Flip Nasty: Winter on Mercury (live, 1993)
Notes on 2000 CD re-release of WINTER ON MERCURY:
In the Fall of 1992, one of the great progressive bands of the 80's & 90's, Roque, disbanded. Like the sudden collapse of a great star, this dissolution left the music-appreciating solar system in disarray. Where would the inhabitants of Planet Progressive turn their green leafy faces for the warm and nourishing rays of the Nerd Rock sun? It would be a cold winter indeed. And as the listeners starved and shriveled, the former members of Roque did not exactly tend to their crop. Nick Walsh, former lead guitarist, abandoned entirely the rich harmonic tapestry of Nerd Rock --a tapestry he had always resisted-- for a series of shameful and deadly Stanford blues bands, bands whose very membership sought to deny their nerdicity in the Delta I-IV-V. Matt "Keyheim" Preheim, having had a head start on the debauchery, slipped deeper and deeper into a corps drumming coma and the hard-drinking bad-joking lifestyle that necessarily accompanied it. Neil "The Glove" MacPherson was fortunate to have only been momentarily pulled out of orbit by the band as a six-month replacement for Preheim, and emerged relatively unscathed, joining up with Scott Farr and Dan Langhoff to found hard-rock impressario trio Shadows. And what of the core members? Bassist John Fried? Guitarist John Speranza? Songsmith/drummer Cody Weathers? Fried took a left turn in Rochester, NY and founded the technopolis' struggling danger-performance-art scene with such (non-nerd) masterpieces as Fire In My Pocket Piss In Yours, The Double Life of My Chubby, and Two by Four Smackdown. Speranza struggled to find himself at the Johns Hopkins University --nerd hotbed, music wasteland. Weathers similarly attempted to begin again with the magic-making but was momentarily mis-led into the disasterous "Jeff and Hans Project Experience." And so it was this coldest of winters that found Speranza and Weathers beginning again on their Christmas breaks. Huddled over hot chocolate back in Denver, they collectively mourned the emptiness of the local nerd scene, momentarily filled by pop-up pop-off bands such as NANOQUE. They saw a disillusioned listenership desperately throwing their excess spending cash to a lesser product and they said "why not our lesser product?" They immediately began a series of low-profile exploratory gigs in the frozen Denver downtown scene, frequenting the Wednesday night open stage at the Mercury Cafe, hosted by local giant John Steideman. This was an important first step towards the formation of Splat Monkey the following summer. A returning to roots is evident on this album, as seen in the inclusion of the Mötley Crüe song Home Sweet Home, which originally inspired Weathers to become a songwriter. Often overlooked for its meandering tone and almost slapped-together feel, this album is a seed planted in frozen ground that yielded a passionate fruit the next year. No true fan should be without it, no matter how bitter the taste.
[editor's note: only after liner author Bill McSquigly submitted these notes and took a $2000 advance on his fee did we discover that this album was actually put together in the following winter as the prelude to the first El Squeako album, Pronounced "Snausages." Nothing else is known about the origins of this album.]
Once Upon A Time: Is it healthy to be jealous? Are you sleeping with my friends? Are you lonely in your palace? Was it I who shut you in? I can't swallow everything, but you have to let me know: am I lonely for a reason? Did you want for me to go? Chorus: Once upon a time, when I looked at you there was something in my eyes. Is it midnight where you're sleeping? Are you creeping out the door? Do you envy other women? Did you act like this before? I can't suck your traitor's lips until I know for sure. Are you lonely in your bosom? Does your heart still know the score? Chorus. Inch by inch, a gulf erodes between us. I stand still and watch the sand erase my will. Is it healthy if I love you? Will you leave me all too soon? Are you lonely in your story? 'Cause at least I'm lonely, too. Chorus.
Daughter Of Our Enemy: That's me on the mountain, looking east into a land that belongs to every man in this nation. But you and your moonlight had to ruin every plan, disobey the one command I would make you. Chorus: Son, I don't trust it if it didn't work before. You're only getting what you'd get from any whore. Now, I demand that you don't see her anymore. Daughter of our enemy. Just begging forgiveness can't undo what you have wrought --you've forgotten why we fought in the first place. Let's put it behind us. You can kiss your toy goodbye --even snicker when she cries if you want to. Chorus. I have no doubt of which is thicker, I just fear water may be quicker. That's me on the mountain, looking north into a sea that I swore belonged to me until you took it. Just begging forgiveness can't undo what I have wrought. I've forgotten why we fought in the first place. Chorus.
Give Them What They Want: She tried to sell those clothes at the fashion show, and she worked so hard, but the money's slow. No, a woman ain't got no help trying to save herself. She saw the magazine, and she felt no shame, so she shed her skins with a phony name. No, a woman ain't got no help trying to save herself. Chorus: I'll give them what they want, but I won't bleed myself dry. I'll give them what they want, but I won't take the blame for up 'til now. I'll give them what they want, and they can take it from me: demand equality and I will give you what you want. She tried to pout and purr in the miniskirt for the video like a cheap dessert. No.... She was exhibit B, and PMRC said that little whore wasn't fit to see. No.... Chorus.
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.
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.
Salt of the Memory: Oh, I have eyes to see you. Light one more torch on the water. You lay rings of mercury between us. I throw the stones, I will follow. Oh, bitter wind to doubt me, just one more word to silence. You lay rings of memory around me. I hear the sea, "follow...." Chorus: All of the salt in the seven seas burns in my blood with a memory. Oh, for the days when my heart was free. Salt of the memory. Oh, you have strength to pull me in. Oh, so my feet touch the water. You sing songs of magic and entrapment. I touch the face of my captor. You lay me down on your table. You touch your mouth to my shoulder. Red the plumes that rise towards the surface. Love in the eyes of your supper. Chorus.
Making Fries: Young and gaunt with rings and holes, cigarettes and black checkers and poems in the streetlight glow of the glassy shrine where the coffee hides. Touches and smiles, flesh that knows me. Hurt little hugs in this foreign homeland. I should be yours, you should be mine, but we don't belong 'til it's closing time. Drive me aside, but don't let me go. Chorus: For I have heard the corporate cries for big young brains to vitalize, but wishes are just pretty lies --the great new minds are making fries. Taut and fit, the urge of it reminds us of the facts. Feeding ourselves from the dregs and cans in the alleyway off the kitchen's back. Kisses and sheets, sweat that knows me. Soft little pleas in this primal safety. I could be yours, you could be mine --we forget the shackles when it's closing time. Drive me.... Chorus. Oh will you believe in me and whisper in my ear that I'm a commodity just shifting into gear? Oh, then I would marry you, my lying little sweet, and we could spend evermore just starving on the streets.
Make Still Your Wings: Tight the stripe that winds the frame --I wonder does it squeeze the shape? Do the fingers find me on their own? Like a swan from out the sun, you glimmer on as moves the dawn. If I catch your feather, will you fall? CH: Feather, fall down to me. Darling, make still your wings. Shelter under my tree. Darling, make still your wings. Hollow you as light as air, as heavy as a rainy tear. Gripped by fog, you struggle with my storm. CH. Spinning like an apple in the sun and rain, when your seeds fall out like diamonds, I shall plant their grain. Flashing and reacting like you have no pain, but your head is in the larder and your bones are in the lane. CH. Fly over my golden-draped abode. feather, fall down to me. Touch me with your shape and face --wrap me in your bones. Darling, sway into me. Sharp the teeth that bite the knave that crushed the fruit that filled the cave. Do the strangers bind without a home?
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.
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.
Dead Man's Blues: I've got the waking man's fever, the dead man's blues, I'm bundled in a blanket with only you to think of, and I know you think it too. I've got the wisdom of children that guides my head, I think about logic, but blush instead to turn you from your titan and his bed. CH:But I will retain your heart when it's over. You and your rattletrap cargo are overdue, you're hunting through the islands for something new to chew on, and you know I taste it too. You say the thunder doesn't scare you when you're alone, you only wanted weakness to draw someone beside you. Now this weakness is your own. CH. Something quite disturbing when you turn yourself upon your past. Still, I am invited, though there is no promise this will last. I've got the waking man's fever, the dead man's blues, I'm tripping on my coffin in these new shoes, do you hear that? Because the titan hears it too.
This was a lost album of sorts, never really released. Some people I went to college with were interested in hearing some of the stuff I did over Winter Break one year, so I threw this together out of Mercury Cafe recordings. Most of this is stuff John & I were familiarizing ourselves with for the following summer's studio album (Pronounced "Snausages"). I would imagine that Fried Next-Songs this whole album. I think he was in Japan this winter, but I'm not positive about that.
Once Upon A Time: Maybe there's a class I can take or something for rockstar chatter. I swear at some point I got better at this.... As Speranza is fond of pointing out in response to "is it midnight where you're sleeping?" "What, is she in a different time zone?"
Daughter of Our Enemy: A very simple version of this song, before I really knew what I wanted to do with the arrangement. Still a vocal I can really sink my teeth into, even with simpler accompaniment. You can hear how my piano playing was progressively more confident.
Give Them What They Want: It's really difficult to be objective about your own songs. I'm constantly trying to figure out which ones are the good ones based on my own feeling, comments from friends, and audience reactions. At the time, I had probably pegged this song as being a little better than it actually is. That's cutesy, my little use of the "I Must Protect You" piano solo. Oh, so witty.
Dangerous: Nice lazy version that keys more into the recorded version, with Speranza obviously emulating that classic solo. I like to use words like "classic" when describing my own historical body of work because it makes me feel like the custodian of a grand legacy instead of a loser who couldn't cut it as a singer-songwriter. This lonely tear is just allergies.
Coyote: A more confident version than the one on Suck Pumpkin.
Salt of the Memory (demo): I recorded this karaoke-style with my parents' piano shortly after writing this song as a demo to myself. As such, it's perfect for sharing with others. Actually, it's not too embarassing. You can really hear the intended polytonality in the chorus piano overdub. This song sat on the back burner until finally getting recorded on Flame Cow.
Home Sweet Home: This is a cover of the Motley Crue song that made me want to become a musician. I still love this song. I pulled a fill off Guide into this version.
Making Fries: Whew! Got through the song chatter! That was a close one!
Make Still Your Wings: This is just me at a club somewhere on Pearl that has since disappeared. About this time, I started to get a little more serviceable on guitar, but you can still hear my limitations quite clearly.
So Will I: Very early, practically demo version of one of the best songs I ever wrote. You can hear me struggle with that harmonic arpeggio that I now could do in my sleep. That's super cool that I let you hear the rawness of me de-tuning for....
Too Much: A few more times around the block, and this song is starting to take shape, although it still suffers under my fingers.
Dead Man's Blues/Shout: Very confident piano work from me --at this point I was as comfortable as I would ever be on the instrument. followed by what was originally a hidden track, the partial cover of the classic Tears for Fears song with Speranza chipping in a chorus vocal.