Then there are two other new songs we’re also readying.
“Make Me a Coin” is another political statement full of characteristic bad vibes. It’s not really a new song, it comes from my Presidential Coins series, but it was one of the later songs I wrote, and whatever. So it’s a few years old. It’s a fun song to sing (when I can remember all the words) and Drummer Mark and Bassist Mark pound and drive and vitalize the bejeezus out of the song.
I’m so lucky to have two close friends playing music with me, two friends who are just jaw-droppingly good instrumentalists. As a trio it’s challenging at times to sound like a full steady band, with the sort of dynamics people expect nowadays, esp. when you’re saddled with a rhythm guitarist like me, because every part you play is extremely audible, and we have no real lead instrument.
Still we sound great because of the rhythm section, because of My Marks. The two of them first played together in our first Oswalds incarnation a million years ago, and since then they have graduated into a variety of outfits and opportunities, most notably playing at my wedding and backing up John Linnell of They Might Be Giants on his solo “State Songs.” They both fled the city for the Catskills in the years after 9/11.
They’re very different players. Drummer Mark’s approach is more reliably rooted in a style while Bassist Mark is more a chameleon who can comfortably adopt a lot of styles, also a thief who can enter from a variety of directions, plus lately his role seems to be ensuring that each song has all it needs, within the confines of my limited musicianship and our tiny roster. (Our roles switch around, of course, just like the styles.)
Lastly, we’ve been practicing “Before We Disappear” as our third new song. It’s actually a short one I wrote in 1989. I’ve always enjoyed it. (I should add that I’ve written a ton of songs through the years but few of them still sound particularly valuable to me.) It’s fun to revive a song after so many decades and make it so declarative. It’s like bringing back a friend from the dead (you know that feeling?). The song is written from the sinister lowlife POV that I favored back then and is great fun to holler. It begins:
We been lyin’ in a ditch outside of town
thinkin’ you might bring your pretty little self around
You look so damn nice my dear
Why don’t you just haul it down here
So we can mess you up just once before we disappear.
Now THAT, if you ask me, is a heckuva strong first verse, mean and unusual and open-ended. I remember sitting with that verse alone for almost a year before I figured out the rest of the song.
The irony, of course, was that The Oswalds broke up (back in 1989) before we got a chance to learn it, so the song was a little prescient that way, because we did disappear, although (to my knowledge) we didn’t mess anybody up.