How Big Is Your Album? So Big! Soooo Big!

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I haven’t fact-checked what I’m about to write here because a.) I haven’t written it yet, and b.) I will always choose the better story over the truer story anyway. A few years ago a gigantic book appeared by the Chilean writer Alberto Bolano titled “2666.” I’ve always felt a wierd pull towards South American writers. Maybe it’s those fabulous white shirts that they all wear down there like a kind of uniform. “Jorge, put on your white shirt and we’ll sip espresso and write stories about magical tigers and knife fights on the pampas. Then, following a late lunch, we’ll stage a coup.” It does sound like a good life. I’m positive that most writers south of the equator were models for Dos Equiis spokesperson The World’s Most Interesting Man. I digress. Bolano was known for producing brillliantly cut diamonds of short stories. I’d read one or two in the New Yorker and they were very good. His legacy amongst his English-reading constituency was a lock, thanks to a dedicated and gifted translator. I picked up “2666” not knowing anything about it, which was probably for the best. It is a glorious mess.

Bolano had discovered that he was sick. He was a dead man walking. He’d had a life time of books that he wanted to write in a myriad of styles and genres, but his disease had given him a timeline. So he began writing. Styles weave in and out through the pages and chapters. Characters appear and disappear. There are loose ends (but they are beautiful loose ends!). Genres split open and birth other genres that then devour their parent genre. It’s a bloody mess. It is the final work of a man who had to squeeze everything into one last feverish creative endeavor. I don’t think he would have written something that reckless and driven had he been given the opportuneity to live.

In case you’re wondering, I am neither South American nor dying.

When I finished reading the book, I immediately knew that I had to begin doing the same thing with the group of songs I’d been working on since 1999 as Bolano had done with his ideas for books. It’s easy to work on little things and to perfect them, but to work on something large is like wrestling an octopus. An octopus that hates you. Yet, here we are. Next week, Salty is going to record some Sousaphone for our song, “Belly of the Whale.” I have some singing and talking to do. Paul and Bryce have a couple of things to play. Poor Dave has been done with his recording duties since before Teddy Bridgewater had his first kiss. Now Jonathon gets to go to a secret undisclosed location where he and his rich, luxurious beard can mix this album into something wonderful.

So, without further blah, blah, blah — here are the new songs on the album.

Part I

  1. The Invocation
  2. Ice Cream
  3. La Piscina
  4. Crazy Uncle
  5. Brown Flamingoes
  6. Belly of the Whale

Part II

  1. Champagne Migraine
  2. Volcano (Part 2)
  3. Lawrence of Arabia
  4. Firefly
  5. 800 lb. Gorilla (Part 1 & 2)
  6. Kill a Unicorn
  7. Monkey Moonshine Pie

Part III

  1. Volcano (Reprise)
  2. Tatooine
  3. Release the Bats!
  4. Find a Way
  5. Marangatang
  6. Flip Flop Nation
  7. Tonight We Dine

That’s twenty songs, for those of you counting at home on bare feet.