Hello everyone, this is my original song blog.
It's,what I think is going to be, a once a month presentation of one of a group of songs that I recorded last year. They come from all eras, some of them new songs that I just wrote last year, as well as unheard ones from long ago! Also included will be a certain amount of bloggy commentary introducing each track.
All the songs are voice and guitar demos, and the quality or performance varies, widely. I knew that if I started worrying too much about the performances that I would never be able to get even such simple demos done. If ,as Voltaire said "the perfect is the enemy of the good", then you were in store for some of the "goodest" recordings you have possibly ever heard. Try to think of it as a kind of the online version of you and me just hanging in person or maybe on the phone and me happening to play a new song for you that I have, to which you might quite likely say, "hey, great song. Er, you've heard of auto-tune, right?"
For those who have expressed appreciation for what I've done over the years, this is for you.
Elliott Smith, Back Bar, Spaceland, Summer, 1999.
In 1999, while I was house sitting in Silverlake, I came up with the riff for this particular song. I remember thinking at the time that it reminded me of an Elliott Smith song, like something off of XO. For reference, I called it (creatively enough) "Elliott Smith song". I tried out a few lyrical things for it, gave up, and it became another one of the musical ideas I had that went lying around for 17 years.
When I started exploring it again at that point, I still wasn't coming up with any ideas for lyrics. Then it occurred to me, if I have a song that sounds like Elliott Smith why not just write a song about... Elliott Smith? So I did, sort of.
In 2014, it had been years since I'd been going out to local live shows in Los Angeles (I was a regular at Hushe Clubbe, the Wednesday night event that Don Bolles and Nora Keyes put on at Hyperion Tavern in Silverlake, but that place was kind of a world all it's own). I was desperate for something to do on a Monday night, and decided that I might try to go the Satellite club, formerly known as Spaceland, which used to be famous for its free Monday live music nights. I had no real idea if the club still even had free Monday nights there, or, if anyone went to them. I did know that my old friend, Jennifer Tefft, was the booker there, though we had barely spoke in years. So I went.
The free Monday nights were still there, and thriving in fact, one of a number of free nights at different local music clubs that I was completely out of touch about. And Jenn was there.
The local music Monday nights got to be a routine for me again on the nights when I had Mondays off. Sometimes Satellite, sometimes The Echo. Sometimes somewhere else. My ritual at the Satellite typically involved parking a few blocks up on Van Pelt Place near the Silverlake Dog Park, then drinking vodka from my 16 oz Crystal Geyser water bottle as I walked over to the club, often lingering in the parking lot of the repair garage next door and pondering the equally legendary (as far as L.A. music goes) Silverlake 7-11 across the street as I finished. After that, going inside to see what was up. When I was lucky, I'd run into Jenn.
It was on one of those nights, when I was there with Jenn at the back bar when she pointed out to me the "Elliott Smith chair", which was a bar stool at this one particular section of the bar. For those who have never been there, the back bar at the Satellite is located in the lounge area, separated from the live music area, by a large soundproof window. This is where he would always go to drink, and he would always sit on that barstool. According to Jenn, he was doing this a lot around the summer of 1999. He liked Jameson, she told me.
From that point it was easy to see myself in his position. Generally miserable, which I was, needing a place to go, which I did, and needing a drink. Eventually as I was writing it it got to the point where the song could be pretty much about him or me. And so it came together that way. It's important not to take the title too literally for that reason of course. It's a definite case of the Warren Zevon idea about how "in songwriting, there's no such thing as a place for fiction and a place for non-fiction. " It's a mash-up.
The bridge of the song is a reference to another story that Jenn told me about him, which was, despite the fact that he was who he was, and that he was often there to simply drink and not see a band, he would always offer to pay the cover.
And, she told me his given first name, which was Steven. I actually I had no idea.
Still a good idea to start with the volume pretty low on this one (try 1/8th)
Sorry to be late with this one.
Thanks for listening.