Flea Market With Alice and Claude

Flea Market With Alice and Claude

2017-05-22T20:05:40-04:00 Monday January 26, 2015|

Sometimes I can’t get the globs of music out of my head fast enough. I worry that if I don’t, they’ll disappear, and a lot of them have.

I’ve been averaging one musical rendering a week during the current Music For Guitar & Synth phase I’m in. They brew much quicker than Iced Ink songs because I don’t have to reduce everything that I hear in my head into guitar, bass and drums. I have hundreds of different virtual instruments at my fingertips and dammit, I’m not afraid to use ’em! Usually an idee-er starts on a Thursday night and it’s done being baked into a full song by that Sunday night. Rinse, lather, repeat.

This past weekend was the first time I was working on (and completed) two toons simultaneously, Escape From The Baby Blue Datsun and this one, Flea Market With Alice and Claude. The hair on the sides of my head will soon have worn-in headphone bald spots. I looked in the mirror this morning and thought I’d screwed my hair up when I last cut it but just didn’t notice. A few seconds later I realized oh, duuuh. Those are just headphone ear cup dents from wearing them so much.


This suck goes to 11.

This sucky-ness goes to 11.

We received some news last week that my Grandma Alice wasn’t doing so well which is never easy news to hear as it is, but being 1,200 miles away turns the DUDE, THIS REALLY SUCKS dial from a 10 to a full-on Nigel Tufnel 11. (Thankfully she’s doing a lot better now and receiving excellent care – get well, Grams!)

After the initial news sank in I picked up my geetar and a 2 chord phrase (the one that the nasally synthesizer plays about 24 seconds into this tune) fell out of my digits. I fired up my recording program and Fishman TriplePlay guitar before the idea evaporated and dialed up a goofy sounding Oberheim synth setting to play it through to get it down on “tape”. I used that as the backbone and just kept on layering stuff on top of it. There’s so much crap in this it’s not even funny: Synths galore, a nice dreamy vibraphone, a church choir, people bustling about in the background (a salute to Art of Noise) and even fake 12, nylon, and steel string guitars. The guitars sound pretty crappy on their own, as do most of these sampled instruments, but when layered all together into a nice cheesy music lasagne they have a certain charm to them.

This one was particularly fatiguing on my brain and ears; I wanted it to sound massive and super creamy, like the audio equivalent of what pouring egg nog looks like. It turned into a whole lot of spirals of “this needs to be lower”, “that’s way too quiet” and so on. Like everything else it’s never really finished, but if I don’t cut myself off at some point I would never finish anything. That’s one of the huge reasons behind why I post songs on the internets, of course it’s really fun to Cher ’em with people, but it also forces me to accept the fact that they’re as done as they’re gonna get and it’s time to move on to the next thing.

On Saturday the whole layering/mixing process was wearing me out so I decided to cleanse the palate and start another tune that was the complete opposite of this one (the aforementioned rockin’ Blue Datsun). It turned out to be a great distraction. When I needed a break from one I’d close it out and work on the other.

Alice & Claude circa 1982ish

Alice & Claude circa 1982ish

Remaining true to the spirit of what these songs seem to have become, little synesthesia-induced aural time travels to my past, I tried to think of my earliest memory of my Grams, a woman who is easily the most peaceful and gentle person I’ve ever known and probably ever will know. I kept thinking about sitting in the back of what I think I remember being a yacht-sized white car that belonged to her husband (then-boyfriend) Claude. Claude was a really cool dude who always called Grandma “Al”. They took me to a flea market or craft fair of some sort. I remember it being in a massive echo-y structure (hence the beeg phat sound I wanted out of this song). It was just table after table of STUFF for what seemed like miles. I remember Claude was wearing a dark blue windbreaker and maroon trousers. Every time I see turquoise I think of that day. I have no idea where it was – it could have been at Park High, the high school I went to years later. Maybe the Grandstand building on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds? Beats the Hell adda me. I remember thinking Wow, I’m with Grandma and Claude.. this is so cool! What do I say to them? What if I see something I want? What if I see a KISS record? Will they buy it for me?

That’s alls I gots for that little snippet of time. I don’t remember if they bought me anything or any other details… but I do vividly remember being out of my element with Grandma and Claude, and how different and rad it felt.

I definitely let my inner Steve Vai out on this one (just without all of the fast notes). The little tinkly layers of fake 12 string guitars are a tribute to one of my favorite creamy 1970s songs, Bob Welch’s Sentimental Lady.

To quote the great Calhoun Tubbs, “Like to hear it? Here it go:”