This one has been around since 2012 or so, and I’d tinker with it on the piano from time to time and then I decided to get lost in the recording process on a weekend in February in 2016.
The act of taking a song from a rough sketch to a fleshed out work is without a doubt my favorite creative hobby. I completely lost track of time working on this, and spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday in my home studio putting it down, improving it, trying different things, and overall just having the best time. That’s where I’m happiest.
If other people enjoy the end result, that’s a nice bonus. But I’m thankful that this isn’t my livelihood right now, and I can write and record for me. If it pays someday, even better.
But even if it doesn’t, it’s not going to make me stop.
It felt like my girlfriend at the time was always glued to her social media, and I jokingly wrote this on the piano one afternoon while she was looking at her phone. Then I wrote an overly preachy essay about social media addiction (now so cringe tbh), and attached this song to the end of it.
This song is the only thing I don’t mind you seeing, now, internet stranger.
Most of the songs I’ve written are semi-autobiographical, so writing a silly funk song about nothing was a pretty nice change of pace. I was just messing around on the keyboard and yada yada yada this came out.
I don’t want no heath food
I got my collard greens
Come down to Shreveport
Or down to New Orleans
The bayou’s not in Oakland
It’s not in Illinois
You’re talking baseball
But I’m not taking score
Does this even make sense? It doesn’t matter—I like it.
If we get together
well you’ll see what I mean
I don’t want your health food
I got my collard greens
These next two lines are a direct quote from a tennis coach I had in college who yelled at a foreign-exchange student whom, from what I remember, kept moving away from the middle of the court.
Let’s not obsess over the details, but several years ago, I somehow ended up with a folder full of voicemails on my computer. Most of them were from my brother (Roger) and skimming through them, I thought it was pretty funny that they all sounded so similar: “Jeff, It’s Roger, [message]”
If there’s one person’s voice in the world who I know, it’s my own brother’s. So the fact that he always announced who was calling really cracked me up.
I had these voicemails for years, and always thought I should do something with them. When his birthday came around I felt a little inspiration, and started with the simple idea of just joining them together.
But that wasn’t enough, so I thought I’d just put a simple repetitive backing part behind it. That seemed better, but I felt like it could be more.
A few days later, using all the time allowed (up to a few minutes before his birthday dinner), I ended up with what you heard above.
His reaction? Unbelievable. On the floor, gasping for air, especially at 1:00, and at 1:30 when the guitar came in and it was clear that these messages were not stopping.
I posted it a couple of other places, too. On MetaFilter music, it ended up getting featured on their monthly podcast, which was awesome. Here’s the clip where they talk about it:
And then, it blew up on reddit, and ended up getting 14,000 plays.
I don’t know if I can ever top this as a birthday gift.
This melody popped into my head one afternoon and I didn’t have any lyrics for it, so I started paging through my Evernote for lyrical scraps, where I came across the first verse, which I’d written a couple of years back.
Like a pine tree trying to hide its needles,
Like a ginger pretending he’s blonde
Well that Saturday, when I slipped and told you how I feel
Ever since then the feeling’s been gone
I also found another completely separate lyrical scrap:
Well you say you’re classy
but it’s just a veneer
as long as I buy all your beer