This past Saturday, I opened my show at the Vagabond Cafe with “Just One,” off of Glutton’s Dozen. It hadn’t been in the sets for a while, and had popped out during a practice last week, so out it came. It went well, and will probably show up some more, so I wanna talk about it for a while. I’ll embed it here so you can stream it while I ramble:
I was at a house party in the South Side of Pittsburgh, waiting anxiously to talk to a girl who was waiting anxiously for me to get the hint that we were not a thing that was going to be happening. I’ve never been cool with Dumping By Inaction — not only is it douchy just to leave a person hanging that way, but it sucks harder for dumpees who are prone to giving the benefit of the doubt to the dumper. “He’s Just Not That Into You” was about five years away, you know, and I just kept thinking, “Eh, maybe she hasn’t had time to call, maybe she doesn’t know I’ve been calling,” etc. It became so clear, so suddenly, that I exited stage left, and didn’t say anything to anybody I didn’t have to.
“Paul,” somebody said as I stumbled down a few stairs in my haste, “Am I gonna have to carry you home?”
“Nope,” I said, “I’ll pull myself up.”
By the time I got off the 54C from their house to mine, I had a verse and a chorus, and the song was done the next morning, ending with a riff on the title that spun itself off into a bridge. I wanted the song to feel like it was ending just before the bridge. I’ve gotten rid of that riff section, the “one kiss too much” section, to make the song shorter and to deliver it more effectively, but it worked back then for the convention in my show that I wanted to break.
I don’t know if I can remember what all five were, but I’m pretty sure Just One was one of the five songs we recorded in the four-for-five exchange that changed the name of Baker’s Dozen to Glutton’s Dozen. I didn’t want to mess with a lot of overdubs, and we all felt good about letting the song breathe for a while. As a result, Gar didn’t come in until after the first chorus, and the rhythm section exploded in in the second verse, out of nowhere.
Matt (Harrington, Glutton’s co-producer) and I had an argument over the rhythm part on this song. Originally, it started with the same D chord that “Okemos” started with — a C(G) fingering moved up two frets, with the G and E strings ringing out — but the mics were picking up the atonal resonance between the F# coming from the D string and the G coming from the G string too strongly. I was really attached to the weird fingerings on this song, which I thought were the key — I was a big fan of Jonatha Brooke’s, and was trying to figure out how she was getting her chords to ring the way they do (I didn’t know she was using two alternate tunings almost constantly back then), so I was doing weird fingerings all the time. I acquiesced to Matt’s taste and played the chords straight until the full band came in.
These days, when I play the song, I play the chords straight all the way through, and I get to do lots of cool little melodies throughout. Matt was right.
I love Adam Sivitz’s rhythm figure on this track. The snare rolling in adds all of this melancholy, but it’s that kick structure that really moves this song along, and that makes it stand out from the rest of the album. Every time I’m with someone listening to the song, I call attention to it, I love it so much.
We recorded “Glutton’s Dozen” with the use of 3 8-track ADAT machines that synced up to each other, so when we would start rolling in the middle of the song, we’d hear the first 8 tracks, Adam’s drums, before everything else came in. It really gave me an idea of what Adam was accomplishing at that kit. I’m very fortunate to have recorded with him — that phase of Stone Soup, with Ben, Gar and Adam, holds a lot of my favorite memories.
The first time I played “Just One” in front of an audience was at Friday Nite Improvs. Generally, I played poppier fare there, to keep the mood up, and if I had a jokey song it would usually come into play, but I wanted to share, and it worked to great effect — a rare standing ovation from the comedy-loving crowd told me I had written something special.
I then played that song, along with many others about that girl (“Hey Lorraine,” “Wrong,” “False Alarm”), at my weekly shows at Cafe Au Lait. She knew it was happening because she worked there for many of them. I KNOW, RIGHT? The drama a 24-year-old and a 20-year-old can create is mad palpable. She also started hanging around with the improv crowd, and even toyed with dating someone else in that kurass.
In the end, though, by virtue of many reports, I know that “Glutton’s Dozen” was a coffee-table conversation piece for a long time thereafter, sparking discussions that combined a put-upon attitude with a rosy blush that belied the vainest hint of flattery. That’s satisfying enough — probably more satisfying than a relationship with her would have been.
Do I sound bitter?