Telephone Book

Never has a song written in the bud of youth been so ravaged by the progress of technology. How can I play this for the younger generation? "What's a telephone book?"

But indeed, the song is a plea for stability, order amidst chaos. Ultimately the protagonist is lost in a sea of abstruseness, "London hails me, harbor, too, dispatch rails me kinkajou" it's hard for him even to remember the words. Of course, the only constant in our lives is change.

It was also inspired by a new interest in the music of the mid-90s, especially that of Kurt Cobain and his Nirvana ensemble. I'm not sure this is in any way perceptible to someone who experiences the song, but this was absolutely me writing music under the influence of alt-rock and thinking  for the first time that the electric guitar was an interesting instrument that could be useful in a musical context. I mean sure, I knew this intellectually, but guitar rock in the 80s had a tendency toward faux-heroism that I found distinctly unappealing. In college I worked in bands with acoustic guitar (OCMR), space guitar (Mr Ability) or no guitar (Lumberbride) so nothing had really shaken me away from this feeling -- these were more expressions of my avoidance of electric guitar. The grunge alt scene took me to new place in my perception of the role and usefulness of guitar in the band sound. These were the first keyboardless bands that I became a fan of. I wouldn't say this song was written to be a concerto for grunge guitar, but I was in this alt guitar place when I wrote it. Perhaps the simplicity of the chords and the slowness of their movement is the main way this is expressed. Like many songs in those days and earlier, I wrote it on my little mini-key Casio MT-65.

At the end of the bridge of my alt rock masterpiece I threw something out of left field -- a mini-salute to my favorite composer of organ music, Jehan Alain. I don't recall exactly how this passage came about, but it started with this dissonant chord I wanted to to land on. From there it just worked to play these oscillating chords, an instinctive paraphrasing of the first movement of Alain's Trois Danses which leads us back to the third and final verse, satisfyingly.

There are shades of my state of mind emotionally creeping around in the words. I had ended a long relationship a few months earlier, which is likely the inspiration for lines like "sometimes your love's a boil that you only need to lance." My experiences playing the field again seem to underly "no sense in working hard, better leave them things to chance."


 Anomaly is the only of my bands ever to play this song. It was one of our 'first set' songs, appearing, as you'll hear, on our original demo. I don't think we ever left it off a set,  as I always felt it was a strong number (plus it starts with the auspicious line, "you'll never change the world with a tiki doll stuffed in your pants" -- I'm a truth-teller). In the later days I felt it needed something new, so I added an intro, which takes the vocal melody from the chorus, instrumentally, starting in a foreign key and modulating through a couple different keys before bringing us to the "be the same" riff in 7/8 that ends the bridge, which takes us into the first verse. Here, you'll just hear it smash straight into the first verse,sans intro, (I like the fretboard action from Matt, sliding his fingers to the first chord in a "rock and roll" way.) I'll find a live recording of this 'intro' version, I liked it. 

This is the Anomaly demo, recorded late in 1997 after Brian Lafleur joined the group to strike things for us. Matt and Eddy are plucking. I am dandling and warbling.