How I Spent My Summer Vacation

family footprints

My parents own a house down in Bradley Beach. It was decided that this house is where my wife, daughter, and beagle would be spending our 1-week summer getaway as a family.

Behind the house is a small “bungalow” of sorts. It’s kind of a mini house of its own. There are two floors. The first is simply a living room with a bathroom, and then upstairs is a tiny kitchen and two small bedrooms. A screen door leads out to a quaint balcony, complete with railing planters and a glider for two. This bungalow is where we stayed.

We did not do too much all week except get up, drink coffee, walk down to the beach, come back, eat lunch, nap, wake up, hang with family, eat dinner, put the baby to bed, chill for an hour, then sleep. That was pretty much the extent of it. It was wonderful.

I got to dig into some Steinbeck—The Grapes of Wrath. I also played lots of piano (there’s one in my parent’s basement, an old spinet). My sister and her husband visited for a night or two, I played a gig in a nearby shore town of Toms River, we had a couple meals out with my folks, one night I ate some strange cookies and saw Planet of the Apes, another night my wife and I watched Stir Crazy with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, and yet another night we recorded our very first single as the blues duo DREAM HOUSE. My father-in-law came down with his girlfriend one day and we chatted for a while, then went over to Vic’s for some pizza. The order of these events is sort of a blur to me, and it doesn’t really matter anyway.

There is one day out on the beach that I remember more than all the others. The tide was high and the waves tumbled in at a good clip. The water was not too cold, we could go down and walk along the surf together. We all held hands, my wife on one side of my daughter and I on the other, taking a few steps and then swinging her up into the air, causing her to shriek with delight. I know people say things about the sweetness of a child’s laughter, but when it’s your own child all of those horribly cliche things that make you squirm as a younger man (or perhaps woman) suddenly become true—almost in an instant.

This is the strongest memory I’m taking away from the vacation. It’s frozen there in my mind like a Polaroid picture. Probably because I have seen it so many times before. It’s a scene that is so wholly unimaginative, and yet it is the one I keep returning to.

The week ended and we packed up our Toyota Rav4 like a good American family does: daughter in the carseat, doggie in the carrier, and ma and pa up front with a couple of Grandes for the road. I wish I could say the sky was pink as we drove off from the house, and maybe it was, but for now this is all I can remember.

Two Sides Of The Same Coin (An Experiment)

As a musician, there is always a balancing act. You want to make the music that makes you feel good, but you also want to create stuff that other people can enjoy.

So along those lines, I’m posting two versions of the same song here. It’s called “Baby Be Mine”.

These were both recorded on my 4 track cassette recorder. The first version is a simple take of me playing guitar and singing the song. When you see me perform live, this is what you get.

Then I went ahead and did 3 more takes on each of the remaining tracks. These were also all spontaneous, single-take performances. Whatever came out, just came out. There are additional vocals, guitars, a harp, and various other noises. Together they change the song into something a bit different, but that I also happen to like just as much.

Which of these versions do you prefer? Is one definitely better than the other? I can’t really tell. Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think.

Why I Love Ariel Pink, plus a brand new Queens Of The Stone Age cover

Ariel Pink is so good. He just has this quality to his recordings that I love. It’s homemade and all mushed up and just very cool. I think alot of it has to do with the fact that it’s made on a 4 track cassette recorder. Plus he’s just himself. You can tell he just made stuff that he thought was cool. It’s very odd and unique and pure.

I was listening to lots of his stuff when I recorded this cover of the great Queens of The Stone Age song “First It Giveth” for my friends over at Good Eye Records. I hope some of his greatness rubbed off on me. Enjoy!

Brief Thoughts On Whiskey, Death, and Parenthood

“It’s called being a parent!”

Somebody yelled this out to me in the middle of my set the other night in Asbury Park.

I had just finished playing a new song called Whiskey & Jellybeans.

Whiskey and jellybeans
Goodbye to all my teeth
Nothin ta see but gums
Not kissin anyone

The point of the song is to feel better about death. To laugh at it. That’s what a rock n roll song can do. It can give you a way of laughing at death. Other kinds of music don’t have the same power.

Whiskey and jellybeans
Diet of champeens
Can’t get a leading role
Maybe some radio

I finished the song and talked a little bit about getting older. My teeth are falling out, my hair is falling out. My body is crumbling.

“It’s called being a parent!”

I don’t mind a good skewering when I’m up on stage. That’s part of the deal. I’m your sacrificial lamb.

It was a good night. A special night. Lots of familiar faces in the house. A good show brings everybody together. It’s kind of a miracle in that way.

Here’s a recording of the performance.
Quality is not so good, but you can get the feeling.