Abbey Damned

by vonHummer

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about

Unconsciously, I must have known I was on the last rounds of "The vonHummer Hour." Naming the last album of material done for the series while in production "Abbey Damned" must have been related to "Abbey Road," the Beatles last album, deep down. But up top in my brain, I wasn't aware of the wheels coming off.

True enough, the bi-weekly deadline for the cable access show was getting really tough to meet. In the Summer of 2003, I looked around to realize I was short on new music videos. Short? I was out. I wasn't out of songs, of course. On any given day, I'm walking around with about 2 albums' worth of material to record. But that Summer, I didn't have anything recorded and that was a problem.

I buckled down right away and picked out seven songs. Most were songs that had been around awhile, but never gotten their shot at the big time. There's a definite queue to be in one of my albums, it seems. "Like Junior High" has been added in as a bonus track. That one wasn't finished until February of 2004 and non-released as a single then, so I figured, "Close e-damn-nough," and stuck on this album.

"Abbey Damned" would follow pretty much the same process that "Sieve & Moor"—the previous non-release—had followed: record the instruments on my Tascam cassette 4-track at home, in the living room of 4020 SE 10th Ave, and then go into Portland's legendary studio, "Jackpot Recording," to record vocals and mix.

At least I'm pretty sure that's how it was done. Gemini that I am, one twin insists that's how it went and the other says, "No, you'd bought the condenser mic and preamp by then and didn't want to un-ass the money for a studio when it could sound just as good at home."

Well, it doesn't really matter. "Abbey Damned" is still a great record to me. It's got a very full, unique sound—akin only to "Sieve & Moor" before it—and is very upbeat, all in all, arranged with a standard bass and drums (courtesy of my Zoom Rhythm Trak RT-123, still in use, btw, and heard most recently on "Black & Orange,) the drone bass (the then NEW Danelectro Longhorn), and a high guitar (probably the Eko hollowbody.)

I must have really been in The Vortex while recording these tracks, because I remember almost nothing of doing it. I recall they were done in the daytime...I remember lots of time programming the drum and bass tracks...The guitars fell right in line, I seem to recall...Vocals were a breeze. I'm thinking it took maybe a week and half to nail this one. My son was probably away for the Summer, if that's so.

As a collective work, it's a series of portraits. Every song is me trying some other persona on for size as I write their song. "Cold Call," is the song that comes closest to being my own experience, the lyrics of which were written during a dark sales-related chapter of my life. Happily "Like Junior High" fits right in as well, another persona tune.

Thematically, it's about the lies we tell ourselves on the way to learning to be real. Approval seeking ("Their Way,") bitterness masked as gratitude ("One Paycheck Away,") bitterness masked as concern ("Cry in Vain,") judgementality as a quest for justice ("Liberal Blues,") hiding behind illness ("My Happy Pills,") the substitution of ambition for happiness ("Cold Call,") sermonizing as wisdom ("Everyone Loves the Political Singersongwriter,") and narcissism mistaken for love ("Like Junior High") all add up on this album to something somewhere for somebody, I'm sure.

credits

released August 1, 2003

vonHummer: drums, bass, drone bass, high guitar drone, vocals.

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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: Their Way
"Their Way"
(vonHummer)
Every time I found my back against the wall, facing force feeding from Defeat’s parfait, I looked aside, and feigned excitement, and did it their way,
I did it their way, I did it their way, just like you and everybody else, too: I did it their way…
Once I paced the mountain’s base and heard the call from the mighty summit clearly, “Climb up today?” I looked aside, marched off in line quick, and did it their way,*
There’s a rich, vast empty space within me which makes it easy for me to cave, maybe I value myself too highly, but everyone else must see something inside of me
Their way is ruthlessly committed to save…
Saw my opportunity to stop it all, take my stand against the Man and quit the play, I looked aside, and rationalized quick, and did it their way,
I did it their way, I did it their way, just like you and everybody else, too: I did it their way…
I did it their way……..I did it their way…..I did it their way….
I did it their way….
Track Name: One Paycheck Away
"One Paycheck Away"
(vonHummer)
Friday Friday’s a holy day, that’s the day of the week I pray for more sunshine, for making hay, and my fair share of the deal…
Sunday Sunday’s a day of worry, Monday Monday’s the day I scurry back to slack for the Hamster Lords, the shavings, the cage and the wheel,
One paycheck away…One paycheck away…I want to thank you, Lord for keeping me and my loved ones one paycheck away…
"All for nothing"’s not what I’ve been thinking, got Titanic hopes and they aint sinking, got a get-rich-dream I’m poised to put into play, if I should someday stash one paycheck away…
Tuesday Tuesday’s a day of woe, too many days in the week to go, only one day of pay so far safely stashed in the sack, Wednesday Wednesday’s a day of bills, Thursday’s dead weight, all uphill, Friday Friday my day’s done with one more week’s wage to my back
One paycheck away…One paycheck away…I want to thank you, Lord for keeping me and my loved ones one paycheck away…
"All for nothing"’s not what I’ve been thinking, got Titanic hopes and they aint sinking, got a get-rich-dream I’m poised to put into play, if I should someday stash one paycheck away…
Track Name: Cry in Vain
"Cry in Vain"
(vonHummer)
Angel, where will you be when you cry in vain? Angel, where will you be when you finally break down and cry in vain?
Maybe you’ll be in some shop spending my money, you might driving that car I bought when you start to feel something funny, something like you never felt before, like a piece of your soul’s face down out in the rain, then you’re gonna break down and cry in vain…*
Maybe you’ll be on my phone talking ‘bout nothing, you might be laughing 'bout the seeds you’ve sewn when you start to feel something touching, clutching your soul upon the sleeve, brushing everything with loss you counted for gain, then you’re gonna break down and cry in vain…
Angel, where will you be when you cry in vain? Angel, where will you be when you finally break down and cry in vain?
Do you realize that everyone you knew, everybody true, everyone who’d do anything for you cos they loved you for who you were, in your blindness, you threw us away? And now everything you want, everything you got, everything you thought ought to adorn you is trailing behind you now like a ball and chain, Could be ten short years or five long minutes til you break down and cry in vain...
Angel, where will you be when you cry in vain? Angel, where will you be when you cry in vain?Angel, where will you be when you cry in vain?
Angel, where will you be when you finally break down and cry in vain…?
Track Name: Liberal Blues
"Liberal Blues"
(vonHummer)
Prisons are packed with innocent victims of power-mad police, breaking the laws ill-legislated by pale-faced puppet heads, worked from below by corporate claws,*
Satiety is idiocy, of thee I sing, of thee I sing, nobody understands at all so let these hands and Freedom wring…
The USA is a war-bent, raging bull loose in the world’s china shop, blind to the chaos which we inflict upon the gentle folk who beg us to stop,
Satiety is idiocy, of thee I sing, of thee I sing, nobody understands at all so let these hands and Freedom wring…
Life should be fair, ah, but look everywhere at how Justice is getting gang-raped, when simply by funding and mass regulating, our paradise could take shape…
Men are sex-addled, violent cavemen, thank Goddess for women: the Earth’s only hope, so under siege by gun-loving toxic waste Christian meat eating dopes,
Satiety is idiocy, of thee I sing, of thee I sing, nobody understands at all so let these hands and Freedom wring…
Looking around realistically I want to scream,
but like Don Quixote I ride into battle, high in the saddle on impossible dreams...
Track Name: My Happy Pills
"My Happy Pills"
(vonHummer)
Got enough civility left to warn the world just one time: keep your yap shut, got no interest in the stupid little things that you say,
For some reason, for some reason my happy pills aren’t working today… For some reason, for some reason my happy pills aren’t working today…
All of my ability to laugh this life away has gone bye-bye, not that I care, but take a running jump into Lake Elsewhere, okay?
For some reason, for some reason my happy pills aren’t working today… For some reason, for some reason my happy pills aren’t working today…
Guess this prescription needs an upgrade, then I’ll grand marshal the Perky Parade, somewhere over the rainbow that’s monochrome gray, but my happy pills aren’t working today…
Track Name: Cold Call
"Cold Call"
(vonHummer)
Remember to walk in like you own the place and act as if you have an appointment, get the name of your mark beforehand, act proud to be a sales rep if you can,
And like a man with a mission, think on your commission, make no apologies and ask for no permission as you warm as you warm up to your cold call…
Remember to build up a relationship, believe you sell a valuable service, expect the best and prepare for the worst, shake off the chicken heart with which you’ve been cursed,
And let the steak sizzle sell it, show it, don’t you tell it, there’s a rat in here but don’t act like you smell it as you warm as you warm up to your cold call…
Expect the look in his eyes to say, “Oh no, not another one…” Visualize, make believe he’s your best friend, Take his objections, address them, restate them, and overturn ‘em every one, “He’s in a meeting and he can’t be disturbed…” Cold call business card end…
Remember, life is a long walk on a short pier, and after all we’re all in the dark, all things must pass, it’s all in vain, be grateful if you don’t sleep in the rain,
And like an unwanted orphan, you’ll be back for more fun, seek out a seminar or catch another course on how to warm up to your cold call...
Track Name: Everyone Loves the Political Singersongwriter
"Everyone Loves the Political Singersongwriter"
(vonHummer)
It's impossible, ohhh-woahh, to feel the slightest bit angry about anything for which you take responsibility, so the roots of anger must be blame
If I've pissed you off, ohhh-woahhhh, I do beg your pardon, but own your emotions and try not to blame me if something I've sung “in jest” made your arteries harden...
Everyone loves the political singer/songwriter, Everyone loves the political singer/songwriter, We take you and touch you and suddenly, somehow, your unwilling eyes start to see, Everyone loves the political singer/songwriter with whom they agree...
It's impertinent, ohhh-woahhh, for me to suggest it, but maybe the truest of songs to the throngs can't be easily digested? (I say "I" because what's in a name?)
If I've made you think, ohhhh-woahhh, something disturbin’, own your emotions and try not to blame me if some “silly” simile made you crash your Suburban
Everyone loves the political singer/songwriter, Everyone loves the political singer/songwriter, We take you and touch you and suddenly, somehow, your unwilling eyes start to see, Everyone loves the political singer/songwriter with whom they agree...
Track Name: Like Junior High
"Like Junior High"
(vonHummer)
Finally wrote you the ultimate love note, gonna slip it in the pocket of your pea coat, loved you all year, it’s time to let you know, cafeteria theory says it’s so…
In the girls room, you are a smoker, which makes me an impractical joker, you’re so hot, you walk by and I’m all “whoa!”
Way cooler than me, maybe, but who knows…
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you,
See you roaming the hallways cos you always have a pass, can’t sit nearby you no more cos you crack me up in class, there’s sparkle in your eyes like streetlight on broken glass, you could stop an assembly with your laugh…
Someone said that you got detention for telling truth too ugly to mention, I’m so into you I’d risk suspension just to play hooky all day with you…
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you,
Finally wrote you the ultimate love note, gonna slip it in the pocket of your pea coat, loved you all year, it’s time to let you know, cafeteria theory says it’s so,
Still thinking about you in Social Studies, after Math, you’re still the topic sentence in my perfect paragraph, though you left my love note for the janitorial staff on the floor by your locker torn in half…
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you like junior high,
You’re all high school, but I love you,