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March-April 2014 - Pumpkinland II, Northbrook, IL Edit

Produced by Billy Corgan, Howard Willing & Jeff Schroeder; engineered by Howard Willing

  • Aelita
  • Anaise!
  • Anti-Hero
  • Being Beige
  • Boo
  • Burnt Orange Black
  • Cardinal Rule
  • Darkness and Flight
  • Dorian
  • Drum + Fife
  • Huppy
  • I Said
  • Full Sail
  • The Hunted
  • Love To Love You
  • Monuments
  • Nomi
  • Numan
  • One and All (We Are)
  • Overjoyed
  • Pretty Blue
  • Roustabout
  • Run2me
  • Serpentine
  • Solara
  • The Spaniards
  • Toodle-Loo
  • Tiberius

Pre-production recording sessions at Pumpkinland II for the Monuments to an Elegy album. The band, now consisting of solely Billy Corgan and Jeff Schroeder, plow through 70-80 songs in consideration for the album, focusing on the 30 or so best songs. Additional work arranging and demoing those 30 songs is done at this time, further whittling the list down to the final nine Monuments album tracks, as well as eight "roll-over" b-list songs ("Burnt Orange Black", "Cardinal Rule", "Full Sail", "Overjoyed", "Solara", "Toodle-Loo", "I Said" and "Pretty Blue"). Those b-list tracks would later be the basis of the abandoned sister-album to Monuments, Day For Night.

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Today was interesting: as Jeff, Howard, and I went through the remaining tracks until we'd reached a consensus of what were the best songs/versions. And despite a few reports, we were not sorting through 150 songs but rather something more like 70-80 (which is still a lot). The number of 150 came from counting alternate versions, which in many cases are fairly different interpretations of a particular chord sequence/approach. So…

This culling got us down to 35 songs, which we considered strong enough for release, and then had another listen (this time in alphabetical order to separate ideas from the era they were documented in). Having a vote we ended up with 26 in the STAR category (an inside joke), and 9 in the COUGAR (an even more inside joke). So starting tomorrow we'll cut into a new round of demos, with an eye that everything from here on is essentially 'making' the record. This is very reminiscent of the way the Siamese, Mellon Collie, and Machina records were made; this kind of setting up demos as a way to discover sonic approaches while still writing/tweaking. Hence: 26 STAR demos in 10 days. We'll be running fast.[1]

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Pretty full on day, with Howard picking at random which of the 26 STAR category songs to dive into. SOLARA was first, which went from a typical 90’s-type rocker to something that felt like it belonged. Next up was a song whose title escapes me, which in a previous demo had kind of a 80’s club vibe (in a good way). Unfortunately that went nowhere, and after 3 hours was sent off to COUGARLAND. It was getting late, but to keep to our *3 a day (or more) quota we got into it with a fetching song called CARDINAL RULE. Gorgeous as a fingerpicking-type song, we started breaking apart the internal rhythms to be voiced on various ‘things.’ And that’s where we left it, in the positive glow of 2 good and 1 hurting. Same tomorrow! But better.[2]

Dizzy day. Started with CARDINAL RULE, and was able to turn the corner on it by stripping back the busy/arpeggiating figures taken from the original guitar part; until all that was left was a simple chimed guitar and strings. Then it was off to TOODLE-LOO, which I’d classify as a rocker in the straightest sense. So rather than reinvent the wheel (as I’ve tried in vain oh so many times!) we focused on just getting the song heavier, bolder, and more epic-er. Biff-Bam-Vroom! Ended the night on one of those whose titles escapes me, and messed with the songs upward potential after a suspended beginning sets a dramatic stage. Oh yeah, it’s called I SAID (as opposed to I FORGOT). So that’s where we’ll start tomorrow.[3]

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Our most productive day so far; picked up where we left off with ‘I SAID;’ fusing a COUGAR idea that had been set aside the first day back onto the shift into a wider chorus. As Howard said: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you do that kind of change (meaning dynamic) in a song.’ To which Jeff replied, “And that’s a good thing!” We followed this up with ‘THE HUNTED’ (?), which has the distinction of being so catchy from the first you almost don’t know what to do with it. So Howard name checked some band I won’t mention and said how they’d had a hit where the bass carries the song forward (the guitars as such being held back). This prompted a running of the bass line (WALDORF) into a FOX-FUZZ, which sounded great; the song untouched and dosed with guitars at the appropriate moment. Next from the random pile was ANAIS: a riff I’d toyed with on the last SP touring cycle but hadn’t gotten far with; too busy I guess. But in the first round of demo-making I was able to turn the busy-body riff into a shoegazer wash which when laced with big, simpler guitars feels fatal.

Somehow all this fuzzing-about led to a discussion that maybe I should sell my Siamese Fuzz so I can buy more synths (a joke, mind you: sorta). Howard said “I’ll buy it,” and then quoted a price that I guessed was about 6 or 7 times less than I’d expect to get for a piece of equipment that launched a thousand sonic armies (another joke, not really). This prompted Jeff to say that perhaps we should get a company to clone the exact pedal. I agree! (Because none that have ever tried in my estimation have come close. An opinion).

Lastly, my eyes a-closing, we got into an idea without a melody (let’s call in DARKNESS and FLIGHT). To find one I’d pull up my recently purchased ARP SOLUS with drifting pitch and tap away; the underneath groove so alluring that I suggested that maybe this could be a song with but one change. But Jeff disagreed, and a search began for the elusive new part. Found one, chopped it in and left it at that. Not sure how good it can be, but let’s just say as I write this the loop of farkness and dight is stuck in my head.[4]

Great progress today. Was able to locate the right melodies for DARKNESS AND LIGHT (which isn’t the title; I only say that to have some fun by having a title that makes fun of a title I might have come up with in 1987; or 2014!). That took us straight into WORLD’S ON FIRE (which is the title). Had that middle-of-the-road quality that gets pretty boys on the radio, but not SP. So off we went into the magic box looking for that last bit of gold dust. It took hours, some trying, us trying, but at the end The Shredder was playing this kind of Echo B meets an orchestra part that meshed wonderfully with ‘ye olde triplet figure from yours synthi. And with that we sat around and told stories about betrayals past. More tomorrow. Exciting days. [5]

Began with ‘WORLD’S ON FIRE,’ and with the cross-cut saw beat found the modern rock heavens. Biblical. Epicurious. Have you ever tried working on a rock song with a splitting headache? Song was BEING BEIGE, a hot rocker that Howard professed love for. “Ok,” I said from beneath thick grandma wraparounds. “We’ll try it.” And like all those riff songs, they go around and around till the thrill is gone and then someone suggests (might have been me), “shouldn’t there be, like, a chorus?” Eventually I’d tack one on, and it was good. Let there be light.[6]

Long, long day, but I’m happy to report we’re now past the halfway point as far as the 26 we began with. Started with ‘THE HUNTED,’ which if you may remember was one of those riff-type deals that had gotten the gussying up; chorus-style. Having added in some parts this morning, I was happy that my partners were receptive to the tweaks. Score: 1-0. ‘RUN TO ME:’ we decided there was no need an updated demo, and moved on; quickly. Score: 2-0.

“BURNT ORANGE-BLACK’ was next, and this is one of those songs that has that timeless ring to it. Slow, languid, but powerful, with a set of changes you could jam all night on. But…Howard said, “It’s no single,” and we agreed. Not that every song has to be a single, mind you, but ‘single’ here is code word for’ it could be better,’ or ‘this idea has more potential that it’s showing.’ With that I tried adding a stuttering guitar figure, and presto! Change-o! We at least had something that sounded radio-worthy, which is funny considering the staccato stuff was the only change. Shows you how thin the premise is a good song vs a great one. Etc, etc. Score: 3-0.

Quote of the day: “I’m intent on making some downside, magical shit.” Lastly, ‘PRETTY BLUE,’ our perusal leaving Howard with a pained look on his boyish face.

“Don’t like it?” I said.

“I do, but, hmm.”

Score: 3-1.[7]

PRETTY BLUE’ is where we’d left off the night before, and it was indeed headed for the COUGAR pile. But some reworking this morning helped instill new life, and so it lives to be criticized another day. ‘NOMI’ is a poetic song, more akin to a theatrical presentation, and because of that, we’ve shelved it (for now). Which is hard because I’d written it in response to my grandmother’s recent passing. ‘FULL SAIL,’ while also drama-tinged, has more of a rock upside, so it stays. ‘DRUM AND FIFE,’ a street anthem. ‘NUMAN’ escapes me at the moment, but wasn’t shelved. ‘LOVE TO LOVE’ we love, a kind of gospel drum driving this shuffled Sab/Scorps riff. ‘SERPENTINE’ holds promise, but was pushed aside with no further work. ‘ANTI-HERO’ was headed towards metal dustbin ‘till a last minute BCsave pulled it from the fire. And ‘TIBERIUS’ sounds like it’s title (imagine marching hordes). So certainly our best day yet, and I’d say the excitement here is palpable in a way that I haven’t seen in those around me since, oh…our American president played saxophone?[8]

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Worked through 4 songs today: TIBERIUS (with new and improved epic wizard part), THE SPANIARDS (de-lovely and expansive, set aside for ‘DAY FOR NIGHT;’ I think), OVERJOYED (a Howard fave, so you know what that means hand-waving fans), and MONUMENTS (which if memory serves had been COUGARED).

So beyond DORIAN (our final task from the original 26), we have traipsed through them all. In terms of work this means we’ll go into a further round of pre-production next: guitar/bass sounds, amplifiers, drum approach, lyrics, final arrangements, even headphones and all sorts of non-exciting stuff that makes those sonic differences that add up overdub after overdub. And even though a lot of this rigmarole tries my patience it does save time in the end, which is important because we’d like to get this music out to you as soon as possible: finished, mixed, and riffs blazing.

Not sure of our numbers now (as in 26 minus ?), but next week we’ll have to cut down to at least 12-13 songs for ‘Monuments’ album, with even more cuts to follow. It’s gonna be hard. Highlight of the day was our use of a clone of the pedal pictured above. Nothing like playing a phased, stereo Mellotron![9]

Well, after a short sprint thought ‘DORIAN’ (a heartrending new-waver), team Howard was prepped; save for confusion over how many songs were actually in the STAR pile. Jeff and I claimed 26 (minus those COUGARED), HW said 25. Much counting ensued! Time was wasted. And after 20 minutes of counts-recounts and hanging chads, a solution was found: one title having been counted twice between its two iterations. Oy vey!

So that made 23: 25 STARS minus 2 COUGARED, yes? And alphabetically so a traipsing began, with a discussion after each listen; pros and cons traded. When all was said and done we’d gotten the list cut to around 13, then a brutish 9. Another dialogue, this one looking at the record as it stands without further input. This cycled us back to songs overlooked, for all felt something was missing or needed. Let's call it 'rock.'

Now let me say here that this is very, very consistent with the process I’d normally undergo on my own in choosing what makes a record. It’s just in this case I’ve decided to let my brethren in on my mental process, and they’ve been fantastic about working through the logic with me without a single regret in being so open to their perspectives. And throughout the digging there was general consensus on what belonged save for one fantastic brooding idea that Howard referred to as a ‘jam.’ I won’t say I was offended (Jeff said he should have used Hollywood-speak and called it an ‘experiment’), but having written a verse, bridge, and back chorus for a song I think has a killer under track, I’d hardly qualify that as ‘formless!’ Herr Willing…!

The good part of this warp was a general agreement that the idea was best served on ‘Day For Night,’ where a darker set of themes should be explored. That would be 'ROUSTABOUT.'[10]

And back into the rock-pile, starting with ‘ANTI-HERO’ to see if we might resurrect its fading chances. After much dilly-dally I arrived at the stunning conclusion that the chorus needed to be better. And lo! The chorus was improved with melodic tricks of invention (i.e. repeat the best hook ad nauseum).

Batting 2nd was ‘THE HUNTED,’ she of the killer chorus and the encouraging mono-riff, but never the ‘twain shall weep. (apologies for high school verbosities) After some sally-go-rounds I declared it D.O.A. and COUGARED, which I guess like COUGARTORY.

And-a-last, we had a go at ‘LOVE TO LOVE YOU;’ he of the menacing gait and snide lyricisms. Once again, we turned to the wisdom of TG. So, ‘L2LU,’ he of the drooling swing. Attractive open: check; engaging story: check, decent b-section: check; solid-anthem of a back chorus: umm no. So we went digging for another idea that had the guitar playing a triplet 3 over the 4/4, and with a little grease and tempo gymnastics I guessed we’re in the neighborhood of rock Valhalla.[11]

We started where I’d left off, on ‘LOVE TO LOVE YOU.’ Went down a blind alley by speeding it up and losing the Scorps-shuffle. Dead end.

Picked up ‘TOODLE-LOO,’ lost the blurry chords ala ‘AGE OF INNOCENCE,’ and went back to the straight-punk-8’s. Sped it up too. Probably too tra-la for SP (not song, but direction) but we made the point.

Last, the Numan-esque darkness of ‘MONUMENTS,’ Howard Willing’s pet project of love. Got nowhere, but not poorly so. Just re-established that the song as-is is fine and the debate ensued if it was ‘good enough.’ (Same debate every song!)

That led us to recalibrate our album list, now leaned with some more life than before. An hour’s chat ended with an agreement on: ‘if we made album today, it would be these songs.’ So next 4 days is trying to focus those pieces and see what we’ve got in whole. Exciting because the work of past few weeks has elevated already strong song A LOT, and nerve-wracking because the game is really set from here out.

Here’s the list:

MONUMENTS/ANTI-HERO/TOODLE-LOO/RUN TO ME/THE SPANIARDS/BEING BEIGE/ONE AND ALL/DORIAN/DRUM AND FIFE/TIBERIUS[12]

Started with a quick demo of a song written this morning. It’s called ‘HUPPY.’ Had a general review of the STARS left. General agreement is that the demos will stand till the deeper arrangement business starts next week.

This precipitated my saying, ‘Why don’t we spend the next 3 days trying to top what we have.” And with that I re-initiated work on ‘ANAIS’ (which was COUGARED). “ANAIS’ is a riff I’d come up with during the OCEANIA touring, but its shred-factor gets lost because it’s too busy. Stripping away what wasn’t essential about what sells in it, I locked a synth bass through a fuzz and ended on one drilling figure, and that broke down the guitar part until there was just a ghost left. Vroom! SP magik.[13]

In the midst of our trawl, we started with a review of ‘HUPPY.’ “Too chirpy,” I said, so we tried it a little more darkly. “It was better the other way,” I said. “Let’s just do it straight. As simply as possible.” Improvement. Move on.

Tripped to ‘BOO,’ my latest. Started with an acoustic demo. Nice but wrong album. “Try it heavier,” Howard suggested. “It was better the other way,” Jeff said. After that, we left it alone.

Recut ‘ROUSTABOUT,’ Howards ‘jam.’ As it stands, a definite contender for ‘Day For Night’ album. And would be on this album if the album had swung more darkly. “

Now what?” I said out loud. Back through the COUGARS we fell. I circled round ‘SOLARA.’ “Too grunge though,” I offered, a negative buzzword in these parts. “Better if it was straight, or more psych.” Singing the melody I came up with an opening figure reminiscent of ‘Heaven and Hell’ Sabbath (Go Tony). Sketched out a basic 2-part guitar demo, and with some digi-magik made the beat that made it a rocka-rolla (Go Priest). Funny what a riff can do to a spine. So ‘SOLARA’ is back with the STARS.[14]

Started session with a new theme (think Russian art film/Tarkovsky). A short demo, ornate and all, led to a heavier version (think late 70’s British metal). No go. Broke riffs over and over till the right one popped (think sick party anthem for a dying world). I’m guessing this shoves ‘SOLARA out of the way. New tune: ‘AELITA.’

Back to ‘SOLARA,’ to try to up its game. Lots ‘o mincing about; improved originality, but less exciting than yesterdays effort. Ran through different drum profiles. Fail. Broke riff apart. Fail. Tried a new riff, found some improvement. So that’s where we left it. And though this seems like not so much work, we went about 6 hours straight (minus Tom Kha soup!) and any day with a killer new jam is a good day by me. [15]

 So on to today. Was very tired, but still went into deeper arranging work on three songs: ANTI-HERO, ONE AND ALL, and TIBERIUS. Also moved 3 songs to the ‘HOLDING PEN,’ which is pre-COUGAR but not quite off album. Now that we’ve identified top tunes, here come the warm jets/guitars/bombast/and occasional moments of serenity.

Additional locks for album (?): DORIAN, DRUM AND FIFE, BEING BEIGE (WORLD’S ON FIRE), RUN TO ME, AELITA[16]

Went at one song today and one song only. And that song was TIBERIUS; which I’d long ago identified at a tough cookie to crack. Because…the dang thing is in 9/8 (at least that’s what I’ve been told) and a’int so easy on the rhythmic eyes. But…it is awesome I must say as an epic piece and worth the trouble.

So trouble is what I got in trying to untangle what was the middle 8. I say ‘was’ because it ‘tis no more. Erased. Obliterated. My casual ode to ‘Godspell’ forgotten. Replaced by what for a brief moment was a sadder part, then a dirge-ing riff, then a bastardized version of one of the COUGARED. And then…some combo of said riff and a shred of the dirge.[17]

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As a holdover from last night, TIBERIUS had been the recipient of a hybrid riff that when I woke this morning didn’t feel exactly right. And as those things go, subtle changes are often the difference in a riff sounding dumb or smart. Harkening back to an early form of the same idea, I took out the fluff and stuck with the repetition and lo and behold, it lined up to the previous spot without any time changes; a miracle. Add Moog.

Howard objected to RUN TO ME’s 80’s drums, so that was our first order of deconstruction. Much head scratching ensured, and knowing how this works I laid down to watch the zeros and 1’s parade march by. To his credit, Howard was able to help us walk the tom-tomming back to a place that sounded more like classic SP and less like, say, Big Country (a band Jeff and I love by the way). So in its current form the song is simpler, more direct, and has more current currency. Yes still, miles to go.

On AELITA, we harkened back to those titans that found a pile-driving figure gets the people moving, and back engineered the why of what they might do. This led to a Shredder solo, and a leaner-meaner middle 8. Hail Van Halen, ZZ Top, KISS, Pantera…

Oh yeah: MONUMENTS. I accused Howard of falling in love with the original demo sound; a condition called ‘demoitis.’ A 30-minute discussion followed, where said producer reiterated his belief the song could be a single. And though I don’t disagree, the legacy of SP is to make adaptations of different styles that in their hybridity create singularity. Where I’ve failed at that (often) sit as odd blights, and where I’ve succeeded at that (enough), tower epics. Sounds grand, eh?[18]

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Senor Howard got his wish, as we began with MONUMENTS; the cause celeb. Fitting the new arrangement, I was quickly able to build up an arrangement that accentuated rather than fought the noir: drums, keys, bass, and a sublimated guitar that aped said bass. Jeff was next, copying the signature melody line. Howard frowned. “What the f&%! do you want from me?” Jeff exploded, smashing to bits his guitar.

Actually that didn’t happen, except the part about Howard frowning; which effectively killed Jeff’s ‘moment.’ I interjected. ‘Look, the song is essentially unchanged from my original demo. So let’s just accept that it can only more forward by shades.’ And I said this as I swept up the chards of Jeff’s aborted try.

A fresh take on OVERJOYED was next, the once COUGARED arm-waver that was set aside precisely because it reminded us of bands we: hate (?). despise (?), do not admire (?), wish we could share success with (PC). I started slow, but soon Herr Willing was egging on a speed-up. “What the f#%! do you want from me,” I shouted, smashing my vintage acoustic to bits.

Actually that didn’t happen, except for the part about Howard wanting every song to be made for aerobics. A compromise was reached: tempo 91. Slow strings over a simmering beat, and charmed melodies de-oxygenating my once virile lungs. Down we went a ½ step, then a whole. “No,” Howard frowned. “I liked it higher.” To that I suggested he would be responsible for the onstage defibrillation. “What do you want from me?” shouted our producer, smashing his walker to the ground; its floor-protective tennis balls scattering. “I. Can’t. Do. This. Any. More!”

Actually that didn’t happen. Except for the part about him asking me to asphyxiate myself for pop-rock glory. End result: OVERJOYED out of mothballs. But wait, there’s more, as I suggested the song might be better suited for future hit makers EX-COPS. “I’d hold onto this one,” said Jeff, holding Howard’s hand as he wept for joy.

BEING BEIGE received a pass, the demo deemed good enough ‘for now.’

DRUM AND FIFE got the once over, and a weak pass at decent military drum programming. In that, I fell asleep. But when rousted I’d spit out a new arrangement all liked.

That left AELITA as the last (for DORIAN too had received a cursory pass), and I mentioned to Jeff that the best thing to do was keep hacking at it. So in short order: a re-arrangement, a new verse melody, with the original verse moved to the simmering middle 8. Now we just need DLR (of VH) to show me how it’s done and I’m good. For those mean streets never change.[19]

Came in and after a brief shakedown/stare-down/tea kvetch, I demoed out what we’ll call the slower version of ANAIS (sort of at the ‘TODAY’ tempo). That took an hour, and though we all felt the song was strong, no one was hi fiving either. “I still like the riff from last night,” Howard said. By that he meant ANAIS, but the fast (or original) version. But previously I’d declared the songs rhythm ‘moldy;’ as in 1992 d.e.a.d. So my exposition here would be: ‘hey, if we could find a new under groove, I’m more than happy to play the riff. ‘Cause Lord knows the figures I write a’int changing.’ I say this to you (as I said to them) because the man I learned the most from in the riff dept. was Tony Iommi, and as he has shown repeatedly is a good riff last forever; though the groove may change with the times. Hence a disco version of ‘War Pigs,’ etc, or the Ministry version of ‘Supernaut.’

This thinking turned the feel we working for/against enough that it started to have more of a James Brown/MC5 street noise, and within the hour I had the song I was looking for all along. I can’t yet attest to whether or not it can be great, but at least now what we have feels vital and deserves consideration. Howard too was shocked when I said with ANAIS in the fold SOLARA deserves back in, as I’m not as worried about it if there are 4 other rock songs to compete against. And what is the worry? Well, like the occasional song that comes up, it has a dare I say 90’s vibe. The argument against being been there, done that and comfort is rarely progress. But it is a killer hook, and those don’t grow on plum trees. (Also refer back to Iommi comments). Argument for is Howards: ‘Hey, it might be a single;’ which raises an eye from Jeff and I; as we’ve heard these Oh Sussanahs before; mostly from non-creative music biz types who have typecast what the ‘Pumpkin Sound’ is despite my having had success with acoustic songs, electronic songs, goth songs, you name it, plenty of puffinstuff not similar to that roar. Anyway…

Spent the rest of our time going in circles re: discarded songs, songs not lively for this record, and so on (meaning we didn’t get jack sparrowshit done). Ended night with another punch through ANAIS; slightly improved.

New album list: ANAIS/DORIAN/DRUM AND FIFE/RUN TO ME/BEING BEIGE/ONE AND ALL/TIBERIUS/SOLARA/ANTI-HERO[20]

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Gonna keep this short, simple, sweet. First of ll, I blame Howard. Why? Because his quest for MONUMENTS (the song) has caused a domino’s fall of choices. But I jest, because ultimately our choices are limited by the tunes I write. And all agree MONUMENTS is a great idea. As are others, yet Howard feels this one has the edge. That said, he’s been stuck on the demo feel (drums, keys, bass vocals) as opposed to guitars over the top.

And I agree that the demo feel of MONUMENTS is pretty cool; that is for another band. I don’t think however that the general fan, etc would ‘get it’ as is; but with guitars it’s a no brainer. So now the song has geetars (again) and it’s back on; SOLARA off (for the arguments made previously). It’ll be a ringer for the second.[21]

All we worked on today was ANAISE.

Focus was improving the song quotient of what is already an exciting piece. As in: shorten intro, build a better bridge, write a back chorus, tossing out the former middle 8 and inventing a new one; which also meant testing different keys to go to. From A minor to E, or D, or stay on C, or G (which was the key I was coming out of). D won!

Being tired, I was ready to go home but instead decided to stay and write a languid coda (nipped nicely thank you from a alternative tour version of ‘A Song For a Son.’[22]

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More ANAISE to start, but this round with the so-so bridge/chorus moved to solo status (thus voiding the so-so melody and turning the change to something epicurious). Also altered elegiac end so that it had less resemblance to adapted ‘SFAS’ bit; and I was happy (for once). Amazing.

Forging ahead, we tackled other said titles. What were they, you ask? I can’t remember. Ended on DRUM AND FIRE; I do recall that. And that is a rocking now with ambrosia-foiled tom-toms (In a big country…) So only 2 more need-serious of the strong-arm tactics: BEING BEIGE and TIBERIUS.[23]Idea was to dive into vocals-lyrics-harmonies, easy as you pleas-y. But…

Well, hold up, we finished one (ANTI-HERO), the accursed ANAISE next. I say accursed because it’s a fitful tiger, that. And my psyche bears the scars of a day’s worth of twisting the changes around, only to end up back to where we started. Why, some would ask? Well…

The song is in E minor. And yours truly wrote a chorus figure that repeatedly sings a high G (top ‘o my range). Herr Howard wants full voice, I protest. So starts trying out a lower octave, falsetto, alternate harmonies. Failure. Herr Howard repeats his desire that I kill myself, I mean sing at the top ‘o my God-given means. So starts trying to modulate keys on hitting the chorus, changing the E to G, or A, or B flat, C minor, or C sharp, and then D. Hours and hours of hope falling flat to more fitful failure flash. Snooze.

Tried straight E again, close enough with some minor changes. Jeff said E flat was better (the base key of Mellon Collie, yadda), and a quick flop through it says that’s where we’ll begin. But I’m determined to wake up and invent a new wheel.[24]

Woke up today, my friends, and started with dear ‘ol ANAISE. After much hem-hawing, decided to trust my gut that some sort of modulation was necessary. Not just because the chorus is too high (it is, but so are others), but because when it shifts down the statement within seems to take on a elegiac stature (the elegy the point, it seems).

So here’s a little inside baseball: in SP world we call a chord by it’s assumed name even if the guitar is tuned to a different base key. I.E. should a guitar be tuned to the Mellon Collie key of E flat, we still call an E flat major chord an E. This makes the final result on ANAISE by progression: E minor, D minor, E minor, G major, D major, E minor, D minor, E minor, A minor; despite the guitar being down a half step. Either way you can see (if you play music) that the harmonic progression is quite unusual, and might explain why there’s been so much head-scratching over it.

At the end of the day, we listened and all agreed that it’s pretty unique, both for SP history and as a composition, and in the best sense of the word it doesn’t feel strange like good rock and roll should.

ANAISE, ANAISE, ANAISE, oh how I wanted to be rid of you[25].

Return to Monuments to an Elegy/Day For Night

  1. Billy Corgan, "Stars and Cougars", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, March 26, 2014
  2. Billy Corgan, "And So We D-I-V-E", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, March 28, 2014
  3. Billy Corgan, "Dizzy Daze", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, March 28, 2014
  4. Billy Corgan, "Connecting an XLR Into the Ionosphere", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, March 29, 2014
  5. Billy Corgan, "Nu-Men", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, March 31, 2014
  6. Billy Corgan, "La Maestro Says", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, March 31, 2014
  7. Billy Corgan, "Downside Magic S%#@", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 1, 2014
  8. Billy Corgan, "Saxed Up", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 2, 2014
  9. Billy Corgan, "Halcyon Quadratures", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 3, 2014
  10. Billy Corgan, "Now People", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 7, 2014
  11. Billy Corgan, "Aloha!", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 9, 2014
  12. Billy Corgan, "Catch The Rainbow", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 9, 2014
  13. Billy Corgan, "Sammi Says Meow", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 10, 2009
  14. Billy Corgan, "I owe You a Picture", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 11, 2014
  15. Billy Corgan, "Interzone", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 13, 2014
  16. Billy Corgan, "Why Am I So Tired?", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 16, 2014
  17. Billy Corgan, "Chin-Chin Ch-Ree", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 17, 2014
  18. Billy Corgan, "Mr Moog and the Magik Hand", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 18, 2014
  19. Billy Corgan, "Rust or Trust", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 19, 2014
  20. Billy Corgan, "Oh Happy Day", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 22, 2014
  21. Billy Corgan, "Are There Any More Songs Left To Sing?" Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 24, 2014
  22. Billy Corgan, "Magic Power", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 26, 2014
  23. Billy Corgan, "Step It Up", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 27, 2014
  24. Billy Corgan, "Freedom Rock", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 29, 2014
  25. Billy Corgan, "Anaise Rhymes with Please", Smashing Pumpkins Nexus, April 30, 2014
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