Flip Nasty: Secret Microphone (live, 1995)
notes on the 2000 CD re-release of Secret Microphone:
I'll make it brief. Flip Nasty records most of their gigs. As part of their Splat Monkey deal with Checkmate Records, they became obligated to release "fan-friendly" live albums to showcase their acoustic live performance style. The resulting string of albums: How About A Beating, Winter On Mercury, Suck Pumpkin, The Bootleg No One Else Would Make, and Senor Squeaky were categorized in an emergency meeting of Checkmate stockholders in August 1995 as a "catastrophe."
The production duties on a live album are primarily those of song selection. Whereas a record producer on a studio album helps to shape the sound of the instruments and the mix and the character of the arrangements, a live album producer must be incredibly meticulous and possessed of a lucid perspective, able to review hundreds of hours of concert tape and select the best versions of the best songs for the best listener effect. Clearly Flip Nasty itself was inadequate to this task, tending towards the quaint and quirky: special arrangements or obscure songs instead of the "core" song group of recognizable crowd favorites. Witness the previous live album high- water mark, 1993's compatrion to Drive By , Suck Pumpkin. The album was littered with special guests, special arrangements, etc which -though interesting--left staples like "October Air," "Too Much," "Cocoon," and "I Won't Quit" back in the vaults. It was time to bring in outside help. Producer Joh3n O'Meara, whose reputation as the "live producer" on 1991's As Rome Burns, seemed the obvious choice. It was he who found the hidden gems of "Punk Rasta String Break Space Jam Ellen" and "Deep Flange Ballad Paris Mad About You" and perhaps he could strike JBY dirt again, and so --against the whining protests of bandleader Cody Weathers-- the elusive überprodusser was brought on board as" director. " O'Meara promptly isolated himself in his villa in Tuscany and created a mysterious "grid of gaussian song potential," frequently performing purportedly-necessary partial differential equations, muttering, and rewriting the entire thing from scratch. Checkmate executives began to sweat, fearing that the band's copious and limber live catalogue was too much for any sane man to bear. But fortunately, Joh3n O'Meara is not a sane man. He returned with a new standard-bearer live album, unearthing great versions of fan favorites, capped off with the amazing "Group Scat Puppy By Drunk Audience. " O'Meara explained his philosophy in a signed note, " [I] tried to keep it clean, but quickly became overwhelmed, wherein I turned to the music and found my answer " Checkmate was ecstatic. This was the showcase of their flagship band that they had hoped for. This album served as the only live Flip Nasty album in circulation for five years until the 2000 release of Clapping Sold Separately, which clearly follows Mr. O'Meara's amazing insight and legacy.
Unwelcome: Have your tears turned upside-down, to fall straight up through rain so brown? Is the sun now underground? My ash feet say, "unwelcome here." Do your ears abhor the sound these lips commence for feelings drowned? Did you think that once around and I would know "unwelcome here."
This Once: Oh, my brain is not home. It knew which ship would sink. Shots are fired --risks at random. What would my doctor think? You wear your sexy hair, shirt loose around your waist. Oh, too much light --my eyes can't see your face. Oh, I'm just the same standard-issue puppy dog, whatsisname. Chorus: I can't take it back, oh scared. Please, fate, this once, this once. Brain would blush to see me now. Blowing dollars, blowing chances. Rushing, dragging, losing track. Shouting for the avalanche. Blind, blind stumblebum. Lilies, roses, honeyplums. My feet follow that trail of Gretel's crumbs. Oh, I dreamt that I confused you with a magic light. Chorus. Daily kindness, years of spirals. Let me hear those things you say. Weave my fate with words and flowers. Crack my heart or kiss this day. Can I get a brain from you? A heart, a home, some courage, too? Chorus.
Bloom: Shut mouth, open eyes, touch face when it sighs. Do you love me, or do you love love? I love you like a dog would. Chorus: Baby, when you're in bloom, there ain't no one can resist you. At least I know I can't, and I'm as close to no one as anyone gets. Open mouth, shut eyes, kiss lips with mine. Do you feel me, or do you feel you? I love you like a heart would. Chorus. Surely if you love me, you will learn to keep me. Share time, share space, eating roses by the fistful. Chorus.
Scared: Spicy auburn daughter of the sun, in the rain, your father sleeps, his hatchet stance be stung. Would the moon, your mother, cast an eye over every passion pair to capture you and I? You've been hearing naiads in the stream wash their tales of awkwardness, whisperings of me. Are you pushing nails into my brain? Cling to me like creeper then you question me like chain. CH: What are you scared of? I don't kill little girls. Sugar in your pockets can't remain. Turn their secrets to the air and wash them in the rain. You are not so bound to think things through. Analyze to paralyze when you must feel the truth. CH. Bridge: The desert blooms between us in a heat borne by a fog. I can feel your father steaming, trying to burn this water off. Shimmer-dancing daughter of the moon, wrapped in sheets of gossamer, I'll spin you out real soon. You've become a hammer in my heart. Fastened like an April bud, I'll chase you, chase you like a spark.
Coyote: So cold says the coyote as the willow whips the crow. So quick, thick, and easy just to let these arrows go. I try not to break you, says the coyote to the snow. It's hot-fought and rotten, but it's the only food I know. Chorus: Seeking my anguish, this dog loves a tree. Fill me with warmth, and I'll feed you with me. I know I travel to die at your knee. Take me from cold, and I'll feed you with me. So fierce is the fire that the willow might explode. So cold is the coyote, he forgets the ashen crow. She whispers and touches with her passion underglow. The canopy collapses, and the coyote smokes his bones. Chorus. So cold, screams the coyote, and his hide it heals too slow. So scabbed-up and skinless, I'm a skeleton, I know. I pause just to die here --let my inside-out unfold. Silent seeds turn to saplings, sprouting willows feed and grow. Chorus. Feed me with fire and I'll feed you with me.
Thursday's Fool: This pillow cold can surely wait. This brittle sky will surely snow. This blanket old has known more heat. I wish you had some thought of me. My ink is dust, my tongue abates. I'll meet you where there's mistletoe. My hands are touched by fragile cuffs of angel down you shed on me. I'm thursday's fool, but years from now I hope you'll have my drop of gold.
Seize The Day: I know that you're still hoping that your prince will come. I do not see the reason why you still hold on. If there is magic, then it must be pretty strong. I hope you'll look at me --I can't hold on too long. Chorus: I said to myself, "self, you fool, don't let her slip away. Hold her in your arms because you should always seize the day." I know that just one song won't fix this jealous rage. My heart is open season, aim and fire away. You are not having fun with any games you play. Why do you carry on --don't you feel betrayed? Chorus. Give me a throwaway pill, I'd take it. Need ID, I'd fake it. Bend my will, then break it. Bet my life, I'd stake it. Anything for you, anything at all, just give me the word and I'm yours. Chorus.
Mad About You: She was crazy when I met her, just as crazy as today And I knew that I would need her, but I couldn't make me say that if my heart could find no other, I'd be happiest that way. But then I saw the way she wants your eyes to stray. And I feel that I must tell you even though you don't deserve her. CH: She's mad about you. Something crazy in her eyes just says he's mad about you. And there's nothing I can do if she's mad about you I was up to my old no-no's when I told her not to love you, for I was all too cautious not to tell her how I felt true. And you still just perceived her as a carnival balloon: possession pretty soon is ugly and is taking too much room. Even though you don't respect her or enjoy her as I do. CH. Bridge: Mistakes of mine, you are too soft, the ruthless win this game. Vicious, cunning, hearts of steel attract and cut and maim. And that which may be tender can't compete, which is a shame. For love is built on cloudy things that paralyze the brain. CH
Best of Days: How long did I know her with her kindness and its lubricant mistakes? How long did I gaze into those startled eyes before I knew my heart would break? Now it's four in the morning, I've just seen a ghost, I know something has died. Singing songs to keep my boogies back, I don't listen to a thing but the fundamental ring of "I love you, love you, Cody" CH: She's only really busy, I'm only just another minute away, I'm lying, she don't love me --just a pleasant disinterest on the best of days. Someone smack my head, I'm only getting channel 83. How long have desire and its partner, passion, had their way with me? Now it's four in the morning, I've just seen a ghost --it stomped and said my name. Singing songs.... How long before those roses how sweet bitter up? How cushioned can that hammer be? Now it's four in the morning, where's my angel when these ghosts are walking by? Singing....
Leave Me Be: Who's going to cut me now your razor lips are gone? Maybe there's someone that you know. I close my eyes and pray the sirens take me quickly. Who's going to roast me nice and slow? CH: I know you think I'm nothing, but this is the one heart I can be. And you say "Settle down, are you crazy Listen up, understand you've got to leave me be." I went to the wishing well to throw my tin away. Whispered the willow on the way. "To chase a doe," she said, "means the doe is running. You're still a coyote to this day." CH Bridge: I don't believe that fairies stole your heart or that that bite is from a passing shark. I think you really must've had to know.
So Will I: Sweet little line of color and sound, I can't see the shape you follow as the song breaks down. Soft little pace creeps with the ground. Will my blanket shield you when I turn around? Sweet little spot, mumbled and hot, creepers spill like ivy that the seed forgot. Soft little nest, bitter and blessed, linger for the first and only time we kissed. Chorus: I see anger in your eyes, I'm not blind, I'm not blind. I say dogs and babies die; so will I, so will I. Sweet little drop of liquid and silk, pushing slowly, sliding coarsely like spider's milk. Soft little bud yearns for the flood. Speak the drop as if it were your aching blood. Chorus. Soft was the whispered breath, muttering and stuttering. Hot thorns with blood to press, always wistful, wondering. Sweet little face of mangoes and sand, please don't slide aside from shape in my shaking hand. Soft little eye, deep as the sky, I would be your chattle if you wouldn't cry. Chorus.
Non-Stop Lovely Good Time: Come be with me, you know I like the way you love me. You're not so sad you can't be sweet. Take all my time, be everything my heart's content with. Kiss me with smiles upon my cheeks. I'm so crazy to fall in love with you, and you're so crazy, too. Chorus: You're my passion, you're my pride, you're the feast before my eyes. Everything you do keeps me inspired. You're my non-stop lovely good time. Come waste my time, come channel me through dumb adventures. Remind me that I'm not my own. Push me around, then give in when I need command. Oh, love of mine, you are too fine. I'm so crazy.... Chorus. Sometimes, I must confess, I fear that you might leave me. Sometimes I don't know why you're here. But then I redirect and simply don't believe me. Why should I have such silly fears? I'm so crazy.... Chorus.
Underneath My Skin: I have kissed your name on paper, I have held your breath in lungfuls, I have thought of you as if you were my first. I've held your hand in bad times, in my dreams, and at the movies. I have tasted you until my lips would burst. CH: And now it's you underneath my skin. I have been with you forever like a suitcase full of danger. I have bundled you in warm and woolly mesh. I've huddled you together like a sympathetic stranger, but there's voltage unaccounted flesh to flesh. CH. Bridge: So if you think of me at all, it might be time a hint could fall. Do I itch you in the way you fret my hide most every day? I have eaten from your table, from your plate, and from your fingers. I have salted every tear, each glycerine drop. I've wished upon a star, upon a planet, and a spaceship. Such a wishing, once begun, is hard to stop.
Essence of My Time: I have no things to leave behind me, I have no past to hold me back, 'cause I am here now, with you, that is my life. I have no recent inconclusions, I have no reason to doubt your simple ways 'cause I am here now, with you, that is my life. I have no cloudy preconceptions, I've no idea what I might expect from you, but I am here now, with you, that is my life. I have no weight upon my shoulders, my mind is clear, but my conscience knows a way, to find you here now, the essence of my time. Chorus: What is real, I ask the essence of a flower, and what instead is in my mind? Am I in circles, or a spiral towards a center? What is the essence of my time? There are no questions you must ask me, I've no demands or behavioral codes, but I am real, here in the shadow of your life. I walk and talk, but only through you, I open gates, but I keep the fires away, and I am here now, with you, that is my life. I have here instruments of torture, I have here cures beyond your wildest dreams, and I am here now, with you, that is my life. I have here instruments of pleasure, I have here tears to salt your very eyes, but I am here now the essence of my time. Chorus. I have no fear as I approach you, I've no idea how I'm losing my control, but I am here now, with you, that is my life. I have my wings, but they are budding, I have a compass, but it does not show the way to find you here, now --the essence of my time.
Puppy: Are they all like you in Bremerton, where the water meets the land? You've got apples on the waves you ride, but there's poison in your hand. I can't screw up what I can't see. Your puppy dog features are a trap to me. Did your mommy dearest tell you right about the way this whole thing works? You've got questions in your sharken eyes. Did you know that this would hurt? I can't screw up what I can't see. Your poison-pup perceptions are a wall to me. You have your invitations, as thin as thin can be. Did you listen when I told the truth. Was there arsenic in your ear. There's still time to pull your rotten tooth --spit the food that brings you tears. I can't defend what I don't know. Your puppy woman customs are away from home. Must I hear another treatise, dear? Ain't it time to say goodnight? You can nibble long upon my ear --I can't feel another bite. I can't screw up what I can't see. Your puppy woman secrets are a mystery. Do they pine for you in Washington? Do they miss your sorrow eyes? Do they stop your lips with eager tongues? Do they sugar you with lies? I can't retract what I don't cause. Your thorny little trail is gonna shred your paws. Your baby bones bending in another way, trying to burst into a brighter day. Will you break if you don't get your way. I'm over here, prying with my 2x4, trying to give you just a little more room to push aside the bitter door. Are they all like you in Bremerton?
I knew that the previous live albums were somewhat lacking, even then. I concluded what I now allude to: too much novelty at the expense of picking the best songs. This is easily the best live album to this point in our catalog, and is only outdone by Clapping Sold Separately (which represents a leap forward in our live performances). These songs tend to be taken from a time when I was trying to make a go at playing professionally full-time. They are all board direct from gigs where I was the sole act on the bill, so the recording quality is far better than any earlier album. They are also much more confident and seasoned from a performance standpoint. And finally, thankfully, I seem to have figured out how to speak into a microphone without any diarrhea coming out. All told, a decent little album.
Unwelcome: this is the original version, written for (and recorded at) my senior composition recital. Percussionist Robert McIntosh plays the marimba and all other percussion. I play piano and sing. I later adapted this version for Flip Nasty (as heard on Guitool). Performed in Evans auditorium on the Lewis & Clark campus. Recorded by Lon Whittier.
This Once: Recorded as a trio at Coffee Grounds.
Bloom: Very trancy version from Coffee Grounds. Nice solo from Speranza.
Scared: A little more mid-tempo than usually, but good groove and energy. Also from Coffee Grounds. This album is also the first one that I put together on DAT by myself. As a result, I was able to very carefully select only the best between-song chatter to segue between songs. Critically important.
Coyote: Also from Coffee Grounds. Great guitar sound from Speranza. We played all the time at Coffee Grounds --the owner was fairly young and pretty into our fence-straddling between acoustic and electric playing. At one point, he booked us to open for a show at another "venue" of his ("The Wherehouse") for a very large crowd (~200 people), but there was a mixup with one of the other opening bands, and he ended up paying us to not play. On the next weekend, we played this gig in front of just Cat.
Thursday's Fool: this was recorded at my senior recital. This same version is also on Flame Cow.
Seize the Day: Nice groove from Speranza.
Mad About You: You can practically hear the River Dreams re-recording wheels spinning over the last two songs. We're talking about Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance at the end, with Speranza getting the final word that "Buddhist monks actually have to renounce motorcycles." It's a loose gig that we play.
Best of Days: I have no idea why I'm saying, "Go back to France!" but I stand by it. This was recorded at Cafe Mars in Boulder on a solo gig. This is an interesting stage in the evolution of this song, where I've clearly settled on the fret noise offbeat and vocal rhythmic emphasis, but not quite brought it up to the blistering speed I now prefer. I wish I hadn't done the enunciated part; it kind of wrecks what was otherwise a pretty sweet version. Sweet like "sweet jumps."
Leave Me Be: Due to the length of these gigs (typically 3 hrs), we often split it as if I was solo opening for the band. Nice laid-back pocket on this song.
So Will I: Decent, solid version, pretty much as the song settled out to.
Non-Stop Lovely Good Time: I'm going to rip off an analogy from Bill Simmons. This song is our reuben. I look at it on the menu and think, "no, I'm not really in the mood for that." Then I actually order it turns out to be just the tasty sandwich I was hankering for.
Underneath My Skin: Nice little version. Nice build.
Essence of My Time: Sudden increase in intensity before the guitar solo is a little jarring. I think that's what we were discussing mid-song in asides. Works better for the out-chorus. You can really hear the lead part from the studio version that in conjunction with the rhythm part
Puppy: Form my senior recital. This is the definitive live version of this song that I doubt can ever be topped. I'll probably never play in front of that big a group of willing, attentive people again. Since it was my recital, it was accompanied by a program which included the lyrics of all the songs I sang for the songwriter portion of the evening, which is what I'm referring to when I say, "are you all looking at it and ready to do it?" This was the final song of the recital.