The Lobster Lies Down on Bourbon Street

by vonHummer

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Do pardon me if my memory of these first few albums (and the associated timelines) get sketchy: a lot was going on all at once in early 2002, and it's hard for me to keep it straight these days. Was "The Lobster Lies Down on Bourbon Street" recorded to use as fake "live" tracks for "The vonHummer Hour," or were the fake live videos made to take advantage of the sparse sound on these 7 songs? Neither, I realize, now that my memory has kicked in.

These are the events: I recorded a fake "live" show in the TV studio, using these seven songs. I'd made an unofficial rule for myself that one of the three or so music videos on the tv show should be live performances. Problem was, many of the live videos of my last live show were unusable due to bad sound, flubs, or because the camera was at the exact angle where my face could barely be seen behind the microphone.

I actually did play these new songs live in the tv studio—just vocal and bass drone, but the audio wasn't good enough, I felt, for downloading as MP3s, so I re-recorded them at home on my trusty Tascam 460 cassette 4 track. Fine.

But then I had to fuck around and see what it would be like if I just added the high guitar, and of course I was hooked by then. "What the hell," I figured, "I'll make it a fake live album..."

In looking through the master tapes I found a mix that has fake audience response on it. I'd release that, too, but the vocals are way low, and no way am I digging through that box in the attic to find the original master cassettes. Forget it. The mix that we know today is beyond compare.

In re-listening to "The Lobster Lies Down on Bourbon Street," I can see why. It's probably THE best vonHummer album ever. I know—I say that every time, but this time the stats totally back me up: "Tell the Gang on the Corner Not to Be Ignorant?" Top ten download. "Shrunk?" Top ten. "Before You Hire Me," "Cannonball Viz" and "Billionaire?" All top ten! "Coversong3?" Top 20. Only "Satellites And Meteors" falls short, and even that one is in the top 30 website downloads.

I kept the arrangements horribly simple. Bass drone, high guitar drone, vocals (doubled). That's it. You may think you hear a light bongo clucking hear and there, but that's just the drum string I'd made by deadening the unused E string with a paper clip. Really popped on that old acoustic Applause bass. Also, I'm using a shaker pick on "Coversong3," but seriously, that's it.

Another cool thing about this album is that I didn't load it down with older songs that I'd been saving for years. "Billionaire" is the only one. All the other were written within the last month or so of recording, and surely there's no lobster fresher than that!

Thematically, it's very representative of where I was at that time. Obsessed with the knee-jerk political discourse ("Tell the Gang..."), insecure in a relationship ("Shrunk"), sentimental for the proud USA of huge cars and innovation ("Satellites and Meteors"), worried by the employer-holds-all-the-cards economy ("Before You Hire Me"), and ready to leave my past foibles and follies behind, ("Cannonball Viz").

The cover photo was taken by Ann Hammer at around that time. It's the Aladdin Theater, just down the street from 4020 SE 10th Ave in Portland, where we lived at the time and this album was recorded. I don't recall who all those folk were actually camping out for. Certainly not for the hastily Photoshopped name we see on the Marquee...

credits

released March 17, 2002

Bass drone, high guitar drone and vocals by vonHummer. Songs by vonHummer, except "Coversong3," arranged by vonHummer. Produced by Clark Kent 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: Tell the Gang on the Corner Not to Be Ignorant
"Tell the Gang on the Corner Not to Be Ignorant"
(vonHummer)

Tell the gang not to let The Man™ give them anything that can’t be taken away…that can’t be taken away…oh, by a good night’s sleeping…
Tell the gang not to move along when The Man™ says abandon ship with no lifeboats to be seen…with no lifeboats to be seen…oh, in his keeping…
Tell the gang on the corner not to be ignorant…
Tell the gang not to let The Man™ sell them big ideas of helping them help themselves…helping them help themselves…oh, to his boots by licking…
Tell the gang not to let The Man™ tell them peace in our time takes trust and understanding…takes trust and understanding…oh, and not a good ass kicking…
Tell the gang on the corner not to be ignorant…
Tell the gang sometimes The Man™ is a woman, tell the gang sometimes The Man™ is a film, tell the gang sometimes The Man™ will sing songs about forsaking The Man™ so you feel like you have but you never will,
Tell the gang to give up all hope, tell the gang to take an honest look at their corner before it explodes, tell the gang that the corner’s a crossroads...
Tell the gang not to let The Man™ give them anything that can’t be taken away…that can’t be taken away…oh, by a good night’s sleeping…
Track Name: Shrunk
"Shrunk"
[vonHummer]

Looking up at you now, I feel so alone: I have shrunk and you have grown…How your voice thunders down like from Heaven’s Throne: I have shrunk and you have grown…

You are expanding, you have evolved, I’m in remission, so uninvolved, I should have noticed, I should have known: I have shrunk, and you have grown…

Should I bring you down with a sling and stone: I have shrunk and you have grown…Can’t express my love in this chipmunk tone: I have shrunk and you have grown…

You’re multiplying, I’m in subtraction, abbreviated, I’m a contraction, You’re up and coming, I’m down and outgoing: I have shrunk, and you have grown…

I feel sad, but it’s really not as bad as I thought, being one of the Little People, I get to know where the rainbow ends in a gold-filled pot,
Put me down, you giant, you, I’ll talk, I’ll talk, might as well tell you where the treasure is,(It’s farther than these Lilliputian legs can walk…)

Living in your shadow, it’s like an eclipse, sonic booms and earthquakes, don’t shake those hips…Asteroids of extinction, the crumbs from your scone! I have shrunk and you have grown…

You’ve gone titanic, I’m but a shrimp, you’re monumental, I’m a ten cent stamp, that darling tattoo like a billboard has blown: I have shrunk and you have grown...
Track Name: Satellites and Meteors
"Satellites and Meteors"
[vonHummer]

Satellites and Meteors, Novas and Galaxies, Comets, Super Bees, Hornets, and Skylarks...
Cutlasses, Javelins, Eagles and Falcons, Monte Carlos, Sportabouts, Caprices,
Corvairs, Corsairs, Voláres, and Valiants whisper down ether streets to carry us home…
Chargers and Pintos, Mustangs and Vegas, Barracudas, Marlins, and Sting Rays,
Gremlins and Furies, Bobcats and Cougars, Continentals, Country Squires, and Regals,
Arrows, Rancheros, Cordobas, and Opels whisper down ether streets to carry us home…
Firebirds, Thunderbirds, Cyclones and Dusters, Toronados, Mavericks, Impalas,...
Matadors and Challengers, Rebels, Marauders,
Vista Cruisers, Rivieras , LeSabres,
Torinos, El Caminos, Swingers and Pacers whisper down ether streets to carry us home…
Safe in broad backseats, they carry us home…
Ashtrays and armrests, they carry us home...
8-Tracks and AM, they carry us home….
Track Name: Billionaire
"Billionaire"
[vonHummer]
What does it take to be a billionaire? I could tell you, but it’s not very fair, What does it take to be a billionaire? It takes a brain and heart and guts, a pound of flesh, a pint of blood, and at least a billion bucks…

What does it take to be a billionaire? To sleep late weekdays like you hadn’t a care? What does it take to be a billionaire? It takes a beautiful body and soul, a soft fist, a firm handshake, and a billion in the hole…

It makes one want to cry to see so many people content to die after a life on Earth, Without a billion in cash, what was it all worth?

What does it take to be a billionaire? To have so much, you’re not hesitant to share? What does it take to be a billionaire? It takes saying “Please” and “Thanks”, good manners, compassion and grace, and a billion in yer banks…

It spoils one’s good clean fun to see so many people under the gun, only crumbs to be their piece of the pie, They don’t know what it takes and won’t ask why…
Track Name: Before You Hire Me
"Before You Hire Me"
[vonHummer]

Before you hire me, hold me up to the light, hold me up for inspection, check for any imperfection, Before you hire me, fire me or retire me, make damn sure I’m the best or cast me on the heap with the rest,

Before you hire me, put me under the glass, scrutinize my past and my present just in case there’s something unpleasant, Before you hire me, wire me or require me, make damn sure I’m okay or wad me up and throw me away,

Can you weigh my yesterday? Can your personality test assess the mess and sort the sorrow, all in all, to help you say whether my today in any way may deserve your pay tomorrow?…

Before you hire me, poke around in my skull, poke around with questions and quizzes, make me piss in a cup for your business, Before you hire me, sire me, sick the choir on me, say a glad thanks or two that no one’s running this crap on you, too…

Can you weigh my yesterday? Can your personality test assess the mess and sort the sorrow, all in all, to help you say whether my today in any way may deserve your pay tomorrow?…


So many old dogs learning new tricks…
Track Name: Cannonball Viz
"Cannonball Viz"
[vonHummer]

I suffer from an anger that won’t speak, I’m subject to a sorrow neatly contained, and my life is colored by their ruddy stain, but no one knows, cos I’ve covered this pain

with jokes, fanciful conversations and jokes, beautiful smiles and jokes, friendly considerations, here and there a word of encouragement and hope, and has it helped me one iota? Nope.

I suffer from an anger no one can see (who has a sorrow of their own to contain,) and so I assume that you’re likewise stained, but no one knows, cos you cover yourself

with jokes, fanciful conversations and jokes, beautiful smiles and jokes, friendly considerations, here and there a word of encouragement and hope, and has it helped you one iota? Nope.

So now, in the Country Club Hills of my mind, up the high dive, in a Speedo I go, and the joke’s on me this time, cos the pool is filled with unexpressed anger and the pool is filled with camouflaged sorrow as I cannonball into a new tomorrow, just for me: free

from jokes, fanciful conversations and jokes, beautiful smiles and jokes, friendly considerations, here and there a word of encouragement and hope, which never helped me one iota, nope.