Monday, June 29, 2009

Pantemonium! in progress: Older Woman

This track has a heavy Michael Jackson influence. Thought I would tip my shiny hat to the one-gloved master. I hope he's far from pressure and Post-It notes now.

I wanted to try to write something with a little more soul while simultaneously paying tribute to some of our hardest-core fans. Make no mistake - I love the older women. Look at Farrah Fawcett. Smokin' until the end. There are too many to name.

Still on track to have the new album finished before summer's over. Dante's going to paint up a nice cover.

Tell us what you think.

Older Woman (mix 09) MP3

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson - Exit, Stage Right

The dissection and autopsy of Michael Jackson’s life and career will be duly carried out by sources more dispassionate and morbid than me, so I’ll try to be brief.

Dude was weird, no question. But nice, friendly, polite. At least to outsiders. That may seem like a funny thing to talk about, but you’d be surprised at how many famous people (especially the young ones) are complete jerks.

As for the weird, you’d be weird, too, if you had the upbringing he did. I experienced my own bit of precocious youth pressure back in the days of The Short Pants, trying to balance “academic excellence” with “making hit records” and chasing girls. But it was nothing compared to what he went through. The awful family situation. Worse was the early success and life in the spotlight.

I keep thinking about this Rolling Stone article I read back in the late 80s before “Bad” came out. The writer had followed Jackson around and had noticed a Post-It note in his bathroom that just had “100” written on it. (Jackson was way into the motivational Post-It notes).

He asked what that meant, and Jackson replied “I am going to sell 100 million copies of ‘Bad’ – that’s what it means.”

At that time, Thriller had sold about 40 million, making it (for a long time) by far the biggest-selling album ever. It had cameo appearances by Eddie Van Halen, Paul McCartney, and Vincent Price. It was promoted with a fantastic live performance broadcast on TV and backed up by a series of groundbreaking videos. And it hit at a time when the record industry badly needed a modern, catchy, optimistic record with broad appeal.

Thriller would go on to sell 100 million copies.

In short, it wasn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime event, it was a once-in-an-industry event. And Michael Jackson was convinced his next record (ominously named “Bad”) was going to do 2.5 times the business.

Kid stars have it the worst – they grow up knowing nothing but the spotlight. They’re forced to grow up in front of everyone, fumbling for new identities as teens, young adults, and finally, mature adults. I don’t know that Michael ever acknowledged he was getting older. The pressure he placed on himself was enormous.

He didn’t just want to be the best singer and dancer, or write big hits (and unlike many pop stars who take publishing/writing credit in exchange for recording, Michael did write many of his hits - he wrote the main riff for “Beat It”, among other things). He wanted to transform himself and went far to do it. I’m sure the physical, mental and emotional pain he kept himself in was not pleasant.

The kids. Nobody but Michael knows for sure what went on. But when you get to be that rich and that famous, and you’ve been that way your whole life, you can’t trust anyone over 13. Every time you allow yourself to meet someone new, you’re asking “Are they interested in me, the person, or my fame? Or my money? Or something else? Is this a trap?” Hanging out with kids too young to understand his life was the closest he could get to real human interaction. I’m sure he knew it was sort of messed up, too. Think about what that knowledge must have done to him as well.

I hope he is finally free of his demons and those goddamn Post-It notes. If nothing else, he’s at least free of the spotlight.

When I think of Michael Jackson, I think of a summer dance in 1982. His voice echoing off the walls of a Duke University gymnasium, as I danced into the night. I've never been sweatier, funkier, or more lost in the music.

Every night I step up to the microphone and The Pants fire into another song, I am chasing that one moment.
Billie Jean
Wanna Be Startin' Something
Shake Your Body Down To The Ground
Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
Leave Me Alone

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pantemonium continues: Love Makes You Real

This week's track-in-progress is "Love Makes You Real".

Close-to-final mix here.

I really like this one. Not just because the chicks go nuts for it, either. Makes me feel sorta lump-in-the-throat when I sing it sometimes. Lots hidden away in such a tiny little song.

I was made a hollow man
My head all stuffed with fluff

I thought that was enough

Gears and machinery and fear
inside of me
I thought that's all there was to be
I never felt a thing
I never had to sing
I never laughed or cried
I never wondered why

I wonder where you are now
You showed me how to laugh
to cry to feel alive
You showed me
Love makes you real

Have you ever felt like you forgot something important
but you can't remember what?
Have you ever had a broken heart?
The kind where it cuts so deep you don't want it to stop?

Sometimes it hurts

It feels like you might burst
But once you're real, you can't go back
Once you're real, it lasts

I want you
I need you now

You showed me how to laugh
to cry
to feel alive
Love makes you real
(C) 2005 Erich Zahn Music (ASCAP)

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Best Song I've Ever Written

Image from via GooglePantemonium! is coming. Work is proceeding slowly, but it is proceeding. Drummer Dante is headed back in for more hand surgery today (we're all wishing him luck) and T What!? is still in China touring with acrobats or whatever his solo project entails.

Me? I've been in the studio mixing.

I'd like to present what I believe is The Best Song I've Ever Written. It's called Summer's Promise. This is the current rough mix. I wrote this song back in 2005. It's based on a true story, as are many of my songs.

The lyrics may be a little corny, but I love the feeling. The melody, the keyboard line, the guitar parts - I don't know how it turned out so good, but I'll take it.

Let me know what you think. Snare drum is too loud or something. But it's very close to done.

It was June and July, it was her and me
It was meant to be
When the heat of the day became the heat of the night
We held each other tight
And we danced
All summer long
And we sang
All summer long

But vacations end and it was time to go
Returning home
On my own
All that year I carried the mark of Summer's promise
On my heart
I would wait for Summer to come
Counting days
Until they all were gone

But Summer's promise never meant to last
She gave her heart and then she took it back
People change and the world spins so fast
Summer's promise never meant to last

Next June arrived
And so did I
With a flower and a smile for her
But the look on her face told me everything had changed
We never talked about it
But there was no doubt

And to this day, I have a scar
Where her promise broke
and cut my heart
and I cried
All summer long

Summer's promise never meant to last
She gave her heart and then she took it back
Feelings change and shatter like glass
Summer's promise never meant to last

(C) 2005 Erich Zahn Music