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11:34 a.m. - September 14, 2005
Live! On Stage! In His Mind Only! It's Smed!
For many years, after I accepted the fact that I am no athlete, the one major daydream I have is that I’m in a band. (I accepted the fact that I am no athlete at about age 15, so that was no dream that died hard – not even after I got a knuckleball to work really well in high school when I pitched batting practice to the high school team. No major league baseball team wants a young pitcher that only throws knuckleballs and excruciatingly slow curves.)

I used to have this daydream often, as for over four years I had a 40 minute commute to work, through the farmlands of BFE Indiana. When I wasn’t listening to NPR or sports talk radio, I was jamming to CDs or my iPod and half thinking / half daydreaming.

Whether it was some tight, taut punk rock, cheesy singles, metal, alternative, or even bombastic, pretentious prog rock, I often thought about being on stage with a band and performing those songs for an audience in a club.

It’s not like I’ve stopped that daydreaming phrase, just now the Buzzcocks’ “What Do I Get” is in my ears and I’m trying to type whilst playing air drums. (Pretty hard, I know…)

I’ve mastered the air instruments (and you all know that. It’s getting better / worse. The other day I was testing some CDs for a big mix collection for a great new friend and not only was Katie air guitaring with me – she was emulating me when I was hitting the air wah-wah pedal.

So the band thing just will not die in my head.

I think my daydreams started in earnest when I was driving back home one day and the Pink Floyd song “Echoes” was in my CD player. I thought that it would be a hell of a thing to cover on stage, all 22 minutes of it. (Well, I’d cut out a lot of the middle, so I’d probably be just 14 minutes, but still…) Then I got the “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida” CD by Iron Butterfly (I inherited the vinyl from my brother and I wore it out) and instead of the side everyone knows (and cringes to) wouldn’t it be great to do the OTHER side on stage and see if anyone had any clue as to what they were?

Back in the day, to while away the time, Mr. Geekboy here used to create bands, imagine album titles, track names, and what instrumentation would be on each track. (Yeah, I needed a huge dose of ‘get a life’ back then. I still need a ‘get a life’ booster every now and then.) I’ve got a huge folder I’ve saved (for some dumb reason) of the last of these ‘faux bands’ with about 20 albums, a semi-lucid history, chart positions, etc. I told myself it was for a book project I was thinking about writing at some point.

If you check for my name in Amazon.com as an author, you’d find that the book never got published. In fact, no sentences were ever written, except in my head. And you can’t read that, no matter what Kreskin (or Criswell) claims

To that end, I even wrote some lyrics for the song titles. I was great with titles, bad with lyrics. I wrote about that here. I’m sure the lyrics are better than some of the dreck that’s out there. But still, to my standards, not as good as I thought they were back in the day. Old age and perspective can do that.

This last ‘faux’ band I called Paint With Water. I kind of liked that name. I still do. It evokes a SOMETHING that I think is cool. This band would have been an alternative power pop punk band – sort of an unholy alliance between the Posies, the Replacements, the Byrds and Husker Du. We’d be versatile enough to do a lot of styles, but always sound like ourselves.

I had a whole band ethos going as well. I hate forcing bands into a fake genre (you know, they’re a no-wave-post-punk-post-modern-emo-math rock-band), in the press I’d insist that we were just rock and roll. Every interview would have everyone in the band involved, not just the ‘leaders’. We’d salute our true inspirations, always try to turn people onto great tunes they may have missed (by covering bands like Television on stage, on B-sides, or on live albums).

When we’d play clubs (always clubs, not arenas) – we’d have three stages to the show. The first stage would be all new material we would be working on for the next album or two. (I’d have a feeling we’d be prolific). The second stage would be the ‘hits’ or the good stuff from our most recent releases and selected old stuff. The last stage we would cover an entire album, in its entirety.

My imagination went a bit out of control.

This is what happens when I get bored at work.

Even though I don’t go to those ludicrous extremes now, I still daydream about being in a band. A cover band, just playing essential music good for the soul, anything from old Dave Clark Five tunes to present day stuff that is deemed worthy.

The first question would be what instrument I would play in this ‘band’ that’s in my head.

My best friend Moose IS in a band, right now, mainly for grins and giggles. He’s been playing guitar for a long time, and is rather accomplished, as is his wife. At one point, he semi-invited me to come to DC when I was thinking about getting my MBA, and go to Georgetown or GW for my MBA and play bass in the punk rock band he was thinking of forming. He’d teach me all I needed to know about the bass. I didn’t pull the trigger, though, since my employer at the time said he’d pay for my MBA, so I took the safer route.

Not really a rock and roll thing to do. But I liked to eat, and I didn’t like paying on loans until the year 2525.

At one point I tried the guitar but I got impatient and put it away after a while. I really think I should have tried the bass. I’ve always been attracted to the bass – it’s the anchor of the song, and you can really make or break the song with an inventive bass line that’s simple yet powerful.

So when all is said and done I’d be the bass player.

The perfect ‘band’ in my head would have Moose and his wife on guitar. I always pictured our friend the Batman on drums. He never had a kit but when Moose and Batman roomed together he had drumsticks. Close enough for me.

I always thought we needed another person – a keyboard player and someone who can really sing (and hit the high notes). I’ve told Moose this ‘band’ fantasy before and he asked why this ‘band’ needed a keyboard player knowing our tastes in music (he’s more of a purist than I am. It’s the location he’s in, I assume. They actually have a SCENE there. Here, not so much).

My answer was that if we ever cover “Yours Is No Disgrace” by Yes, then we NEED a keyboard and there was no way in hell that he, his wife or I could even try to sing the lead vocal on that thing. He couldn’t argue with that!

Writing my little essays here I’ve met people who are in actual real live bands ( here’s one) that tour and gig regularly and have web sites and everything. In fact, I once sent a note to Reva that if I ever got something together, and went to Georgia, we’d cover ELO songs so she could play violin for us on stage. Of course, I told her not to hold her breath.

Sigh. Jealous? Yeah, I’m jealous. Though they’re doing their own thing which wouldn’t be my thing. I just don’t see Reva’s Celtic band covering Barry and the Remains, Liz Phair, or Iron Maiden. (Though it would be funny to see if they could work up a treatment on “The Flight of Icarus”. It’s all music, you see, it’s just what you use to make it sound just so. )

Of course if this band ever got together (which it won’t) then we’d probably need a sound of some point. Again, I struggle with this, as I want to be versatile enough to do Merle Haggard, ELO and Judas Priest songs if the mood strikes us. So again, I think of this as an amalgamation of various and sundry great bands: A bit from the Jam, a smattering of the Pixies, a skosh of the Beach Boys, mixed with the Byrds, Big Star, the Posies, the Cars, early ZZ Top and Sabbath, all tied together with a side of Mudhoney. To go.

(Actually, it sounds more and more like we could be the Fountains of Wayne when all is said and done.)

Ah, well, keeping this band thing solely in my daydreams is probably a good thing now. We expose Katie and Kristin to music all the time, and if they want to start playing music by all means we’re going to encourage it.

Of course, my new super secret daydream would be to have Katie on drums, Kristin on guitar and me on bass and then we’d conquer the world!

 

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