I was once asked by a one of the guys in my band to write lyrics for a love song. He’d written the guitar part, a cloying, obvious number unlike his usual “sad Axl Rose wants to bump uglies with oblivion” stuff. It was patently designed for his Pearl Jam baritone, and he wanted me to supply the little nothings that would hasten the job of getting someone- anyone’s- pants off. He was one of the people who still think they are actually using what little forebrains they possess to get laid, despite the scientifically established primacy of olfactory chemistry, and I didn’t know whether to pity him or loan him some Nag Champa.

Even he probably didn’t envision this song being included in our repertoire. It’s difficult to see how you’d follow stuff like

Baby fat! I could do with a lifetime of that.
Honestly. How’d you come by that?
Pussy. Cat.
*

with a McCartney ballad. I told him I’d have to give it some thought, hoping he’d forget it.

The band was on its creative dog-ends anyway. I took the cassette home and listened to it, and was immediately struck by an image of poor dead Karen Carpenter at a piano on a stony seacoast doing a string saturated cover of Romeo Void’s “I might Like you better”. I wrote a couple of versions, but they were horrible. The more I wrote, the more I descended into an angry torpor. If I were to write it today it would go like this:

I want to build an ossuary
A temple to our framework
We’re so unlike the others
Who always do the same work
heeding bioimperatives to create little monkeys
who grow up bleeding biker trash.
Guitar pawning junkies.
The way I want to jump your bones
Is difficult to phrase
I want to build an ossuary
shed my mortal clays
get out of this winding sheet of skin and fat and muscle
forget those nasty fluids
starve the last corpuscle

Chorus: Let’s make a bone house
It’ll be our very own house
Our never be alone house
Made up of you and me.
Uhh…Uh…Honeybunch.

I don’t think that was what he was after.
It was the last clumsily hammered clinch nail in the coffin, because I knew it was going to be the first of many such requests, ultimately ending up with “Hey, how about a song about a guy too wild and free to be tied down to any one woman, job or drug?”

I resolved not to write jack for any fucking Jim Morrison, dead or alive. His shithouse has already gone up in flames, I said. I’m leaving this band on love’s highway, bloated.

And boy was I bloated. This particular band drank a whole lot. There were times when the alcohol poisoned singer from AC/DC might have staggered into the room where we were recording, stopped, shook his head in dismay and embarked upon a new life, exploring the joy of oil painting.

I gradually quit taking calls from the band and tried unsuccessfully to become absorbed in my dumb job, instead becoming steadily more at home in the Zombie Karen Carpenter persona- picking at the flowers on the wallpaper, taking black and white photographs of municipal drainage systems, avoiding ice cream. My wife quickly tired of this and suggested I try out as a DJ at WXDU. She’d seen a request for people to fill in during the summer on an online message board.
The idea didn’t thrill me, but at the time I went to the library for art books often enough anyway, and at least I’d be exposed to some new music-something different from the miserable VH1 horseshit they carpet bombed every public space with in those days.
The orientation went OK, but I got a little hung up on the emergency broadcast system protocols. The station manager told me it wasn’t any big deal. If there was a big natural disaster, the EBS would plow right over my show anyway. Good for them.
Plus, there were a few oldsters there along with me, so I didn’t feel completely alienated.
Hurricane Fran had recently knocked the main transmitting tower to the ground. This didn’t bother me. I wouldn’t have to worry much about my gaffes: the effective broadcast radius of the station was about 500 yards; mostly reaching Buchanan and Markham streets and any sadass who might be using a police scanner on campus.

My musical selections were excruciatingly bad at first. My excuse was I’d been out of the loop. What really happened was being in a band had narrowed my tastes to stuff I could successfully pilfer. Stuff that would resonate with the other people in the band. We would take the hammer of Thor to classic rock tropes repeatedly until folks would hardly recognize Marc Bolan or the Kinks.

Gradually I started exploring the library at the station. I talked with the guy who did the 4AM rap show ahead of my 5:30 slot, DJ Madd. He was all over the radio in Durham, at 90.7 WNCU in a couple of slots. I started listening to rap and funk, and began the long process of shedding some musical ethnocentricity.

I’d cleared the day I scheduled for my first show with the Post Office a month in advance, but the shop steward decided he had to attend the funeral of a fellow shop steward in some holler of West Virginia. I’d have to get up at 4:00, drive into Durham from Oxford, commence my show at 5:30, drive back to Oxford and case mail from 7:00 to 9:30 or thereabouts and then get out on the 97 mile route, babbling to myself when I couldn’t get XDU in.

But I managed. And It felt like a little victory over mindless daily work.

The station had shitty T-shirts, so in my spare time I designed one. I didn’t submit it. I figured a student really owned that job.

Eventually the Post Office found a lot more work for me, and I couldn’t get to Durham to fill that graveyard slot. I could still get XDU on my jeep radio, and they afforded me a little sanity while I was carrying Wal-Mart flyers and Fingerhut to the ignorant spavined snuff dipping bastards who ultimately found their voice (Ken Curtis on D-Amphetamine) in the tea party.

For a couple of years now, I’ve only been able to get the station in on my car radio. None of the stereo receivers at the house had the internal antennae to pick it up. I finally broke down and went out on Ebay (Fuck you and your ugly children, Meg Whitman) to purchase a 1970’s radio with jacks for a TV antenna. I put it upstairs in my studio. When I flip the power on in the morning, you can hear it gradually warming up, and sometimes you don’t know if it’s static, or if it’s some of the shit kids listen to these days.
Sometimes, it’s bands like Milagres, whose video I posted above, and who are one of those bands that make you happy to be alive. There are Youtubes of them playing this at another college radio station, and it’s just as tight and beautifully sung as the studio version. Kickass percussion, dudes.
Is that video some fucked up shit or what? Furries!

*The chorus of a character song based on an opiate addled pedo shuffling toward the grave a la Death in Venice (not to mention shades of the guy who asked me to write the “love song”).

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