Monday, August 31, 2009
Clara Road written and performed by Ryan J. Tressel
This town is so small they let fathers name streets after their daughters. Dead end cul de sacs a mile long; I wonder why they bother. But there's no avenue named for me, this night is all I get. The dashboard clock, your hungry hands, my father's silhouette. So drive me down the end of Clara Rd. though that's not my name, but in the dark and on our backs I'm sure we all feel the same. The stories always speak of this as something precious lost but it's just the burn of cheap upholstery, the night as black as your exhaust. There's something about the tangled hair, the blouses streaked with green and the quiet, childlike shudder as you cum against your jeans. You catch your breath with heavy head crushed against my chest. We've lain so long the grass has left criss-crosses burned into our flesh. So drive me home the way we came, I live on Laurel Ave. My father restless, mourning the loss of something girls never really have. And go wash your stained and stickiness, think it neither crime nor victory. Just make your lust into a thing and name it after me.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The Tailor's Doubt written and performed by Ryan J. Tressel
The first time we prick ourselves, we never trust our hands again. Our thumb is like an errant lover who won’t say where he’s been. But we carry on, we pray that all our stitching holds out although even the best seams unravel at the tugging of a doubt. We push needle through cloth, pull thread ‘til it gives and this is the way we live. Things aren’t made to last forever; permanence is just a ruse a lie that is a comfort; two things we often confuse. Time is a villain, for certain. It eats away at us like a moth We don’t feel we can protect these things; so we never take them off. But still the damage is done, the tears and holes still show and this is the life we know. We’re damned by contentment, a word when misspelled is contempt. We were just following a pattern, we sewed like we knew what it meant. But still we are uncertain, we can’t believe it won’t hurt. So we stand at our stations, we hang as limp as sleeves on a shirt. But still doubt takes flight, it’s caught in our hearts like a wren, and we’ll never trust nothing again.
Another track from Sick Building, Call Me Early. It was written and recorded on August 13th, 2009.
All of a sudden my name it sounds so different. Like it’s not your voice your lips or your tongue There is breath that pushes your voice towards me it’s foreign but still fills my lungs. All of a sudden the dawn is upon us. The night bows out in silent curtsy. Say my name a thousand times, just call me early. We are developed like Polaroids that fuzzily grow into view. We shake our frames to make it move faster, shaking like my hands touching you. We are not looking for any contrast, just trying to capture certainty that moves and changes while we’re waiting, so call me early. All of a sudden the planets shifted we sat while we hurtled through space. We dreamed two dreams in x-ray vision as if it were all one time, one place. All of a sudden the light seems so different, it makes our shadows looks tall while we’re on our knees. We’re just saying prayers to one another, so call me early. Our gods are just the distances between us, so call me early, love.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
"I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member."
Marx Brothers written and performed by RJT
I started a joke. The end I couldn’t remember. I said August doesn’t seem to know when to quit. You told me it was September. You said don’t be embarrassed. Who can remember the rhyme about the rest having 31? And besides it’s the time of year when you can’t tell the hour by the position of the sun. I called my boy the other day. Nobody was home. They start them back at school so early these days. I couldn’t put down the phone. His mom is doing a hell of a job. Our boy is so polite. I only get to listen to the voicemails he leaves in the middle of the night. I could kiss you forever and hold you so tightly like a frame holds a door. I would promise you everything. And I would mean it. But I’ve said that shit before. So I’ll wave goodbye. I’ll tip you my hat. You can watch me walk down your street like I was the man you think I am. Damn, that would be sweet.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Apologies for being absent for the past two weeks. I've been working on finishing up this summer's collection of song (often called an album) I've put two songs from the new collection, "Sick Building", as well as the lyrics on my music site, Tresselsound. I've added two of the thirteen tracks, so check it out every few days for new tracks. Thanks. To reward your patience, here is a picture of Gary Busey from "The Buddy Holly Story." Enjoy!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I spent two summers during my teenage years at a summer study program at Bridgewater State College called PCC; I subsequently have spent seven summers and counting there as an adult, working first as a residential counselor and for the past several years as a master teacher. It's a difficult experience to put into words; needless to say, putting five hundred teenage boys and girls in a dormitory for six weeks, limiting their sleep, and ginning up their hormones is a recipe for a disaster, and kids usually leave the program in some kind of stupefied funk: nothing will ever be as good as those six weeks were, ever, never ever. The program closes tomorrow, and while as a thirty year old, I am slightly bemused by the melodrama my students are going through (and writing about!) I am also sympathetic. I remember leaving PCC as a student. I was thoroughly depressed. Luckily I had U2's Zooropa album to comfort me.
"Zooropa"- Released in August of 1993, Zooropa was intended to be an EP recorded during U2's ZooTV tour in support of their monstrously successful Achtung Baby record. As with everything U2 does, excessiveness took control, and the EP exploded into a full fledged studio album. It opens with the title track which certainly bears the influence of their producer Brian Eno with its almost robotic bass line, strange voices, and every instrument compressed until they sound like they come from outerspace. Seriously, Eno is so good at compressing stuff, he hires his production skills out at vineyards to work the grape presses. I have no idea what this song is about, or what a zooropa is, but if you listen to this song you will feel like you live in a dark abandoned tunnel. Which as a 14-year old boy, I certainly did, emotionally at least.
"Babyface"- I'm not sure if this is about Kenneth Edmonds or not. It does have a cool toy piano part in it, though, so if you are the father of a small child, you can play this and pretend it is a children's song, but only if your child is a German nihilist. Brian Eno helps the Edge make his guitar sound like rayguns. So it's like a battle between Raffi and Space Invaders.
"Numb"-Now The Edge's guitar sounds like something you would use to open a can of beets. This song is probably one of the few I can think of where the song was enhanced by the video. The Edge's vocals sound eerily disinterested, which makes them great. But it's something Bono couldn't pull off. He'd get two lines in, start thinking about children in Istanbul and the emoting would start. That's probably why U2 has been so successful, because it is a band comprised of a singer who looks like he cares way too much all the time, surrounded by one guy who looks like he doesn't care because he's trying too hard to look unbreakably cool (Larry) another who looks like he doesn't care because he's too busy trying to make his guitar sound like someone raping a sealion (the Edge) and another guy who looks like he doesn't care because, well, maybe he doesn't (Adam).
"Lemon"-This is the first song that sounds like it might have been fun, although Eno came by and compressed all the fun right out of it. Bono sings the whole number in his crazy falsetto. Edge and Eno sing background vocals about light being projected and capturing color, and all sorts of other weird things that sound like they were left over from Talking Head's Remain in Light album. While this album doesn't have the afro-poly rhythms of that TH record, one thing it does share is the sense that you're getting dirty listening to it. Not because it is overly sexualized, but in the same way that you get dirty when you bury yourself up to your neck in your parents' garden. Because that's what listening to this album feels like. The backing vocals end the song by repeating that midnight is where the day begins, which is true, although I don't know if I want my days starting out with infomercials about "Girls Gone Wild" which they start playing at midnight every night.
"Stay, Faraway So Close!"- This is the classic ballad from the record, and while it's also the least "processed" song on the record, it's kind of dirty by being surrounded by all the other songs on the record. It's also the only song that has that trademark U2-lift in the chorus, which might have briefly lifted me from the darkness of my father's basement where I spent most of the month of August '93. But the song is still pretty dark. Case in point: it's a love song named after a Wim Wenders movie. That's like basing the interior decorating of your kitchen on a Francis Bacon painting.
"Daddy's Going to Pay For Your Crashed Car"-The drums have been processed so that they sound like somebody's playing your vinyl siding with PVC pipes. This is the beginning of U2's interest in electronic music, and I'd guess this album did better in Europe than it did here. When I worked at a used record store, we had so many copies of Zooropa that we stacked them up and made a patio out of them. That's not to say that it's a bad album. Far from it. But used record stores (those that still exist) are loading to maximum capacity with copies of the difficult album a band released after its multi-platinum smash hit. If Newbury Comics had a nickel for every copy of Guns N' Roses "The Spaghetti Incident?" they had, well then that probably means they'd have sold out of Guns N' Roses "The Spaghetti Incident?" because I think they sell them for a nickel. So they'd have a shitload of nickels, is the point.
"Some Days Are Better Than Others"- I can decide if Bono was being oblivious with the title of this song, or beautifully zen. It's kind like a koan, right? Or one of those things wealthy rock stars sing about when they try and think about the common man. Because it is my firm belief that every day being Bono is an equally awesome day.
"The First Time"- This album actually came with a warning label. "Caution: Before allowing any emotionally wound up teenagers listen to 'The First Time', please make sure to remove all sharp and blunt objects from their bedrooms." You know how their 1988 song "All I Want Is You" starts out slowly, with a faraway and dark sounding guitar, with all the other instruments kind of growling and bubbling under the surface until the song opens up triumphantly? Picture that song minus the triumphant opening. This song is dark. Like so dark that no light can escape it. I mean, lyrically, it's relatively positive "for the first time I feel love" but dear god, making a 14-year old boy who just had his heart crushed for the first time at summer camp listen to it is torture, even according to John Yoo.
"Dirty Day"- Darrell pointed out to me years ago that the brilliance of U2 is that they play to their strengths, that they developed musically before any of them really knew what they were doing, so that when the Edge started using his guitar as more of a sonic paintbrush, the job of holding down a lot of the melodic and harmonic work fell to the bass player (think "With or Without You".) So listen to any bass line from any U2 song and you'll be able to tell what song it is. This song has a pretty great bass line, is what I'm saying. The end of the song picks up in intensity, and the guitar part is reminiscent of some of the more rocking tunes from Achtung Baby, so that's cool. As far as the rest of the song? Well, I still wouldn't be leaving that depressed kid alone if I were you.
"The Wanderer"- Signs that you have made a difficult follow-up record to a smash hit: 1)Severely obtuse production. 2)Severely obtuse cover art, usually not featuring any band members photos. 3) Severely obtuse song titles that sound like you've been watching too many German or Swedish films, or that you've been spending too much time with spoiled dilettantes and 4) Severely obtuse guest vocals. U2 do their part by having Johnny Cash sing lead vocals over the final track. It is probably the only instance of the Man in Black singing over what sounds like 1980s Europop. I don't know why I even bothered saying probably. This was well before Johnny Cash had gained his "hipster cred" and was known mostly at the time as the "Ugly One" in the Highwaymen, (and that was saying something.) But honestly, if you'd just sold 10 gajillion records, what would you do? Record a similar sounding follow-up? Or record a series of duets with KITT the car from Knight Rider? I don't think I need to tell you where I stand. This is a pretty good song, and I wonder if there is a version of this song recorded in a more traditional guitars/bass/drum fashion somewhere in a vault. The same vault where my heart has been locked away for all time. Whoops, that was 14-year Ryan talking.