Jeff Mathews, solo show photographer, t-shirt designer and general supporter, just threw it up to me one day that I should record a new batch of pieces and release them. Since I had no budget, I just recorded these at home on a 4-track recorder with very limited equipment. I always reminded myself that some of my favorite records were made in itty-bitty studios with no expensive equipment decades ago.
The LP’s concept is similar to the 1st LP in that it’s a uncalculated document of an era. Yet the range of contradiction and eclecticism is stronger on this album than on the debut LP. Sometimes I felt so delusional about what the world would accept. Who’s gonna want a country gospel piece, a tribal rap song, and avant-garde piano on the same album? The few, the proud, and the twisted -- Skafish solo show fanatics, my loving “Fishheads.”
Animal: I always had key pieces like “Disgracing” and “James Bond” that were stand-outs. Animal was another one of those showstoppers. I had various strippers and exotic dancers that showed up and danced this one with me. We had some choreography worked out, and the sexuality of this piece really broke through to the often-indifferent crowds.
Am I Coming Or Going?: The up-and-downess of people’s passive/aggressive behavior toward me was grating. It seemed that throughout my whole life, almost everyone had confronted and challenged my mere existence. But as I moved into adulthood, some of my relationships seemed to have an up/down, open/closed, love ya/leave ya tone. I hated not knowing which version of my "friend" I'd meet on any given day.
Vikki Is The Girl: I originally wrote this for an opera, until the theme of the opera changed. I wanted to create Vikki as this perfect and hip girl, in a wise-crackin’ street-smart way--a girl that most men would be intimidated by. When the opera changed, I kept the song and did it in the solo show.
Say Goodbye To Johnny: Sounding like it was plucked from Bye Bye Birdie with a slightly more distorted guitar, I guess "Say Goodbye to Johnny" would have fit better in a musical, but then when was I ever concerned with a better fit? Since I knew so many girls with such “loser” boyfriends, it was relieving to sing about a girl dumping a “bad” guy. If my friends wouldn’t listen, maybe an audience might.
Roseanne: My friends and I had lived through so much poverty that it seemed like it would be endless and everlasting. Scraping for cigarettes gets old after you’re 16. I remember for about 4 to 5 years never having enough money to order a pizza or buy new shoes. Roseanne is just the character in the song that represented all of my friends and me—financial destitution was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to bear.
A friend of mine
that I taught piano to had a very talented brother, an aspiring actor who
was working at a gas station to just get by.
One day while he was working there for pennies, he was robbed and
murdered. In the emotions I
felt, I let it all come through the song, writing and crying, unable to
stop the tears.
I was observing the
social trend of TV talk shows, and the sense of trash media that I saw emerging.
"Dial L-o-v-e" is a commentary on those naughty telephone sex
lines. In the solo show, it worked
well live with a phone prop.
Christy: "Christy" is in some ways a sequel to "Dial L-o-v-e." I had this great idea to use a blow up doll, and mime my head and body movements in perfect synchronization with the doll’s. I used to pick the squarest person in the house, shove that doll’s crotch right in their face, then gyrate it and grind it into their flesh. Most people liked it!
But on Labor Day in 1992, I performed a concert for the second year in a row for the Jaycees in Park Forest, Illinois. I had no idea that the people in charge would totally flip out on "Christy." I just did what I normally did—miming with the doll, humping it, spreading its legs—you know, the usual. But what really pushed it over-the-edge was when I ran into the audience and shoved the crotch of the doll in the face of a mother. Instantly, as if waiting for a cue, the lights and sound were cut dead. For a couple of seconds, I was still jamming the doll’s crotch in the mothers face, and she was LIKING IT! Then when the audience and myself realized that the show was stopped dead in its tracks, a few audience members started a little protest, but not enough to call in the riot squad. Moments later a toddler was screaming bloody murder backstage cause he thought I was Freddy Kruger after I had walked by him. To top it all off, on the way home I was stopped for speeding, and in full stage makeup, I just couldn’t talk my way out of it.
Deception: Mysterious and sleazy, I blended house and jazz improvisation in this track, and I almost had a young group on Warner Brothers Records cover it. Sometimes in love, people just want to “get even” when they feel they’ve been wronged. I wrote this from the point of view of the jilted lover who learns how to play the game.
Alien: It’s one thing to be different; it’s another to not be from here. When I learned that I was not of the physical plane, it was tremendously emotional for me. Only Glinda understood the pain and disorientation I felt. But “being from another dimension” was one topic I was reluctant to write about. This was my first piece that dealt with it directly.
~ (solo piano): I
wanted to channel piano solos technically comparable to the European
Classical pieces I had been doing in the solo show, but with a more
eclectic sound-mix it all up-New Age, Jazz Improv, European Classical, and
20th Century Avant-garde. The first in a series of new piano works, I
composed Carnival of Souls in a matter of a few hours, with my soundman
Jim Flener sitting there.
I Survived Catholic School: This was sort of a sequel to "Sign of the Cross." People would often ask me, “Why in the hell did you write "Sign of the Cross?” It was as if they were looking for some eye-opening rationale to justify the song’s existence. So I wrote "Catholic School" as a partial explanation.