Song 34: "If I Could Only Fly"  

Super XX Man toured with the Mendoza Line, from NYC, back in 1998 or 1999. I will not go into details about this experience. I might just save that for the tell-all memoir I'll likely not write one day. The famed recording engineer from Mebane, N.C., Jerry Kee, played in the band for this tour. We all had a day or two off in Atlanta and he offered to play some lap steel guitar with me. We hit it off and sounded really good together. I unfortunately didn't keep in touch.

Fast forward to the present day, and I was pleased to read about Jerry in Tape Op Magazine, which prompted me to reach out to him. He wrote back and was receptive to my invitation to play on a couple of songs for this 50 songs project. This first collaboration features drums and lap steel. Thank you Jerry! You are a legend.

This song, "If I Could Only Fly" was written by the late, amazing songwriter, Blaze Foley (1949-1989).

Song 33: "Detroit Has a Skyline"  

I became a big fan of the band Superchunk through the fabulous 1995 album, Here's Where the Stings Come In. I really love the lyric, "Played track six, track seven again and again" because, in college, I had a CD I put on when I got home and tracks six and seven were my favorites. I recorded this one on my iPhone using the Shure MV88 microphone. I then transferred it to the computer and did a few overdubs using my Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface and Luna. I think it turned out really nice. I love the emotion that the original Superchunk lyric has, and I think I captured some of that in this recording. 

 

Song 32: "Wave of Mutilation"  

Photo by Christina Wenger

Discovering the Pixies took no time at all. Discovering a song by them that I felt comfortable covering took ages. I got to it eventually, and I like the results. Heck, my kids even like the results, so I'll take that any day!

I was skateboarding at the "A Street House" in Moscow, ID one day with Jim Kelso, Alex Troncoso, and a few others  when I first heard the Pixies. Jim used to set up a boom box in the open window of the bathroom that sat right above the mid-point of the ramp. I feel like once the Pixies arrived to Jim's boom box, Bad Brains took a break and my musical tastes began to shift.  

Song 29: "In Memory of Elizabeth Cotton"  

When I was 16, I traveled with my friend Dan to see Firehose at Crazy Horse in Boise, ID. Imagine our disappointment when we showed up and we were told, "Sorry guys. Show's sold out." I explained that we bought tickets months before and were told they would be waiting for us at the door. Again, "Sorry guys. Show's sold out." I walked away feeling miserable. I sat down on the sidewalk and sulked.

In my peripheral vision, somebody resembling Fidel Castro sat down next to me. He said, "I just got done playing Fidel in a movie." Who else could play this part but Mike Watt, the already legendary bassist from iconic punk band, Minutemen. Did he recognize me as a bummed out kid? Who knows. I think it's just what he did before shows. He is a man of the people after all. We talked and he listened as I shared my story and feelings of disappointment. He made sure Dan and I got in to the show and asked us for requests.

The show was amazing and everything I hoped it would be. The guitarist, Ed Crawford, reminded me of Marty McFly playing guitar in Back to the Future. He was full of energy and moving all over the stage, strutting and screaming with a gold top Les Paul. The drummer, George Hurley, was a blur of arms and hair behind his drum kit. And, I've never seen someone pulverize a bass guitar like Watt did, literally slamming his fist on the strings while still balancing the beautiful melodies of the music.

I hung around after the show just to soak in the total atmosphere of the night. Mike Watt made a beeline for me and gave me the sweatiest bear hug I have ever received. Maybe he wanted closure from the moment we shared before the show? Either way, my love of this band was complete.

I did not set out to record "In Memory of Elizabeth Cotton," a song from their third LP called If'n. It just sort of happened and I'm sure glad it did because I really like this arrangement. 

Song 28: "Green Mind"  

I remember sitting in my beige 1985 Subaru GL Wagon when I popped this CD in the player for the first time. I was sitting outside my high school. I had already heard the fabulous track one, "The Wagon," in a skateboard video and was immediately reminded of its awesomeness. I found the rest of the album puzzled me. Did I like it? Not right away. Green Mind is just so different from any Dinosaur Jr. release. I can assure you today, however, that it is my favorite Dinosaur Jr. album. 

Unlike all other songs in this series, this recording is available here as part of another collection.

Song 26: "Story of Isaac"  

The late and remarkable Leonard Cohen wrote "Story of Isaac," originally released on Songs From a Room (1969). According to the Bible, God asked Abraham to take his son, Isaac, to the top of a mountain and sacrifice him. This song is from Isaac's perspective. It's chilling from the opening lines, "The door it opened slowly. My father he came in. I was nine years old."

My deep admiration for Cohen's music can be found in his storytelling. He is not known for his angelic voice after all. But he sure can tell a tale, and this one is a great example.

I struggled with this one for several reasons. I liked my vocal but didn't like the original accompaniment I created. I also felt like this song was too long even for Cohen's standards. It all left me struggling to make it work.

I thought I would have to abandon my desire for a Leonard Cohen cover at all, until I found the keyboard and synth pads running through the entire song. I loved the mood I found when I turned up the vocal reverb.