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9 Months Without Work (but I'm Published!)


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On 17 December—eight days before Christmas—I will have been unemployed nine months. Can’t say as I’ve done a lot with the free time (though the Squirrel House does have a new kitchen, and new carpets, and electric heat). Let’s say I don’t feel I’ve done enough. Part of what’s been on hold is that career as a songwriter; as I prepare next year’s list of goals (for I am good at lists), most of the promotional stuff I’d intended to accomplish this past year hasn’t happened—a lot of it because of simple timidity on my part.

With one major exception. I have managed to write a lot. The past 11 months has resulted in:

Crosses by the Roadside (November)

The Strange Saga of Quoth, the Parrot (October)

Vampire Roumanian Babies (October)

Doing Battle with the Lawn (September)

Dead Fishes (August)

When They Die, I Put Them in the Cookies (August)

I Broke My Girlfriend (August)

Alphabet Without U—A Rap (July)

Bedpans for Brains (July)

For Their Own Ends (July)

21 Steamer Drive (June)

Something’s Missing (June)

Electronic Love (June)

20 Saddles for My Chicken (June)

Free-Range Person (March)

All “keepers” (songs that aren’t “keepers” get promptly forgotten). At least half of those are definite inclusions for the next album, plus three were written specifically for Southern Pigfish, for their album. So I have enough material for another album, and we haven’t even got the last one out yet.

In addition, there have been 12 collabs this year, with seven different lyricists, two of them overseas. That’s not album stuff, though--those are their songs, not mine. I maintain I have simply provided a delivery system for their mostly very good lyrics. What the authors do with those songs is up to them. Four of them—Odd Roar Vindstad’s “Simple Questions,” Donna Devine’s “Sometimes She Could Scream,” Regina Michelle’s “What Jesus Did for Me,” and Rev. Skip Johnson’s “Tune the Strings of My Soul”—I think have commercial potential, and I hope the authors are able to get some commerce out of them. (I’ve asked Skip’s permission to include “Strings” on an album of mine.)

I’ve inherited a project, that I expect to be educational as well as fun. Earlier this year, when lyricist Beth Williams suffered a broken foot, arm, and other body parts, a number of the writers at Just Plain Folks contributed to a planned album of songs about broken things, that was going to be given to Beth as a very tongue-in-cheek get-well present. The original instigator ended up taking a leave of absence, and handed off the project to me.

Part of the job has entailed finding composers to write music for the seven or so writers who only do lyrics. That’s mostly done now (all the matching up took place over just a couple of days), and I’m just waiting on recordings. I’ve got a song on the album, too (“I Broke My Girlfriend”). I’ll get to do the artwork for the thing, which should be lots of fun. I’ll need to learn mastering, to make the volume of all these songs produced by different people in different places on different equipment come out at roughly the same volume on the CD. That’s something I’ve never attempted before.

UPDATE: Got the poster for the Philippine Christmas album, and it is pretty. A couple of copies of the album—which is coming out on flash drive—are reportedly en route to me by snail mail. Can’t wait: it’ll be hard evidence I accomplished something—getting published, and on somebody else’s record—that I hadn’t expected.

Joe

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