That Which Does Not Smash

by vonHummer

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about

It's a complicated timeline, understanding the birthing of the earliest vonHummer album, "That Which Does Not Smash." I'll try to make it brief, as it's really not that interesting.

The year is 1999. After tinkering around with various guitars, I'm convinced I've finally got a sound I'm in love with. I create a demo on my Tascam 4-track cassette recorder—no vocals—of 12 new songs and with it I move to Portland, Oregon, where I imagine musical genius like mine will find an interested audience, if I'll just give it a chance, as indeed I did NOT do in Washington, D.C.

First thing I do when I get to town is buy an Ovation acoustic bass and re-string it in my standard 3-stringed way, and add it into my plans for a top-notch album with my THE SOUND guitars: a high drone, and a drum guitar of my own devising. Convinced that if I just take my time, I can record a professional-quality album on cassette tape…in a volkswagen tent…set up in a one-car garage…in the parking lot of my apartment complex…in the wee hours before work and wife.

July 2000. Takes me about six months, but, by golly, I do it. 24 songs, by this point, with the idea that I'll split them into two albums and save myself time later while I'm touring promoting the first album. Which I still haven't done to this day, come to think on it. Among all my many talents will NOT be found: follow-through promotional ability. And so all 24 songs gather dust for a year.

July 2001. Looking around for recorded songs to run in my upcoming cable access series, "The vonHummer Hour," I pick out the 8 best—leaving the remaining 12 for the next year's "Leftoverwhelming"—and so, "That Which Does Not Smash" was born into the world.

Not that the world would have an inkling thereof. For, like most of the vonHummer catalog, this album, too, was never released. Still, many of the songs became popular downloads from vonHummer.com, especially "Flip a Bitch," which I consider to be my first "hit."

"Approval" did well, and so did "Flying Buttress" and "That Which Does Not Smash."

As i listen again, i'm still quite proud of this album. It really gels for something so inherently inorganically constructed. I would start with a simple drum machine track, recorded off a 90's Casio keyboard (the toy kind, not the good kind, either!) Then I'd add the bass drone part and then the high drone. Last of all was the drum guitar, which would erase the drum track as I went. Filling in the drums at the end is all wrong, trust me, but it seemed like the thing to do.

But it's a very wooden-sounding work, with lost of clicks and clacks and bouncing rhythms, and the very first time I ever hit the sound I was aiming at, artistically, and will always hold a place in my iPod.

credits

released October 21, 2001

vonHummer: start to finish, EVERYTHING.
Cover photo: Ann Hammer

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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: Approval
"Approval" [vonHummer]

I don't want your money/ Money is a mass hallucination/ I don't want your sex/ Sex causes indignation/ I don't want to lead you to the water/ and make you drink like a horse/
I want your everlasting, everlovin'/ soul-suckin' stamp of approval/ of course…

I don't want opinion/ Opinions very often draw fire/ I don't want applause/ Applause marks a clumsy liar/ I don't want your thoughtless criticisms/ that could cause me any needless remorse/
I want your everlasting, everlovin'/ soul-suckin' stamp of approval/ of course...

Eat/ drink/ and go and seek approval/ Sleep/ dream/ wake up and seek approval/ Pump blood/ and breathe and seek approval/ Exercise/ excrete/ secrete and seek approval:/ This will/ be my/ life,/ if that's all right…

I don't want your worship/ warships/ or washing machines/ I don't want your sweet lips/ tax tips, or tambourines/ I don't want a magnum of champagne/ a Magna Carta or Magnum Force,/
I want your everlasting, everlovin'/ soul-suckin' stamp of approval/ of course...
Track Name: Flip a Bitch
"Flip a Bitch" (vonHummer)

She won't roll down her window/ to ask directions/ There's no maps made/ for where she wants to go/ And is it just her style/ once in a while/

to flip a bitch?/ Switch direction/ Flip a bitch/ Re-write the rules of the road/ Flip a bitch/ Fuck that freeway to nowhere/ Nowhere's nowhere/ she wants to go…

And someday should you sit/ shotgun beside her/ disparage her driving/ and you'll walk home/ And is it such a crime/ time after time/

to flip a bitch?/ Switch direction/ Flip a bitch/ Re-write the rules of the road/ Flip a bitch/ Fuck that freeway to nowhere/ Nowhere's nowhere/ she wants to go...

She won't roll down her window/ to ask directions/ There's no maps made/ for where she wants to go/ And is it just her style/ once in a while/

to flip a bitch?/ Switch direction/ Flip a bitch/ Re-write the rules of the road/ Flip a bitch/ Fuck that freeway to nowhere/ Nowhere's nowhere/ she wants to go…
Track Name: Oregon Tomorrow
"Oregon Tomorrow" [vonHummer]

Here today/ but I'll be Oregon tomorrow/ I'm taking whatever uncommon sense/ may remain/ Losing everything/ too big to fit in the car I'll borrow/ and driving northwest till my windshield/ hits the rain/ that falls on a

God blessed beautiful land/ God blessed beautiful/ mountain and sea/ Some rich joy there/ may replace this sorrow/ here today/ but I'll be Oregon tomorrow…

Here today/ but I'll be Oregon tomorrow/ My ghost will be leaving the oily cogs/ of your machine/ The Fool and the Sun/ keep turning up in my tarot/ …to rain supreme/ and fall on a

God blessed beautiful land/ God blessed beautiful/ mountain and sea/ Some rich joy there/ may replace this sorrow/ here today/ but I'll be Oregon tomorrow…

Strange how…for no reason/ Can't count all the smiles I see/ People walk around like they like to, regardless of season/ Not a Type A in sight/ Glory B!

Here today/ but I'll be Oregon tomorrow/ I'm taking whatever uncommon sense/ may remain/ Losing everything/ too big to fit in the car I'll borrow/ and driving northwest till my windshield/ hits the rain/ that falls on a

God blessed beautiful land/ God blessed beautiful/ mountain and sea/ Some rich joy there/ may replace this sorrow/ here today/ but I'll be Oregon tomorrow…
Track Name: Drop the Ball
"Drop the Ball" [vonHummer]

If you're tired of the one success/ leading/ inevitably to another/ If the steady ticker tape parades/ for "missions accomplished"/ is is driving you/ up the wall...

I can show you how to drop the ball/ Show you how to miss the cue/ Flub the call…

If you're sickened by the same old aftertaste/ of champagne toasts/ If the weight of accumulated garlands/ is crushing you down so small/ After all...

I can show you how to drop the ball/ Show you how to screw the pooch/ choke out and stall…

You work too hard, little demigoddess/ give it up!/ Pop fly's heading for your ever-ready, open glove/ It won't be easy, but for once,/ try to blow it, Love/

And I can show you how to drop the ball/ Show you how to snatch defeat/ from Victory's jaws…

If you're tired of the one success/ leading/ inevitably to another/ If the steady ticker tape parades/ for "missions accomplished"/ is is driving you/ up the wall...

I can show you how to drop the ball/ Show you how to miss the cue/ Flub the call…

I can show you how to drop the ball/ Show you how to screw the pooch/ choke out and stall…

And I can show you how to drop the ball/ Show you how to snatch defeat/ from Victory's jaws…

lined with pearly white teeth set to maul/ You can do it/ You can do it/ Drop the ball!
Track Name: New English Blues
"New English Blues" [vonHummer]

I've been/ abandoned again/ Tall woman, short fuse/ but all/ in all/ I've just learned to crawl/ cos I've got these new english blues…

Tick tock/ Ring around the clock/ Time wins,/ I lose/ But all/ in all/ I've just learned to stall/ cos I've got these new english blues…

Ah, these new english blues,/ keep me warm when I'm/ low on options/ and possibilities/ Which I can't affirm and I can't refuse/ cos I got these new english blues…

Skin deep/ Beauty's dirt cheap/ Take what you can use/ But all/ in all/ I dump what I can't haul/ cos I got these new english blues…


Har! Har!/ Feathers and tar!/ just paid off my dues/ But all/ in all/ the payments were small/ cos I've got these new english blues…

Ah, these new english blues/ give me one more unchosen/ option's impossibilitiy/ with no means to win and no mind to lose/ cos I got these new english blues...
Track Name: Flying Buttress
"Flying Buttress" [vonHummer]

Fixing me/ with visual uplift/ and stability/ to the best of your/ ability/ You're my flying buttress/
Fixing me/ with visual uplift/ and stability/ to the best of your/ ability/ You're my flying buttress/
Carved out of stone arcane/ Stone you remain/ Shoring up the presence of Heaven on Earth/ Heaven on Earth/ You're my flying buttress…

Bas relief/ and haut relief/ was all that I was after/ till I heard your arch/ laughter/ You're my flying buttress/
Bas relief/ and haut relief/ was all that I was after/ till I heard your arch/ laughter/ You're my flying buttress/
Carved out of stone arcane/ Stone you remain/ Shoring up the presence of Heaven on Earth/ Heaven on Earth/ You're my flying buttress…

I'm numb to the frieze/ and I'll never know the clerestory/ cos I can't leave your airborne glory/ you're my flying buttress/
I'm numb to the frieze/ and I'll never know the clerestory/ you're my airborne glory/ you're my flying buttress/
Carved out of stone arcane/ Stone you remain/ Shoring up the presence of Heaven on Earth/ Heaven on Earth/ You're my flying buttress…
Track Name: That Which Does Not Smash
"That Which Does Not Smash" [vonHummer]

May your eyes flash/ like neon apostrophes/ May your teeth flash like knives/ May your voice blast/ like a siren for catastrophes/ when your moment arrives/
But if you find out/ that's not what you're about/ you can come back/ and I'll/ share my corned beef hash/
Though there is no hope for/ and nothing of value in/ that which does not smash…

May your hair wave/ like a flag/ in a hurricane/ May your song be white gold/ May your life be refined/ like a harvest of sugar cane/ May your cool not turn cold/
I'll be around/ if you tire/ of the fountains of youth/ or the mountains/ of soft, hot cash/
Though there is no hope for/ and nothing of value in/ that which does not smash…

Some live out a legend/ All the rest of us/ pass on like/ unfounded rumors/
Some rise up to master/ the beast/ with a billion eyes/ known/ as the great white consumer…

May a farm boy/ paste your face/ on his bedroom wall/ May you get the best seat/
May those/ of importance/ not screen your call/ May you sweat not the heat/
I'm still your friend/ even if you should end up/ face down/ in the backlot/ with yesterday's trash/
Though there is no hope for/ and nothing of value in/ that which does not smash…
Track Name: Mystery Light
"Mystery Light" [vonHummer]

Have you seen/ the Mystery Light?/ The kind that put your hometown/ on the map?/ When the owl has flown/ and the kestrel comes home/ know-it-alls/ meet and greet the unknown/ Honor show/ remove your baseball cap/

Tell me have you seen/ the Mystery Light/ floating now/ above the sand and cactus/ Get on your bike/ Chase it if you like/ Rattlesnake/ and scorpion don't bite/ true believers/ so you better not practice/

I, myself, saw it once as a child/ Thought I saw it once again/ when you smiled/ Come on, Midnight/ I'm waiting on your Mystery Light…

Have you seen/ the Mystery Light/ playing tag with moth/ and bat on the mesa?/ Are your cameras set?/ Blank film is all that you get/ No explanation/ Consternation, and yet/ I've grown accustomed/ to my place here/

Marking time after sunset/ Beer here in hand/ Facing doubt/ and waiting on your Mystery Light…