6Noons

by vonHummer

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about

I called this collection of songs—an "album" to my 70s way of thinking—"6Noons," because it was "six new ones." This was more of my growing tradition of naming my albums quantitively instead of qualitatively, perhaps so as not to jinx myself artistically.

The 12 songs from the previous Summer's album, "Leftoverwhelming," would be gone soon, devoured by the 2 or 3 song appetite of my bi-weekly cable access series, "The vonHummer Hour," and I knew it was high time to do some more recording. It was Fall of 2002, and I was also aware that I'd need a new Christmas song for the Christmas episode.

I hadn't recorded much of anything since Spring, and being extremely short on funds, my musical equipment inventory was severely depleted. I didn't have a drum machine of any kind, and the drum guitar I'd invented and used on everything with percussion so far was pretty much shot. I decided to find a drummer.

Always love having a drummer, but I can't usually support one. At the time, I was living in a 2-room fourplex, and by no means would there be toleration for a live drummer by the neighbors. My bass was trouble enough.

I don't remember how I came into contact with Eric Olsen. Did I place an ad? Did he? Was he a fan who wrote in? I just don't recall. He was living in Troutdale at the time, not far from the TV studio, MCTV, where I produced the cable series. He didn't have a car, nor a job. He did have a girlfriend. And a drum set. Not a good one. He lived in an extremely ramshackle apartment with lots of little caged animals. What were they? Lizards? Rats? Ferrets? Or maybe it was just a huge annoying dog?
He was young. 20 maybe. Just out on his own, and not doing very well at it, to my estimation. Seemed happy enough, though. This was during the big post-911 depression, though, so nobody was doing all that well, economically speaking.
I surely wasn't either.

He was a great drummer, though. Certainly in the top 3 I've ever been acquainted with. And you can hear it all over "6 Noons." Expressive. Good timing. Subtle. A true master. And what you hear on this album is the only time we ever played together. No rehearsals. Nothing. Just, played it a couple times and recorded it.

Where to record was the big dilemma. My place was no good. His was worse. No money for a studio. Then it hit me: record it at the TV station. Not in the studio, I couldn't get a big enough block of time. Instead, I booked the conference room. That also gave me plenty of access to microphones and stands, which allowed me to mic his drums pretty well. I used my good old Tascam 4 Track Cassette recorder, and it may be that I spread the drums and bass in stereo on 2 tracks, leaving 2 open for vocals.

We got together on a weeknight in early November of 2002. Drove him and his drums to the studio. Set up. Recorded six songs, his drums and my bass only, and packed up. I remember things going really smoothly.

I kept my playing very simple. I didn't try anything fancy, probably because I was afraid of making flubs that might slow us down, limiting how many songs we could get done. I figured I'd add the vocals later. At that time, I usually doubled my vocals to make up for not having very good vocal mics.

As I listened back the next day, I didn't much like what I'd played. Too simple. Wouldn't stand on its own. For fun, I played a high guitar along with the tracks. Wow! The sound was superb. I committed then to adding guitar tracks to the six new ones.

To my surprise, I came up with the most beautiful, kick-ass riffs ever. The descending riff for "Gone for the Day?" Invented itself. "Impatience?" Impossible. I'd never played that good before. After a day or so of putting down guitar tracks, I couldn't believe it. It was like a recording by someone else. When had I learned to play that well?

Another day of adding vocals and it was done. And in plenty of time to use "Xmas'd Up Again" in the Christmas Episode, "I Saw Daddy Cursing Santa Claus." While taping that episode, I even brought Eric in to lip synch drums in the video of the song. He wore some eyeball specs and was a very good sport about it.

I was hoping to start playing live shows with him, and do some more recording but then...He kind of faded away. Flaked off, perhaps. It was weird. He was this straight born again Christian vegetarian when I met him. Then, within a couple months' time, he was a pothead with shady friends, a disconnected phone, and just...gone.

But what a gift he left behind in "6Noons!" Every one of these songs (except "Xmas'd Up Again") was in the top 20 most-downloaded songs from vonHummer.com, with "Blame it on the Aliens," "Gone for the Day," "Impatience," and "Trip, Stagger & Stumble" in the top 10! (I love my ersatz-Billboard rating system, by the way, don't you? Hey, it's better than nothing.)

Thematically, it's another album of character sketches: character living lives of illusion, and/or not living up to what they'd hoped. "Blame it on the Aliens" is the portrait of an active—and successful—infidelity con. "Crawl Like an Eagle" seems to be the preaching of corrupt dogma, that is, indoctrination. "Gone for the Day," sung by someone who's faithfully serving a corrupt acquaintance. "Impatience" is the confession of a toxic lover who knows better but can't do better. "Trip Stagger & Stumble" is infatuation in the face of self-hate. "Xmas'd Up Again" is a self-destructive, self-medicated tear through the Holidays, and the Holiday terminologies.

Not a very confessional album, as singer-songwritering goes. I don't think that really kicks in for me until "Indiscreet Where You Live," a good 3 years beyond this point. But there's almost certainly projection, and that ought to be enough to win this work the laurels of Authenticity, which is the only merit available in rock criticism, it seems.

Note about the cover: that's a scan of the actual CD I downloaded and labeled by hand with a Sharpie. The eyeball specs were added later, in place of the Maxell logo, of course. In this age of mp3's, it seems quaint to remember having to label a CD, eh? Anyhow, I thought that, given the offhand creation and recording, that my offhand labeling would make a good cover.

credits

released December 2, 2002

Vocals, bass drone, high drone guitar: vonHummer
Drums: Eric Olsen
Produced by vonHummer for Therisno Records.

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vonHummer Portland, Oregon

vonHummer is a Portland music/cable access legend whose career spanned from Fall of 2001 to Fall of 2011, during which he recorded a hundred or so songs for use in his absurdist show (and feature film) and played only a handful of concerts. Currently retired, his work shines on for the ages. Or will he someday return...? ... more

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Track Name: Blame It on the Aliens
"Blame it on the Aliens"
[vonHummer]

Sit down, baby, I got something to say, You’ve been wondering why lately, well, it seems like I’m slippin’ away? Why sometimes I stay out all night, why I don’t wanna talk or make love? Well, the fault lies not in me, but in the stars above, Let explain, you see,

I been wonderin’ why myself, You know it’s not like me, I love you more than any words can say, and I desire you like crazy, Still I come home Saturday, Sunday mornings with no idea where I’ve been, like somebody locked me out of my own brain and wouldn’t let me back in,

I finally went downtown to this doctor, He put me in a hypnotic state, Here’s his number if you wanna call him, He’s got it all on tape, You said you’d take me for better or worse, I hope you meant that vow, You won’t believe me, but, baby, please try: I really need you now,

Blame it on the aliens, They keep taking me away from you, Blame it on the aliens, There’s nothing I can say or do, Oh, Blame it on the aliens, I’m just a pawn in their cosmic game, Blame it on the aliens and help me throught the anger and shame…

I don’t blame you, baby, I wouldn’t buy it myself, I got some more explaining to do, I only hope it will help, Yes, it was lipstick, you did smell perfume, as I came home exhausted and sweaty: the Grays, they forced me into hot sex with women they abducted already,
I tried to fight ‘em, I wanted to scream, I tried to remain true, In the end, I shut my eyes tight and thought only of you,

Blame it on the aliens, They keep taking me away from you, Blame it on the aliens, there’s nothing anyone can do, Oh, Blame it on the aliens, I’m like their laboratory ape, Blame it on the aliens, I’m an interstellar victim of rape,

Of course it was beer you smelled on my breath! They make me do beer bongs before I can leave, They wanna ruin my credibility, like I’m a drunk no one would believe…

I need you, baby, You’ve got beautiful eyes, It’s okay, No, please, I forgive you, You don’t have to apologize, Just next time I’m gone for the weekend, try and understand, Stay at home and wait faithfully, then hold me as tight as you can,

Blame it on the aliens, They keep taking me away from you, Blame it on the aliens, I only wish it wasn’t true, Oh, Blame it on the aliens, Once for them is never enough, Blame it on the aliens, They must think I got the right stuff,

Hey, they choose who they choose, and now I got the “Gray Blues,”
Hey, they abduct who they wanna abduct, and it means I may get wildly…examined,

Blame it on the aliens, You’ll get used to it, just give it time,
I love you, too, baby…
Track Name: Crawl Like an Eagle
"Crawl Like an Eagle"
[vonHummer]

Feels unnatural when you try it at first, but get your beak on the ground and spread your wings in the dirt, dig those talons in and give it your all, keep one eye to the sky and let the feathers just fall,

And you can crawl like an eagle, yes you can crawl like an eagle, you gotta crawl like an eagle: low and slow and lowly but regal, we’re here to help you learn to crawl like an eagle…

Feels unnatural, ah, but things could be worse, so take your place on the planet, our kind has been cursed, God says grounded is the way we should be, but when you die you can fly if you’ll just listen to me,

And you can crawl like an eagle, yes you can crawl like an eagle, you gotta crawl like an eagle: low and slow and lowly but regal, we’re here to help you learn to crawl like an eagle…

Crawl like an eagle! Hit the heath, you! Crawl like an eagle, keep the earth underneath you! Mute your cries, don’t trust your eyes, listen for snakes and take ‘em by surprise!

...Low and slow and lowly but regal, we’re here to help you learn to crawl like an eagle…

Once-mighty eagles from the heavens we fell, overloaded by sin, to hump along in this hell, time to teach you now about enemies like Distance and Height, Seashore and Breeze,

And you can crawl like an eagle, yes you can crawl like an eagle, you gotta crawl like an eagle: low and slow and lowly but regal, we’re here to help you learn to crawl like an eagle…
Track Name: Gone for the Day
"Gone for the Day"
[vonHummer]

I stopped by your cube to say howdy-do, and ask you if you wanted to play,... but you were gone for the day,

I dropped by your home to borrow a gnome to play with the angel on my front lawn,... but for the day you were gone,

You were gone, you were gone, I'm a patient man, but come on, the world's in disarray, and you're gone for the day…?

You know the grand jury's in some kind of hurry to hear testimony about your display....but you were gone for the day

Reporters of note have called you for quotes, and checking on facts they know to be wrong...but for the day you were gone

You were gone, you were gone, I'm a patient man, but come on, the world's in disarray, and you're gone for the day…?

I dropped by your crib for chicken and ribs, and maybe talk trash with LeRoy and Ray...but you were gone for the day

I parked in the space just outside your place in case you came back to crack up at dawn...but for the day you were gone

You were gone, you were gone, I'm a patient man, but come on, the world's in disarray, and you're gone for the day…?
Track Name: Impatience
"Impatience"
[vonHummer]

I could hang around this town another week or two cos I know so totally you were meant for me and I was meant for you

and it’s just a matter of time til we can go on our final first date,

but impatience won’t let me wait, impatience won’t let me wait, impatience won’t let me wait, better never than late…

I could lay the foundations fascination builds skyscrapers onto,
well before I do, I’ll have to call in a wrecking crew
To raze the eyes and cross the tease, left by the last erection spate,

but impatience won’t let me wait, impatience won’t let me wait, impatience won’t let me wait, better never than late…

You can see that I’m eager to go, that I’m ready to step and fetch, those three words jump out of my throat (where we both know there’s a catch…)

Momma said you can’t hurry love, that’s the thing about love I hate,

but impatience won’t let me wait, impatience won’t let me wait, impatience won’t let me wait, better never than late…
Track Name: Trip Stagger & Stumble
"Trip Stagger & Stumble"
[vonHummer]

Everywhere I go these days I trip, stagger and stumble, in defiance of gravity’s laws, like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, I trip, stagger and stumble, and I don’t care when the graceful people stop and stare,

I trip, stagger and stumble, I don’t care, I trip, stagger and stumble, I don’t care, I trip, stagger and stumble, yes I do, yes I do, I trip, stagger and stumble since I met you…

Every day when I’m walking to work, I trip, stagger and stumble, like a man with marbles under his feet, like a ghost in a contour sheet, I trip, stagger and stumble, and I feel proud when the serious people laugh out loud

I trip, stagger and stumble, I feel proud, I trip, stagger and stumble, I feel proud, I trip, stagger and stumble, yes I do, yes I do, I trip, stagger and stumble since I met you…
Track Name: Xmas'd Up Again
"Xmas'd Up Again"
(vonHummer)

Dashing through the snow with my nose aglow, Three ships to the wind: Xmas’d up again…

So much for silent night, we decked the halls all right, we three kings offend: Xmas’d up again…

Making a list and I’m checking it twice cos I’m feeling so merry that I can’t see straight tonight…

Come all ye faithful you, Santa Claus is coming to, A peace on Earth given: Xmas’d up again…

(interlude)

Making a list and but I’m still standing, friend, I’ll be under house arrest for Xmas, Xmas’d up again…

Feliz my navidad, Hark, the Herald’s mad, Joy to the world in spin: Xmas’d up again…

Xmas’d up again...