More Minor Secrets — Songs for Odin #7
Another yet another edition of “minor secrets” of the Mr T Experience and related. I post a video of a song with a write-up each Wednesday, dedicated to Odin. Every month or so I aggregate these write-ups so they can be found, should anyone ever want to do such a thing, after they have buried in digital detritus by our cold, uncaring internet. I’m sure I don’t know why.
You can read about how and why I started doing this in the intro to the first installment; and the Odin conceit is explained, somewhat, in the intro to the second. The subsequent installments may be found here: three; four; five; six.
[links in preceding paragraph updated, 12.29.2020 — ed.]
On now to the rock and the roll.
Svá hjálpi þér hollar véttir, Frigg og Freyja og fleiri goð.
1“Two Minute Itch” — Kepi with Dan Janisch and Jaz Brown
Gesælig Wodensdæg to eow! And, accordingly, here’s another song for Odin, the Many-Shaped, the War-Blind and Flaming-Eyed Shouter and Thunderer.
What we have here is Kepi doing my old tune “Two Minute Itch” with Dan Janisch on guitar and MTX drummer Jaz Brown on drums at the Troubadour last Saturday. (Captured by Lauren Banjo before she put the camera down and started to go wild in the crowd — thanks Lauren!) I wrote up a little thing about the song per se a ways back and I don’t have a lot to add. Like much of the album it appears on, it’s an odd composition that seems to work despite being rather off-kilter and out of focus, or maybe slightly because of that. If it’s broke, don’t fix it. That’s a motto I should start trying to live by one of these days.
But as I said before, the fact that it works so well as a Kepi song is a measure of how it is perhaps, as a song, mysteriously somehow better than it ought to be. Kind of a better-than-the-sum-of-its-parts sort of thing. I love his interpretation of it and how he sort of, I don’t know, gives it new life and makes it his own. And this performance rules, benefitting greatly from that sweet Janisch guitar. That is, of course, the best kind of cover. I mean the kind of cover where the interpreter takes a song and runs it through his own machine, disassembles it and shakes up the pieces, and what spills out is a new entity, one that casts an entirely new light on itself. It’s not that easy to do, and accordingly it doesn’t happen that often.
One kind of funny thing: that weird bit about getting a handgun with a smurf trigger and blue bullets from a cereal box offer (don’t ask) obviously overlaps with the universe of Kepi, something he says didn’t register till recently, even though he’s been doing it in various forms here and there for some time. And I didn’t specifically realize it either. But it was there to be Kepi-ized nonetheless.
There haven’t been many covers, of the “serious” sort, of my songs. I get why. My stuff is quirky and probably doesn’t lend itself to interpretation, much; sometimes the chords and such are hard to parse; and it also doesn’t lend itself, quite, to the ironic tribute that borders on ridicule such that simply doing it at all is hilarious (at least I don’t think so.) I’m sure there’s a ton of other reasons. But, it’s nice when it happens.
Anyhow, that was one of the highest points in a weekend full of high points. Which I will probably discuss in a future post — if you weren’t at those MTX / Nerf Herder / Kepi shows, you missed out on something special. [I did, here — ed.]
And that’s it for this installment of Songs for Odin. Rock and roll is here to stay. More or less. Till next time, space friends. Make peace with your God, whatever you conceive him to be: Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin. With all it’s hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal the world continues to deteriorate. Give up.
2 “Dictionary Girl”
Another Wednesday, another song for Odin, who sacrificed an eye for knowledge and hanged himself from Yggdrasil for nine days and nine nights, whereon he was fertilized and made wise. What I’m saying is, dedicating some rock and roll to him once a week is the least we can do. And “least” is, for my part, what I do best.
This is another tune from that set in Southampton, UK, Summer of ’92. “Dictionary Girl,” a song we didn’t play all that often as I recall because it really didn’t lend itself to being played too fast, which we tended to do with everything we could get our hands on. This is a surprisingly competent performance of it, and I still find that drone riff thing (with the bent note going from E to F on the D minor) fairly compelling. It’s a pretty nice chord progression and melody in the verses as well.
That said, I was obviously still groping clumsily toward songwriting competence, or at least towards figuring out what I wanted to try make the words and music do. I did a much better job, I think, on the same precise topic, ten years later with “Suicide Watch.” (Which, if you’ll notice, actually echoes the general rhythm here… that was intentional, if you can believe that.) But I can appreciate that there’s some emotional impact in the inarticulateness that wouldn’t be there otherwise. At least it manages to stay on topic, even when out of focus. I think my songwriting improved as it got less vague, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some value in the vagueness.
Side note: I love that stylin’ move where Aaron positions the bass perpendicular to the stage, headstock down, and then raises it triumphantly skyward. One of the highlights of the act in those days.
Another side note: this is the eleventh posted of the eighteen songs in that set. Not sure if they’re all performances that warrant individual treatment like this, but some of them do and maybe I’ll do all of them anyhow because the Wodensdaegs keep piling up and time is relentless and ravenous like Fenrir’s maw.
3 “Age of Intolerance”
So, Wodensdæg is upon us, which means another song for Odin’s song-hoard, obviously. That makes 64 so far, btw, which isn’t at all a bad hoard by my reckoning.
I wrote this a while back, thinking it’d be obsolete before I “did anything” with it, but it keeps on not getting obsolete, so here it is. (Not that yelling it out from the couch, video-ing it on the laptop, and posting it on the YouTube is “doing anything” with it… but once you get used to the idea of everything being, ultimately, pointless a whole world of possibilities opens up. Ironically.)
Not much more to say about it, really, but you can find lyrics, notes, and an epigraph here.
Hail Woden, hail hail rock and roll, and hail hail hail to all of you. Welcome to another Wodensdæg. And as is my wont, if wont is the world I want, I have another song cued up on the internet video machine. (Though the internet will contrive to hide it from you, no doubt. Find it and watch it anyway. Don’t let them win.)
And yeah, I used to play guitar like that!
What we have here is another song from that crazy, crazy night in Southampton, UK, Summer of ’92. “Zero” is one of Jon von’s finest tunes, still relevant and pointed after all these years — it’s still over, people are still playing (including us!) and it’s still a “damn shame.” The lyrics are kind of a minimalist-nihilist koan that perhaps would only be weakened by too much dissection, but I have no doubt it’s absolutely the case that zero is what it means, whatever “it” may be. Well, it was really fun to play, and that means something: possibly a further paradox? Hm, all of a sudden this write-up seems to have gone over my head just a bit…
Along with “So Long Sucker” this song was on our first single on Lookout (Lookout #23, if you’re counting) after Rough Trade US folded. These tracks represented at least a bit of a step up in how carefully we were choosing and recording songs. The two tracks, plus four others, were from a demo we recorded to try to find a new label… we sent it pretty much everywhere to no avail, though I think we got a sarcastic rejection from Sub Pop. Anyway, Lookout came to the rescue, in the spirit of charity and blatant localism, I imagine, like the St Vincent de Paul.
But that guitar hero stuff… even extending to “tapping” and biting the strings… boy. All respectably semi-ironic of course, but still, it’s pretty hilarious. Anyhow, it was fun, I can tell by how kept doing it.
And finally, though it’s not a “song for Odin” strictly speaking, here’s a fan-recorded live Mr T Experience show from Winnipeg, 22 May 1996. As I’ve mentioned recently, after that truncated Euro-tour with Green Day, we made our way back to the states for just a bit of wound-licking, then embarked on a massive tour of Canada with the almighty Smugglers, and this is one of those shows. Sound is pretty good considering the circumstances and equipment used, and you can certainly “feel” the energy. More of my typing about this link may be found here.
And here are a couple of “Hitlers” posted recently, the first from our show at the Troubadour last month, the second from a Barnes & Noble ca. 2009.
And that’s all the aggregating we’ve got time for today. Thanks for coming. My youtube channel is here. My minds.com channel is here. (There’ s a fuller explanation of the minds situation here (bottom of the page) but in summary, I’ve started posting my primary content on minds.com, plus a little extra, and filtering it out to various other platforms. It’s not the perfect solution to my internet troubles, but the links and comments work and they don’t hide or censor stuff. Join me there if you’d care to.