ve ever had in my life, let me tell you. It’s not a mistake that musicians are also often heavy drug users. If it weren’t for this high, I would never have these resurgent feelings. I would have abandoned my musical dream in high school.

I would never have made the scores of tapes with demos and concepts. I would never have planned to make a different album every two weeks and then abandon it for the next great thing. All that would never have happened.

And I want it to happen again.

Over the Thanksgiving break I went through some of my old dubs. Odds and ends on cassette tapes, on a few discs, and on an old hard disk. I discovered a treasure trove of recordings I made my first-semester freshman year in Richmond. I hated Richmond then, but I have fond memories of the music. It was mostly Rob Welsh and I goofing around, but it was something. It was the most experimental I have ever been in my life, and I mean that in every sense.

Anyway, I discovered the tracks and I thought I’d offer a few up here. Some of you will recognize a few of them. I think I released a couple on the web site I had five years ago (five years ago!!). Others were strictly in house. And still others will remain strictly in house for the time being.

I need to stress that these four songs were alpha recordings. They were one take, one attempt goes (for the most part). They surely all happened deep into the night and while I was on pot.

That being said, they were recorded to preserve a nugget (or “concept” as I often referred to my concept songs) that I would go back and attack later on. Of course, that later on never happened.

The bottom line is that the levels are all off. The playing isn’t always in good time. The singing, we’ll let’s just say I find more comfort singing in front of speakers pushed on high than into a microphone with headphones on. I also seem to remember a couple takes that were actually recorded using headphones as the microphone. Anyway, enough delay:

One And Ten — This was a combination of a riff I liked and lyrics my friend and brother Dan Reed wrote about a girl he was seeing back in the day. The best part about this was that the collaboration was happening in two different places. The lyrics were written a year or so before I did the take, and I had to improvise some parts to make it fit with the music. I think that Reed was thinking ska sounds to go with it, and I wasn’t thinking about anything. For some reason I came out trying to sound like the guy in Cake. I stress again: it’s a rough take. Just to get a feel about how things could go.

Do Your Feet Hurt — This was one of my first recordings on multiple takes. I bought a 4-track and I think this is the very first song to come from that. I play only acoustic guitars (one overdriven during recording), and Welsh played drums on his keyboards. I seem to remember we did that part in two takes. The notable thing is that Welsh never heard the song before and did not practice before I forced him to lay it down. The song is a cover. It’s original author is Mike Herrea of MxPx.

E Is Forever — This is another combination song with Reed’s lyrics to go with it. I don’t know that I ever actually did anything other than mess around with some guitar parts. I can’t even remember now if the name belonged to the lyrics earmarked for it, or if I just liked the name and went with that. Too much pot I suppose.

Untitled — This one is slightly less raw than the song before. I address Kerry Keegan on the recording because I was doing a quick taping to send to her to critique. I believe I recorded three other things that same night, and I believe we were pushing up against Thanksgiving break 2001. I feel like the dorms were closing down the next morning. I remember this being at like 3 or 4 a.m. I also remember eating the microphone trying to avoid waking up my suite mates. Welsh’s girlfriend at the time might have been over, and I felt the urge to write solo. I don’t know.

I suppose I’ll release others at a later point. Or maybe, just maybe — and if the stars align just right — maybe I’ll feel the urge to commit some 2006 or 2007 material to tape.

Maybe.

“In more support of red wine” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

When I let go of what I am I become what I might be

When I let go of what I am I become what I might be

A mess of hand written pages and bulk mail scattered on the floor of the Floyd Avenue apartment in Richmond, Va. on Sept. 22, 2006.