Here’s one of my more popular songs, which I shared on FB awhile ago, only to see it get rather badly mangled by their brutal compression algorithms. Once again, with HD settings, it should now go full-screen quite prettily. (Apologies for visual simplicity, still experimenting and learning, on the video-side of things).
I’ve always felt that the point of a sad song was to remind us that even in our lowest hours, we’re not as alone as we feel. Others have shared this hard experience, and there is compassion and understanding in the world for these feelings – even if we aren’t lucky enough to actually see that compassion in front of us at the time. (See: blues)
In a curious way, the sad, by reaching where we are, can empathize and comfort far better than things so bright and chipper as to be beyond our grasp, when we’re down.
On a technical level, this track is my third most popular all-time music download. The undisputed number-one hit (as I should have guessed, beforehand) is a rather rude version of a popular Christmas Carol which I recorded some years ago (with sixteen vocal parts and full choir harmonies, mind you), on a very similar sad-song principle (for those who, like me that year, were being driven nuts by the insincerity, stress and hypocrisy which so often surround that should-be-happy season).
I’ll do a proper video for “Sticky Planet” – my number two track (best self-authored) a rousing and upbeat political motivation song, just as soon as I can devise some approach for how the heck to break down that much philosophical imagery, visually.
In the meantime, here is this sad number – originally scrawled into my dispatch book in the slushy winter of ’88-’89, when I was working as a tower-walker and transit riding foot-courier, and still trying to find my first job in electronics repair (which I’d just finished studying).
I first did a cassette four-track recording of it in the early 90s, did another weird and highly overcomplicated version in a friend’s recording studio, which I helped to set up (sort of a shakedown cruise, for his new open-reel multitrack and mixing console), but it wasn’t until I figured out how to loosen the feel of it back up again, that I was finally happy with it, on tape (yes, this all went to analog first, before digital mixing).
This is definitely one of my highest track-density recordings – and without question the very best trumpet playing I ever managed to tape (don’t ask me where that lovely meandering riff near the end came from – it’s well beyond me, technically, to be sure).
One friend remains convinced that I unlimbered my alto for this one – but no – the opening horn wash is pure trumpet – with five different mutes, mind you (thanks Larry!). Personally, I’m happiest about the pizzicato effects I got, using baritone ukulele harmonics, especially because I’m really not a qualified fingerboard-man, at all – (this song was written not from a root of bass or keys, but the descending clarinet-line – that being my main ‘axe’ at the time).
Two final tidbits, entirely personal. This song got me two of my lifetime favourite oddball compliments, from two friends who rarely offer them, and never insincerely. One of my chums, hearing an early version, turned to me excitedly and said, “Hey dude, that’s like, an ACTUAL song.” Better still, my old trumpet player, hearing this version for the first time, after we hadn’t seen each other in years, said, “Wow, I don’t remember that one at all, but I was really on that day, huh?” Sorry dude. T’were me!
Anyhow, I sincerely hope you enjoy it – and also, that you’re not feeling sad enough to relate too well!
And rest-assured, any positive feedback will be routed not to the vanity-hopper, but directly into the store of motivation for recording a couple of new tunes that are outright angry at me for gathering dust so long. One in particular, written with BLM in mind, that I can sing even more emphatically and multi-meaningfully, in the light of me-too. (I swear, it’s my best revolutionary chorus, EVER – and I do kind of a lot of those). Soon-soon.