Today’s musical nugget is called “Words & Numbers,” as recorded by Madison Lint.
New readers may not remember my 1/2 year music blog, wherein I forced myself to complete, or digitize, or remix or remaster a song from my past every week. The point of that was to get me to finish up a couple of significant album projects, but given that I was shooting for every week, I quickly fell into a pattern of finishing up things I could deal with more quickly, so my Sinking and the Aftermath album (mostly recorded in 2000) and the Madison Lint album (mostly recorded between 2001-2004) remain further along but still unfinished.
Well, here’s another post of this type, and I hope to resume doing them on a periodic, though not weekly, basis. If these posts seem not sufficiently philosophical or too self-indulgent to you, just ignore them.
For our Russell episode, given that I try (usually) to find some thematic connection between the topic and the song I choose to put at the end, this old tune of mine came to mind. It was written in around 1994 as a droning, driving mood piece for my solo guitar banging, with many less words than I typically put in a song, and more cryptic than usual. It’s about a relationship that I was by then several months out of (and which wasn’t very long anyway), about our love/hate dynamic. Here, because they’re so short, are the lyrics in total:
Do you trust me? Or do you hate me? Though you mock me, you still date me, and you know why…
One forward, two backward, said (sweet) absurd, say that word.
You’ve got fourteen, let seven go.
I think that finally you understand me, so you can truly be set against me. Tight against me.
What’s the “why” to know? Physical need. What’s “the word.” The word is love, of course, as the Beatles have likely taught you. I like the idea in the second verse that typically as you get to know someone, you become more sympathetic, but in this case, getting to know the real me meant that she increasingly disliked me. So these are all the lyrics for 5 and 1/2 minutes of song; the emotion becomes too powerful for words for the last and greater part of the song, I suppose. Whatever.
This song wasn’t appropriate for the band I formed in 1995 (The Fake Johnson Trio), so it wasn’t introduced for live performance until very late in the arc of the band after that (Mark Lint and the Fake), who never really figured the tune out, so I reintroduced this for the second lineup of Madison Lint in late 2002 after we’d gotten our new fretless bass player Tom Broeske, who was ridiculously good (he’d appeared on Letterman with some band, I believe, and was previously in some band that actually paid him to come to practices). The instruments were recorded live (this has been my usual method of recording for some time) in December 2002 with the intention to eventually polish it up and add vocals and probably new lead guitar parts. At the time, though, I had a horrific day job that pretty much sapped all of my energy, so from that recording session, one tune (“Stop,” which was on our first Kant episode) actually got finished to use for demo purposes, and the other two just sat there.
More or less the day before this Russell episode posted, I recorded the lead vocals, invented some subtle backing vocal and and percussion parts, and made some attempt to straighten out some of the rhythmic deficiencies. (This is a prime technique picked up from the studio guy we worked on the New People mixes with: the drummer hits slightly late? Just move the hit a bit earlier.) This left the problem of the guitar solo, which takes up the last 1/3 of the song and I have no doubt we would have redone had the song been moved toward finishing at the time. I could likely bug Jim the guitarist to go record a better one right now (he already came out of retirement to record “Billie Jean” for me), but being impatient, I decided to see what I could do by adding a digital amp simulator to most of it and some heavy delay (echo) to part of it, and fixing up some of the less effective notes.
The version of the solo at the end of the Russell episode still sounds very random and wankity, so I spent another day since then pulling some guitar phrases from an alternate take, fixing up more individual notes, adding an octaver effect over some portions of it, and pulling up the rhythm guitar a lot during that section so that it doesn’t get so overwhelmed by the solo. So I think it’s OK now, going by the standards that I’ve set for myself for finishing these tracks, which are certainly much lower than those I’m putting on our brand new material that we’re actively trying to sell. It’s nice to finally have this tune in a listenable format, it being one of the darkest things I’ve written and performed by one of my most competent and fun bands.