This morning, I listened to 3 The Night albums, pretty much straight through (I threw some Randy Newman in there as well). Then, somewhat out of the blue, I get an email from Jon saying, “New Album by The Night!”. The Night is one of those bands you kinda have to hear to understand, and even then you probably won’t understand – they have to hit you on the right wavelength. For example, if a horse being turned into glue is your thing, then give “The Slowest Racehorse” a spin. Or maybe you are a “Halloween Attacks Christmas” type of gal or a “Should a Wolfman Workout?” person. Either way, can’t go wrong! Their new double-disc album, Insanitation I and Insanitation II is more of the same delights!
I was inspired by the new The Night album, because it harkens back to an era, pre-digital, where I used to hit “record” on a 4-track and sing “Shitty Cowboys” with my friends. It was December 23rd, 1997 – Jesse, Bill, Bob, Matt, and me were in my room, writing and recording some of the best music that has ever existed such as “Toby Cryns All Star Basketball Player #22“. We preceded that recording session with an hour of Simpsons quotes-battle. Truly lovely. These days I invest way too much time trying to make my recordings perfect and much too little time…I don’t know…learning the lyrics to my songs.
I applied to MN Fringe Festival, and the lottery has not yet happened. If I get the gig, my plan is to expand on portions of Happy Endings Church and turn that into a new musical celebrating Ted & Gayle Haggard’s love story, which is about the strangest shit you’ve ever heard. It all starts at Ted’s birth – he was born a blonde. 17 years later, Gayle is engaged to a brunette, God tells her she needs to marry a blonde, yada yada yada, a few years later she marries Ted, drops out of college, and becomes a rich suburban mom who supports her ambitious husband’s goals of becoming a mega-church Evangelical rock-star, and successfully, I might add. Ted would become the Evangelical political leader of the George W. Bush era, and Pastor Gayle would support him every step of the way – every anti-gay, anti-democratic, pro theocratic political step of the way.
I sometimes get Gayle mixed up with Sarah Palin in my head, but they are actually quite different…and yet quite the same. They are both Public Evangelicals, which means they have to pretend a lot. They are human, after all, and they, of course, cannot live up to the ridiculously-dumb standards they’ve set for themselves, nor can they vouch for their horny husbands’ philandering with every tail that walks by emitting a feral scent. What these two women are best at is making money and absorbing public scrutiny caused by their dipshit husbands. They primarily load up their wallets through book sales and book contracts. Though it should be noted that both Gayle and Sarah have side businesses – Gayle runs a non-profit church that shovels money her way, and Sarah commands a high price to smile on Fox News and talk about stuff she knows very little about. Both have books that fail to look inward, where they might actually find something interesting to talk about and where we might actually learn something that will broaden our outlook on the world and make us better humans. Instead, their books look outward, pointing fingers, blaming God and everyone but themselves for whatever bed of manure they’ve woken up in this morning. But I do think Gayle actually cares about other people more than Sarah. I mean, not enough to tell the truth or anything about the one thing that might help her become a better human – you are an ambitious person who will do whatever it takes to maintain your status – but she at least tells us that she is fallible (*golf clap*). Aaaanyway…
Yesterday I got curious about Randy Newman, and not for the first time. While his biggest hit is probably “You’ve got a friend in me” from the Toy Story movies, he also wrote some of my favorite songs EVER:
- That song from The Natural
- Mama Told Me Not to Come
- I Love L.A. (I don’t love the song, but I do love it in Major League)
- You’ve got a friend in me
But last night, as I was listening and going deeper down the Randy Newman trivia hole, I realized: I love this man. He does his own thing, and he doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks about it. And he’s prolific. He says he writes music at his piano for 4 hours per day, which seems about right. I wrote about 8 hours per week on Happy Endings Church, and it took us about 4 years to have a solid core of the musical complete. At that clip, maybe it would have taken us about 9 months, had I been writing 5 days a week rather than 2 days a week (understanding that I only wrote 2 days per week for the first year or two). Randy Newman is gentle and kind in his lyrics – never hurtful, and I can’t help but feel good listening. Even his political stuff like Short People has a gentle edge to it. He’s old now, older than me, but some days I bet I feel older than him, and I can’t help but feel inspired by his kind songwriting. My songs leave deep wounds with their teeth. Randy Newman is lyrically-direct like me, but his lyrics seem wiser.