Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Entombed in the Bozo Galaxy

This crazy little sketch is one of my favorite trifles from the FoJammathon sessions of the early nineties. I felt like I was really singing well on this song. In all the FoJammathon sessions I was determined to pitch my voice in a lower and more resonant key than I had in the Obvious or Jambox. Listening to myself sing this way through Fo Jammi's nice studio mics, with his reverb and eq set in a very flattering way, made me think I could really sing well for the first time.

Like Cicca Bu Pop, this song was written in the studio with Fo Jammi as a series of midi loops carefully crafted and arranged by Fo Jammi as we smeared them across his various keyboards. He would stare intently at the primitive screens of Atari 1040, using the Smpte Track software. It had a dongle that doubled as the MIDI interface.

It was all very arcane and mysterious to me, though I liked watching him delete sour notes and move around good ones with the mouse. He liked to apply a natural sounding correction to the tracks called "Humanization" and I liked the way that sounded.

At the time we created this song I was concerned about the lack of AIDS awareness in popular music thanks to some idiotic article I read somewhere, and had decided to correct this lack all by myself, and save humanity from this terrible scourge. As a result, I wrote and rewrote several songs to be incredibly depressing turn-offs. The only redeeming facet of this theme when I dealt with it was my consistent inability to write anything serious or devoid of sarcastic intent.

Here's the lyrics:
Entombed in the Bozo Galaxy
So far away we just can’t relate
Separate in the workings of fate

I was out on a date, it was getting late,
And we couldn’t communicate, when I said “Figure it out.”

We’re all entombed in the Bozo Galaxy
Misunderstanding it face to face
Discrete in emotional ‘splays

We were lyin’ in bed, gettin’ some head,
When she said “Get on down.” and I said, “Figure it out.”

We’re all entombed in the Bozo Galaxy
Freakin’ on some goofy disease
No longer doing just as we please
So rubberfied we just can’t relate
Separate from a soap opera fate

We were out at a club, living in dub,
And you loved to get on down, and I said, “Figure it out.”

We’re all entombed in the Bozo Galaxy
With you and me and them at the gate
Alive enough to party ‘til late

As with Cicca Bu Pop, I may or may not have contributed some simple hooks to this piece on the keyboards, but most of the awesomeness was from Fo Jammi alone.

Download Entombed in the Bozo Galaxy

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cicca Bu Pop!

Being ancient in age if not soul, I feel a strange nostalgia for those long-ago days when I would go over to Fo Jammi's little house in South Saint Louis and shoehorn myself into the large closet he had carefully crafted into a studio, using mostly his wits, a determination not to spend a dime more than he had to, and carpentry skills. We did this almost every Monday night for a year or two, and then stopped for some reason, probably paying recording projects that he took on instead of self indulgent projects with me.

My selfish agenda was, and still is, to record every song I ever wrote, and to re-record some of the songs I felt hadn't been done justice to. As time passes I have become more and more convinced that this ambition will never be realized; it's just not important enough to me to take the place of family and work. But we didn't just record Tony Patti songs, thank god. We would also kind of horse around and do little one-off experiments with total freedom, too.

Cicca Bupop is one of those little sketches. As we threw this together, playing keyboards, Fo Jammi would make midi loops on his extremely useful and capable Atari computer. I would play something simple that repeated itself and he would add whatever he wanted, being able to play keyboards with both hands in a rather expert, show-offy kind of way that did little to increase my delusional regard for my own abilities.

The Atari was quite a decent midi editor. I've yet to see a program to surpass it for usability and interface, and think Fo Jammi hasn't yet really found something he likes as much, since he uses midi very little these days.

As we were putting together this mellow little jam I felt the need to interrupt it totally with some kind of harsh punk freak out. So don't turn up the volume on it and hold on to your hats. It lasts just a few seconds, then calms right back down again. Kind of like life.

Download Cicca Bu Pop!

Monday, September 07, 2009


As soon as I quit playing punk music in disgust after the Obvious broke up I started writing bossa nova songs. I'm pretty sure I wrote this song in 1983, and I remember playing it for Earwacks and hearing Benet Shaeffer, their ace drummer, proclaim it the only true bossa nova beat I'd come up with yet.

I moved to Italy, still playing this song. I played it in The Zantini Brothers back in the 80s a few times. I never felt the need to get any deeper into the lyrics, for some reason. I wanted this song to just exist, as it is, a tiny wistful bossa nova breeze blowing through my brain.

When I got back to St. Louis and started jamming with Fojammathon I felt like I just had to record this song with some nice strings and some approximation, however lame, of the kind of off-kilter yet stunningly precise drums like the guy who played on Jobim's The Composer Plays LP. I sang the strings to Fo Jammi and he played them for me, and recorded this rough sketch, complete with me whacking the drum machine at random intervals, trying and failing to capture the unexpected magnificence of that drummer.

The song just fades out in our sketch, so I faded this cut early so you don't hear all the parts die away, until there's just guitar. It's a pleasant little number. I used to imagine I could sell it as a commercial jingle. How ambitious I am!

Download Rio.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Barfy Carson Show

Starting with the P-Funk PLaypen fave "Cocaine Puffs", a 30 second commercial cereal radio spot, the Barfy Carson Show quickly becomes a De Bool tour de force as Rico basically becomes "Barfy Carson" himself. From the sound of this tape I would say that this entire piece was worked out exactly in advance, with names and songs planned and written.

Then Slash Brannon slaps into his classic Steve Mizerany routine. "Caressing tidal waves" and shit.

Then, as if you hadn't already expected it, comes the old Tonight Show theme sung by a small crowd at the Playpen. Slash does his comical fast-talking shtick. Hamilton Jordan is lampooned, then Cathy does Zsa Zsa Cataro from Mesopotamia. "My diaminds on my uh breasts, is..."

Next Slash does his Muddy Racket routine, trying to be the world's worst comic, including his classic cookbook joke, and I remember the crowd had strict instructions to laugh at every joke. Then there's a shameful "Don't squeeze the sand paper."

Slash and Rico play a bickering couple who are recommended Toast Brand Soap because your mama used it and your daddy used and your aunt used it and your cousin used it, etc.

Then we arrive at the lugubrious "Faster than light" boys. We did them as a flipside to Slash's usual fast-talking comedy thing, the faster than light boys talk reeeeeeeaaaaaal slooooooowwww. After a long interview, they "play" a cut from a Mahavishnu Orchestra record played at 78 rpm.

It's all so painfully crude but if you were there, it's funny.

Download The Barfy Carson Show