I Believed

This song started out as a collaboration with Rob Gillette (who mastered this album). I wrote the lyrics you hear, which he absolutely hated, I wrote some new ones that neither of us liked, so we let it drop. Fast forward to me coming up with the guitar riff and realizing that the original words would work with it. Kismet. A song written with no extra effort – bonus!

This one was recorded by Terry Carleton at Bones and Knives Studio. He played drums, Jeff “Hawkeye”Sanders played bass, and I did guitars, keys, and vocals.

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

I took a songwriting class at the late lamented National Guitar Workshop (aka “Old Guy Guitar Camp”) with Bret Boyer, from whom I learned a ton. The lyrics for this came out of an exercise he gave us, and the riff was whipped out desperately quickly when I realized we had to play a tune for the group. I do like the chromatic walkdown in the chorus – that was a lucky accident.

Dale Hymes and Lisa Rutta played bass and drums, respectively (and respectably!), I did guitars and vocals.

Martial Law

Another song based on a random first line popping into my head unexpectedly. Looking back at it, I guess this is kind of my take on Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”, but maybe a bit more twisted. Or less. I dunno. It went on for days, originally, so I chopped out a verse. That was tough.

Terry Carleton pounded the pagan skins and I did the rest.

And hey – there’s a live video including the legendary missing verse and featuring Jeff “Hawkeye”Sanders, Tim Volpicella, Wing Loo, and John Garcia – what luck! Kind of a trainwreck, but we were just learning the song.

Give a Damn

This is the third complete set of lyrics I’ve written for this set of chord changes – none of the earlier ones worked. The working title for this was “TRO”. And here’s a li’l hint, ladies – if some guy ever plays this for you and gets all romantical? Create a diversion, run out into the street, and call 9-1-1. Yep, part of that “Every Breath You Take” tradition of psycho love songs. Bret Boyer made me cut a verse or two and tighten it up. Just because he’s right is no reason for him to tell me what to do. Oh, wait…

Terry Carleton on drums and percussion, and me on guitars and bass and vocals and other stuff.

Melancholy Tear

Wow – a long history on this song. I wrote it because I loved “Harlem Nocturne” so much I wanted to see if I could do something even in the same neighborhood – lots of minor chords, some actually melody, a B section – you know, the stuff I don’t normally mess with. Then I gave myself a treat and booked time with Tim Volpicella at Open Path Studio in San Jose to record it as an instrumental blowing session for the sheer fun of playing with the guys. We called it “Dolores’ Deadly .38s”, because I have the emotional maturity of a 9-year-old and because it had a 38 bar form. It had other titles as well, but none really stuck. But then…

But then, after it was recorded, the lyrics suddenly came to me. It’s the love theme from some noir film about the guy who comes back from the war, doesn’t really fit in, meets this dame who maybe isn’t playing straight with him, there’s a bad crowd, you know the story, it doesn’t end well. It needed Ella Fitzgerald to sing it, but she didn’t return my calls. Happily, Lynea Diaz Hagen did. It turns out it’s nearly unsingable for any normal human, especially the B section, but fortunately, Lynea is not your normal human singer. I took out the head and part of my solo, and I dropped Lynea’s vocals in, and that’s what you hear.

Lynea Diaz Hagen (oh my!) on vocals, Wing Keong Loo on bass, John Garcia on drums, and guitars by “Hawkeye” Sanders (first solo, left), Timmy Volpicella (second solo, right), and me (third solo, center). Recorded by Tim at Open Path, except for Lynea’s vocals, which I did, and which I mixed.

“Hawkeye”, Timmy, Wing, John and I performed the song live as an instrumental – here’s the proof.

Leave a Mark

My reggae tune, and if I have a greatest hit, it might be this one. It’s another one that came out of a first line sneaking in to my head full and complete while I was driving. You can imagine that I needed to see where it was going to go. The usual slam on my song-writing is that I put too many words and syllables in every line. I think there are just enough.

Terry Carleton somehow managed to coax a killer drum part out of my crappy electronic drums. Jeff “Hawkeye” Sanders played the first (fretted) half of the guitar solo. I did the rest of the guitars, bass, keys, whatever else.

Here is a video of a live version of the tune, featuring “Hawkeye” Sanders, Timmy V, Wing Loo, Johnny Garcia, and moi. Every time we play together, John always pleads, “Let’s do ‘Pachuco’!” It’s one of my favorites too – I admit it.

Rock Off

Thanks to young Alexander Butchko of Austin Tejas for the title. He was four at the time he said it. He will go far.

I originally sang both parts, but I really thought it needed a woman’s delicate touch for the choruses. I knew Susy Boyd was the ideal person to sing it, and I knew a guy who knew her (thanks Hawkeye!), so we arranged a meeting and she came by and knocked the parts out of the park.

Susy Boyd – vocals, Terry Carleton – drums, and me – guitars, bass, and vox.

Happy Home

Not a lot to say about this one. I liked and wouldn’t stop playing the guitar parts, so I eventually found some words to fit. Originally it was “The End of a Love Affair”, but that was lame so I changed it. Then I showed the civic-mindedness I’m known for and cut a bunch of verses out. It was the right thing to do.

Terry Carleton played the drums and recorded the base tracks, I did the guitars and bass and vocals and such.

Donna Jean

I worked with a woman (she knows who she is) who had no hobbies and who worked weekends because it was the right thing to do. But she looked like the woman you see across the crowded dance floor owning the club. So this song is sort of about her. Certainly inspired by her, anyway. And yes, I’m too old to be writing about inviting someone to the prom.

I thought I’d stolen the chord changes from Santa Cruz guitar monster Mike Roberto, but when I played it for him, he said they weren’t his. Cool – that means they’re mine!

Once again, Terry Carleton played the drums and recorded the tracks. Dale Hymes played bass. And I hit up Jason Loughlin, the Brooklyn twang-guitar god, for a solo, which he kindly agreed to do. And then he played this symphonic set of guitar tracks over the rest of the song. Problem was, the file got corrupted along the way by yours truly. I could have started over, but the performances were so good I decided to keep them and just deal with the strange mix you hear, for which, my apologies

Buy American

Religion, patriotism, and commerce – the perfect trifecta of American life. I feel a song coming on…

Terry Carleton recorded it at Bones and Knives Studio, and also played drums and sang background vocals. Dale Hymes did bass and background vox. I did the guitars and vocals, and again, Jason Loughlin (seriously, you have got to check this guy out) contributed ridiculous amounts of guitar.

Daughter of the Scorpion King

You ever watch any of those old movies where some brave but dim-witted English or American adventurer finds himself up against some evil, non-caucasion criminal mastermind? You know how the incredibly slinky Anna May Wong always comes along and repeatedly saves his butt, but in the final scene, he is always reunited with his pure vanilla girlfriend and Anna waves g’bye?

Personally, I think she’s far better off without him, but that’s not the lesson we’re supposed to draw from these films, I guess. This song is about that. It is the bonus track that youget on the CD but not the BandCamp download. I wrote it before finding out that there is evidently a movie or video game or something called “Scorpion King” – I don’t get out much. Had I known, I’d have changed the venomous critter in the title.

I asked Tim Volpicella to play a solo for me, but he went crazy and did all the cool dweedly guitar bits you hear thoughout the song as well. Dale Hymes played bass. I played guitars, sang, and personally chose the drum machine pattern. I do have the touch…