Track 2/?: Sally Forth, Porch Song (1996)

The reason I called this tape Sally Forth was two-fold: First, my manager Philip Harris used to give me an order to “Sally Forth and conquer” when he would get tired of talking to me (it’s telling that one of the closest group of friends I had developed the term “Paulerance.”) The other was that I was getting over my first soft-dump (when someone just kind of avoids you until one day you realize you’re not going to be seeing each other anymore), and her name was Sally. This was a song about sitting on my porch and trying to stop thinking about this girl that I really needed to get over, because frankly, nothing of gravity existed between us.

This song was a definite attempt to be Bill Deasy from the Gathering Field. The rhythm is exactly like Blue Sky Song, although the chords are very different. It wouldn’t be the last time I stole a trick from Bill in the process of learning how to play and write.

Sally Forth in general is a good snapshot of the turning point in my writing where I started really concentrating on getting better at it, in part because putting it out drew people’s focus to the specific songs on it and I realized what kind of impact that can have on an audience and on a show. People internalized these songs, and when I started to phase them out, it was noticed. Once you give something this intimate to the public, it’s theirs, and if you start to phase those songs out of your set, you’re going to hear about it from the people who like those songs. That could explain why I stopped printing Sally and Fluffy at some point (although I think Fluffy is the better tape by a mile and a half).

This cover was designed to help people really FEEL what it was like to be on a porch with a pack of cigarettes, a phone, a glass of lemonade, and a picture on top of a book.  NAILED IT.

This cover was designed to help people really FEEL what it was like to be on a porch with a pack of cigarettes, a phone, a glass of lemonade, and a picture on top of a book. NAILED IT.

Anyhow, Porch Song. Let’s see. There are four Pauls total. One playing the guitar, one lead vocal, two harmonies at the end (which means I had to bounce at least once to get the fourth one). This one was recorded through the Marshall Acoustic Soloist amp I had, I’m pretty sure (maybe they all were?), because I recognize the reverb. I hit the mic twice in the process of recording the acoustic guitar part, you can hear the tubes bounce back. My three-working-fader four-track didn’t have auto-punch, and this song was REALLY hard to play, so it makes sense to me that I would just keep the first take that happened all the way through without falling apart.

The HOOOOOOLY BIBLE! What the hell. I don’t know who I was doing an impression of with that move, but man was that misguided.

Oh! One thing I was really proud of with this song, and even now I’m kind of like, “Nice shot, kid,” is that I rhymed each line from the first chorus with the corresponding line in the second.

I think it really was just that I was on a porch with a glass of lemonade, the Bible was there, a picture was there (but not hers), the phone was there, I was smoking that day, and a train did go by. I’m pretty sure I just sat there and made a song about this just kind of happening. I love how he thinks he’s SOOO clever with his raindrop that’s actually a tear, which you can infer by the fact that it’s a clear day, but he still has to fucking TELL YOU it’s a tear because he is CRYING and WHY WHY won’t you call?

I kind of like the thing about the banshee’s highest cry and the darkest demon’s lowest grumble, that’s what a train sounds like. I don’t know why the focus on the Bible and the sinning and all that, because I’ve never been hugely religious (although I think it’s important to try to be nice to people and all that) — I think I was just trying to heighten the melodrama.

Fun note: After Sally heard the tape, she asked if she could buy a few more copies for her family. (She could.)

  1. July 14, 2014 at 8:01 am

    […] sometimes you have me pronouncing words like “alone” as “ay-lone” (like in Porch Song) or getting a bit overwrought and sounding a bit like Michael McKean singing Listen To The Flower […]

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