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miwa gemini


Week 35 - Cemetery Polka (Tom Waits, 1985)

Week 35 - Tom Waits (1985)

One of the many things I love about Tom Waits is his ability to make music with just about anything.  Unusual instruments, unusual subject matters, unusual ideas, unusual situations - all of these things makes his world so exciting and interesting.  Like this week’s song, Cemetery Polka from the album Rain Dog. It's a song about aging relatives who are mostly insane, dying or both. Absurdity with a twisted sense of humor ran through this song and it includes some of my favorite rhymes like “egg” and “wooden leg” and “hotel” and “hell.”  

I read that Tom Waits walked around NYC recording street sounds and other ambient noises on a cassette recorder in order to catch the sound of the city for recording Rain Dog.  Rain Dog is one of my favorite albums and it makes me happy that it was written in my old neighborhood West Village, though I’m sure it was quite a different neighborhood back then.  

I’ve been wanting to to do all toy instrumentation and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.  We had a great time working on this song.  I hope you enjoy!

“If I want a sound, I usually feel better if I've chased it and killed it, skinned it and cooked it.”  - Tom Waits

And a happy belated birthday, Mr. Waits!



Week 22 of 52 Weeks - Billie Jean (Michael Jackson, 1982)

Week 22 - Michael Jackson. 

I was thinking that doing this project might be similar to speed dating.  You have to assess the personality of each song and try to figure out how you can relate to it, and the end result is somehow always surprising.  I had a vague idea that we might want to do Michael Jackson but picking this one was a surprise and an even bigger surprise was that how much we enjoyed it!  It’s such a well written song, during the rehearsal Bekah and I kept on saying “one more time!” because we couldn’t stop.  Michael himself said that he knew it was going to be a success - "A musician knows hit material. Everything has to feel in place. It fulfills you and it makes you feel good. That's how I felt about 'Billie Jean'. I knew it was going to be big when I was writing it."  Quincy Jones wanted to cut the long intro (29 seconds!) but Michael told him that that’s what makes him want to dance!  Later Jones said “and when Michael Jackson tells you, 'That's what makes me want to dance', well, the rest of us just have to shut up."  

Hats off to you Michael.  You were a true genius.



Week 21 of 52 Weeks - Dress (PJ Harvey, 1991)

Week 21 - PJ Harvey.  I still remember the first time I listened to Dry, PJ Harvey’s first album.  It just blew my mind.  She was, with a lack of better word, so COOL.  I haven’t heard anything like it before, she was intense, poetic, angry and damn sexy, just all around badass.  She was the first artist I saw using a bottle neck with her guitar and I bought one the very next day and tried to use it and miserably failed it.  It took me another 10 years before I tried it again…  When I decided to go solo, I spent hours learning every single songs from Dry.  There are other albums by her that I love, but Dry is the one that I always go back to.  She is one of a few artists that truly changed me.  And I’m very please to be able to pay homage to her by singing one of my favorite songs of hers which happened to be her first single.