I make no apologies for this one—it’s my birthday weekend, so the entire universe shall validate my ego. Therefore, in honor of ME, I will make a short audio archive post of MY favorite lyrics that I’VE written for the Mojo Wire and Honey White. Now, obviously the music for many of these was written by one or more of my illustrious bandmates, but I have no problem spreading the wealth of awesome around for something like that. I will, however, be keeping all the lyrical awesome for MYSELF, since in the end this post is all about ME.
So, what we have here is my favorite versions of songs containing my best lyrics, and today’s “awesome quotient” dictates that usually they’re Honey White versions, even if the songs were originally recorded by the Mojo Wire. In the interest of posterity and fairness, then, the second playlist of this post will contain the original and/or an alternate take of each song, because it’s always nice to see where a song came from before it grew up and terrorized the world, right?
Right. Let’s get to it, then–click on a song in the playlist below to download/play, and scroll down for some written tidbits about each (the date in parentheses after each title is when the lyric was completed).
01 The Lightning Rod (Dec. 2001)
This is the studio version from Honey White’s My Band Rocks E.P., released in Nov. 2002. As many of you know, it’s my best lyric, it took a long time to finish, and my awesome echo-bass part isn’t even the best part of the song–as Owen once noted, it’s the truly Herculean drumming performance by Billy that steals the show.
02 The Shivering Sand (Aug. 1998)
My best bass line (that isn’t an echo part) powers this one. “Shivering Sand” was originally recorded by the Mojo Wire for their third album Seaside Hamlet Skids (1999, see below playlist), but this take (in mono, sorry) is from Honey White’s first appearance at the Wildcat in April 2003, so Bryn’s singing (and transposing the verses, but whatever). My lyric isn’t truly awesome, but the fact that the whole song came together in about six hours is definitely a big deal.
03 Mercy Rule (Aug. 2002)
Studio version from Honey White’s How Far is the Fall album, released April 2005. “Mercy Rule” is a perfect example of how being in a band makes a good idea into a great idea. My lyric was a clever, but bitter and resigned bit of “boo frickety hoo” nastiness, attached to a sluggish faux-reggae groove–and the song got five thousand times better when the rest of Honey White had their way with it in practice.
04 Island Fever (Aug. 2004)
Live version from Honey White’s Jan. 2005 show in Isla Vista’s Embarcadero Hall (and also appeared on the live album Deluge and Drought in 2007). “Island” is one of my stabs at lyrical minimalism, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but that doesn’t really matter when Brian’s guitar solo hits the stratosphere and Bryn’s vocals get at least that high too.
05 Unprofessional (Jan. 2002)
One of my very favorite lyrics, “Unprofessional” injected instant spastic energy to every Honey White live show. We weren’t quite able to capture that on the studio version (from My Band Rocks), so for this list I took the Dana Point show version, also from from Deluge and Drought.
06 Blacking Out (Sep. 2004)
Studio version from Honey White’s How Far is the Fall album, released April 2005. Can a song be good without a chorus or lyrical hook of any kind, and if the vocals don’t start until more than a minute into it? Well yeah, when you have gazillions of cool sounds on it, which Bryn and Brian tend to do what with the arsenal of effects pedals at their disposal.
07 One Last Hallelujah (May 2000)
Many of my Mojo Wire songs became live workhorses for Honey White, and “Hallelujah” definitely fit the bill in this recording, from Honey White’s Nov. 2002 show on Del Playa (and the Live and Unprofessional album). The Mojos played this song as a stomping monster, but thanks to Billy’s Strokes-tempo, Honey White made it leaner and meaner, and the guitar solos in the middle (Brian’s sly and cool, and Bryn’s white-hot crazy) more than make up for my vocal incompetence. The song got mellower with age, and appeared on later HW live albums as a ballad.
08 Sweet Oblivion (Feb. 2003)
Studio version from Honey White’s How Far is the Fall album, released April 2005. A lyric from me about being lazy and bored was going nowhere until I attached it to a languid psychedelic groove of Brian’s, and the extended instrumental ending was icing on the cake. Bryn’s vocal tops off a good studio take.
09 Fatal Flaws (Dec. 2000)
Neither band did a full studio version of this song, but a live version did appear on the final Mojo disc You’re On Your Own in 2001, and Honey White played it reguarly in their shows until sometime in 2004. Otherwise, everything I said about “Hallelujah” above also applies to “Flaws,” even the recording (it’s also from Honey White on DP in ’02), with one exception: Brian’s solo outdoes Bryn’s. And yet, and yet, Brian has no wah-wah pedal, and Bryn does.
10 How Far Away (May 1998)
I always begin my “real” list of lyrics with this one, cause for many reasons the lyrics I wrote for the first two Mojo albums either aren’t really “mine” (i.e. collaboration with Bryn & Adam), or aren’t really any good (most of my stuff from Rocket Fuel). Also there are two Mojo Wire versions of “How Far Away,” from 1999 and 2001 (see below), but I have to highlight this live Honey White version from 2002 for Bryn’s ass-kicking solo.
11 Pisces Lullabye (Feb. 1999, Aug. 2002)
“Pisces” was an entirely different song for the Mojo Wire than it was for Honey White. I re-wrote the lyric completely, and we basically re-arranged the whole thing in rehearsal. The Honey White versions (like this one, live from 2003) never really got the right atmosphere, though- or at least it wasn’t the same as the moody Mojo Wire version from 1999’s Seaside Hamlet Skids album (see below).
12 Hold Still (Sep. 2005)
This is a demo jalopy built in 2005 from a 2004 Honey White studio instrumental jam. The song isn’t exactly “new” anymore, but it hasn’t appeared on any official Honey White recording since I finished it. We’ve done it in practice, though (2007). It’s a vicious, mean lyric, and needs a good delivery that I don’t give here, but I like the band’s dynamic changes to what was a passable demo (see alternate playlist below).
13 Famous Last Words (Feb. 2004)
Studio version from Honey White’s How Far is the Fall album, released April 2005. Depressing lyric from me, for a tune from Brian, but we had some fun with it in the studio, and thanks to Jon the engineer and Bryn’s E-bow pedal, put together a trancey, wall-of-sound bit where the guitar solo’s supposed to be.
14 Heart on a Platter (Apr. 2000)
This lyric hasn’t aged very well for me (it first appeared on the Mojo Wire’s You’re On Your Own album in 2001), but it’s crazy fun to play and sing, and Bryn’s major-key solo is a big reason for that. This version is from Honey White’s appearance at the Ucen in 2003, and also from the Epic Noise Now live album that same year.
15 Sunset Down (Jun. 1998)
Musically, this all-Keir echo-bass demo of “Sunset Down” from 2002 isn’t anywhere near as good as the Adam-acoustic version from the Mojo Wire’s 1999 Seaside Hamlet Skids album, but I re-edited the lyric a little for clarity and I feel that this version’s lyric is more “done.” See the list below for Adam’s take on it.
01 The Lightning Rod (Mellow live version, 2006)
02 The Shivering Sand (Original Mojo Wire version, 1999)
03 Mercy Rule (Live at the Wildcat, 2004)
04 Island Fever (Studio take, 2005)
05 Unprofessional (Studio version, 2002)
06 Blacking Out (Live 2005, Isla Vista)
07 One Last Hallelujah (Original Mojo Wire version, 2001)
08 Sweet Oblivion (Live 2005, Santa Barbara)
09 Fatal Flaws (Mojo Wire live version, 2001)
10 How Far Away (Mojo Wire studio remake, 2001)
11 Pisces Lullabye (Original Mojo Wire lyric version, 1999)
12 Hold Still (Original demo, 2005)
13 Famous Last Words (Live at the Wildcat, 2004)
14 Heart on a Platter (Original Mojo Wire version, 2001)
15 Sunset Down (Original Mojo Wire version, 1999)
The rest (all Mojo Wire songs) just didn’t make the cut: FM Blues (Sep. 1996), Can’t Keep Warm (Mar. 1997), Wishing Well Blues (Sep. 1997), Kid Icarus (Nov. 1997), Under the Sun (Dec. 1997), Blackout Baby (Feb. 1998), Wound Down (Mar. 1998), Water Into WineYou’re On Your Own (Dec. 1999), and The Peak of My Career (Sep. 2000)…but that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome in their own ways. In some cases (Icarus, Wound, Wine), they’re awesome cause Adam wrote such great tunes, but I didn’t quite write to that standard lyric-wise.
Okay, that’s enough ego for one day. More next week, maybe.