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I Am Legend

Will I save Rock? Depends on how I feel

By Brian Baker · April 1st, 2009 · Music
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Tags: im, cbm, about, what, out, its, ive, thats

Many of you, at least a dozen, know my work as a music journalist for CityBeat and a variety of regional and national publications — some actually still in business — but virtually no one knows I’m also a musician of some discernible skill.

I’ve never been in a band nor played out, though. I’ve been too busy playing in my basement studio, where I’ve been crafting my first and likely only album for the past 30 years.

I’m not one for blowing my own horn — I’m not as flexible as I once was — but I really feel as though my magnum opus has the potential of lifting the music industry out of its current doldrums. If I decide to release it, that is. My fear is that the music is so beautiful, the lyrics so profound and the message so enlightening it could have the opposite effect and literally spoil the listening public to the extent that they never listen to anything other than my album ever again, driving the last nail in the industry’s dirtbox.

My other problem is that I believe my album has the potential to be bigger than Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, The Eagles’ Hotel California and Carole King’s Tapestry combined. That’s why I’m considering the title Born to the Dark Side of the Rubber Hotel Tapestry of Hell — and also because The Joshua Tree was already taken.

Since I’m convinced that the RIAA will have to invent a sales measurement that transcends multi-platinum (plutonium? titanium? billgatesium?) due to the physical number of units that will inevitably be moved, I’m hesitant to do any promotion at all. I mean, what’s the point? BTTDSOTRHTOH is going to top the charts from now until Republicans vote for national health care, so why should I suffer the ignorant blatherings of hacks like, well, me?

And that’s when it struck me: The only journalist qualified to interview me is me. So what follows is the only interview you’ll read from me, talking about the might and majesty of Born to the Dark Side of the Rubber Hotel Tapestry of Hell.

CityBeat Me: What message did you want to send with this album?
Genius Me: I was intent on getting across my general disgust with humanity and my great hope for its salvation.

CBM: That seems slightly cross-purposed.

GM: Not at all. I’m hating the war and supporting the troops.

CBM: OK, I suppose that makes a little more sense. Let’s talk about the songs. What were some of your inspirations for this set of tunes?
GM: The whole range of human emotion and the span of human history, with a particular emphasis on the past 50 years. I wrote “Love the Juan You’re With” long before the current immigration issues but I think it’s an incredibly prescient song in today’s cultural climate. I honestly can’t remember if I wrote “Blow Job” about stormchasing a tornado after 30 bong hits in 1975 or a party I went to when my ex-wife and I were having problems in 1981; the lyrics are a bit cryptic, even to me. “Peed My Pants” is literally the first song I ever wrote, so I had to include it. The title track is an instrumental that touches on everything from Mozart to Gregorian chants to Leonard Bernstein to Spike Jones to Hawkwind. Moby’s remixing it into a 27 minute trance track.

CBM: Sounds amazing. What about the live component? Will you be taking Rubber Hotel Tapestry on the road?
GM: It seems unlikely. I’m not a good enough musician to pull it off. For three decades, I’ve been working on this thing note by note, isolated in my home studio like Brian Wilson without access to Dr. Feelgood‘s medicine chest. I’ve had at least seven mental breakdowns while finishing the album and it was constructed painstakingly, so I’m ill-equipped to translate it live.

CBM: That’s a shame. It’s where the money is these days.
GM: Sadly, I realize that all too clearly. That’s why we’re organizing what is tentatively being dubbed Bri-Aid. I’ve leaked a few tracks to industry friends, and they’ve gotten a huge response from artists who are clamoring to do their own versions. I figured why not combine the two ideas and have a huge concert where everyone does my songs since I can’t.

CBM: That’s very cool. And all for a charitable organization, I take it?
GM: The most charitable one I know: Me. I mean, I can’t help the world until I get a new car and the squirrels out of my attic.

CBM: Uh, right. How’s the planning so far?
GM: It’s going well. Artists are lining up. Bruce Springsteen wants to do “The Trouble in the Land Is Doubled in My Heart,” Prince wants to cover “Bail Out My Love,” Brian Wilson and John Lydon are going to duet on “Prozac in My Vomit,” Radiohead is doing “General Eccentric Presents” and Bono wants to sing “I Am the Greatest.” It’s not one of mine. He just wants to do that song.

CBM: There are obviously a lot of outwardly directed songs on Rubber Hotel Tapestry. How introspective are you here?
GM: It’s all introspection when you come down to it. It’s me thinking about everything.

CBM: What about your relationship with your father? Do you delve into that at all?
GM: Did I not say I do not talk about my father?

CBM: No, you didn’t.
GM: Oh. Well, I don’t.

CBM: What about the rest of your family, your wife and children?
GM: I never come out of the basement. They only just realized I’m still living in the house. They thought they had an enormous rat. I think we’re done here. Your 15 minutes is up, which means so is mine.



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