Grow Sweeter Each Season as We Slowly Grow Old

One of Toby’s favorite songs for bedtime used to be Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Walk on the Ocean,” and like all bedtime songs he favors, it had to be sung every night for months.
Current favorites, incidentally, include “She’s an Angel” by They Might Be Giants, “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors (which I’ve been singing to him since he was a baby), and The Police’s “Walking in Your Footsteps,” because, of course, it’s about dinosaurs.

Anyway, I remembered this video I made back in July when Toby was about two-and-a-half, singing from the comfort of his then-new big-boy bed. Nice for a peaceful Sunday.

A Rap for Euparkeria

20130112-183748.jpgIt can’t be helped. When you have a household with a 3-year-old obsessed with dinosaurs and a daddy with a weird sense of humor and desperate need for validation, silly songs emerge.
A late addition to Toby’s Netflix repertoire is Walking with Monsters, a Branagh-narrated spinoff of Walking with Dinosaurs that features pre-dinosaur creatures in a faux-documentary.

As noted in an earlier post, the original show led to my little ditty about Eustreptospondylus. Well, now we have a protodinosaurian rhyme. It’s a rap of sorts for the Euparkeria (pronounced “you-par-care-ee-uh”), a small-ish reptile with particularly-shaped hip bones that allowed it to go bipedal with great agility when necessary, and served as an evolutionary foundation for the dinosaurs. Or so says Kenneth Branagh.

The rhyme is done in a style reminiscent of “Rapper’s Delight,” with a meter similar to Strong Bad’s “fhqwhgads.”

I bring you “Euparkeria.”

Eu! Par! Ker-i-a!
He’s gonna catch a dragonfly
Eu! Par! Ker-i-a
YOU are my fav-o-rite guy!
(Come on now)
Eu! Par! Ker-i-a
He dunna need to go on all fours
Eu! Par! Ker-i-a
Ancestor to the dinosaurs!

Toby was loving the first two lines, and was hopping up and down on the couch this morning reciting it. The addition of the second two lines, however, seemed to greatly upset him at first, for some reason inducing a toddler spinal-fluctuation tantrum. But he’s come around on it.

The Conclusion of the Harrowing CD Baby Non-Saga

My little tiny-violin, poor-me post about CD Baby clearing its shelves of my old 2004 album has become something of a roller coaster. After I posted the piece, I then went to follow CD Baby’s instructions and told them to go ahead and recycle the three copies of the four they had, and they’d keep one in stock. Upon reading the piece, one person actually buys a copy. Then CD Baby themselves post in the comments section, and here’s the important part:

Hi Paul,
This is Anna over at CD Baby! Thanks for the honest feedback. We really appreciate you choosing CD Baby to sell your music.
All of us here decided that we should keep your CDs for now.

Our promise is that will always retain a copy of your album in our warehouse no matter what happens.

Well howdy! “All of them” decided! I responded that this was wholly unnecessary, and that I was under no illusions of the CD’s viability.

But then, someone else buys the other two once-doomed copies! So, if you’re keeping track, that means there was only one copy left, which is what would have been the case had they just recycled what they wanted to get rid of.

Then someone bought that one, and I get this email:

Help! We need more copies of Paul Fidalgo: Paul is Making Me Nervous.

Congratulations! You’ve sold enough CDs through CD Baby that our all-knowing inventory management computer wants you to know that we need more discs to satisfy anticipated demand.

Wow! Well, though they once wanted to have only one copy around, that special comment from Anna at CD Baby said they wanted to have more copies on hand, after all! So how many copies to they want me to restock with???

quantity: 1

And we end where we began. That should satisfy demand, don’t you think?

* * *

Thanks to all those who expressed (sudden) interest in my music, by the way. If you really want a copy of 2004’s Paul is Making Me Nervous, you can get a real CD here (and that will come straight from me), or download that album here or my 2008 collection Evidence of Absence here.

CD Baby Declares Me a Waste of Space

pimmnIn 2004, I had a couple of months off between theatre gigs, and I took that rare opportunity to pour my heart and soul into the recording of my first full-length album.
This was a decidedly low-rent affair (though a huge deal for me), produced on a middle-of-the-line Dell desktop using Cakewalk Home Studio 2002, which I barely understood, and recording in the closet-nook room in my then-girlfriend’s bedroom in the theatre company’s actor housing. (I eventually got a Powerbook G4 12″, and did the last couple of tracks on Garageband version 1.) I had low-end Yamaha acoustic and electric guitars, a decent mandolin, an old-school (tiny) Tascam drum machine, and whatever else I could muddle together. I worked incredibly hard on it, and it was a true labor of love.

The result was a CD titled Paul is Making Me Nervous (a name drawn from the first line of a Toad the Wet Sprocket song), and was a huge point of pride for me. I remember how thrilled I was when the first box of 100 CDs arrived from the reproduction company, opening it up and seeing what, to me, validated my work, my creativity. It was real, tangible.

The album itself is, well, creaky. Listening to it today, it’s obviously a very amateur effort. But while it is wholly imperfect from a production standpoint (at all levels: mixing, vocal pitch screw-ups, something suddenly out of rhythm, etc.), I think it holds up rather well in terms of the songwriting and the earnestness of the performances.

I actually managed to sell around 300 or 400 copies, mostly sold while I was on tour with my theatre group, selling copies to folks at the merchandise table after shows, held mostly at colleges. A handful of tracks and albums were sold over iTunes (and I mean a literal handful), and, more to the point for this piece, a few were sold via CD Baby, the independent music seller.

Now, CD Baby is awesome. They are fair, affordable, encouraging, and sincere. I’ve never had a complaint about them, and I continue to distribute my music digitally through them, and happily so.

But today I got the following email that made me feel very small:

Hi Paul,

We have too many copies of Paul is Making Me Nervous based on our restock request history.

We can either return the excess stock to you at your expense or recycle it at no cost. . . .

We have too many copies of the following titles:

Artist: Paul Fidalgo, Album: Paul is Making Me Nervous as of 12/18/2012, you have 4 total, with excess stock of 3

Regards,

CD Baby’s Inventory Management Wizards.

That’s right, my 4 remaining CDs in their stock is too much of a burden to them. Based on how my CD has sold, they can deign to allow the space for one solitary copy. CD Baby has determined that my album is a literal waste of space.

I bear them no ill will. I blame them not a jot. But, well, you know.

Music. Boy, I Don’t Know.

There are times (and these times grow ever more frequent) that I begin to worry about how little I know about contemporary music. I don’t just mean the crappy teeny bopper nonsense that, like some viruses, die as soon as they’re exposed to the air (although I partly mean that, as ignorance of them removes for me a common subject of derision). I’m mainly talking about quality stuff made in the past handful of years.

I’m not an old guy per se at 34, but I feel like my knowledge of new music essentially ended around the time the New Pornographers showed up. Just about every subsequent trend, fad, movement, or wave has since flown right by me.

On its own, this has not bothered me. I have so much to think about and do, that I don’t miss keeping up with popular music like I once did. In these recent years, I’ve been broadening my tastes to the more abstract (that last album I bought in full is the soundtrack to the movie Hanna by the Chemical Brothers), as I’ve begun to find the convention of verse-chorus-verse rock songs to be a kind of tired form (though it’s the form I still traffic in). I don’t mean to presume that this has just happened to the art form at this point in history, indeed I have to guess that many folks when they reach my age come to similar conclusions; that the music that might have moved them if they were 15 simply doesn’t mean as much. Somehow, it feels smaller, less, well, important.

Importance, or some sense of “meaningfulness” is probably the key for me. Life is so unbearably short, and there is so much music out there, that it can seem absurd and wasteful to chase after what might be happening in the music industry this very minute, especially when I don’t have any real understanding of jazz or Beethoven or what have you. What do I know about Eastern music forms? Opera? Almost nothing.

So, if in the sturm and drang of everyday life, with parenting, work, and all the rest, a) how can I be expected to give a damn about yet another edgy, acclaimed act or b) learn to appreciate the vast array of music forms that I’ve never been fully exposed to? I feel similarly about books: who cares what’s on the best seller list, when I haven’t read Dostoyevsky!

When I am asked if I am familiar with a current radio hit, I admit, I’m almost proud to say no. But that pride is laced with shame, shame that I’m not familiar with much else either.

I Need to Listen a Little More Slowly

Stephen Fry, with a hat tip to Kylie Sturgess:

A concerto is an argument between an individual and the state. Between an individual and society. It is an individual voice crying out and trying to make a statement of some kind. And it’s often drowned out by the orchestra, and it fights back. And the orchestra fights back. And it fights back. And the dynamic of listening to that is like nothing on Earth.