More Rock, Less Talk

I’ve been teaching more piano lessons, and am on the cusp of earning some fraction of a living at it. This makes me so happy. I really do love spending my time that way. Folks have been very encouraging. I’m especially grateful to Laura for making it all possible—she even collected those endorsements and gave them to me for Christmas.

My songwriting has slowed a lot this year, but I’m inspired to light a fire under my muse. They Might Be Giants have revamped their Dial-A-Song service for the age of YouTube, and I’m just in awe of them all over again. My plan is to embrace Quantity (alongside Melody and Fidelity) as They’ve long espoused, and crank out more volume. I also think I need to take it all a bit less Seriously; I believe that’s been slowing me down, and it’s really just a diminished version of the same self-stifling that kept me from trying to write songs for most of my life.

TMBG Ringtones

These are short clips of They Might Be Giants songs, designed for use as custom ringtones.

My Man – instrumental mix, 25 seconds. The keyboard part lends itself so well, with its theme of transmission.

Older – intro clip, 16 seconds. The rauschpfife and saroussophone are instantly recognizable through the din of other people’s phones.

Wicked Little Critta – mostly instrumental mix, 32 seconds. For those who like their phone to make only the minimum amount of noise necessary, this one starts as a quiet warning, gets a bit louder… and then self-destructs at about 18 seconds.

Critic Intro – four instrumental snips: tumblemedium sneakshort sneak, and the wonderfully dramatic pounce.

Sesame Street Alphabet

A while ago I got Riley this Sesame Street alphabet album. It’s essentially the same as a vinyl LP that I had at his age, except with a token Elmo song tacked onto the beginning so they could justify putting him on the new cover art. My LP had a couple of nasty scratches in it too. But it was one of several Sesame Street albums that I pumped into my ears as often as the parents would let me for a few years.

I’ve loved hearing it again (skipping right over Elmo, hehe). The familiar songs feel mostly the same, but also my perspective is obviously a bit different now. As a kid I wasn’t yet able to really appreciate how well done the songs are, plus they were so effective in drawing me in that I wouldn’t have really analyzed them anyway. But a couple of them are pretty complex musically, and of course the whole thing is sprinkled with humor that is too advanced for toddlers. You get the feeling that Jim Henson and company were trying to keep themselves entertained along with the kids. That’s exactly what I like about TMBG’s kids music too, of course. Riley seems to like these as much as I did/do.

But thinking about the Muppets, I also realized how much it says about their relationship that Ernie has articulated hands, while Bert has articulated eyebrows instead. They’re basically doomed by phenotype into their roles in the actor/reactor dichotomy. (I’m a Bert by that measure. And by several others, I think.)

A Few TMBG Things

I just started the syndicated account yesterday so I could see updates to the main page from here. Thought some of you might be interested in that too.

In a local coffeehouse the other day, I saw a little bookshelf had a sign that said “Free books! Feel free to take these, and bring in any you don’t need.” Glancing through the books, I found to my astonishment a copy of McSweeney’s Issue 6! Naturally I snagged it. Tragically warped in some liquid accident, but the CD is intact. Actually it reminded me of , whose coffee-stained copy used to belong to me. I even wondered for a moment if this was somehow her copy. This copy has the “We Now Know Who” on the front, too, which I think means it’s from the first print run. (My autographed copy has “Find Them And Convince Them.”) But handwritten on the inside of this one is “D. E. 4/18/01,” about which I encourage idle speculation.

Now I need to find something to leave at the coffeehouse to restore my karmic balance. Most of my books have been shipped off to Tennessee already, but maybe I can find something here that’d do it.

I’ve been meaning to post about The Else too, but I’m still going through the new album digestion process. I’m a little too in love with it right now, and it’s unclear how much of that is the novelty factor.