Hotel Oregon

by vonHummer

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about

So it's late Fall of 2004 and while looking around at the guitars at Trade Up Music, I fell in love with a Danelectro Convertible. Being of limited means at the time, I took my iconic black Applause acoustic bass (star of so many of the videos and recordings in the recently-ended vonHummer Hour) and traded it in for the Dan.

I hoped maybe the fact that the bass had been owned by a local celebrity might increase my trade-in value, but clearly music store employees don't earn enough to have cable access. ("vonWHO?" he said. I'm still not over the hurt!)

Anyhow, I quickly brought the Dan home and began my usual amateurish process of frankensteining the saddle and bridge to accommodate my special sound. I added a bass string, a drum string and two paired strings and set right out to make some recordings, the result of which is this collection I call "Hotel Oregon."

Said recordings were pulled from a massive pile of quick, VERY sketchy demos I'd done the summer before, which I labeled the "Comstock Lode," because I felt I'd surely struck it rich. Over several days, I wrote one after the other, then recorded each so I wouldn't forget what I'd come up with. Then set them aside to pick out the jewels to record at my leisure. So "Hotel Oregon" was my first dip into the Comstock Lode demos.

And, come to think on it, "Hotel Oregon" was meant to be just some demos at first, but they came out so well, I figured, "Fuck it. This is a finished work." And so it was, I just never wound up doing anything with it. The TV show was out of production. I was thinking of making a vonHummer film, though, and I certainly had an eye to using the best of some these songs. That first vH film was still about two years off, however, and so "Hotel Oregon" has sat abandoned, until now.

Well not quite. I did use many of the songs in music videos that were inserted into the reruns of the TV show to replace videos that had appeared in several episodes. Over the years somehow a few have become "hits" for me: that is, songs that have been heavily downloaded. "Lice in a Hurricane" is the biggest hit off this album. "Curiosity's Cat," "Can't Buy Me Help," and "Circling the Drain," get honorable mentions. Meanwhile, "Sometime Soon" and "Just Passing Through" went on to make it big in my 2007 film debut, "Bübiwulf!" And "Methylisothiazolinone" has the honor of being the only vonHummer song never—to my reckoning—ever downloaded by anyone. Which is a shame, because it's surely the greatest song ever written to a shampoo ingredient.

The songs of "Hotel Oregon" are presented here in their fullest fidelity ever. If you've heard any of these before, you heard my very crude effort of taking the audio from my old Tascam cassette 4 track—upon which they were recorded—and running it into CD Spin Doctor on my Mac and ripping mp3s from there, ignorant of the kHz involved, and so probably at a very low quality level. These Bandcamp tracks are taken straight from the original aiffs from CD Spin Doctor, which is the purest these recordings will be until some millionaire arranges for remaster from the original cassettes, if they'll even still play by then. And, P.S. the eccentric millionaires who want to preserve my early works: get your asses in gear, because those master tapes aint in a vault somewhere, they're up in my attic, summer in, summer out. They likely aint a gettin' no fresher...

As to the recording of this one, it was done like this: I'd take my handy Zoom RT-123 drum machine (still usin' it!!) and find a likely beat to fit the song. Then, I'd go in and edit the drum sounds, add stuff, take stuff away til it suited me. I'd record the Danelectro tracks along with the drum machine. One track would have the straight line from the guitar, another track had the mic'd strings, the drums would be mono on the third track, and my vocals would be on the 4th. I don't think I overdubbed any background vocals on this album. Just my one voice, using an MK-219 condenser mic through a pre-amp.

There's a kind of clucking that you can hear in the mix, and that's the drum string on the Dan. I've set up drum strings before—usually an E string detuned and deadened—but none have sounded quite this good before. I don't even remember how I set that particular one up. Sometime after finishing the album, I became convinced that the intonation was fucked because I'd set the strings wrong and took it to a luthier to fix it right. Which they kind of did, but in the process they had to take the drum string off, and I never got it to sound the same again. I don't play that guitar much anymore. It sounds funny.

There's no over-arching them to the album that I can determine. The lyrics come from a pretty wide range of time periods of the last 10 years. (Like a Taupinesque squirrel, I hide away lyrical acorns and then dig them up in times of need.)
Any song I write is more likely to be an exorcism than a celebration, but the demon cast out on this album seem to be more fanciful than malevolent. "Can't Buy Me Help" and "She Can't Tell" and "Circling the Drain" are the darkest if any can be considered dark, while "Curiosity's Cat," "Healthy," "Lice In a Hurricane," and "Song About Flying" are comparatively sunny.

Make of it what you will. It's a special collection to me, in that anytime I hear one of them come up in my iPod mix, I'll have to stop cleaning the bathroom and stand transfixed by some "jenny sequoia" in the sound of it.

A final note about the cover photo. It was taken by my best pal, Ant or Elephant, at a very strange show I did in the summer of 2007 at a dance studio called "Amouress." I met the woman who rented it quite by accident, in 2006, when I found naked pictures of her online connected to her tantric sex therapy practice. I thought she might do my as yet unwritten movie about a boob-squeezing werewolf. Why not? She doesn't mind being naked online?

Well it turned out she couldn't act, and also that she was possibly, er, a bit nuts. But she somehow rented out a dance studio with her friend who taught Tango, and she wanted me to play a show there at the opening celebration. For some reason, I decided to and it was awful.

But at one point before the show, I was staring out the window of her office overlooking the courtyard, and Ant or Elephant was below snapping pictures of me in front of the big old window reflecting the summer trees. I didn't know she was down there snapping away, and I was likely fretting about what an unpleasant evening it was going to be. This is probably the first photo taken of me without a maniacal grimace, and so it's rather striking to me. Somber even.

It's about two years beyond the creation of this album, that photo, but it seemed a perfect fit for this unfitted collection of songs.

credits

released April 16, 2005

Produced, engineered, performed, written by vonHummer
Recorded at Therisno Studios, Big Red.
Cover photo by Ant or Elephant

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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: Curiosity's Cat
"Curiosity's Cat"
[vonHummer]

Curiosity’s cat is dead, what can I say that hasn’t already been better said by forthright men? Take my advice, boy: get out of town, keep your chin up and keep your head down, downtown there’s a parking lot where you can park your soul cheap, everybody need be disembodied, learn to crawl before you creep,
Curiosity’s cat is dead, what can I say that hasn’t already been better said by forthright men?
Observe the zeppelins, go how they go-go: float high and obvious, crash and burn slow now, slow down long enough to smell the rats beneath the roses, wrong live the King and Queen, the peasant supposes,
Curiosity’s cat is dead, what can I say that hasn’t already been better said by forthright men?
These fourth-rate, forthright, manly men, forever fond of delusion, so struggle to stretch the stratosphere to wrap a foregone conclusion, but curiosity’s cat is dead…
Curiosity’s cat is dead…
Take my advice, boy: get out of town now, keep your chin up and keep your head down...
Track Name: Healthy
"Healthy"
[vonHummer]

When she’s in the room other women fold their arms and camouflage their resentment, she walk anywhere in the Orchard of Love, pick the fruit from any tree she see, no matter how wise, no matter how powerful or wealthy, she’s healthy, she’s healthy, she’s healthy, she’s healthy…
When she talk nonsense, sound like Socrates or Christ, her jokes are smoked with funny honey, she can steam the genie right out of the lamp to grant her wishes without number, she need never rub, just shrugs and it's “How may I serve thee?” she’s healthy, she’s healthy, she’s healthy, she’s healthy…
Shoulders back, postured like a goddess, waiting in line but not for long at the bank, plain to see the laws of gravity were also written by a man To be bent for her, she’s forever pure, even when filthy, she’s healthy, she’s healthy, she’s healthy, she’s healthy…
If you’re searching, stop! Cos believing you can see how she is, gee whiz, she is, she’s healthy, she’s healthy…
Healthy, healthy, healthy…War is hell, but she is healthy...
Track Name: Lice in a Hurricane
"Lice in a Hurricane"
[vonHummer]

One hundred years ago at least, no, wait: twas only yesterday, I played the Monarch of Daylight blasting an 8-track quadrophonic, Blabbed it all to each and any, but never said word one to Jenny, frozen to the spot, like glaciers, travelling hardly supersonic

What I told her I forget exactly, something like, “shut up, get out,” quite likely, Kept her at arms length, wish I had a tenth today of my teenage brain: Lice in a hurricane.

Lice in a hurricane...Lice in a hurricane…We were rich kids riding high, too small to see, maybe much less to contain: lice in a hurricane...

Thronged en masse by bosom buds, time finally found second gear, they’d have laid their lives for me, ah, but I just didn't trust ‘em, firmly ensconced in my lair, here, there, and everywhere Easy Street could be paved in the manner to which I'd become accustomed,

Slammed the brakes at yellow lights instinctively, hungering for safety and legality, at start I sought mere closure, and overexposure, dancing and a’ singing in the rain…Lice in a hurricane...

Lice in a hurricane...Lice in a hurricane…We were rich kids riding high, too small to see, maybe much less to contain: lice in a hurricane...

What a state of devastation I'm in, cardinal punishment for capitol sin, my cattle overdue in St.Louis, and it could only do us good to derail this thoughtful train...Lice in a hurricane...

Lice in a hurricane...Lice in a hurricane…We were rich kids riding high, too small to see, maybe much less to contain: lice in a hurricane...
Track Name: Hotel Oregon
"Hotel Oregon"
[vonHummer]

Every room got a lovely view, always something deconstructive
to do, check in, check out, check in, check out,
(This aint California, son)
This is where you come to get away
from everyone who's anyone, no thank you, no welcome
to the Hotel Oregon...
See, the bell hops never hop at all, leave your room to give
room service a call, check in, check out, check in, check out,
work while your whistling's done,
This is where you come to get away from everyone who's
anyone, no thank you, no welcome to the Hotel Oregon...
Well the maids, they're straight outta Playboy, say hey, boy
they'll turn down your bed if they can, and the concierge aint
been seen in years with the money for the new ceiling fans...
Under my bed found a roll of cash, just enough for this month's
coffee and hash, check in, check out, check in, check out,
guess I'm a guest til it's gone,
This is where you come to get away from everyone who's anyone,
no thank you, no welcome to the Hotel Oregon...
Track Name: Can't Buy Me Help
"Can't Buy Me Help"
[vonHummer]
I make enough to keep my famine fed, gas in the stove, water in the sink, clothes on the bed, just nowhere near enough to pay someone qualified to shrink my head,
Be nice to talk to someone who’s heard it all before, for sixty minutes whenever I feel like I can’t take one minute more,

Can't buy me help 8 days a week, but I need to…tell you can tell by the things I do or don't do. Can't buy me help but a hard days night with you might get me to love love me do. Am I asking too much? Am I burdening you? Can’t buy me help 8 days a week, so I need you...

Keep buying self help books to stem the tide, read ‘em at lunch, and on the bus home ride, whether it’s growing my self esteem, I’m unworthy to decide,
Be nice to couch my words and thoughts in therapy, so when I’m down she can work it out and let it be

Can't buy me help 8 days a week, but I need to…tell you can tell by the things I do or don't do. Can't buy me help but a hard days night with you might get me to love love me do. Am I asking too much? Am I burdening you? Can’t buy me help 8 days a week, so I need you...

Fixing a hole in my head (with a little help from my Freudian friends across the universal health care) is an uncoverable expense…Tell me why they charge so much get me straight? No reply, Now my neuroses gonna have to wait.

I make enough to keep my famine fed, gas in the stove, water in the sink, clothes on the bed, just nowhere near enough to pay someone qualified to shrink my head,
Be nice to talk to someone who’s heard it all before, for sixty minutes whenever I feel like I can’t take one minute more,

Can't buy me help 8 days a week, but I need to…tell you can tell by the things I do or don't do. Can't buy me help but a hard days night with you might get me to love love me do. Am I asking too much? Am I burdening you? Can’t buy me help 8 days a week, so I need you...I need you...You don't realize how much I need you...

Can't buy me help...Can't buy me help...
Track Name: Sometime Soon
"Sometime Soon"
[vonHummer]
Got no way of knowing where the wind is blowing
tumbleweed you for this past hour or two,
To have some notion of your homeward locomotion
would do, Can you steer it here, my dear,
and make it sometime soon?
Make it sometime soon, Maybe solve my mystery,
Sometime soon, Come to call, fool kiss-a-me,
Sometime soon, Que Será's okay by me,
When will be what will be we two?
Make it sometime soon, Shoot the moon, shucks,
shoot the breeze, Sometime soon, wanna be my wannabe?
Sometime soon seems to take an eternity,
Time's a-wastin' awaitin' on you...
What the hell is one more message sittin' on yer cell
gonna do to somehow summon you? I know you slip out
on your sloop whenever I'm in pursuit, Must I feign
disdain in vain to make it sometime soon?
Make it sometime soon, Maybe solve my mystery,
Sometime soon, Come to call, fool kiss-a-me,
Sometime soon, Que Será's okay by me,
When will be what will be we two?
Make it sometime soon, Shoot the moon, shucks,
shoot the breeze, Sometime soon, wanna be my wannabe?
Sometime soon seems to take an eternity,
Time's a-wastin' awaitin' on you...
Track Name: Song About Flying
"Song About Flying"
[vonHummer]
I just wanna sit down, sit down,
cross my legs injun-style,
Not gonna fight crime, save time,
make love or get down get down,
Although the radio scans every station on the dial,
Still haven't found what I'm looking for,
like a rolling stone that the curb got mistooken for,
Oh, but angel, I'm trying, Oh, Angel, I'm trying,
Why should I actually fly
when it can't compare to some song on the air about flying?
You just oughtta sit down, sit down,
cross your legs for a change,
not hunt for bargains, maintain that hot bod,
or help the numbers get round get round,
Although the stereo skips disc to disc shuffle play,
Wish they all could be California girls,
like a rolling stone, we are the world...
Oh, but angel, I'm trying, Oh, Angel, I'm trying,
Why should I actually fly
when it can't compare to some song on the air about flying?
"Fly away," it would say, "High flying away from here forever,"
but what goes up must get down, get down get down, however,
You, too, can take in the view, just look around,
Have you found like me and all my pals on the ground,
we just want wings or whatever?
Oh, but angel, I'm trying, Oh, Angel, I'm trying,
Why should I actually fly
when it can't compare to some song on the air about flying?
Track Name: Circling the Drain
"Circling the Drain"
[vonHummer]

Now there’s no one here but you and I, and I myself am feeling no pain, Do think of maybe taking me home with you, Think it through once more again,

Bad enough being lonely, worse yet how the reaching out renders us lonelier still, That’s a notion best not entertained, circling the drain…

There’s no small talk small enough to speak as we sneak through the rain, Everybody got a body with which to keep warm and maintain,

May there be no new morning come horning in, shining harsh light on us both: my Columbus to your Queen of Spain, circling the drain…

Coffee and breakfast or should I just go? I’ve said nothing stupid, You’ve let nothing show, So far so what? No reason to complain, Still here we are: circling the drain…

Now there’s no one here but you and I, and I myself am feeling no pain, Do think of maybe taking me home with you, Better think it through once more again,

Bad enough being lonely, worse yet how the reaching out renders us lonelier still, That’s a notion best not entertained, circling the drain…
Track Name: Just Passing Through
"Just Passing Through"
[vonHummer]

Don’t worry bout me, I’m just passing through, This moment isn’t the rest of my life, I’m not doing everything that I’ll ever do, If you feel ill at ease with my lifestyle, that’s up to you, but I sleep on your couch with the knowledge I’m just passing through…
Don’t worry bout me, I’m just passing through, This aint the end of the line for me: just a rest stop along the route, if you seek someone stable, hey good for you, “stable” won’t hold my horses too long: I’m just passing through
Only one small major difference between me and you: I realize today might see my last sunrise: I’m just passing through…
Don’t worry bout me, I’m just passing through, If worrying ever helped anyone, hell I’d worry, too…So take a turn tryin’ to tell me your own “ thing or two,” I’ll understand that you’re too sad to say “Happy Trails!” ...I’m just passing through.
Only one small major difference between me and you: I realize today might see my last sunrise: I’m just passing through…
Track Name: Cherokee Rose
"Cherokee Rose"
[vonHummer]

She was tangled on split rail fence, drooping slightly, “She needs water,” I thought, and her name was Cherokee Rose, Fuck I fell in love with her then and there!
Honeysuckle, beware, thorn-adorned (didn’t care) Army boots and a cotton dress, Seeking tender loving care and a house to share, “Home is anywhere I toss my clothes,” she said at the time, Cherokee Rose,
She was taken with my gardening rather rightly, “A bit of pruning,” I thought, “ought to suit our Cherokee Rose,” Mr. Henderson next door gave a jealous glare, Beauty bloomed everywhere, Drought about (didn’t care,) Army boots and a cotton dress,”Got a whore-to-culture, tender-nuture thing goin’ on, as growing goes,” I sighed to myself, “for Cherokee Rose,”
She’s the bane of the wildflower, goddess to the weed, she can give you anything you want, regardless of need…
Look upon her works, ye mighty, and regret, then she’s gone in a cloud of cigarette, sunlight, and half-eaten chocolate eclairs…
She was clipped in a bottle by a leaded window, weeping nightly, “Maybe root-rot,” I thought, “or reservations,” for Cherokee Rose, She got a heavy cross-pollination to bear, Nothing smuggled to declare, A renegade somewhere, Army boots and a cotton dress, new lacey underwear sit on the front stair packed in the last of the portmanteaus, left with regards and haste by Cherokee Rose…
Track Name: Time Enough to Fail
"Time Enough to Fail"
[vonHummer]

There, did I leave myself time enough to fail?
Time enough to earn a failing grade?
If I'd have made the time to do a first draft,
I'd have laughed all the way to an "A,"
Instead I stuck all together just before class,
Well done, I can stay here having fun,
I dodged another graduation day...
Take it down: no one ever put a clown in the crosshairs,
Take it down: Mother Failure spoils all of her children like millionaires,
Take a tip from Captain Ahab: Leave alone the whale,
Work hard while the watchers are watching,
but leave time enough to fail...
There, did I leave myself time enough to fail?
Time enough to come in under quota?
Quarter could have meant three long months of effort,
but I thought better and just went through the motions,
taking no's and forsaking leads,
Well done, I can soak up the sun, unemployed again, naturally...
Take it down: no one ever put a clown in the crosshairs,
Take it down: Mother Failure spoils all of her children like millionaires,
Take a tip from Captain Ahab: Leave alone the whale,
Work hard while the watchers are watching,
but leave time enough to fail...
There, did I leave myself time enough to fail,
time enough to save up and retire?
Always did admire that carefree guy
singing that he was the "King of the Road,"
Burger King's got a dumpster that's loaded,
Well done, half a burger and a bun,
Great expectations exploded...
Look under every bridge behind us that never got burned:
you'll see a troll writing memos on "Lessons Learned,"
Someday should someone walk up and say,
"Congratulations, you've got it made,”
Thank 'em graciously and run the other way!
Take it down: no one ever put a clown in the crosshairs,
Take it down: Mother Failure spoils all of her children like millionaires,
Take a tip from Captain Ahab: Leave alone the whale,
Work hard while the watchers are watching,
but leave time enough to fail...
Track Name: She Can't Tell
"She Can't Tell"
[vonHummer]
She can't tell the difference between government and tyranny, fascism and democracy, terrorism and Boston Tea,
She can't tell and she's mad as hell, she can't debate she can only yell,
She can't tell the difference between two extremes, between slavery and American Dreams, she can’t tell the difference, believing mistakenly: there's no difference to see...
She can't tell the difference between opinion and reality, reasoned outrage and rabid hate, the lawful and the outlaw state, she can't tell and she's under the spell of self -righteousness, self pity as well
She can’t tell the difference between dusk and dawn, between carrying water and carrying on, she can’t tell the difference believing mistakenly: there’s no difference to see...
So outrageous to complain and never to explain, outrageous to see a parade and dance for rain by reflex right on cue, Outrageous! Shocking! And shockingly easy to do...
She can’t tell the difference between, propaganda and 411, lauded words and loaded guns, diverse and overrun,
She can’t tell as she walks pell mell, walks the dogma in an acorn shell
She can’t tell the difference between “I” and “We”, between Rosie the Riveter and Simon Legree, She can’t make her lemons into lemonade, she can’t tell a sunburn from “made in the shade,” She can’t tell the difference and won’t be told differently, she’s indifferent, you see.
Track Name: Methylisothiazolinone
"Methylisothiazolinone"
[vonHummer]
Lauramide DEA messed me up okay,
Ethoxydiglicol made my world seem small,
Benzenephenone 4 sank me just offshore,
and my love has only grown for Methylisothiazolinone...

Tetrasodium EDTA made me swing and sway,
Viatin and niacin properly snowed me in,
Oxyhexyltrimonial chloride helped my fears subside,
and my love has only grown for Methylisothiazolinone...

Aloebarbidensis gel half-convinced me all was well,
Ethnynol broke my fall,
Coenzyme nicotenate left me nervous but sedate,
Propylparaben: a godsend,
Cocamidolpropylbetane reigned my brain,
and my love has only grown for Methylisothiazolinone...