My Real Actual Influences

January 21, 2011 at 6:11 am | Posted in Just for fun, Music | 6 Comments
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So I made a list once upon a time of my musical/artistic influences, and wrote them down and touted them proudly.  But my parents saw that list and called baloney.  So with their help I’ve drawn up a more accurate list of childhood influences, as well as the roster of the top 10 most influential albums I’ve loved and listened to in becoming a musical self.  Here ya go, world, more honesty.  In no particular order, stuff I listened to a gazillion times at some point in my youth, with a few I’ve spun enough times to make the list even though I came to them in college or after:

  1. Yes – 90125, Fragile
  2. James Taylor – Sweet Baby James, Never Die Young, & New Moonshine
  3. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
  4. Quincy Jones – Back on the Block
  5. Beatles – Sgt. Pepper
  6. Paul Simon – Graceland
  7. Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends, Bridge Over Troubled Water
  8. Weird Al Yankovic – everything
  9. They Might Be Giants – everything thru 2005
  10. The Aquabats – everything thru 2004
  11. Menotti – Amahl and the Night Visitors
  12. Beethoven – Symphonies No. 3, 6 & 7
  13. J.S. Bach – Goldberg Variations, Cello Suites
  14. Gilbert & Sullivan – Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado
  15. Lyle Lovett – Joshua Judges Ruth, I Love Everybody
  16. Ragtime
  17. Les Misérables
  18. Miss Saigon
  19. Cats
  20. Kasey Chambers – Barricades & Brick Walls
  21. Norah Jones – Come Away With Me
  22. Jason Mraz – Waiting for My Rocket to Come
  23. Harry Connick, Jr.
  24. Ella Fitzgerald
  25. Oscar Peterson
  26. The King’s Singers
  27. Diana Krall – All for You
  28. Carole King – Tapestry
  29. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  30. Jewel – Pieces of You
  31. Jars of Clay – Flood, Much Afraid, If I Left the Zoo
  32. Sting – Mercury Falling, Soul Cages
  33. Dave Matthews Band – Under the Table & Dreaming, Crash
  34. Earth, Wind, & Fire
  35. Tower of Power
  36. The Temptations
  37. Holst – The Planets
  38. Stravinsky – Rite of Spring, Firebird
  39. Copland – Billy the Kid Suite, Rodeo, lots more
  40. Leonard Bernstein – complete works
  41. Brand New Heavies – Brother Sister
  42. Joni Mitchell – Clouds, Blue, For the Roses, Court & Spark, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter
  43. The Proclaimers – Sunshine on Leith
  44. Marc Cohn – Marc Cohn, Burning the Haze
  45. Carly Simon – Have You Seen Me Lately
  46. Julia Fordham – Porcelain
  47. Bruce Hornsby – Harbor Lights, Hot House, Spirit Trail
  48. Bonnie Raitt – Luck of the Draw
  49. 100 Carols for Choirs (Oxford hymn book)
  50. Christmas with Julie Andrews
  51. Pink Martini – Sympathique, Hang on Little Tomato
  52. Moulin Rouge soundtrack
  53. Romeo + Juliet soundtrack
  54. Peter Mulvey
  55. Stephen Fearing
  56. Kris Delmhorst – Songs for a Hurricane, Five Stories
  57. Five Iron Frenzy
  58. Brent Bourgeois
  59. The Newsboys
  60. Audio Adrenaline
  61. Into the Grey
  62. Susan Ashton
  63. Regina Spektor
  64. Sarah Harmer – You Were Here, All of Our Names
  65. Postal Service – Give Up
  66. Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days
  67. Iron & Wine / Calexico – In the Reins
  68. Baltimore Consort – Bright Day Star, The Mad Buckgoat, The Ladyes Delight
  69. Polyphony (choral ensemble) – O Magnum Misterium
  70. Carbonleaf – Echo Echo

And my top 10 Most Spun Albums, right up until I produced Vanilla (some are still spun constantly):

  • Milk-Eyed Mender by Joanna Newsom
  • Blue by Joni Mitchell
  • Songs for a Hurricane by Kris Delmhorst
  • Marry Me by Saint Vincent
  • Le Fil by Camille
  • Sixpence None the Richer by Sixpence None the Richer
  • Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens
  • You Were Here by Sarah Harmer
  • The Crane Wife by The Decemberists
  • Begin to Hope by Regina Spektor

There.  Now I don’t have to keep repeating this list for people.  Lots of awesome folks have been left off of it, but I believe it’s truest to what I listened to growing up, rather than what I listen to now and wish I had listened to growing up.  Then again I was never all that cool.

Mission accomplished!  This is now written down.  I’ma go do real work with this out of my head.


A Song Crowdsourced from Twitter

December 7, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Posted in Just for fun, Music, True Stories | 2 Comments

So once I was bored in Hollywood.  Bored at Le Pain Quotidien in Brentwood to be more specific, since I’d been stood up for a meeting. Now, bored is really not my M.O. — on principle I am almost never bored — but Twitter is always there for me in such emergencies.  So of course that’s where I turned.

I wanted to write but I lacked inspiration.  So as an exercise I promised Twitter I would use every single idea they pitched at me in a single song. With rhyming.  The list of terms/references Twitter provided, within about two hours, follows:

Swine Flu
root beer
bad movies
comic books/superheroes
Angsty bandmates
amusement parks
Modern pop songs suck
The coolest guy in San Diego
Favorite Color
Monkey/organ grinder
Firefly reference
The known, the unknown, and the underknown
Finger puppets
Sharpies & glitter
Windows Vista/blue screen of death
tech support
Armageddon/tea (points if you’ve been around Twitter long enough to remember this meme)

Here’s what I came up with. I rediscovered it recently and it made the corner of my mouth go up a little — you know the way — because it’s on topic for me lately.  And I like a few of the images.  So I thought I would share it with its co-creators.

Disclaimers: 1) the rhyme scheme’s a little obtuse, but that’s typical for me (with music it makes sense).  2) If you want to imagine how it would sound, there are lots of electric guitars and drums in this one.  3) No, I won’t record it, I don’t think, it was just an exercise.  4)  Also, it’s too long, but that is again typical of me.  5) It’s more complainy and current and socio/political than my own voice usually is, but then, Twitter’s rather complainy and current etc., so I was being true to my co-writers’ voices.  6) You may note that a little snippet later transmuted into part of “The Avocado Song.”

Oh, and fittingly, I was issued a parking citation for letting my meter run out while I composed this little ditty.  Anyway — enjoy the wordplay!

Hard to Hold by Marian Call & Twitter

They’re drilling holes in the 405 — it makes our sunburnt ears all hurt
And the coolest guy in all of San Diego — even he must wait to merge
He’s in every other car along the interstate, adjusts his aviators in the mirror
His pets are electronic, his insomnia is chronic, his friends are all ironic
He’s going to see the show tonight and he’s warming up by practicing his sneer

They’re drilling holes in the 405 — to put our worst of worries in
They’ve outsourced tech support to warmer climates — and sued away our sins
So we’ll have time to curse at Windows Vista and mourn for BSG
And laugh at #firstworldproblems, and mock ‘em when they rob us, and charge it if we’re jobless
Smart enough and loud enough and self-aware enough to always win

Along comes a spider to propose a point of view
A high risk venture, an idealistic coup
Is he another organ grinder, is he a prophet underknown
He thought he’d dabble in the truth just for a change — I can’t quite get behind it though

‘Cause hope’s so hard to hold
Hope’s so hard to hold
Do I dare do I dare
Can I care anymore
Gonna leave me bleeding, oh…

They’re drilling holes in your will to live — got nothing better left to do
They built a superhero-themed amusement park — and it’s all about you
You’ve got your own hit single and an angsty rocker band
I’ll sip root beer at your movie — let your genius blow through me — the story don’t much move me
I laughed when you got swine flu, but in fairness the whole script’s a little bland

Aren’t you getting tired of propping up your heart
With flimsy little sucker sticks and fraying bits of twine
Of drawing blithe conclusions on cute recycled cards
With sharpies and with glitter — with some dry sarcastic movie quote inside

Oh, ‘cause hope’s so hard to hold
Hope’s so hard to hold
Do I dare do I dare
Can I care anymore
Gonna leave me bleeding, oh…but you hold, you hold, I say you hold…

Darlin’ I said darlin’ someday
You gonna keep what you took.
You gonna eat what you cook.
Darlin’ I said darlin’ someday
You gonna keep what you took.
You gonna eat what you cook.

You cannot build a car to run on sarcasm and pride
You cannot make a bull to charge who’s playing colorblind

They’re drilling holes in the 405 — but they’re not quite big enough to hold our fears
So if your favorite primetime show’s been slipping lately — save a couple tears
Our monitor has long been blue and frozen / but no one gots the guts to force-restart
We’re overcaffeinated, we’re overcompensated, our work is overrated
It’d be amusing what we’re losing if we didn’t deep down know we’ll miss our hearts

Aren’t you getting tired of all the nip and tuck
Of preening and rescreening your half-baked philosophy
Aren’t you getting tired of never looking up
Of parodizing Armageddon with pink smoke and finger puppets over tea

Oh, but hope’s so hard to hold
Hope’s so hard to hold
Do I dare do I dare
Can I care anymore
Gotta hold, you hold, you hold, I say you hold, oh…
Gonna leave me bleedin’, oh

Comfy Chicken Nest Hat Hat

January 4, 2010 at 10:26 am | Posted in Just for fun, Music | 5 Comments

I received this e-mail recently from a fan, who happens to be in a fictional band called Comfy Chicken Nest Hat Hat.  He happens to be my little brother (@zamonium).  I was unsure who sent it to me until I listened to the audio that he attached.  This came about a week before I flew to Seattle to start recording my new album.

You simply must hear his demonstrationtrack…


From:     chickenonhead@*******.com
Subject:     Regards to next album
To:     mariancall*at*


Comfy Chicken Nest Hat Hat my Projectmusiciangroup; I am please meet you Marian Call.

I have Understanding for your not want me to play (as this is for many people want it!!) however I insist my Rockband for send you this Demonstrationtrack.  You will be listen if your nice, but not so many want it to do this!  Ha ha!

Hereby though, i send this Demonstrationtrack you with out the Rockband Permission because I think will be very excellent Edition as first Track of the new Compactdisc you will make!  Congratulation!

I can not need to boar you for more Words, that is okay.  Please to contact me if this is quite excellent, or to give me the good Playingtips for Rockband Comfy Chicken Nest Hat Hat.

Many Thank!

Rudolff Messerauge

P.s.- Sorry English! Haha!

Link to .WMA file CCNHH Demonstrationtrack2

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