I Come From Russia With Love – Song #18 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

I bet your password is a scream.


Shake Your Memory Bones –  Song #16 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

I was in the studio recording this and a few other songs, and was not having a very good time. I’ve not, before or since, had such a bad experience in the studio (a studio that is beloved in Portland). The engineer could not have been more uninterested in what I was doing, or me personally. I was, apparently, a really boring drag. ANYWAY!

When I was recording this weird song, Elliott Smith stopped by. I had been having trouble with the vocal sound in the studio, which is usually the thing I nail no matter what. It’s kinda my thang.

So, I figured, well, hell, ELLIOTT SMITH is right here. He probably knows how to good a good vocal sound! Duh.

So, Elliott being Elliott, which is to say, very nice, and very generous, says, oh sure, try this…so he set a different mic up, fucked with the EQ a bit, tested it (he sounded awesome)…said there ya go!

I’m like, holy smokes! This is going to kick ass. Elliott left, I got on the mic, we started recording, and…..

Sounded like shit. Ha! What worked for Elliott most emphatically did not work for me. Went back to the old set-up and used that.

Never really got what I wanted out of that studio session, but I do like this song, mostly because the sound of it is really unlike anything else I’ve ever done.

the shrine of natalie song #15 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

At the end of 1999, I went down to LA an got an apartment in Silverlake, and split my time between Portland and there for a few months in order to work on two projects. One, was what is called a ‘social network’ now, the thing I was trying to build was around sharing and discovering music with your friends. It was pretty cool, but even though I got some meetings with ‘new media experts’ at places like William Morris – literally no one knew what I was talking about. I tried to hire a couple different people to build the database for it but again, no one could quite get what I was trying to build. My bad!

The other project was a film project, or more accurately a video project. I’d just bought a TRV-900 camera, and had written a story called The Shrine of Natalie. My idea was to create short episodes, like 3 minutes long and post them online. Then I thought of the idea of having the main character directly address the camera. And voila, I invented the vlog, and the web series! Well, not totally, but it was definitely early days. Once again, I couldn’t get it off the launchpad. We got meetings with Paramount and Dreamworks, who both said – this is really cool, but what is it? An episodic that is posted to the internet, and the main character breaks the 4th wall? Well, that’ll never fly.

So, we tried to find a hosting service that would host and stream the videos. Ha ha. We got kicked off of two different hosts because as soon as we had several concurrent users, it would drag their whole network down. Early days! There was a site called iFilm that you could put your films on, but I hd a different vision for the project. 

Also, such early times that I hung out on Sundays, every Sunday, with a bunch of folks working in the tech and music world would meet at a Pho restaurant for lunch –  and one of those guys was a kid named Travis Kalanick. Really nice guy and obviously really smart. So young! He had a peer to peer file sharing service called Scour. I talked to him a little about how could we seed my video project in it, but our discussions didn’t get far. Within a few months he was being sued by the RIAA for 250 BILLION dollars. He and Scour filed bankruptcy, and he had some tough years ahead of him. He then started Red Swoosh, which he ultimately sold for 19 million dollars. A couple years after that he took over UBER. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in many years and then saw him in the news, and I was like, hey it’s Travis! Good for him. Then…I started ready about what kind of guy he was, and it blew my mind. He was a nice guy and really pretty shy when I would see him. Then – he turned out to be the bro to end all bros.

Ya never know!

At any rate, I wrote a little credits ‘theme’ for the Shrine of Natalie, and here it is! I tried to get some of the footage from the show to create a video from, but the CDs I saved it to can no longer be read. I’ll have to figure that out another time.

Song #13 – You Pull the Lever

Another fun but short-lived project I did with Bill Coffey was the band Boxer Rebellion.

Our little marketing tagline was that we were “Country-Soul”. I played acoustic guitar, Bill played electric, Tim and Jason on drums and bass. Then we added a horn section, a hammond organ and a pedal steel. So it was a full house onstage. We played together for about a year, I think, and I also think we were pretty good, and should’ve/could’ve made something of it. But we stopped playing, I was never exactly sure why. We did have some good shows –  opened for John Hiatt at a decent sized auditorium I recall.

Best of all, we actually put out a record which you can find on iTunes as we speak. It’s a live album, (Live at the Neurolux), in Boise, which might’ve been a little risky on our parts to think we could put a live record out, but it turned out pretty good. I’m pretty proud of the fact that despite all the folks on-stage, and this being live, we nailed the harmonies all the way through. The high 3rd harmony is Steve Fulton, who was also playing the Hammond, and is a great musician and a heckuva nice guy.

I wrote this song, but Bill is singing the verses. He always liked this song, and told me one time that it was actually a mainstay of his live set with his bands in Boise. It’s pretty cool when your peers cover your songs.


We are 14 – Song #11 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

A fair chunk of my songs I think of as short stories – Many Long Hot Summers, The Story So Far, the bridge on I Close My Eyes…which goes:

We snuck up onto the ferris wheel

After the park shut down

And we talked of dreams

And get rich schemes

As raindrops found the ground

And then the ride just started up

And we laughed until we cried 

And I’d like to get that feeling back

But I guess I…

I never really tried.

This is one of those songs. Thinking back to partying in the summer heat of Kansas. And folks, the teenagers in the midwest party HARD.

Of course, a short story needn’t be autobiographical – so literally none of the details in this song are from my life, but they SOUND like they could be this unreliable narrator’s story. And the song FEELS true to me.

And in keeping with my ‘don’t be precious’ rule this year – there are 8 vocals tracks, and the 3 guitar tracks and they are all of them first takes. Gotta crank these out!



Let’s Pretend We’re Immortal – Song #7 of #365songs – A Musical Memoir

A new song. This was unexpected. I’ve was asked to compose and perform a song based on Chuck Palahniuk’s new novella, “Legacy” at the Bushwick Book Club party.
I was down in LA so no time to read the book or write the song. Got back to portland and had a day to read the book and a day to write the song. I felt like the book was very cynical – but it ultimately was about trying to find a love that would last forever. So I decided to write a song that was the opposite of cynical, a song that was all about believing that love could last forever. And so I tried to write a Roy Orbison song – he is the master of dark deep love. I performed this song the day after I wrote it.

Ramit Sethi

Listening to Ramit Sethi on James Altucher’s podcast. Two interesting takeaways (among many).

Be specific. And A/B test in your daily life. For instance, what do you say when you meet people? That’s an interesting thought. He mentions things as simple as how he describes what he does. For awhile he said he was a ‘writer’…he noticed a change in people’s attitudes towards him when he started saying he was an ‘author’.