Thanks to everyone who downloaded Post-Apocalyptic Christmas the week before Christmas - we raised close to $200 for St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County! A big thank you also to those who donated directly to SVdP (unfortunately, I don't know the exact number).
I wish you well in the new year!
Just like Post-Apocalyptic Christmas part 1, part 2 relies on the use of familiar Christmas tunes. I did this to lend the song the sense that I was remembering fragments lost long ago.
In Post Apocalyptic Christmas Part 2 the piano introduction is a fragment of We Three Kings. This motif was the catalyst for the structure of the song - you can hear it come back after each verse but it gets 'reframed' in different ways using minor and major keys based on the narrative.
The next tune, O Come All Ye Faithful, forms the chorus. It is however in a minor key so the melody has been transformed a bit. The words have also changed and contain a play on words - instead of "come ye to Bethlehem" I sing "come ye despite mayhem" (I'm most proud of that one). The chorus melds into another Christmas standard, "O Holy Night". This isn't the melody of that song but the words, which I've inverted here: instead of "fall on your knees / O hear the angels voices" I sing "rise from your knees / O hear the winds are blowing".
The third verse contains the most buried Christmas fragment: after I sing "reviving olden ways" I give a nod to the first PAC that used a minor version of Jingle Bells. It's brief but it's in there!
In the big jumbled canon section near the end of the song I bring back text and melody fragments from We Three Kings (star of wonder / star of night). This all finally leads back to Come All Ye Faithful. At the end I rip into O Holy Night but this time it's the melody as it is in the original. There's some harmonic sleight of hand going on here but I'll save that for a different discussion.
Hope that helps you to identify all the old Christmas songs - listen again and see if you can pick all of them out now!
Post-Apocalyptic Christmas 2 is a song of hope although I wasn't filled with much hope when I wrote it.
This was near the end of 2017. On the national level nuclear tensions were heating up and Congress had just given the uber-wealthy a tax break. Mass shootings seemed to be a monthly occurrence. In Oakland, years of displacement by way of gentrification had forced more people onto the streets giving rise to more tent encampments. Although the destructive Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa had been fully contained, memories of darkened skies and ash raining down in the Bay Area were fresh in my memory. Globally, climate change was happening with more intensity than once thought all while Earth was careening toward the annual winter solstice - the longest night/shortest day of the year. Personally, I was feeling all of it as I’m sure many of you were (and still are).
And so the song is about transcending all of the terribleness of the world. It's about believing and holding onto the light during the darkest night. The song is not actually about Christmas but rather the winter solstice - when darkness reigns. Despair had only led me to feel powerless in the face of everything. But I was done with despairing.
We are all survivors of something even if we’re still in the midst of our suffering: abuse, neglect, physical or mental illness, loneliness, depression, grief, violence (systemic or otherwise), oppression, economics, capitalism. The post-apocalypse as subject matter speaks to those going through difficult times. It's not about scaring us or thinking that zombies will chase us relentlessly for the rest of our depressing days but rather it illuminates a new path forward: a path of hope.
Happy winter solstice everyone.
In this week's episode of Moments in the Making of HELLO Art dispels rumors about the album with REALITYVISION 5000 (available exclusively through Art Elliot Brand Laboratories).
Starring Damon Waitkus (Jack O' The Clock) who played bass on much of the album and lent his vocal stylings to a few tracks.
To atone for my sins of undersharing on social media about the journey of making HELLO I've started a new video series where I and a few of my fellow album-mates reenact key moments in the making of the album.
This week's episode starring Eli Wise (Eli Wise Band) tells the story behind the song Insecure. Eli plays guitar on I've Been There, Too.
Eight years ago I said Goodbye.
Today it's Hello.
We say goodbye often during the course of our lives to people, places, situations. When I went through a difficult period eight years ago I said goodbye to many things. But while goodbye marks an ending it often creates a beginning, too.
Releasing this album today marks the culmination of beginning again. Five years of writing, arranging, recording, mixing - of working through that difficult time, learning to say hello.
The album is now available as a 24-bit download on bandcamp. In a few days it will be available on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and a host of other sites. A limited run of 50 CDs (with free download) are available but currently only at live shows (in the works).
I am deeply grateful to everyone involved with this album - from the exceptional musicians and engineers who helped create it to those who offered encouragement through the years. I am especially thankful for all of you, the listeners, for your continued support.
The album is designed to look like a box of survival supplies for a bunker but its novelty belies its fundamental (and admittedly cheesy) truth - I needed this music to survive. It's my hope that Hello serves as a source of hope, encouragement, understanding, and joy for you.
on OCTOBER 10, 2018
exclusive bandcamp release
soon: Spotify, iTunes, Youtube, etc......
My new album, HELLO, is finished! but not available quite yet - stay tuned for a mid-September release date. Not only will it be available for streaming and download but I've also made 50 limited edition CDs (w/free download code). Excited to be able to share 5 years of hard work with the world very soon!