I used to be in a band, a fairly fierce little three-piece bar-band, called ourselves Scooby Don't. We worked hard to furnish our (mostly unappreciative) audiences with lots of lush three-part harmonies and energetic but disciplined instrumental arrangements. We played music that we liked -- which was probably why audiences tended to yawn and look at their watches when we played. Too much XTC, not enough "In the Midnight Hour," which is what a bar-band audience wants, after all.
(We solved this a couple of falls ago when Xtcfan and I formed The Harridans with Bobby Lightfoot for a single, transcendent evening when we played nothing but great bar-band music for a very appreciative audience indeed. We gotta do that again, and fuckin' soon.)
We used to open with an Andy Partridge number that never got past the demo stage in Andy's output, called "I Don't Wanna Be Here." (We thought it was pretty funny to open a set with a song with that title. The drunks pretty much didn't get the joke. Can't imagine why.) I don't know why Partsy didn't have a huge international smash with it -- it's just hooky as all hell. We took a rather bare-bones demo and fleshed it out for three voices, trying to fill in all the empty spaces with Entertainment Value. I do believe we may have actually done a fairly decent job of it.
The song came back into my consciousness last week -- just earwormed its way in there. I decided I needed to work up the Scooby Don't arrangement for posterity. Of course, being in possession of recording software and gear that only ten years ago would have cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, the temptation to add a few extras was too great to resist, and so I sorta went to town. Nineteen tracks, it finally ended up taking. Having started out on four-track cassette in 1993, to me this seems like the sort of home-recording extravagance that led to the fall of Rome.
I found some bits and pieces for the opening collage at The Freesound Project, some industrial noises, a heartbeat and some human vocalizations that sounded pretty amusing when arranged rhythmically. That's what you hear in the opening moments.
There's something almost sexual about double-tracking your own voice. (Or perhaps the better term is masturbatory?) You sing the thing once, then roll back to the top and sing it as close as you can to exactly the same way again on another track. With your own voice being fed back to you, the singing the second time through is completely effortless, and what you hear is just ungodly great. It's like you just open your mouth and something fantastic just falls out, with no work from you.
The guitar part was lots of fun to track. In GarageBand, I tend to track a naked, uneffected guitar, and only after I'm done playing it do I feed the track to a guitar-amp simulator. You go from Wimpy Twang to Big-Haired Monster with the click of a button. This guitar needed to be really huge, and so I duplicated the track, panned the two tracks hard left and right, and moved one of the recordings an infinitesimally small amount into the past -- I think it was 0.011 of a second. Then I fed the left-hand guitar to a Mesa Boogie amp simulator, and the right to a Marshall. The result, as you will hear, does possess a fairly hefty pair of gonads.
And so, without further ado, I give you...
I Don't Wanna Be Here (pops)