Flip Nasty: Señor Squeaky (live, 1994)
Notes on 2000 CD re-release of SEÑOR SQUEAKY:
Often overlooked by even connoisseurs of the band, Señor Squeaky is privately regarded by insiders as the "true" live companion to Pronounced "Snausages," replacing the official companion, The Bootleg That No One Else Would Make. Checkmate Records had given überprodusser Cat Mayhugh carte blanche in the recording of Bootleg and the results, though critically hailed in Mayhugh’s native Scotland, were largely rejected by traditional El Squeako fans --particularly dog and baby demographics. Furthermore, the band viewed Mayhugh’s renegade methods for obtaining material and his almost-adversarial selection process as “frankly unacceptable.” Says frontman Cody Weathers of his long-standing bitter disputes with Mayhugh's legendary low-fi production philosophy: "That guy is like herpes, he just never goes away, and we keep having to apologize for him. I know because I have herpes and it's exactly the same." Trying to diffuse the tense situation, Checkmate Records agreed to let Weathers produce an alternate live album for staggered release. Weathers dove into the task, and his songwriter’s perspective is evident in the resulting album of rarities and odd relationships. Take, for example, the three-part “song cycle” of Coyote, Leave Me Be, and Footsteps.
But the rest of the band --more sympathetic to Mayhugh’s philosophical bent-- was indifferent towards the results. “I don’t know why we release live albums at all,” said bassist John Fried, “they’re never any good. I suppose we’re under obligation with that stupid contract Cody signed, but honestly --I just put my stamp on the form and forget about it. Quit making such a fuss over them, stupidbreath.”
But underneath all the herpes and stupidbreath, this remains a band that cares about its music, and this album is all the proof I’ll ever need.
Courage: I ask the Sphinx a question, unlike the proud before me. Can I subsist on nothing? Will my beloved ignore me? Chorus: You know the right thing for you. Move that stone and move along. I come to face a traitor. I come, no gun beside me, to stop and still the clockworks, and with no mask to hide me. Chorus. At my feet, wash away what was fear yesterday. Blood for blood, love for love, courage brings my little dove. I give my heart an answer: be brave, the truth is simple. Chorus.
Loneliness: Kindness is your virtue, you're attracted to unkind. Everybody falls in love with someone who's not right. Kisses! How they use you, and the phone gives not a peep. There is no explanation for the promise he can't keep. Chorus: Loneliness today, loneliness tomorrow. Your kindness will betray you and your heart will bring you sorrow. Hope, I think, has blinded you --don't fall for him again. "I love you" means not much to him --his affection is pretend. Malice is your afterthought --you think it is your fault. But take a grain of wisdom, not another grain of salt. CH. One day you will find your love and put sorrow in a joar. When, I cannot tell you, but I hope it's not too far. Perhaps this chain of heartache holds a weak link in the distance, and for your sake I'm hoping it gives you half a chance.
Twenty Miles: Get yourself on out, go on and brand your feet with the butter and the pollen and the unfamiliar sweet. Lonely though you are out in the stillness and the snow, don't go reaching for reverse just to get the thing to go. Chorus: Though you may feel twenty miles past no return, when you look ahead, I'll be bound the other way. Get yourself on out, go on and bust some teeth with the bat you save for salesmen who've been lying underneath. Though I think she's posted more than your 3000 miles, if you meet my own embarassment, won't you bust her pretty smile? ChorusII: And though I do feel twenty miles past no return, when I look ahead, it's for you the other way. And when you do find yourself your better man, remember to shed some luck my way. Chorus.
A Million Valentines: Oh, I could be stupid, but she could be dumber still. Leave cookies for Cupid and maybe the bastard will go pick up some roses for someone who doesn't feel I'm the lesser of a million valentines. Unpack my charm from the mothballs, please. Leave the windows up for the birds and bees. If they don't come, I still could use that breeze. They say that people die from lonely heart disease. I need inspiration. I need an original line. I've got to be patient, but I'm running out of time. I want to enchant her, dispelling that dreadful sigh, "you're the lesser of a million valentines." I rode my heart to the county line with the sheriff's mob just a mile behind. I put too much stock in this face of mine. Now, in deadwood, I'm an outlaw valentine. So roll out the whiskey --I'll be on the windowsill. I'll bet she won't miss me, but maybe her sister will. So if I look misty, it's only 'cause now I feel I'm the lesser of a million valentines.
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.
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.
Footsteps: The willow says it's no big deal the dryads sew their eyes to me. These little seeds we whisper will grow into my grey farewell. The doe that starved and carved my heart has flown from here, she played no part in staring through that fence at me --alone, forgetting wood could see. Chorus: I know I'm wrong, but my heart swells with the waxing moon. It does not know these footsteps lead to death. In your corral, what do you eat? The grass there must be very sweet to keep you from the clover here. Is it taste or simply fear? You, I never know --strange from me by the memory of the one who stole the snow. Chorus. You did not know how wild I could turn that tear to cloud your eye, but somewhere in the northern sky erupt the howls of blood like mine. Howl to spook everyone around you and that everyone means most of all spook me and my origins, my desperate daily foraging alone. How to speak, answering a question that I'd never known could pose itself to me as the only one you'd ever known could never be your own. Chorus. Mare, you'll run, I know. Driven on by the whistling yawn of coyotes in a row. First, before you go, stare surprised at my winter eyes and the love you should've known. On through the trees to the ice on the sea, where the driftwood is blind and alone.
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.
My Sweet: Good night, my sweet, wherever you are. Those eyes and feet dance strange and afar. These hands should've touched a thousand more times. Oh where will we meet, dear sweetheart of mine.
Spider Man: Well, it's true that I crowded you, but are you really all as touchy as that? So when a suitor sits on your tuffet, you take your curds and you run like that? You keep saying that I'm not just right, but is this Goldilocks I'm talking to? So you just hop from bed to bed without a thought for the bears? I'll bet you make them buy you porridge, too. Chorus: She looks good in violet, hair all like the rain, but I don't think I could pay her to spit on me right now. Chalk one more muffet to the Spider Man. Through the curtain named the telephone, I said the shadows of what I meant to say, but with the curtain drawn and all the shadows gone, I saw the light drive your eyes away. Chorus. So take this olive branch and forgive my temper, if you can. Once again, I threw away everything. Chorus.
Luck With You: Darling, I could hold you very close to me. For a test, you can hold that flame right to my hands. And I can't see the future, or how it sits with me, but for a second chance, I'd talk sense to a stone. You have so much, and I've got nothing to lose. I will tell you all my jokes 'til the fire burns cold. In the middle of the blues, you're all that's on my mind. Can you handle lonely? Can you handle your good fortune? Chorus: I don't know what to do. I think I cursed myself. I need some luck with you. Darling, I've got patience, I've got extra time. I've got a wall made of my own stones that I'm figuring how to climb. Well, ten of my best digits are at your command. If I gave my hands, would you take my hands, darling, take my hands, take my hands, take my hands. So far, so good, or so I'm led to believe. I will hand to you my life in a tin can. In the middle of it all, I must be on your mind. Can you handle lonely? Can you handle your good fortune? Chorus.
Redhead Tonight: Young girls don't know where their heart is. Young boys don't really seem to mind. Twenty-one and you're going to the cemetary. Not me, I want a redhead tonight. I won't really mind if you kiss me. I won't get mad if you try, but if you want me to stay then just don't go away and I'll be here by your side, 'cause me --I want a redhead tonight. Tell me something, Juliet, do you even give a damn or does it even matter that you don't know who I am? Young girls don't know where their heart is. Young boys don't really seem to mind. Twenty-one and you're surely headed for the graveyard. not me, I want a redhead tonight. Chorus: She's red like a flame, and I know she's insane. She doesn't need to have a name to hop aboard my train, and I know I'll forget her, but if I play my cards right, I'll have a redhead tonight. Older girls think they know where their heart is. Older boys don't really seem to mind. Twenty-one and I won't be dead and buried. Even then, I'll want a redhead tonight. I won't really mind if you love me --I won't get mad if you try. Like a fly on the wall, I hear it all --in me you can rely. 'Cause me, I want a redhead tonight. Tell me something, shades-of-grey, is it ever black and white or will that crimson top forever be my guiding light? Is she red all over? What a wonderful sight. Me, I think I'd settle for a redhead tonight. Chorus.
Dollface: Dollface likes me all tied up, she likes to make me sweat. She plays her game of chess, and I can't beat her yet. Dollface knows that she's in charge, she knows I cannot swim. Puts me on her diving board, makes me jump right in. Dollface has a little house which has a blackened wall, which has a little window so I might look right through. Dollface hides herself inside, but I can't tell you why. She takes her boyfriend in --can't look him in the eye. And when I ask her why, Dollface likes to tell a lie. Dollface likes me all tied up, I never see her crying. She says, "Take a moment to eat those words, swallow your pride, and choke to death." Dollface likes me all tied up, but I can hear her screaming. CH: Dollface, Dollface, set me free. Take off your mask and look at me. Dollface has a little heart that hides inside her breast. Dollface has a china mask that covers all the rest. Deep inside her little heart, there lies a dormant seed. Dollface starves herself to death --she can't take what she needs. Dollface has a little dream inside her hidden mind. She ties it up like me, and it gets left behind. But she runs 'round in circles, and so it comes again. Dreaming makes her vulnerable like paper in the wind. Dollface has a little world, it's almost just like ours. She takes her boyfriend in, and her mask hides her scars. She says, "Take a moment to eat those words, swallow your pride, and choke to death." Dollface needs my helping hand, but I am all tied up.
Amanda: Amanda wants me to call a friend of hers, someone I don't know too well. But I don't think so, 'cause it's Amanda I want, even though she's still inside her shell. Amanda tells me I should give it up. She tells me her hands are tied. Me, I'm doubtful it's so black and white. I think that she might change her mind. Chorus: And I'm so tired of trying to love without my heart. And I could sure use something good that hits my mark. I grow impatient, but I wait another day. Amanda, I need you to take my breath away. Amanda says I've got to show what I feel. She's always right, you know --at least she tells me so. And when the telephone rings, I always hope it's her. She always lets me know just when she says hello. When I'm feeling down, she always cheers me up --I can always lend an ear. And when her heart is broken, she can always find me here. My shoulder always dries her tears. Chorus. Tell me I am not too late to say hello. Amanda, how I need you so.
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?
Dangerous: Oh, I can take you, you're not as tough as you think. I can see that you're insane, but I'd die without your rain. Oh, be that thistle, and I will put out my foot. In my slumber I have seen that a crown can't make you queen. CH: Starlight steals my vision, and it likes me cold. And people stop to stare at the tracks I made. Oh, I could have the wisdom of a thousand years, but I'm in love with a dangerous gal, her name is you. Oh, I can reach you, you're not as far as you think. Though you stripe me with your stick, I know anger is your trick. CH. Bridge: Take ugly me and make me the picture in your heart. Oh, be my bubble, and I will keep you intact. Though you kick and bite and scream, you're more fragile than you seem. Oh, be my aching, and I will fill you with sound.
Too Much: CH: I would love to love you, I would kill to steal you, I would steal to touch you, I want too much. I must control my rage again, but still it coaxes, "give in." I feel so hard, so cold. I wish I had your hand to hold. Now, as I wander through my mind, I cannot face what I might find. I feel you slipping far away. Will this dog ever have his day? CH The swingset clatters in the wind. The starlight shines on me so thin. The midnight field, my toes are bare. I smell you in the misty air. I will not blame you for tonight. You could not see him in that light. And what you shared you lost to him. I will not damn you for this sin. CH. I must disguise myself again, so you can't see how hard it's been. I feel so empty and misplaced --my search for substance yielding space. I see your eyes in yellow skies, the sunset thinks you are unwise. Then all at once, you slip away. My lunge to grab you is too late.
Unlike ....Bootleg...., these are mostly pulled from our own gigs, where we were largely able to record directly off the board.
Courage: Well, some of them were still boom boxed. This is from Coffee Grounds with myself and Speranza, on a night where we plyed another open stage immediately before this one. It is good to hear, in these live discs, that we at least were getting better bit by bit. The opening conversation is Annie and her friends Danielle and Gin (with whom I was briefly infatuated). Obvious conclusion: coming to my shows is an invitation to a stalking.
Loneliness: This is from one of my gigs at Papaccino's. I'd just finished playing "Nobody Does It Better," from the James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me," and apparently had something to say about Duran Duran's take on Bond, "A View To A Kill." I like this one. It swings, man.
Twenty Miles: Also from Papaccino's. This later got recorded on Archaeology, but would've been fairly new at the time of this performance.
Million Valentines: Also eventually on Archaeology.
Coyote: From the same gig as Courage, with Danielle and Annie discussing something about Danielle's boyfriend beforehand. A glimpse into the real world, now that's some art right there. "He got me a present!" What an elatedly ironic backdrop for this song of woe. That's OK, nobody listens to the words. DIXIE ROREM: Well, mister, maybe if ya didn't speak in code, we'd understand you.
Leave Me Be: See, what we have here is the "Coyote song cycle" all in a row. Coyote, Leave Me Be, and finally Footsteps, continuing the myth and metaphor of the coyote and his trees. The grandeur is practically blinding me. I can't remember where this was recorded, but it's obviously on my gear with Speranza playing lead, so it was probably a full night at Coffee Grounds.
Footsteps: Solo at Papaccino's. Very nice haunting delay, and some of the first use of my tongue-rolling scat technique. So I can't really elaborate fully on the interweb what the songs cycle refers to specifically because I don't want to hurt any feelings, but here's a vague explanation. The coyote is me, obviously --picturing myself alone and cold in a cruel environment. The willow is someone I was interested in who misled me into trusting her more than I should've. The snow is someone who broke my heart. The doe is someone who ran from me, as is the mare. And the other coyote is someone who I couldn't have. Trees, in general, are others I shouldn't trust.
Bloom: Now for this short period of time, when my shows were well-attended by good friends, I was more myself and far more entertaining to watch (I was even capable of speaking between songs to some degree). This was from Papaccino's (on my old gear, so still recorded with a boom box) and features the considerable talent of Robert McIntosh on spontaneous found percussion and a host of others clapping the cha-cha.
My Sweet: A eulogy.
Spider Man: I'm pretty sure this is from the Java Creek gig pictured on the album cover with all three of us, and me finally playing djembe.
Luck With You: recorded at Papaccino's. A lot of the ideas I had for this re-working came from my college unplugged album, where I tried new solo acoustic versions of several songs.
Redhead Tonight: Featuring singer/songwriter Dave Potts on harmonica. More in the vein of the Leaky Joe version. Speaking in the middle of songs generally now considered a no-no. Not so then, it seems. Take all the time you need, guys. It's the downfall of my early live albums that I often overlooked fundamental weaknesses in the pursuit of novelty. Ideally, I would pick strong, novel versions of strong songs. That was far more the case on Clapping Sold Separately.
Dollface: With Fried & Speranza at Higher Grounds. At this point, we were very comfortable with this version of the ensemble --djembe, bass, and guitar. Very similar to the Songs You Hate version of the song.
Amanda: Recorded at La Dolce Vita with Speranza playing bass while Fried took a break. Of the 50-100 shows we played a year, there might have been 1-2 that were really special. This was one like that. We had a small but thoroughly involved crowd. It very nearly freaked us out, but fortunately we were able to cope and just play especially well.
Puppy: Recorded at Papaccino's on the same night as Bloom. As with Amanda, there's something about having an audience paying attention (or in this case, participating) that brings out a better performer in me. I can't believe we got an interpretive dancer out of that. Those were fun shows.
Dangerous: Also from Higher Grounds. Nice ideas from Speranza. Live, Speranza and I were very like-minded, always looking for ways to uniquely alter the song from its original, playing the songs differently every night. He was very good at thinking on his feet.
Too Much: Very representative of how this song evolved from its original inception. The difference in our chops between How About A Beating and now is really stark. This was also recorded at La Dolce Vita on that great night. Fried had just rejoined, and was feeling rusty, so we prepared one set with him and one without. He didn't feel like he had this song under his fingers, so we played it without him. I like how Speranza seizes on my triplet fill leading into the final verse to seamlessly and suddenly switch the feel of the arpeggio. That's the kind of instant reaction he was tremendously good at. Subtle, but giving the song a spark.