Thursday, November 26, 2009

Believe In Me! (A Foxtrot)

The New Maryland Jug Band was improvised in every possible sense instantly after the noise of the tape recorder signals that I had just pressed record on my cheap boombox. It was composed of Rico D. Bool, Slash Brannon and me, Professor P.T. Lobotomie. Our purpose on Earth was to create this one tiny slice of Jambox, with Rico on bass, myself on harmonica, and Slash on the nearly-inaudible jug. Even the name was invented as instantly as you hear it. Cello the dog got in on this one.

I had just started listening to jazz from the late 20s and early 30s from the 78 collection of Jerry Udell. I remember perfectly the night he first brought out the Bix Biederbeck 78s, and showed me how the numbers on the label put them in a series where it was more likely that Bix was on the record. The first one he played for me was "You Took Advantage of Me," still my favorite Bix Biederbeck record of all time, one that critics and admirers still point out for the uncanny Bix and Tram chase duet/solo right before an audibly astonished and delighted Bing Crosby comes in for the vocal, also one of his best jazz vocals.

The song segues without any effort at all into the common motif of Slash's comedy style, little kids behaving badly and being punished beyond all proportion for it. I cut this one off in a very peremptory manner, showing myself once again that I was a lot bossier than I thought I was at the time.

Download Believe In Me!.

Download You Took Advantage of Me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back to Beat!

Alex Mutrux wrote the melody to this song and brought it to the band shortly after Chuck joined the band. I did my best to write a rather lame middle section to give it another part and wrote the words.

Beat was on my mind a lot as a teenager. It intrigued me to think that there was a literate generation of hipsters before the hippies. The only real hippie writer I could think of was Richard Brautigan, who was half beat himself anyway. The second half of the hippie days, the seventies, hadn't really brought about any great minds or writers that I knew of. I surmised that greatness and hipness did not always coincide, and that the culture of beat hipness was more creative and artisitic than hippie freedom from actually producing anything of merit.

In my limitless ambition I envisioned our punk generation as being more like the beats than the hippies, with a vibrant literature (which I would myself provide, of course) and artisitic credibility. I figured maybe creativity just skips a generation now and then. So I proclaimed a movement in my own mind, Back To Beat.

Alex's guitar work on this song is both propulsive and refined. I remember how carefully he crafted his solo. One of our finest moments as a band, it has Kevin Brueseke on drums and Jim Saltsider on bass. Jim sings some backup, and I sing some out-off-key backup too.

She's a modern chick in a modern world
Doing her hair, she doesn't care
He's a modern cat like you see on TV
Cowboys & cars, cruising the bars

Take out your telescope
Put 'em under a microscope
Confess it to the Pope
We're in another world
They're reality and we're not alive
We're shoveling jive
We're in another world
Back to beat

Bangs & mascara & very tight pants
Splittings a chance
Watching her dance
Leather & cool, you're a drug-taking fool
Viewing the jazz with distant romance

Hippies were stupid
But we were smart
We're into Art!
We're in another world
Parker was fine
In the mainline
Tingling spine
Back to beat

The new bohemians - that's us.
It's back to beatnik - or bust.
The cycle of stupidity in the avant-garde will never pass
We've got the best of the past
With which to surpass.

Download "Back to Beat!"