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A New Setlist For The Album?



I would really like to put “Tune the Strings of My Soul,” Skip Johnson’s bluegrass hymn I did music for, on the new CD. As the final song, I think: it’s got a can’t-get-out-of-your-head melody that suggests Something Got Done Right.

I’ve asked Skip if he’d be willing. If so, it’s going to necessitate a change in the setlist for the album. If there’s a hymn on it, things will have to be cleaner (as in less risque). No animal rapes and mutilations (that rules out “Dirty Deeds We Done to Sheep”); no overt sex, either (there goes “Naked Space Hamsters in Love,” and “The Frog Next Door,” too). Of course, there are plenty of substitutions. The other stuff can go on an R-rated album released later (in a plain brown wrapper, maybe).

Here—in order, I think—is what the lineup would look like if the hymn were on the album:

1. DEAD THINGS IN THE SHOWER (with Bobbie Gallup)—mod. fast country. Love song, Frank Sinatra style, for the cat which may or may not be dead.

2. HEY, LITTLE CHICKEN—sleazy-sounding blues. Answers the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The chicken does not die in the song, but its fate is pretty clear.

3. WHEN I JUMP OFF THE CLIFF I’LL THINK OF YOU—fast bluegrass. My attempt to go through all the stages of death (in 9 verses), from jumping off the cliff to getting buried, all with caustic commentary on the girl being left behind. ALREADY RECORDED.

4. ARMADILLO ON THE INTERSTATE—slow, bluesy, tragic love story about two star-crossed, butt-ugly rodents. Romeo and Juliet, with scales. ALREADY RECORDED.

5. FREE-RANGE PERSON—fast bluegrass. My Joe-got-fired song, about the advantages of being homeless. ALREADY RECORDED.

6. NO GOOD SONGS ABOUT THE WAR—mod. slow country. My attempt at writing a protest song, in response to the question “How come there’s no good songs about the war?” ALREADY RECORDED.

7. OIL IN THE CORNFIELD—mod. fast country. An old song (1975) the Dodson Drifters made famous, about the oil crisis. Or is it the farm crisis?

8. [tentatively] THE TERMITE SONG—fast bluegrass. Pokes fun at global warming. Several alternatives here—any fast bluegrass tune will work—but this one is ALREADY RECORDED.

9. MILEPOST 43—mod. fast (or maybe mod. slow) country. The song about Al David’s missing underwear, from Pineyfest 2007. ALREADY RECORDED.

10. ROTTEN CANDY—fast country. Uptempo lost-love song, Dottie West style. This is the song that was rejected by American Idol in 2007.

11. CHRISTMAS ROADKILL—slow and sleazy-sounding, with sleigh bells. Really the same lost-love theme as above, but Christmasy.

12. TUNE THE STRINGS OF MY SOUL (by Skip Johnson)—bluegrass hymn. I’d keep exactly the same format as on the draft.

Two serious songs, three lost-love songs that sound serious but aren’t, lost underwear, lost job, dead armadillos, dead unspecifieds, a maybe-dead cat, an about-to-be-dead chicken, and nuclear bombs used on bugs. Yeah, good accompaniment for a hymn. We’ll see what Skip thinks.

As far as production goes, I’d really like to record the rest of the songs (there are five: “Rotten Candy,” “Christmas Roadkill,” “Oil in the Cornfield,” “Hey, Little Chicken,” and “Dead Things”) with the Wild Goose Band—Jack Fischer (bass), James Maille (lead guitar), and Darrin Wayne (harmonica). I’d like to have Dan Doshier on mandolin on the hymn, and Sheral Graham on flute on “Oil in the Cornfield.” And Wayne do the recording. Wonder if we could pull that off?


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