Wednesday, March 29, 2006

sons of ja'rel

i had to kill the song a day project. it was quite a monster.

i wrote 118 songs.

which is about 70 or 80 more than i thought i could do.


anyhow, jacob and i used to record a good deal of stuff together, as the Sons of Ja'rel. i suppose we still do, but we've been on a long break lately.

to console me in the wake of the project's death, i started listening to old songs.

It's As Important As Relativity

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lottery Stubs

solo artists hold a special place in my heart. it's not just that they're selfish, or self-centered or what have you.. it's more that they've confronted a lot of the problems with artistic collaboration, namely, that you sacrifice the strength of your 'vision' with compromise. some bands are a little more than the sum of their parts.. or maybe two people really feed into each other and become better through the relationship (mccartney, or springsteen, etc..). but i think those things are the exception. a talented individual is often buried by the friends they keep.

or something.

i think bands have to be careful, the lowest common denominator is much more likely than lofty new heights.

or something.

i just rant, i guess..

emily and i just got back from helping our friends kristin and zack work on their documentary contest/project.. it's about the rollerderby league here in portland. pretty amazing stuff, and i've only seen two teams practice. i think it's a good topic for the project, also.. i hope it works out well. and they want our help tomorrow, and saturday night, so my song writing time is already sorta squeezed out. so emily and i wrote this just now. i love the lyrics.

almost pretty is enough for me
remember deep inside
feeling potential die
failure is all you've got, but it's proof that you tried
open hands are empty hands
so clutch the dark for glass and sand
you're a catchy tune that came whistling through
we keep getting older
i keep thinking of you
i can't stop thinking of you
we said goodbye with our eyes on the sunrise
we said goodbye
lottery stubs and tattoo wings
were all we had to fly
but man did we get high.

poignant stuff. ha!

She's A Witch

well, this was possibly my last day off for awhile, so i've been trying to get a lot of work done.. the more i get started, the easier it'll be to come home from working all day and put effort into songs. hopefully. we shall see.

so, today i woke up and wrote this. it's a cute little number that i thought up laying in bed this morning, the whole odd-time guitar riff thing, with the handclaps to round out the phrase. i had written the lyrics last night, staying up late thinking thoughts.. it's a short one, too, no need to muck it up with a bunch of parts. besides, yesterday's song was a real long one.

She's A Witch, burn her!


emily'll be home any minute now, perhaps we can work on another song today. i have this little piano thing that's been floating around for almost a week now, i'm kinda stuck.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gilded Cage

having some time off is a good opportunity to write more epic songs, with more elaborate orchestration and such.. i still don't have much time (a song a day!? crazy) but it's easier to layer things and re-record things if you have the whole day off..

anyways, i wrote the bulk of this first thing in the morning, on acoustic guitar and piano. i recorded drums and such, but then went out to lunch with megan, which was nice, and saw taya again. i haven't seen either of those girls in awhile now, and that was cool. it doesn't seem like much has changed. ha!

when i got back emily and i kept working on it.. she did the violin while i wrote lyrics, and we ate dinner and just finished it up. i think it worked out well. the lyrics are sorta about the songaday project, but it's just what came out. you can't force it, and you can't fight it. the world is perfect/life is cruel.

Gilded Cage

hmm.. in other news, it looks like the new mexican revolution is going down to the bay area to play a show at the sonoma film festival, which sould be quite an event.. i think the van needs some work before then, though. cross the fingers, people.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Any Three Things

we were in this together, you know
and it's a long way home
so sooner or later we'll jump into headlights, for now
leave it alone
you gotta realize: creation is painful
and sometimes i need to clean house, just scratch
regret and potential both leave marks on the bones

we were in this together
laughter and leather (don't go!)
i'll believe any three things that you say right now
(don't go!)
'cause you seem like your straggling
am i wrong to think your wondering how to start a fire?
i saw you eyeing the lines while we wait in the car

i didn't have to work today, so i worked on this all morning.. it's got the full treatment, more or less. a lot of guitars fooling around with Dmin6 chords and such, plus some vocals, the moog,, a neat piano track, trumpets by emily, bass.. percussion, and some samples from television.. ha! almost everything.

it started off as a less creepy latin sorta tune, but started to develop into something else once i put the samples on there.. it kinda reminded me of Beck, that guy seems down with ripping latin music and samples of people talking. then i started to get lyrics, working with a creepy ex-girl friend vibe.. i seem to be doing that a lot lately. huh.

other than that, i didn't do anything today. i'm gonna go over to Erik's and play the drums later tonight, that should be fun.. and i've got a neat idea for a song in my head, for the national high-five day soundtrack, but it's a ways off still.

Monday, March 20, 2006

My Favorite T-Shirt

drunk on your front porch, hoping you'll open the door
jesus, you kept singing but i couldn't hear anymore
so tired today, i could barely get up off the floor
horns were blowing, bringing the waves to the shore
i saw you on the street last night

powers out - we can have our way with the store
don't be afraid, just keep your eye on the door
apples have feelings, but peeling just reveals the core
the lies i've lived are nothing i'll need anymore
you were wearing my favorite tshirt

did i see too much? when i opened the door?
you knew i was watching, but you didn't know what for
you forgot my name, but we weren't keeping score
it's a good thing too
i guess you were right not to smile

this isn't exactly what i had planned.. but you can't fight it. i was up last night, thinking i would write another song, a country tune. and this thing popped out, fully formed from my head. yes - like athena. i liked it enough to spend some time on it, i even had to re-record some of the things, because i was playing super quiet at night.. too quiet, perhaps.

in any case, i like it. it's a little deceptive, and there's not a lot of fat to trim. i had it in my head that the very end would have an accordion bit, almost carnival-esque, but you *cannot* play the accordion quiet enough in the middle of the night. impossible. i suppose i'll just have to write another song.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Why Do They Leave?

this is a little gem from Ryan Adams, called Why Do They Leave?. ?. hmm.

Michelle gave me this song some time ago, at the end of a mix cd.. i totally loved it, but i guess i lost the cd at some point.. and just had the idea of it in my head for the past year or two. it seemed a pretty perfect choice for this next week of song-a-day projects.. great song.

i played the guitars, banjo, and harmonica. emily did the piano and violin.. i think it worked out pretty well. we're getting better all the time, i have to admit. ha!

it's been a pretty good day. it was gorgeous weather here in portland, sunny and getting warmer.. emily did a lot of yard work (i did a tiny bit) and then i auditioned for Gruesome Galore, a local portland band looking for a drummer... i think it went alright, but i'm not very familiar with their material, so we didn't acheive much. oh well.. i think i'll get another chance.

back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Angel From Montgomery

whew.. it's been a slow recovery for our post-st. patrick's day. i didn't actually get outta bed until about noon. wow. and then we did some yard work and went to the grocery store and such, and decided to tackle this over the course of the day.. it's a gorgeous song, and it's hopefully the start of a bunch of songs like it.. i wanna try and go a gram parsons/emmy lou harris sorta thing, and work out a bunch of country-ish stuff.

we'll keep our fingers crossed.

in any case, today was Angel From Montgomery, written by John Prine.

emily played guitar and sang, i played banjo and sang.. it was real nice, but i felt like i had to add stuff to it, flesh it out and all that. so we spent a lot of time trying violin, accordion, even trumpet.. nothing was working. if i had a harmonica in the right key, i would've tried that.. in the end, i just did a few little slide guitar noises in the spaces. it's much better if you just leave it alone..

and i like the idea of me and emily just hanging out, singing and playing together.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Swords and Violins

friday friday.. whew. it's been a long hard week, but all sorts of good news now, so i can rest easy.. umm, tomorrow. i can rest easy tomorrow. i'm all done with that landscaping job, and should have some days off next week. that'd be nice. and i have a few more ideas for songs.. the floodgates.

todays song is Swords and Violins, which i was really happy to work on yesterday. i wrote it when i got home from digging that rock out of the ground, and the piano seemed nice and inviting.. but i didn't have too much time, so i just kinda kept working on it, but had to run errands and eat dinner and all that. i did all the guitars in the middle of the night.. and most of the vocals, for that matter. that can be tough.. playing quietly and singing quietly and all.

emily ended up recording piano for me on this one, which was great.. it's got lots of odd phrasings throughout, and i would've had a hard time with it.. she also sang some poppy background vocals for the outro. i love those epic outros.. they sometimes make me feel like i'm flying.

i think that today (st. patrick's day) is also Colin's birthday, over at 305 SE 3rd.

happy birthday!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Unusual Morning

man.. does unusual really have 3 u's in it? that's bizarre. overloaded.

so, of all the tortures in the world, i only have to face a few minor ones.. i have a great life.

but i still find a way to suffer from it.. i was trying to plant a tree today, on the side of a hill, in ground that is mostly rock, and then a little clay, and some mud. did i mention it was raining? 'cause it was. hooray for portland. hmph. and so - i'm digging this hole, and i hit a big rock almost immediately, and don't think too much of it.. i just figure i'll dig it out, and i dig and prod and push and pull and rip and pound and heave. stupid rock was huge, and probably quite happy in the hole. hell, maybe it held up the house or something.. worst thing ever. i finally dig this giant hole, so that i can see the whole rock, and it's big, and heavy, and at the bottom of a hole. i was climbing down in the hole, covered in mud, in the rain, trying to lift with my legs and such.. wow - i'm tired just remembering.

like i said, i have a great life, but this morning was tough.

Unusual Morning is a little thing emily was working on awhile back, but it lost momentum somehow. we actually considered deleting it (we don't do that a lot here). i've been staying up late for about a week working on different layerings of harmonies and such.. using voices and keyboards and computer pitch-shifting stuff, and this song has some of that in it.

Josh, from Plants mentioned he was using a bunch of bells (like hand bells, that you ring, salvation army style) to form chords, i guess.. he had found the ones with pitch, and figured out the pitch and layered them, or something.. anyway, i don't have any bells, so i just started trying stuff.

fearless pop.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

was i hoping too much?

my birthday falls on the same day as you!
coincidence does not make it true.
you stood upright, so hard/so long
that you forgot how to kneel
so proud of the things you can do
you forgot how bad you can feel
it doesn't seem real anymore
dumping these pills on the floor
was i hoping too much?

i wrote this song last night and this morning, in a coffee-fueled fever. it's more skewed-pop experiments, with some nice minor 9th chords, and even a 13th chord in there somewhere.. plus it's got mandolin, which i had tried not to play for a week or two. i guess i originally wrote it on keyboard, but i don't think any of that made it on to the final version.. a few guitars, bass, lots of singing..

i gotta take a shower and clean up a bit, and then go to work for awhile.. it's already been quite a day. songs don't write themselves, you know.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Very Sad Sunshine

how long can you smile? twelve times.
around in a circle, it's perfect.
why would it be a race?
the sand rises up, takes shape, takes stare, takes a step
it's perfect.
takes a step, gives a call to slamming doors for eternity
she wrenches away and stares back at me beautifully
i'm a very sad sunshine, all washed up.
you gotta forgive me.

last night was new mexican revolution practice, but we never got around to recording anything, so i worked on this before work this morning and just came home and finished it up. it's got a lot of keyboards, bass and banjo, a few guitars, a lot of me singing.. umm.. and some drum machines. i think that's about it. this one took awhile, 'cause of all the parts fitting together oddly at first, and weaving them together and such.. pains.

it's also got a neat reverse drum track near the end.. i really like that.

my whole body hurts, even my finger(tip)s. whew. landscaping kinda sucks. and by landscaping, i mean carrying rocks down three or four flights of stairs. that sucks.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Don't Sweat It

Don't Sweat It, we can pay you for all the hard work. You're a very holy man.

Thanks, it's a lot of work. Now I am very tired.


i've been reading this collection of Kierkegaard's writings, and it's some pretty interesting stuff. he's always railing against the disappointments of (his) modern christianity, in a beautifully direct, unflinching style. i'm sure he made a huge difference, 'cause i can't find any fault with today's christian church.


speaking of which, remember:

if you're not catholic (and you know if you are) don't take communion.

those rituals are prettier from a distance, anyhow.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


life is all a confrontation
we're just another rock/roll station
looking for members.
and your body gets old
as the blood dries up
and interest turns cold.

gonna do like you try to:
make it all fresh and new
when your mind starts to wander
and the rapture takes hold
i'll carefully water
all the weeds in your soul.


whew.. got pretty lit last night, partying with the revolution, but somehow managed to wake up early and eat breakfast, drink coffee, change a flat tire and write this little song, although emily did all the actual work. she played guitar and sang the hard harmonies at the end. i just did bass and banjo, and that snare with brushes track. all in all it's kinda neat, and it has a message from the devil up front. ha!

my body is kinda sore from moving all those rocks and flagstones. i should get packmules or something.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

things should be in the open

things should be in the open

first things first.

this is post 100, which means i have at least 100 songs.. i think more, 'cause i did a few for a christmas present. for the record, that's much more than i ever thought i would do. i was hoping for 30 or 40. good work aaron. thanks.

i took a week off or so, in the midst of all this, when i travelled back to colorado to see my family. that was the only break i took. and i missed the project terribly, and wrote a bunch of lyrics. i've managed to stay focused.. discipline is funny stuff.

so i'm kinda proud of myself for that.. a lot of work, you know.

but now i've got new mexican revolution practice/party.

i think i'm gonna drink tonight, in celebration.

thanks to everyone for checking the songs out.

Friday, March 10, 2006


i finally woke up, and found this IOU in my pocket
take your time - think about where you've been
grow and weed forever
my roof is leaking, and you want me to stand in the river?
standing on a frozen line, watching the sun rise
that whole time we both talked like we knew
felt an acute abuse and paid millions in dues


last night Erik Becker (from the King Hen) came over and hung out with me and emily, played a song or two and talked recording.. i had planned on doing more recording with him, 'putting him to work' as it were, but we didn't actually accomplish much. no big deal. he did bring over a bottle of maker's mark. wow!

so, after he left, emily went to bed, and i recorded this little guy - real quiet-like, huddled over the microphone. i had a banjo track in my head, and maybe a violin, but it just seemed too much for such a small, vulnerable song. ha!

now i gotta drive around for the mercury.. friday is the big day, you know.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Back To Battery

we're all looking for ways to get back to Battery, Kansas
the preacher has the stomach, he just needs a drink
he sleeps at night with barbed wire around his chest,
these guys have seen it.
my conscience hurts, i just need a drink
i'm gonna watch that car wreck.
i'm gonna watch that sunset.
let it slip right through me.
staring at our mothers and their hungry pout
bleach to wash our mouths out
you havent been good.
take the man's test -
he's got cages for ladies and buckets for men
nobody is perfect
we could all use a drink
we're all looking for ways to get back to Battery, Kansas

it's snowing in portland right now, and has been since i woke up. that's pretty nice.. coffee and potatoes, songs, no work. thats a good morning.

this song, Back to Battery, is mostly around this fingerpick guitar bit and this story of the Preacher. then it just kinda kept mutating.. i used harmonica and moog on it, bass and guitar, and a few drum loops.. plus bass drum. and piano. ha! i think that's it.

yesterday i spent all day at the mercury office, answering phones and such. it was odd.. i just sat there, for hours. practically doing nothing. i read a lot, and ate my lunch, and made jokes with whoever stood by the desk. i also sorted through the archives of old issues, looking at cover art. that was neat.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Doctor Alexander

did you hear? no one goes near that house anymore.
just leave your letter on the porch.
for the birds all in a line
from perfect endless circles to terrible screaming dives

the doctor hates mistakes
but amy was too late
we're sorry for the loss
but mary can't move on

Doctor Alexander threw his tools to the floor

now mary never lost her friend
just opened her heart to a wind
amy smashed back through brick
with half-dead and you make me sick.

so i didn't work all day tuesday, and got some good songwriting in.. and emily came up with this cool piano part out of nowhere yesterday. awesome stuff. i kinda like the lyrics to this one, also.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Great Big Opportunity

at least back in santa fe
i had life underneath my fingernails/tips
these wails through the days dont seem to pay
my memory of you is that time you fell
for the dress you wear/wore
for the secrets you share
we're going to war

but the men are tired, life stuck between and cut against their teeth.
it belies belief, but are they liars?
that the rain in the sky can set them free?
the o.e.s. tells us what to do in our jars
so we're going to war

but see it as A Great Big Opportunity, when the 'winter'
from florida to portland
seems just like june to me
if the ways we have to hate start getting/seeming strange
just give 'em a new name
the world is always at war

now i gotta eat something.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Suicide Is Painless

well, i'm not quite convinced loudon wainwright wrote this.. but we had that in mind. plus burt bacharach. i don't know how you spell that.. WWBBD? latin, i think.

a great new mexican revolution practice, i think.. we learned a lot. it was an experience, worth having. i drank some tea.
Suicide Is Painless is a pretty amazingly sad song, once you learn the lyrics. we did about half of it here.. wow.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Get Off The Label

your royal flushed cheeks are fading
all the scratching at your chest
won't get off the label
you led the birds right to me.

i just saw 'walk the line' that johnny cash movie. it was pretty good.. reese can really sing, i was impressed.

i worked on this one all morning, but ended up leaving in the middle of the afternoon before i could post it (the whole process can take almost an hour).. it's got a good major key epic guitar thing going on, with an octave pedal effect on the main line.. i like that a lot. i ended up playing everything on this one, emily was cleaning the house and cooking breakfast while i worked.. i'm a brute sometimes. all that scratching at your chest won't Get Off The Label. on the other hand, she wrote the first line, which brought everything else tumbling out of me.

i also really like the drums.. they're pretty active, rolling around smashing stuff. it was fun to play. no hesitation.

it's also got this bizarre overly complicated chord structure.. i wrote that last night drinking a beer with jana and emily, watching them sew. rock and roll, people.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Pin You To The Sky

man oh man.. last night was a great show, i think. sounded great up on stage, looked pretty, and we all had a good time playing. good times..

and then i had to work all day today, but i think i'm basically done with the landscaping thing.. for now.

so after work today i came home and wrote this, kinda while eating dinner and such. i think it turned out pretty well, the lyrics are the best thing.. Pin You To The Sky with lies, pin me to the floor with truth. i've been on a roll lately, i'm sure i'll hit bottom sometime.. anyhow, good lyrics. and a neat little shifty chord structure.. emily played that super awesome/cheesy synth sound. i told her it sounded like a song from the top gun soundtrack.

i wish. i like top gun. i used to have the old nintendo game, and i'd play it for hours. i got pretty far, but i never beat it. it was hard.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Stay Wild

friday friday. no landscaping for me. no no non ono.

instead, i work for the mercury for awhile and then play a show at mississippi studios. sounds like a good day.

and i have a song done! yeehaw! i finished this last night, after posting 'i was so turned on'. man, i really love that tune. might be one of my favorites.

but today we have Stay Wild, which was a bit of a headache. it's supposedly an exercise in structure with the drum machine.. but i'm not too capable with all that stuff, so it was really clumsy at first. then it just got weird. which was much better.

it's also a little schizophrenic, which i really like. most of these songs seem to sit in place too long, i think. this one can't hold still, so that's different. it's got a hardcore mandolin solo at near the end, a reggae/dub influenced break in the middle (for all of 15 seconds or so), a really pretty little ethnic guitar solo at the end.. a funky bass line in a dorian scale. neat stuff. all crammed in together, for two minutes and forty two seconds. wow.

breakfast and coffee. lovelove.

this is an old picture of me and tony.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

i was so turned on

i only worked a half day today, so i was able to finish this guy up.. and it's a good thing, too. time is gonna be short all through the weekend, i think. work work work. plus we play a show friday at mississippi studios, that has to kick ass..

anyhow, i was so turned on is an awesome song, i think. i got turned on.

i really like all the guitar lines, funky minor ninth things, really cool noises. i had meant to play drumset with this (i wrote it in the middle of the night, when you can't use the drumset) but i didn't manage to find time. that main riff that starts the song was gonna be a mathrock sorta moment. oh well.

and the bass! oh man.. i think that's easily the most comfortable i've felt on the bass.. 3 months later, i'm starting to get the hang of it. it really starts to loosen up near the end of the fadeout. i think the reason i let the song go so long was 'cause of the bass stuff. groovy.

and i'm the news caster of rap. mc pseudonym. ha!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Forces of Lonely

man, working all day is wrecking havoc all over my song writing time. i had to be at work at 8 am today.. geez. so i stayed up late last night working on this song and another, with headphones and drum machines and such. then, this morning, i was able to play some guitars and such and take off to work..

blah blah blah. work work work.

then i got home, tired and muddy, and we worked on this some more, and now we're going to celebrate our anniversary. three years, apparently.

it's called Forces of Lonely 'cause in the song i join an army, the losing team, that is against them. the forces of lonely. the pamphlets were perfect, with needle, thread, and stitches we made war on the line between 'each other'. an ocean, a feather, to victory! may we never say goodbye.