Skafish's Released Liner Notes

“Skafish” (Debut LP)
Released May 7, 1980 at 4:30 PM Greenwich Mean Time

When we started recording the 1st album, I just drew from the live repertoire of about 50 songs that I had been performing since early ‘76.  There was no calculation or strategy involved, whether for the cover photo or the thematic content.  This was simply a record of what I had lived through.  I always found it strange that anybody would question for a minute whether this was real or made up.  Why would anyone “make up “ anything so self-degrading?  Creating all of this was the only form of survival I knew, and I saw these songs as my cleansing in the same way a blues singer sings of their troubles as an exorcism of sorts. How I wanted so badly for the pieces to scream out and be heard.  That’s why the arrangements are so active and multi-layered, along with so many hues of color.  What was shocking about this record was simply me being me...

Introduction:  Barbie did such a terrific job on this, setting the audience up for a complete surprise.  I’ll never forget when we were opening for Iggy Pop in 1979 in Detroit, and Barbie comes out in a 1950’s poodle skirt, waving to the audience and says, “Hi I’m Barbie.”  Before she could say “C’mon right in,” she took an egg right in the face.  It was the first of an egg farm through the entire set.  We always stood up magnificently to the challenge under those circumstances.  In those moments, performance was war.

Joan Fan Club:  Some critics accurately perceived that Joan Fan Club was autobiographical by proxy.  Yes, I experienced all of this, being pushed down the stairs in school, mocked, harassed, continually told I was soooo cute, called every name in the book.  This one football jock once grabbed my tits in the locker room, saying, “Them are cute.”  Yep.  Joan was me.

Joan is the girl she waddles in class
I’m gonna stick some thumbtacks in her back
Gonna push her down gonna spray her with mace
Gonna touch her little pizza face.....
Joan is the girl we make her cry
She shivers and shakes on Friday night
Gonna egg her house throw some trophies too
Joan we’ve made this fan club just for you

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music/ Illegal Songs - All Rights Reserved

Maybe One Time:  This version was a little bit faster than the original recording from the August, 1976 demo tape.  The mellotron strings add an airy kind of a cloud-like feel.

Just look at me
You know I’m a sight
After all this time
Love’s still not right
I’m warm and safe
Yet shaking with fright
Such a lonely night

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music/ Illegal Songs - All Rights Reserved

Obsessions Of You:  I felt so obsessed by everything, especially by my romantic interests that never wanted me in return. In this piece, I tried to capture the ugly part of obsession—the selfish tunnel vision side of it all through the blaring synths and pounding drums. The flip side of the coin to obsession is the delusionally exalted  side—the holy aura we tend to wrap around obsessing over someone. I hoped to represent that essence by the classical voice parts and the string sections.  I shoved and crammed the nerve endings of all of those feelings into under 3 minutes.

You aren’t turned on by me at all
You don’t like the way that I look
Everynight I will cast a spell it is put on you
So you lose your will then you will be mine
Obsessions obsessions they are of you
Possession possession I want  your heart
Together together we never part
So happy so happy just me and you

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music/ Illegal Songs - All Rights Reserved

We’ll See A Psychiatrist:  In 6th grade, it had come to the point where all the kids in my class, plus kids from the school across the street were all trying to beat me up after school everyday.  It was open season on the class freak.  So I started ditching school and hiding in the family garage all day, just sitting there, staring into space.  One morning my mother found me in the garage, and went hysterical - sobbing and crying about how weird I was and what a terrible son I was.  She threw me in the car and forced me into school, wailing as if someone just stabbed her through the heart.  

After school, when my parents came to pick me up, I thought, “Wow, they’re doing this to protect me from getting beat up and stabbed.”  But when we got to our house, my dad just kept driving the car.  I’m like, “Dad, where are we going?” 

“We’re going to the doctor,” said my mom. 

  “Why?  I’m not sick,” I replied. 

“It’s just a check-up,” my mom said.  

So we kept driving about an hour, and when we got to Chicago, I was really confused. My parents escorted me into this huge building.  All of a sudden, I was in this office with a psychiatrist who started questioning me in a detached, clinical, completely non-emotional way.  By this time, I was starting to get the picture.  Then the shrink tells everything I said to him in confidence to my parents. How did I know?  Because my mother blurted it all out a few days later.  The lyric was simply the story, like a diary entry.

In the car I go
Where I go I don’t know
I am beat black and blue
That’s what I learned in school
I try to run away
But I get caught each day
I swallow lots of pills
I try to die but
We’ll see a psychiatrist
Don’t be afraid

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music/ Illegal Songs - All Rights Reserved

Romantic Lessons: I cherished my parents' relationship.  They really loved each other in a beautiful way and I thank them for showing me that.  When I composed the song, I saw myself on the outside looking in, at the park, at the drive-in, watching all the perfect couples that I felt I would never be a part of.

Walking slowly through the park
Holding hands
I see a boy and a girl
Beauty glows in their eyes
All day I will follow them
But don’t run from me
I’m not a thief
I won’t take anything
I won’t harm you
You’re teaching me
What love should be
I will try and learn

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music / Illegal Songs - All Rights Reserved

Work Song:  This recording has more synthesizers, giving it a more industrial and metallic feel than the 1st version of 1978.

Life’s not great but it’s not bad
You don’t think much about being sad
You just do what you have to do
Work all day you got a job to do
Muscles work
Your body is
As hard as rock
Hit him like a rock tonight
Drive the car through morning traffic
Punch the clock and start your day
The loud machines ring in your ear
The air is grey your body’s aching
When does it stop so you can relax
Get up every morning work for your money

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music / Monona Music - All Rights Reserved

Guardian Angel:  After my father died, I started becoming aware of angels on a real level through his presence around me.  I felt so comforted by his spirit.  My Catholic upbringing may have planted the seed, but having contact with my dad in spirit really helped to blossom my awareness of the spirit world. To me it’s so utterly beautiful to know that there’s divine protection for everyone from the other side.  I tried to place the context of the piece in a nighttime setting where someone might be afraid, and then show the spiritual comfort our angels provide us.

Late at night
She’s alone
Then she cries
Nothing can harm you cause he will be there
You will always have a guardian angel
Look above and see you’re guardian angel
He’ll watch
He guards with his white wings
As you’re sleeping

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music / Illegal Songs - All Rights Reserved

Disgracing The Family Name:  Why Swanee River?  Because I connected “the old folks at home” line of “Disgracing” with the same line in the old Stephen Foster classic. My song was Americana turned upside down.  I hoped to trip up the listener and grab them right off with the “Swanee River” bit, then startle them quickly with the band entrance.  I wanted people to think I was Lawrence Welk - just for a moment.

How are the old folks at home?. . .
Parents rejected me household germ
I crawl all through the garden with the worms
I am the rotten apple with the worms
Chewing at my core- now I am
Disgracing the family na-ya-ya-me
Debasing the family na-ya-ya-me
Erasing their fine fine reputation
Listen to them as they whine as they dine
Whi - whi - whi - whi - whi - I - ne

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music / Monona Music - All Rights Reserved

No Liberation Here: Like the pain of a blues song, the sexual demons were real - I sometimes felt embarrassed and ashamed even performing this song.

Guilt produces sex that’s awkward and cheap
As my hands caress you I must be beat
And I know we can’t meet again - forever
Everynight - there’s tension on the streets everynight
I cruise up and down round the town
Behold - bodies are ripe
But you can’t stop years of conditioning
Even when you turn out the lights
My darling - my darling it’s you and me
Here is my bed
We pretend to understand and make
The birds and bees

© Copyright 1977 Skafish Music / Illegal Songs

Take It Out On You:  I wanted so badly to have the final revenge and get even—get even with a world that had attacked me and violated the essence of my very being everyday of my life.

The only wounds that time heals
Are just tiny hangnails
I reject false resolutions
Gonna take it out on you
You beautiful you

© Copyright 1979 Skafish Music / Illegal Songs

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