Today marks the release of my 16th album, ATYPICAL. Starting this week, I’ll be chatting about each of the six songs that make up the collection.
The pitch I used to explain the song Choice to Spotify playlist curators went something like this:
A post-punk song driven by a hot bass groove, “Choice” is about the pitfalls of desire, and how craving validation means loss of self. The chorus hook “it’s your choice to come around” was directed squarely at myself. Bridge lyrics “I turn on my radio and curse the voice that’s screaming so” refer to the insanity of our mass media, but ‘radio’ here also serves as a metaphor for the ruminating mind and its resulting ‘static’.
But this only tells a small part of the story. I neglected to mention that this song was written and recorded back in 1995. The line “four arms around me / they like to tell me lies / they like to send me selfish” is related to a strange evening I had with two women after a night out in Rogers Park. This directly ties into the idea of fantasies we might have in our head which in reality turn out to be less-than-ideal, or even borderline nightmarish.
Apart from the fact fantasies pull us out of the here and now- and worse- make us long for things we don’t have, they’re wholly misleading. In our wild imaginations, we control all aspects of the internal movies of what we think we want. The lighting, the entirety of the plot and its resolution, and well as all the characters and how they behave. Expecting real life to play out like our fantasies is naive, and frankly would take all the adventure out.
Choice, like most of the songs on ATYPICAL was recorded not on a computer, but rather onto cassette tape using my Tascam 8-track tape recorder.
Featured prominently on the tune is the Epiphone acoustic guitar that once belonged to my aunt Adrienne. It was a beginners guitar, but that didn’t stop me from using it on a million songs until the instrument simply fell apart in 2001.
I played 3 different electric bass parts for the song, which is wholly unusual but added a ton of punch to the track. Since the song deals with fantasy and a kind of otherworld, I decided to have the song fade out into an evening scene at a middle-eastern bazaar (or at least that’s how I picture it). I played a simple melody on a green plastic toy instrument called a “blowmelodian” which is horribly out of tune, but sounds amazingly like a microtonal ethnic instrument a snake charmer might play.
Next week, I’ll talk a little bit about the song Baby Blue. Thanks for reading and see you then!