Today I’ve decided to share some of my early recordings. My friend Rich Ives helped me clean up and digitize the first four tracks from my 1996 cassette album, Love Letters in Latin. Maybe I can finish the rest of the tracks in time for the album’s 20th mother f’ing anniversary. How did I get so old? The songs are downloadable, so feel free.
I was a senior in high school at the time, in love with rock music and in love with being in love with girls—and dreaming about what might happen if I actually had the balls to ask them out. That youthful hope and exuberance is embodied in these recordings. I was listening to a lot of They Might Be Giants and Billy Joel at the time. TMBG inspired me to cram as much onto the tape as possible. Billy’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” especially, inspired me to create little pocket musicals like “Perfection” and other songs from this album that have yet-to-be-remastered like “Msgr. O’Connor” and “The Mixer Song”.
I recorded these songs in my home bedroom on a Tascam cassette 4-track. Almost everything is me, with a few exceptions, noted below. The non-guitar instrument sounds all came from a Casio keyboard, including the drums, which were performed “live” using my index fingers on the keys.
Perfection: There’s a lot going on on this one. My Casio had an organ sound just like “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Twisting” so, of course, I had to use that. D. Mike Bauer aaaahs with me on the chorus (why didn’t we harmonize?). This was always supposed the “single” from the album. The lyrics were supposed to be over-the-top, but I was so romantic at the time, that they weren’t that much of an exaggeration.
You Deserve Better: This one needed an electric rhythm guitar. What it does have is a enthusiastic run-on-sentence of a guitar solo by Mark Pitlyk, the guitar hero of my class. The final denouement to the plot was added on late in the writing process… a mistake?
Love Letters In Latin: This song was built on a cheesy delay effect on my Casio. I also added the rare-for-me-at-the-time electric guitar. I knew nearly nothing about electric guitars at the time, nor effects pedals, so the guitar tone is simply the fuzz switch on D. Mike’s amp switched on. Oh the tempo problems in the chorus! Lyrically, this was an angry retort to a friend who told me to date a certain girl because “beggars can’t be choosers”. That and I took Latin in high school.
The Same Ship: Features lead vocal by D. Mike Bauer. Glad I had him sing Chy-eee-i-eee-i-hyld. Dig the chord changes in the chorus that threaten to change key but don’t. Oh my, I could barely play those licks.