Monthly Archives: April 2009

again, i love xkcd

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Posted by on April 30, 2009 in Uncategorized


cover #20 – Marilyn Manson, “The Nobodies”

Cover #20 is “The Nobodies” by Marilyn Manson, from the 2000 album Holy Wood: In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death.  It was written by M.Manson.

This is the 20th cover of the month – I had intended to post it on April 20th, the 10 year anniversary of the Columbine Massacre.

Eric and Dylan did not listen to Marilyn Manson.  As Jello Biafra once pointed out, if they were such big fans of his (as several lazy journalists claimed), why didn’t they wait until after his show in Denver, CO later that month?  Manson’s more a grand guignol-style artist of grotesque imagery and doesn’t really seem to advocate the sort of violence we saw that day in Colorado, but he sure looked scary to middle America back in 1999.

Eric and Dylan did play Doom, but so did I and I never killed anyone.  They didn’t wear trenchcoats when they committed the murders.  They weren’t members of any “Trenchcoat Mafia”.  That expression was something a bunch of computer geeks and goths who went to the school jokingly called themselves.   I understood this mentality – some of my best friends wore black trenchcoats.

There’s been so much writing about Columbine already.  There’s a new book out that’s supposed to be pretty insightful.  Most of what’s written, however, falls into two camps: the “oh, the killers liked the goth music and that’s why they did it and CASSIE SED YES!” camp, and the “no they didn’t and NO SHE DIDN’T!” camp.  I’m not going to add to that.

All I’m gonna do is play a tune Marilyn Manson wrote about Columbine, and about a murder spree in the age of instant celebrities.  We’re the nobodies who want to be somebodies.  Some children died the other day.  You should have seen the ratings that day.  If you’ve seen Bowling For Columbine, you know he’s the most insightful person in it.


Next up…: He’s fifty and he could kick your ass without smearing his eyeliner.

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Posted by on April 29, 2009 in April Covers, history, music, nerd riot


cover #19: Better Than Ezra, “In The Blood”

Cover #19 is “In The Blood”, originally written and recorded by  Better Than Ezra for their 1995 album Deluxe.  It was written by Kevin Griffin.

Aaaaand we’re back, after a brief absence of only (mumbles a number under his breath) days.  This whole life thing, it’s crazy, no?

Seriously, this week has been really busy, adjusting to a new job and all, so I’ve barely had time to think, let alone record.  But here we are.  After all that waiting, you’ve got a brand new cover by me, and it’s a song by… um… Better Than Ezra.

Now, now, hang on a minute.  “In The Blood” is a great tune, and it (and not “Good”) was the reason I bought Deluxe back in the ’90s in the first place.  I’m a sucker for lesser-known alt-rock almost-hits, and always have been.  That’s why I like “Photograph” better than “The Freshmen” and “Molly” better than “Plowed.”

This cover owes a lot to the Postal Service in execution, so it’s a very 2000’s take on a very ’90s song.  Enjoy!


We’ll catch up.  You’ll get 30 covers, eventually.  Promise.  Posting the next one tomorrow afternoon, thanks to the magic of Auto-post.

Next up…: Ten years ago, I couldn’t wear my coat to school.

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Posted by on April 28, 2009 in April Covers, music


covers month so far….

First of all, I’d like to thank Julia for bringing this project to the attention of Brian from Coverville, an awesome podcast consisting solely of, well, cover songs.  I’m notoriously bad at promoting myself (because I suffer from a rare psychological disorder where I honestly can’t tell the difference between self-promotion and bragging) so it’s great to have friends who’ll do that sort of thing for me.  Again, thanks to Jon and Chris from Generation Goat for pimpin’ this madness on their podcast last week.

Now, then:  I’m starting a new job (huzzah) but I’m still working my old job, which means that Sunday is essentially a 17-hour work day for me – midnight to 5pm.  Saturday was hectic, Sunday evening will be spent sleeping, and Monday I’m back at the aforementioned new job.

We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program in due course, however, with covers (probably) from Better Than Ezra, the Titanic lady, Smashing Pumpkins,  and more.  We’ll play catch up.  There will be 30 covers this month – they just might be a little bit off schedule.

Right now, though, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to survive the next 18 hours without losing the ability to speak in complete sentences.  Bear with me.

Below the cut, you’ll find a rundown of all the covers so far.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 19, 2009 in April Covers


Cover #18 – Belinda Carlisle, “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”

Cover #18 is Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”, from her 1987 album Heaven On Earth. It was written by Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley.

This one’s by request, from Mikey.

Here’s what I wrote about this song a couple of years ago, when I wrote my review of the Top 100 Songs of 1988:

Long ago, back in the days before electricity and the wheel, back in the year of our lord nineteen hundred and eighty eight, you had three options when it came to securing a copy of your favorite song.

Option one was to buy it. Songs came packaged on big flat black things called records. They also came in small, fragile plastic things called tape cassettes. If you were really rich, you could secure yourself a Compact Disc of the song, which came in a big cardboard box with a smaller, plastic case inside that held the actual disc. If you only wanted to hear one song, you bought the CasSingle.

Option two was to borrow it from a friend and make your own taped copy of it. This was great, except that tape cassettes were the worst, most fragile invention known to man. If you liked a tape, it would inevitably become warbly and muffled at times. If you really liked a tape, it would get caught in your car’s tape player and you’d pull it out and there’d be magnetic tape everywhere. If the tape was a beloved one-of-a-kind mix tape made by the object of your affection for you that had all of your favorite songs, plus rare stuff from your favorite band and sound clips from various and sundry meaningful movies and tv shows, it would melt in your car on a hot day, rendering it useless. Then, God would laugh at you.

Option three was to tape it off the radio. There exists a tape somewhere at my mom’s house with “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”, “Walk Like An Egyptian”, and many other classic songs of the era that little me, unable to convince my mother to buy me a rock and roll record, captured like fireflies one summer night off of WZOU. I still think this song doesn’t sound quite right unless it’s coming out of a tinny Radio Shack tape player, at low, low volume, late at night, when I’m supposed to be asleep.

As you can see, this song’s a particular nostalgic favorite of mine.  And yes, if you know the Pluto Tapes song “Fireflies”, that’s what it’s about: taping songs off the radio.  I love Belinda’s voice and I love this song, and I’m man enough to admit it.  I don’t think my version does it justice at all, but I needed to post something today.

I was reluctant to post this one, because it’s not done yet.  I mean, it sounds all right, but it’s obviously not done.  I’m trying to go for a Goldfrapp-meets-N’Sync thing, and it’s not quite there yet.  This is a rough draft.  I didn’t even incorporate the key change, the middle is a half-baked idea at best, and the choruses are iffy.

The problem with the “one cover a day” thing isn’t the recording.  That’s easy.  You can record a simple version of a tune in about a half-hour, and if you want drums and synths and stuff, it’ll maybe take you two hours tops.  The problem comes when you start mixing, and realizing that this line’s off-pitch and that guitar part isn’t very good and you really should re-record it so your audience doesn’t cringe in pain at the horribleness of it all.  And, really, most of you probably think it sounds okay, but dammit, it’s my voice and my project and I reserve the right to be typically me about it, okay?

Because it’s not done yet.  It’s obviously going to be good some day, so I invite you to look upon this version as a rare insight into my totally scatter-shot creative process.


Next up…: It’s the reason that I’m asking.  Hey la.

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Posted by on April 19, 2009 in April Covers, music


Cover #17 – Oasis, “Supersonic”

Cover #17 is “Supersonic” by Oasis, from their 1994 album Definitely, Maybe.  Written by Noel Gallagher.

I got a lot of love for Oasis.  A lot.  The whole thing about them claiming to be bigger than the Beatles…..well, look.  They didn’t have a Sgt. Peppers in them.  They had maybe half a Rubber Soul.   But oh man what a half.   They were cocky, huge rock stars with cocky, huge rock songs when rock stars were supposed to mumble, be self-deprecating, and hide in their room with their heroin and Courtney Love and whatnot.

The idea for covering the song in this way was… I’m not sure.  I think I wanted to try something weird and trippy and completely different from the original, and I think it only half works.   But oh man, what a half.

This one, for better or for worse, goes out to Jon and Chris at Generation Goat, for mentioning this project on their podcast.  You guys flatter me too much.  Also, it’s one of the many songs we attempted to cover in our horrible high school band.

And by the by, Chris: I do remember covering “Walk Like An Egyptian.”  I’m just not so sure it’s a good idea to cover now.


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Posted by on April 17, 2009 in April Covers, music


geekUSA is brought to you by…: Fireball Island from Milton Bradley

A brief interlude from covers, in celebration of the AWESOMEST BOARDGAME EVAR PLAYED!!!

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Posted by on April 16, 2009 in Uncategorized


Cover #16 – Bill Staines, “River”

Cover #16 is “River” by Bill Staines, originally released on his 1979 album The Whistle of the Jay and later on his 1984 live album Bridges.

Bill Staines was the first concert I ever went to.  Actually, he was probably the first several concerts I ever went to, not counting Rosenshontz, or the performance of Jesus Christ Superstar I attended while in utero.  I think my parents knew Bill from their days running the George’s Attic coffee house back in the ’60s.

I was raised in coffee houses.  Did I ever tell you that?  Coffee houses, church basements, VFW halls, school cafeterias… anywhere that folk music types were allowed to come and play, there you would find Alan and Peggy and little Andy.  Bill was a mainstay in that scene for years around Boston – still is, I suppose, but there was a time when he was the man.  And deservedly so.

Bill lives in New Hampshire these days.  It’s like he stepped out of an alternate dimension, one where country music came out of a different tradition; not out of cowboys and prairies, but of loggers and maple sugar farms.   You’ve probably never heard of him, which is really too bad.   You know that song “All God’s Critters Got A Place In The Choir?”  From camp?  That’s his song.  He wrote it.

Of course I liked that song when I was a kid, because my parents would bring animal puppets and their friends and I would all make them dance around in the audience (thus priming me for a lifetime of audience participation-related events, from Rocky Horror to Blue Man Group to my college thesis project, a staging of The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, which was 50% audience participation and improv and included puppets) but that’s not the point.   “River” was the song I always wanted to hear.  It struck a chord with me as a kid, and I never knew why.  Now, further on down the river of life, it still makes me think.

And in case you’re experiencing some sort of whiplash, going from The Dresden Dolls to Bill Staines in the space of a day, know this: both Amanda Palmer and Bill are graduates of Lexington High School, where the teachers are apparently doing something right.  Both artists inspire their audiences to participate in the show, and both write songs with that inexplicable New England crispness.  “I was born in the path of the winter wind”/”I’m half my mother’s daughter, a fraction left up to dispute.”  Am I stretching?  Oh yes I am.  It’s late and I’m tired.

This is a fairly straight cover.  I’m not a particularly good finger-picker, so I went with my typical flat-pick-no-subtlety acoustic style, with occasional nods towards folksy pleasantries.


Next up…: It’s a definite maybe.


Cover #15 – The Dresden Dolls, “Half Jack”

Cover #15 is “Half Jack” by The Dresden Dolls, from their self-titled debut album, released in 2003.  Written by Amanda Palmer.

The fact of the matter is this: The Dresden Dolls got me going to shows again, writing music again, wanting to get involved in art and performance again after school basically killed any desire I had to make art or do anything creative.  They made me believe in music again.

That’s it.


Next up…: More from Lexington High School.


Posted by on April 15, 2009 in April Covers, boston rock city, music


Cover #14 – Snow Patrol, “Spitting Games”

Cover #14 is “Spitting Games” by Snow Patrol, from the 2004 album Final Straw. It was originally written by Gary Lightbody and Nathan Connolly.

There’s no real story here, except to say that Final Straw by Snow Patrol was The Album of the winter of 2004/2005 for me.  It was a relatively happy, stable time in my life, and this is a relatively happy, stable band that just happens to focus on themes like isolation and unhealthy relationships.  Oh dear.  They’re nice Irish boys, so they can get away with it.

“Spitting Games” has one of those hooks you can’t get away from, and I think it’s been used in movie trailers.  It was definitely in Torchwood twice.

My version is a synth-pop, MIDI heavy take on the tune.   Snow Patrol is a straight pop-rock/indie band who occasionally uses electronics, so I went all out with the electro.  It’s my attempt to sound like Solvent or Soviet.  Kind of a quickie, but not a bad one.


Posted by on April 14, 2009 in April Covers, music