Track 1/?: Sally Forth, Comic Tragedy (1996)

In prep for the new album, I’m going to have some fun talking about myself and my stuff for a while. Maybe I’ll learn something in the process.

In the spring of 1996, I was in Stone Soup, and we had recorded our album. We were waiting on the final mixes for what seemed like forever — we were on some kind of handshake deal with our producer that put us on the back burner while he mixed other stuff to keep the lights on — and I got tired of not having something out there. That’s a reason, right?

I had recorded these tracks mainly to give the band a better idea of the songs I was writing instead of bringing them to rehearsal; that strategy failed, as when I asked the band if we could try out one of the new songs, the bassist pulled his tape out of his case and put it in the tape deck, saying, “Let’s see what we’ve got here.” (I made a mental note to find a new bassist that night.)

Realizing that these songs were probably never going to be played by the band, I decided to go ahead and put out the tape for whoever felt like listening. I sold my Super Nintendo and games, and used some of the money to buy a case of blank cassette tapes with cases and blank labels from Heid Productions in Oakland. The rest of the money went to a Kinko’s run, where I photocopied my cover onto Desert Sage card stock and (with Mikey Wood’s help, I believe — he was working at Kinko’s at the time, and this is how we met) scored and folded them. I’m pretty sure I wrote out each label by hand, but I might have just done one sheet and convinced a kinko’s person to use my other blank cassette label sheets for copies? Fuzzy. I dubbed each copy by hand on a dual cassette deck. I’d like to think I had one master copy but that probably isn’t true.

Can you believe I drew that?  WITH MY HANDS?  It looks just like my porch!   Oh wait, that's for tomorrow's post.

Can you believe I drew that? WITH MY HANDS? It looks just like my porch!
Oh wait, that’s for tomorrow’s post.

Anyhow, Comic Tragedy was song one of release one.

I had made a decision to make all of these recordings using voice and guitar, and nothing else, probably because that’s what was around. That’s why the beatbox is there. There’s not a lot of fancy panning on this recording, chiefly because my tool of choice at the time was a 4-track with only three working faders, so bouncing was necessary if I wanted to thicken the arrangements. I count five Pauls on this track: Lead Vocal, Harmony Vocal, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar, Beatbox. I’m pretty sure at one point I wanted to add a Paul singing a bassline, but for some reason nixed it. There was no click track to be had, so I think I cued from the rhythm guitar.

If 2014 me were asked by 1996 me what I thought of this song, I’d probably break a lot of things down for him:

There was no injustice done to this guy. My idiot ass had a crush on a girl, then didn’t tell her, then steeled itself to tell her, showed up at her dorm room, found her wooed and smitten after a date she had been on that same night, and threw himself a pity party. Never mind that I had, in fact, just broken up with a great girl because I didn’t understand how relationships worked (we were so in sync that I thought something was wrong: where was the fighting that I remembered from my last long-term relationship? I was an idiot. Just plumb dumb.) Melodrama, thy name is 1996 Paul.

Also, what the hell is a drop of sun? Is that like a dollop of moon? And can the radiance of someone’s face actually wake you up with its beauty? Like, it shines so bright that it breaks slumber? Get it together.

ALSO: How is your body mapped that even though in your heart you know something, deeper down in you believe something else? Would that be in your stomach? Or is this the dark recesses of your horrible selfish soul? Be happy for your friend, dumb butt! She’s in sweet college love! Ugh. Get out of my sight.

Yup, this’ll be fun.

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