12 stray songs

alternate take 1
the people who love you are crazy they can’t help it really they can’t they are those teenaged girls in wet auditorium seats hysterical before the beatles only you are in a high chair with chocolate smeared across your face or sweating in a bright red high school football uniform on the sidelines NOT in a nice three button English cut suit or cuban heels but IT DOESN’T MATTER the people who love you are teenaged girls and you are the beatles you with snot flowing in a nightmarish diaper set to vertigo or lurching lumbering across an auditorium stage clutching a diploma grinning like a monster the people who love you the mother father aunts uncles grandparents are like teenaged girls and you are the beatles and like the beatles you have no idea what to do with the oversized beachball comet of love that chases you down high streets or shocks you like a microphone and when you find yourself racing thru the picadilly circus of your mind while chased by all that love you might leap into a limo and look at the john that is you and the paul that is you and the ringo that is you and the george that is you and mutually realize as the love pounds ferociously on the tear stained limousine window that you have no idea what the fuck is going on.

alternate take 2
he hitched across the usa when he was 14 this was in the early part of last century his parents and loving sisters told him he was crazy he said they were and hit the road someone/something must have told him it was gonna be alright I never asked him why he wasn’t worried about getting lynched I suspect he was conscious of the possibility but wasn’t about to let a possibility harsh his mellow besides he was a good talker

alternate take 3
pour thick black liquid slowly let it flow slowly flow like in slow motion into a tall thin glass but in real slow motion structuralist film slow slow like Michael Snow slow like oil seeping slow like “the blob” creeping like black hand lotion peeping it in slow motion at a gallery show you know like taking all the shit you know or think you know and just making it go slow so slow that you can take a better look at it so that you might literally SEE what you know

alternate take 4
when it got to the point where we couldn’t keep track of which bad boyfriend she was complaining about we knew it was time to start communicating via postcards

alternate take 5
“lets boogie” was on the back of the jean jacket but the “t” was kinda messed up from too many over-anxious black middle class washings so it read “Ler’s Boogie” which actually sounded pretty freaky so hey miss ida are your shoes too suede and too blue to ballet dance across my living room I mean isn’t the fact that I live one block north of Pico enough to peak your interest? For if you would just allow me to thaw out this mack of mine this frozen drag of mine this “me too” gesture that I’m pestering you with? Ok but on the serious side – its really a mess in the street right about now and besides I have a black light poster of joe tex in the hallway. Oh you wanna see that? Cool. Well, its special. Yes, well you know one has connections.

alternate take 6
so can we leave the guitars in the van in this neighborhood OF COURSE YOU CAN and he laughs at the fact that we’re asking and the bathroom sink is the biggest we’ve seen in all of England and it must be 3 in the morning and homes like this make us whisper we might even be whispering were it 12 noon because after days of clopping across parking lot concrete and wooden stages the soft quicksand carpet makes you feel as if yer floating walking feels like turning pages and the family photos seem precariously balanced and I’m worried about knocking things over as I’m cloaked in the regional bitter

alternate take 7
spring day spring day we’re gonna sit here the whole damn day in this kreuzberg café and dare the day to pass quickly may we feel this good, this blessed, be this well dressed with the sunshine, the coffee, the bi-lingual waiter and all the rest tell the kid how that used to be east and this used to be west

alternate take 8
point: the live-in-butler Eggbert was in no way surprised he’d deliver the new york times on a tray with some espresso and a tip for the day pull the curtains and ask if anything or anyone needed to be taken away

counterpoint: the cross is everywhere like when she stands with her arms stretched out to the side and when she leaves a message saying do you wanna hang out and you think christ that would be nice

alternate take 9
“you can only be as lonely as you like” she said. “that’s not true” he said. “prove it” she said. “you just did” he said.

alternate take 10
broom closet buddies or hey how about the 8th floor in the physics dept. they leave early its empty they have taken temporary leave of their senses or is it sanity…senses…sanity…this elevator is going slow enough for them to think maybe this is a bad idea…no, wait…they KNOW it’s a bad idea…is this the 8th floor? Ok, lets go

alternate take 11
if everywhere you go after you leave home makes you feel like you’ve come home then why’d you go back to where you came from which never seems to feel like home I mean home is not just what feels familiar its also about what feels right and about how fresh the bread is.

alternate take 12
vortext of love come step right in here is your torch don’t mind the din

the new stew record is…

something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changessomething deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes something deeper than these changes

furniture

Lord Frikendel: I now feel like i understand my job better. And my job is not to revolutionize furniture. The hoax/lure of originality doesn’t screw my mind up the way it did in the 80’s. Back then i was looking for a way out by utilizing all sorts of tactics in an effort to freshen up that picked corpse referred to earlier.

Lord Frikendel: So, the challenge of coming up with something decent while playing by the rules is more fun than trying to create new rules. I learned that the furnitureal limitations placed on what we call pop are precisely the point of the furniture.

Baron Rookenbrook: I’ve heard most your work. Do you, personally, consider these works to have been created within the above-mentioned limitations? Because, frankly, I don’t hear your furniture sporting a whole hell of a lot of the cliches that go hand-in-hand with that statement. I find it fascinating that you might actually consider yourself to be working within these “pop” limitations when your furniture usually transcends it.

Lord Frikendel: Your last sentence is knocking on the door – allow me…

I am most definitely working within the aforementioned limitations. And yet if you feel i’ve transcended them then I’ve done my job. So, like, we’re both right.

Sure i try to avoid cliches. But rules aren’t cliches. Rules only sound like cliches if they are followed in an uncreative or slavish manner.

It’s like chess rules stay the same but somebody always finds a new way to kick ass.

Also, we shouldn’t confuse the approach to arranging the furniture – which, early on, was admittedly done in an offhand fun-at-all-costs manner, with the writing of it – which, at least furnitureally speaking, was done the same way as the more recent stuff.

Baron Rookenbrook: open tunings, unconventional song/lyric structures, and a certain amount of virtuosity can all be flowers in the greater arrangement of the song, in my opinion. To rule those out is to limit your options of expression.

Lord Frikendel: I was just talking about people who put the tuning before the tune.

Baron Rookenbrook: Are you saying that, if someone is an original artist striving to create furniture that might transcend the “common”, that that’s OK — just as long as they don’t call themselves pop (the point of pop being the limitation of the form itself)?

Lord Frikendel: They can “call themselves” anything they want. 🙂 I’m simply explaining why it doesn’t work FOR ME as a good pop song. Whether its “pop” or not is, ultimately, up to Casey Kasem really.

What is known as Folk or Pop hasnt really changed all that much in many years. And there’s a reason why. It’s not a conspiracy. Bloodsucking A&R people didn’t exist when homey wrote Greensleeves. But everyday people did. And everyday people want Greensleeves. They wanna hear the story – the love story – even if it’s the same fucking story over and over. And they don’t wanna hear it in 9/8. And they don’t want Morton Subotnick involved. At all. Not even peripherally. They just don’t.

Baron Rookenbrook: I don’t usually differentiate between “composition” and “song”. A composition is defined as a piece of
furniture, and a song is a composition with lyrics. How do you differentiate between the two?

Lord Frikendel: I think i meant method of composition…as in thought-out tricks intended to make the song “interesting.”

Baron Rookenbrook: Regarding chops, I feel that the better my vocabulary,
the better my ability to express myself.

Lord Frikendel: Stravinsky said something like “If you wanna express yourself you shouldn’t be in furniture.” This sounds nuts on many levels – and i’m not even sure i know what he meant for sure but i know what it means to me. To me it means treating the creating of furniture like you would a cup or a car. It should be sturdy. It should work. It should say more about itself than it does about its creator. Maybe it should even say more about the user than the creator.
But sure, theres nothing wrong with being a great furnitureian. I guess i’ve just never really been certain that it helped someone write better songs.

Baron Rookenbrook: It’s important — to me anyway — to have as many options of expression as possible, as a furnitureian and a
songwriter.

Lord Frikendel: Why? i’m just curious. Not at all trying to be provocative but genuinely curious.

Baron Rookenbrook: I’m guessing you’ve gone through phases where learning guitar to get to that level was important to you.

Lord Frikendel: I stopped wanting to be a good guitar player when i was in high school.
From that point on it was just something to hold onstage so i wouldn’t be mistaken for a roadie.

Baron Rookenbrook: One more last thing: do you write the lyrics or the furniture first (I’m guessing lyrics)?

Lord Frikendel: Everyone thinks this. I guess it should be construed as a compliment to me as a lyricist. Truth is i am completely incapable of writing a lyric without a melody.

Chairwoman Now (dreams she is not a band)

alfreeda is standing in the short line sign song sanging from the ceiling it whispers “everythings fine girl liked ta blow my mind…” this gives her that carsick feeling donna equals man on pre-disney 42nd street who smells of mothballs and weed “black? White? chinese girls with dirty feet? Ah, for once I got something you need”

alfreeda is a rainbow and a mango and she watches the anita hill hearings hanging in limbo doubting thomas and wondering who brought all this upon us and whether the onus was a bonus she is a republican and an african and I have paid her a visit so that I might laugh again.

“ain’t no valet parking in hell” sang fred “mandrake” bell then he danced across the street and bade us all a fond farewell at the funeral home on crenshaw what the men and women then saw was an act of selfless duty there stood a stunning beauty in the doorway on the metaphysical porchway saying close the screen door so the flies won’t get in close the screen door so the guys won’t get in I said close that motherfucking screen door so the lies wont get in what kind of place would put an advertisement on a dead man’s face donna wakes stunning beautiful like a timid ocean fluorescent pillow high yellow motion orange red a dead man’s head inside he dreams of sex unknown to all who come to pay their
respects.

old

Uncomfortably surreal it is watching 20 year old hipsters dressing like 20 year old hipsters did back when we were 20 year old hipsters who did not dress like other 20 year old hipsters because we’d sensed somehow that true 20 year old hipsters shouldn’t look like anyone else – including other 20 year old hipsters.

Late 70s/80s revivalism disturbs wee old farts, primarily cuz, unlike the best pop moments in time, that period has not proved to be rich enough for mining, or rather RE-mining or just plain reminding as fun and exciting as it was, (we’ll never forget where we were the first time we heard the Pistols) it serves only a tad more depth than the pre-Beatles Fabian era I’m being mean but you dig punk’s biceps were its artiness – the way it pulverized our assumptions of what pop was – and as an art movement it deserves major props but only on rare occasions did the music ever rise to the level of the urgent point it was making.

Didn’t feel this way back then genuinely felt the clash to be as great as the stones and would have destroyed anyone who thought otherwise with fever pitched arguments delivered with a gusto unseen outside of black holy roller churches we possessed the arrogance and contempt of the contemporary the clash were pollack and we were greenberg spitting “fuck you – you don’t get it but you will and you’ll have to wait in line for it one day and buy the program too” and of course they did oh comfy winter coat of nostalgia –

Hippy (1965 – 75) served overall better hotcakes by hippy we mean our cousins mit big afros who listened to early 70’s isleys and hated dick nix along with their white equals who listened to stones and hated dick nix the noises were rich and had a comically compelling grip on society we remember earnest, endless conversations between our fathers and various afros that floated in and out of our houses and there existed this borderline mystical connection between the organized noise these afros listened to and the utopian lives they wanted to lead it was about more than freaking square people out with weird haircut and aggressive stance not that hippies weren’t into freaking people out – of course they were – but the end result of the freak out was sposed to be positive mind-blower hippy wanted to turn you on punk wanted to turn you off and the reason punk wanted to turn you off was because that was in many ways the most it could ever hope to achieve.

especially the children laughing

A critic once said that while listening to Coltrane he heard his mother’s voice. When i listen to Monk I hear my mother washing dishes while talking to the next door neighbor thru the kitchen window, i hear rain pop-locking on a yellow 2nd grade raincoat at the corner of Venice & La Brea, i hear my father rustling thru his change pocket to give me a handful of quarters, i hear my sister snapping her fingers to stevie wonder, Monk’s music sounds like somebody’s old uncle dancing on beat up linoleum in a waiting room filled with kids laughing…like a picnic accompanied by a ride cymbal…his music sounds like you running for the telephone and tripping and then cursing and then laughing… sometimes life is a long beautiful melodic line and sometimes you drop a fork at a quiet restaurant…its all there (especially the children laughing)… in that music.

Alfreeda dreams that she is a band

The wary travelers haul ass howling cross this grating country of yours from LA to NYC hooded strangers sing to me in the parking lot of the Walmart in the Ozarks the peak of American civilization clearly while
Agent Eat My Dust enters “I’ll cover you” I say once inside she spies spontaneously crying female cashiers and customers who have just sent their men off to war the reality and horror of it just hitting them finally right now as they stand in line paying for the diapers one t-shirt reads “If you mess with the USA you better be prepared for a good ass kickin” this would be a great place to do a show I think we’d all learn something couple of kids drive up in a white beat up 70’s type automobile he looks about 12 and she looks about 14 and is pregnant bumper sticker says, “If I lived here I wouldn’t be home now” (potential fan)
so we head up north a piece meet with St Louis contact Agent Upping at mid-west party headquarters which uses bbq joint as front he gives us top secret files to peruse but our hands are too greasy to hold important stuff we get an inside peek at the latest techniques in instant cloning he shows us a picture of himself protesting the war in SF while simultaneously giving a tour of Billy Gadfly’s home in St Louis, Gadfly being a baseball player who wrote poetry exclusively about moths with lisps. Upping also gives tours of places in St. Louis where TS Eliot did not sleep.

Once in NYC we meet all clandestine-like in an east village cellar with the other agents. Em Ewe, from the peepholes republic of KY, Peckering McGreckering aus Ferndale and our mole on the lowereastside known only as The Bell.
Mission: to steal the guitar that Abraham Lincoln wrote “send in the clowns” on. We know its in a vault somewhere in Graham Central Station so we head there Security Guard checks for bombs under our vehicle but he doesn’t know that we all have certificates and degrees we received thru the mail via matchbooks covers and that we are ALL CERTIFIED ROCK CRITICS and when he says “What can I do for y’all” we reply in unison “I HAD A VINYL COPY OF “OAR” BEFORE MOJO EVER SAID SHIT ABOUT IT DAMMIT – LEMME IN THIS MOTHERFUCKER BEFORE I HAVE TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT MY COLLECTION OF TROJAN 45’s!!!”
Blown thoroughly away by our studly collectorgeekungfu he immediately waves us on. The guitar turns out to be in great shape and has a little note inside of it from Frederick Douglas, which reads “Hey cabin boy, GET REAL! Sincerely, La Frederick ps: you can run but you can’t hide from your true self.”

falaco

“its a bit over the top isnt it?” asks donna. “loosen up – its just the context thats distracting” laughs alfreeda. “you went all may 68 when folks started selling space on their lawns for ciggy ads. but frau engels changed her tune, didnt she?” alfreeda teased. “I had school loans to pay off.” “well chairwoman meow, that ad probably paid for the man’s funeral. the family were obviously cool with it. and besides, those Falacos, ooooh, they could make a dead man say “gimme one more to go!”

hello

in the lobby of the “ain’t no valet parking in hell” funeral home, alfreeda and donna are waiting and talking. it seems that a dead man’s forehead has been sold as advertising space. a fluorescent yellow, red and orange advert for a nearby falaco emporium (falaco = carne asada in pita bread) has been attached to the man’s forehead to be seen by all who come to pay their respects.