2003 was a year of discovery, early creation, being a ‘tween’, and being an arrogant little monkey.
I was eleven, and twelve this year. This year marks a lot of things – the year I really fell in love with songwriting and music making, rather than music just being a fun thing I could sing. I started taking guitar lessons, and started properly writing songs with guitar. This is really where the rubber starts to meet the road, and I start carving a fundamentally musical future.
I was still acting on ‘Doc’ starring Billy Ray Cyrus, and doing a bunch of acting auditions – however, this was also the year auditions would shrivel up for a while (In large part due to the SARS health scare in Toronto), meaning I focused more on music instead.
I also feel like me around this time would make a very interesting TV character that people would love to hate. My initial exploration of music was both fueled by a love of story and imagination, and by a masturbatory level of hubris. I was an arrogant little tween going to a private school, who put way too much emphasis on my TV success, and alienated a lot of potential friends as a result. As solitude from my self-inflicted loneliness and righteousness, I would listen religiously to music, and get lost in my imagination. I was convinced I would be huge in a year or so. Every time I learned a new chord, I would think something like ‘One more chord than my other classmates know. I’m just so far ahead for my age.’ It was really how I approached everything, and I would constantly make needlessly flashy ambitious school projects and side projects (including an original battle card game, and TV scripts) so everyone knew. You’ll hear a magnetic, immense confidence in all of these recordings actually, as a result of practicing a dangerous degree of self-love. I was a big fish in a small private school pond – and so, anything I made seemed like it was brilliant to me, and way beyond my age. Within a year I had excelled enormously at songwriting in guitar. Compare my guitar playing here to stuff late in 2004 – Its like I’m a different person. I could play for six hours a day, and still want to play more. Arrogance was like taking steroids for guitar practice – however, by the end of that year, I would also be emotionally exhausted, and I would carry various regrets for years.
Near the start of the year, I got interested in acoustic songwriting. I was planning to make a documentary about myself called ‘The Greatest Pretender?’, based on my interest in the song by The Platters (but mostly by Freddie Mercury’s cover). It would follow me around to various singing competitions that summer.
I was also interested in artists biographies around this time, and about the idea of inventing a whole career out of thin air. It got me excited about inventing my own. So, naturally, I created a meticulously made 2-Disc collection of sped-up songs and called it ‘The Chipmunks: Worst Hits’, complete with a very carefully made lyric booklet that included fake chart positions, etc. I also would make crappy little animations in paint, and very un-funny Weird Al-style parodies of Queen songs, edited in video software, and then recorded by a mic up to my speakers. Sometimes I’d even record it to a tape dictaphone, and then play it back to the microphone – so the sound quality really suffered 🙂
Later in the year is when things really get cooking. Mainly, once I started including Band-In-A-Box backing tracks in with my recordings. That program is basically something where you type in the chords, choose a style, and it will give you a backing track. I would record these songs with an $8 Windows microphone and ‘Sound Recorder’. Earlier that year, I discovered it had the option to record at ‘CD Quality’, and then I got jazzed about making a lot of supposedly ‘CD Quality’ music. There’s a blend of songs on various albums here that were usually made during one weekend each. I would make these collections and then burn a couple copies to show the kids at school – who didn’t really care.
I would even make Top 40 music charts for my school and stick my songs in them, along with whatever songs were popular at the time.
(Click on images in the slider for details and a larger view)
(The same slideshow is on the ‘Even Earlier!?’ page, so some images are from, well, even earlier)
Click On A Title Below To Be Directed To That Section:
Full Albums: Rubix, The Answer, A Life In 10 Tracks
Everything Else: Videos, Lyrics/Poems Etc, More Audio Stuff
Reflecting On ‘Rubix’, March 2015:
This home-made album was me discovering the aforementioned Band In A Box for the first time, and having fun with it, along with painfully beginner acoustic guitar and other rudimentary songwriting experiments thrown in. Like all of the albums from this period, as with lots of these early albums, there’s only one physical copy of them. Very inspired by early 80’s Elton John, as was really this whole experiment of making albums in those early days. The pure act of creation was inspiring to me – it didn’t matter what the songs were about, or what they sounded like. The idea of sticking them together, and creating a story, and creating an album – that was all I needed. This approach was particularly inspired by listening to an original 1983 CD printing of Elton’s ‘Too Low For Zero’ that I got from a second hand Toronto store. As I was ought to do in those days, my mother and I stopped in there after I had an acting audition, as a little detour before heading home to the Peterborough area.
It seemed with a lot of Elton’s albums, there’s a notorious amount of filler – songs you get the sense that he isn’t very personally invested in. However, even a half-hearted Elton song is still enormously entertaining, gets acclaim, and pushes lots of product – or at least it did in different waves throughout his history. ‘Too Low For Zero’ was a return to commercial awareness for him – and included some very simple songs that had me think that maybe the titles were written first. Lots of joyful filler on that album. Usually you would think ‘filler’ as a derogatory thing, but it actually meant a ton to me in encouraging my own creative development, and encouraged me to create. I thought, even with little prior writing experience, ‘heck, I could do what he was doing. I could write a song on par with ‘Religion’ or ‘Crystal’ – clearly, not really mean what I’m singing, but still have fun writing and creating for the sake of it.’ It freed me up to just write, and to appreciate the unique charm of someone’s more middling work. And basically, I was right. Certainly some of the songs on ‘Rubix’, if refined a bit, and sung by Elton, would have made appropriate filler tunes on one of his early 80’s albums.
I literally wrote different titles down and then just wrote whatever some naturally came as a result of them. None of the originals on this album took more than a couple hours or so to make from start to finish – booklet and all – and I think that’s pretty self-evident.
Lyrics can be found for these songs buried in the lyrics folders by clicking here.
Track-by-track reflections can be found below the playlist.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
‘Rubix’ sort of felt like the title song somehow – it had an ambiguous but memorable title, like a lot of album titles. I think I just saw something on the news about a Rubik’s Cube master, and then wrote this right after. It actually took me till today in March 2015, to learn how ‘Rubik’ is actually spelt! But the ‘x’ is also very of its time – very ‘cool’ in a panderous, disgusting early 00’s way. We had purple ketchup for a while back then, people! That’s how out of hand and ridiculous ‘cool’ had gotten.
I was in love with how the C/D chord sounded – basically, a C chord with a D in the bass. It sounded so expansive and profound – naturally I use that chord in the chorus to emphasize the supposedly profound connection I make between ideas. I also loved Queen so much as a little twerp I tried to fit the word ‘Innuendo’ in – however, I’m using the word totally incorrectly. I also had to do things like stick chords in that are a little awkward, just to prove I could. From the start, it didn’t take much to know generally what chords a song needed.
‘I Don’t Care How Long’ starts as just acoustic, then becomes a band tracked song. My first attempt at a generic rocker. The verse has some wonky chords in it. Already, I wasn’t interested in doing just a straight-ahead rocker if I was to do one.
‘Daniel’ is a cover of the Elton John song. I actually was a great listener back then, but simultaneously too full of myself to hear how lacking everything I was doing really was. Either way, you gotta start somewhere. I remember doing this a year later at a concert in a small-town Ontario church, and people really enjoying it. For a brief period, after this version, when I had figured it out better, this was my go-to song.
‘Its Only Magic’ is a good example of me sticking stuff together and it kind of working. This is someone who has never written music before, who was in love with chords, throwing all their ideas into one pop song. The ‘solo’ in this song is created by the computer based on the imputed chords, I couldn’t play something like that live. So that is literally be saying ‘I like it!’, trying to sound like a hip jazz musician, about a computer. I remember being very proud and excited of this song, thinking it was very catchy. I was much more in love with the idea of something, rather than the actual performance quality of it. Notice the obvious cut and paste in this too – the editing is hilariously bad. Lots of my music back then liked accusing and judging people, since that was one of my favorite pastimes, this song included.
‘Radio Ga Ga’, by Roger Taylor of Queen of course. Man – My voice back then. I loved singing and didn’t care who heard. Loud and squeaky and enthusiastic. Such an interesting, gradual progression my voice took. I don’t really start sounding like ‘me’ until 2011 or so!
‘Levon’, by Elton again. This is a disaster, really. Pretty good for playing guitar for just a couple of months though! I remember how tricky some of these chord changes were. I was playin’ barre chords with relative ease!
‘Video Game’ is the result of putting random chords in with random time signatures into Band-In-A-Box and seeing what would happen. It has slightly coherent moments, but is mostly incoherent MIDI-sounding math rock. This includes more of me praising the random computer programmed solo, and a little singing. I seemed to think every album needed an instrumental. I think I say ‘Ok do the change now!’ as a reference to Freddie Mercury in a song called ‘Hang On In There’. I liked their later stuff more, perhaps because it made me different and special to like it – but I also think its somewhat underrated anyways.
‘Babysitter Joke Song’ was my attempt at comedy. I was proud of it. I was twelve. So there. He sits on babies – he’s a baby sitter.
‘Love Of My Life’, not the Queen song, but an original by the same name. Once you get past the opening, it becomes a band-in-a-box style song. I like that only a couple months into taking music seriously, and being twelve, I could conjure something like this up. There’s lots of musically sensible things happening that are pretty interesting. The key change from verse to chorus, etc – very left field, but decent. I think the keyboard computer soloist went a little nuts on this one. Should have reeled him back more. ‘That’s all you get, you’ll never find love’.
‘Feliz Navidad’, the traditional Christmas favorite. What better way to end an album that isn’t a Christmas album than… with a Christmas song! I think its just on here because its one of the few songs I could actually play on guitar. I remember singing this in a giant, weird, modern Church around this time for hundreds of people at a Christmas service. I have no idea how I got into these massive audiences. I was always entertaining – it was always about the crowd when I was in front of them, for a while anyways. Then it was again when I got my head on straighter.
Reflecting On ‘The Answer’, March 2015:
The Answer was another album, I think made after Rubix – probably the next weekend, over the course of the same day, in between homework. Same sorta format- some songs acoustic, some with band-in-a-box backing tracks. Why mess with perfection ;)? I could churn these puppies out with ease. Not sure if anyone but me ever heard these songs. Just a boy early in his career – making for the sake of making – and to give myself an enormous ego boost. ‘Yeah, I made an entire album today. Whatever.’
Lyrics for this collection can be found buried in the lyrics folder for this period by clicking here.
Track-by-track reflections can be found below the playlist.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
Lovestruck (Radio Edit) – Written quite sincerely about my crush at the time. I was in a private school where literally, there were two girls in my class of eight people – and that spanned grades 5 to 8. And when you have new & intense hormones to start managing – well, you’re gonna have a crush on whatever girls in your vicinity. When I say ‘every time I try my best, in her books I’m number four’, I get a good chuckle. When you’re number four, no matter what you try… forget about number two… gees, buddy, just give up! She’s not interested! I remember doing something to make this song sound a little bigger – I think I double the entire track on top of itself or something. The bonus is a bit better on this album than Rubix – a full version of this song, if you can stand it.
‘Do Ya Love Me Hunny’ is just a meh song. Very Elton John inspired, like his ‘The Wasteland’, which I also covered. But more ‘I Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’. I don’t know why I liked going to the flat six chord of the key so much. It usually doesn’t work. Playing my electric, the first one I ever bought – after watching ‘School Of Rock’ in theaters, I had to get an electric right after. Just had to!
‘The One Man’ is a fun one, in a Scissor Sisters kinda way. Its really about me and how I was a jerk at school, but I would never
have admitted that then. I had learned how cool it sounded to move quickly from a C#7 to an F#m7, and so I wrote a song where I could do that in it. I was also inspired in an indirect way by watching Sloan’s music video for ‘The Other Man’. I wanted to write something with a short catchy title, that features off the top of the chorus, and becomes catchier once you sing it, however simple it may be. I’m making reverse cymbal sounds with my mouth throughout. The ‘that’s more like it’ is in reference to how much nicer the band track sounded when I moved the mic differently on the keyboard speakers – picked it up deeper. I think the mic was literally bouncing from the beat to different spots, hence the different tone quality at different points. I think in that case, I must have recorded the vocals separately. You can tell because there is delay on the vocals but not on the band track. Normally I would just do it all in one pass through a $8 microphone. There’s also an electric guitar layer done separately. Gettin’ more sophisticated! ‘To you the Grinch is nice. Why aren’t you struck by lightning every time?’
‘Do You Love Me Too?’ is my attempt at an Elton John style hurtin’ country-ish song I guess. Like ‘I Guess Thats Why They Call It The Blues’. As always, it sounds way better in my head :), but whatever.
‘The Wasteland’ an Elton cover from his early 00’s album ‘Songs From The West Coast’. Loved that song back then – little things, like the way he would change chords in the verse, I loved.
‘When Do You Ever Help Me?’ is my attempt at Queen-ish ragtime song like ‘Seaside Rendezvous’, without having any idea how to actually write something like that. I just thought, ‘stick diminished chords in there, and have chords change really fast’. Partly true, but of course there’s more to it. So many awkward start and stops. Also includes attempts at backing vocals! ‘Shoobedoowop, shoobedoowop!’
’The Mad Life’ is me complaining about a girl in my class, one of the two. Ironically, she became much more of a long-term friend after I stopped being such a little jerk. Back then, I saw any leisure as wasted time, basically, so she grinded my gears. ‘There’s no point in telling her to keep herself alive’. Ouch.
‘Who Died To Make You Rule?’ is a brutal instrumental. Someone whose barely played guitar three months… you want to hear what they sound like when they make an instrumental? Ugh. There’s other songs from this period I wish I bothered to record with my naive little 12 year old voice instead. This one actually did have lyrics to it too at one point.
‘The Answer’, finally getting to the ‘dark’ title track. All the cute tendencies of someone new to writing – vague metaphors, awkwardly place lyrics and words, as you’ll hear in all these tunes. Even though it doesn’t really work, I like ‘form the saddened thunders, the prophet’s pain said: The real life was nothing at all. This is the time when man ends it all.’ I wrote this cos I loved how D minor to C/D sounded together.
‘This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore’ is a wonderful and new Elton John that moved me deeply back then, because I just found it so sad. Perhaps it set me on a path of thinking ‘I need to sabotage myself so I can write a song this sad and beautiful one day’. If you give yourself a thought like that as a kid, it can seep into you in dangerous ways. I consider this song a modern classic. Definitely not this version of course.
The hidden track is literally tons and tons of jamming, mindlessly recorded, me trying out different settings on an electric guitar pedal called the ‘Zoom II’. I loved that pedal. Self indulgent much? Its just a hidden track, not even meant for human ears really. But it is the favorite track of the Glordip7sians in the Andromeda galaxy.
A Life In 10 Tracks
Reflecting On ‘A Life In 10 Tracks’, March 2015:
A Life In 10 Tracks is perhaps the best of these three quickly farted-out albums I did in my early development – insofar as it has the band in a box songs (which are generally the most entertaining), spread evenly throughout it. The title says what my concept was when I was conceiving of it. That idea sort of died after the first few songs, and then I just started making whatever came. The story seems to be about war and poverty, deep subjects that a little middle-class white boy really has no concept of. Its part of the un-intended humor of it, really.
Find the complete lyrics for this album by clicking here.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
‘Stalingrad’ is my first attempt at an epic. I can’t be bothered to listen to the whole thing. Little reminiscent of ‘The Answer’, and really my early version of ‘The Prophet’s Song’ by Queen. I went to epic right away. I would re-use this song a little bit in a jam song called ‘Breakin The Rules’ I did and co-wrote with my ‘band’, that band lasting for one gig at the end of 2003. We played in a local Battle Of The Bands contest, and we were called ‘The Undead Death Slayer Heck Knights’.
‘Hard Times’ has a nice chorus for a sedated kids song. I remember playing this song at a luncheon for seniors. Seniors dig it. It gains added meaning, being placed next to a song like ‘Stalingrad’.
‘Its Christmas Time At Last’ is my attempt at a Christmas song. I remember this being awkward for me to figure out how to chord, because I created the melody first, and then tried to fit chords around it. The fake keyboard/bell solo the computer created is definitely excessive 🙂 Should have toned him down a bit, if I knew how.
‘Need Your Loving Tonight’, a Queen cover. Basically my world then revolved around Queen and Elton John if you hadn’t noticed by now. An underrated, very simple, endearing Queen tune.
‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’, the shocking turn to a CCR cover! A different 70’s group!
‘Come’ was really made as an ominous transition into the music to follow. Last moment addition. I felt like six was a twisted number, and so wanted to give a weird little tune the space. In either case, its mostly junk. Haven’t heard it since I was a kid.
‘Down The Drain’ begins with the last note of ‘Come’. A random attempt at transitioning music between each other. This is my ‘fight the man!’ rocker. Its hilariously irrational – they all are sick of going to work, and seem to think they can choose to just party instead. Of course! Weird how I had a bunch of these weird verses in totally different keys than the choruses, this and ‘Its Only Magic’ being good examples. I think when I made my fake Billboard Top 40 pages for my class that I printed, I think I stuck this as the #6 hit in the country. I would never put myself at #1 or people might think it was fake 😉
‘Every Deja Vu’ began a few months before, and was going to be a featured song on a proper, professional studio-made followup to ‘My Friend Today’. Another epic! Little more effort put into this album than the other albums, and this is where its clear. We’ve had a bunch of the album be exclusively Band-In-A-Box. I thought this sounded like a hit because of its hooks. I was probably inspired vaguely by the ‘Yvan Eht Nioj’ song from The Simpsons – parodies of contrived boy band pop. I figured out how to edit transitions between parts of songs better by this time as well. Its less awkward.
’39’, the Queen tune, instrumental rhythm guitar. Not very fun, like all the acoustic instrumentals from this period, because I was just starting – however, at least its shorter and more together than ‘Who Died To Make You Rule?’
‘Grand’ is a little piano idea I had. Played live! Proud of my little piano skills! I actually took piano lessons for years growing up, but those skills decayed a little. As I write this in 2015, I’m hankering to get a piano soon and actually get proficient at it!
‘Yeah’ ends it. Its my little in-joke to a hidden track off Queen’s ‘Made In Heaven’. Naturally. Because, I liked Queen. A lot. If you didn’t notice.
All videos completely edited by me, except if on another channel than mine. Ordered generally from newest to oldest, with some of the highlights placed near the start. Plenty of these are only visible here, and have since been made unavailable on the main Youtube page.
Video Reflections, April 2015:
I know there’s a big gap between the playlist and the reflections, that’s a WordPress glitch. Anyway!
This playlist begins with a video we sent in to be considered for nomination for the ‘Young Artists Awards’, not ‘Young Actors’. There’s various clips from various episodes of me, as well as a performance at the end of ‘The Great Pretender’.
This playlist also has clips of Miley Cyrus on ‘Doc’ in her early days. You can see me during the end of this clip. This was a popular show that aired around the world, hence the Spanish dub included here. Its a pretty funny find. Her Dad, country star Billy Ray played the ‘Doc’ in the show, which made it pretty natural and easy for her to get a gig. This was her first acting gig – I remember she was very nervous about it. I vaguely remember sharing some emails back and forth and things like that in those early days of her career. Chatting at lunch one time, she said she really liked 80’s music, and then I talked her ear off about Queen and their 80’s music, because that was of course one of my favorite subjects at the time. One time during lunch, I was walking and talking with her, and her then boyfriend starting chasing me on a skateboard, throwing little rocks at me. I had triggered some Caveman-style jealousy!
The next file is the whole Miley episode, so that includes whatever clips I had in that particular episode. I perpetually played the nerdy comic relief for a while on shows… it certainly is a strong suit of mine. I was very proud of doing this show growing up, I felt very valued. It certainly helped inflate my ego back then to unnatural proportions.
After that, we have a bunch of little animated videos I made, where I would make the images in MS Paint – and stick them with the audio files into video editing software. Some of these are still very fun – others are outright awful. I love how excited I was when I was making these. Its a magic feeling I never forgot. Basically, they star my guinea pig, Piggy – and the voice I created for him. I also would use other characters. My brother and I would make tons of things over the years with these characters when I was growing up. I imagined a whole product line for it as a TV show. I would play pretend with the other kids on the playground as if we were those characters back in Grade 4. In Grade 8, and then a little more in Grade 9 to try and sentimentally recapture my ‘lost youth’, I made a battle card game with tons of different cards based on these characters and others. I have written various script things and stuff like that which have never seen the light of day – things that include Piggy heavily. A dear dream of mine is to make a show he stars in.
‘DVD Video’ is literally a ripped DVD of lots of stuff. It starts with an embarrassing commercial with my brother. But hey, its out there in other places too – tis the fact of life. Its not making it a difference that it’s also here. There’s Osmond footage, performance footage, some of the other commercials I was in growing up. I had very strange posture on stage in those early days – my shoulders were usually hunched up, like some boxer without a neck. I think after the gig footage earlier on in this video, I was really excited because I was going to get to go across the street to the megaplex and watch Austin Powers In Goldmember. Austin Powers was my favorite movie franchise at the time. People in the audience recognized me from across the street and passed me their shoes to sign while I we were in the theatre. And I think it was my birthday too. So, it was too many good things at once, and it was awesome. And the whole situation also kind of made me sick cos it was too good – perhaps the first time I experienced that odd sensation of short-circuiting with too much great stuff at once.
‘New Years Gig Completed’ is me performing at a Battle Of The Bands show on, I believe, December 30th or 31st of 2003. This was my band that lasted one gig, the ‘Undead Death Slayer Heck Knights’. There’s more reflections on the experience of prepping for this show elsewhere on this page. My guinea pig, Piggy, had passed away two days before this performance – and it was hitting me hard. I really took it back then to mean some version of my innocence being over. Of course that’s not really true, and was all made up. I was putting on a brave face by performing and practicing anyways. There’s a song in the middle called ‘Breakin The Rules’, which was something we all stuck together of our intertwining ideas. This was my classic experience with that stereotypical small town garage band. Definitely embarrassing and fun to look back at, for the few seconds I can stand 🙂
‘Performances’ includes mostly stuff from 04, so not of this year, but some stuff that is – mostly stuff you’ve already seen, plus some Osmonds clips that are in the ‘Even Earlier!?’ and elsewhere. More here as a backup in case something happens to those clips, I guess. And don’t both with the contact info at the end, its all irrelevant now 🙂
I also include the 2008 demo, since it has a little bit of my early animations, and some other brief clips from ‘Doc’.
Lyrics, Poems, Etc 2003
Click here – literally, right here – and you will find a folder with some of the lyric/poem/etc fragments or final results that were typed out in the years 2003, for an insight into the creative process.
While there’s a lot of bad ideas here – at minimum, there’s usually a couplet or two that seem pretty good, great, or profound every couple files. The idea isn’t to entirely present things I’m proud of, just like with the rest of The Abravault.
More Stuff (Demos, Etc)
Included here is some things I did for school assignments, covers, a few attempts at originals, a sprinkling of dictations, etc.
The bulk of this stuff would be very tedious to transfer, as a lot of it is on old tapes (!).
But who knows, maybe it’ll end up here one day.
(Click on images in the slider for details and a larger view)
Track Reflections, March 2015 (Updated Jan 2017):
‘Coo Coo’ is just a little taste of a CD we made in our music class at my private school. We were learning African Drumming! I include this just for a little taste of all the characters in my class back then. Truly, they should be lovingly created into a TV show – everyone plays off each other perfectly, like a good show. It would do great. I would love to make that show. You can sense so much from everyone’s personality just by how they introduce themselves. I’m such an arrogant bugger, I have to be ‘special’ and sing part of my introduction. I want to choke 12 year old me! 🙂
‘Are We Not Destined’ was, besides The Greatest Pretender, my earliest attempt at an original song on guitar while singing. Pretty catchy second effort. I used the word ‘bijou’ simply because I heard it in a Queen song from Innuendo. I was a little smart-aleck who liked later Queen more just because nobody else did. I remember having some other first CD of churning out an album a day with my little setup to keep myself entertained and my ego fed – I know this was on it, and I think the rest of it was covers. But I’m not clear where that CD went despite all my perusing. I know there was also a CD compilation of sorts for my ‘Greatest Pretender’ documentary I was trying to make, which included a lot of cover recordings too, attempts at ‘soundtrack’ music with just the guitar, plenty of repeat recordings across those two CDs. I think I have all those tunes in this playlist, think.
‘The Greatest Pretender’ is notable for being the first song I ever wrote with guitar. You could tell I was just excited to use lots of different complex chords for no good reason. No chords really repeat themselves except the main line. I remember we tried filming a music video for this as well, because this was going to be the leading single off a documentary we never made of the journey of me entering various singing competitions that summer. Lots of stuff was taped for it though – I think it was just something to keep my mind active.
‘Deja Vu’ is a rough band track my internet writing partner, Joe, created of the song before I would do more with it on ‘A Life In Ten Tracks’. I sent him a little dictation of the idea and he made this with it based on my suggestions. This is totally embarrasing and just here for kicks. It reminds me of ‘Do The Bartman’ a bit. Joe was such a great support for me, and a big help in motivating me to come up with ideas in those early days. Getting to make music with him online is proof of the magic of the internet! I remember we had to go to chat rooms and stuff to type our thoughts back and forth, and share files. It was back in the day when Skype didn’t even exist yet – kids would talk about MSN Messenger as the cool thing to use to talk with your friends online. That’s how far back this goes.
‘Elton Coffee Ad’ was for a school project where I had to advertise a fake product. I allude to the bridge of ‘Tiny Dancer’ in it. Here’s a picture of the album art I made when I handed it in. I also reference the timeless classic ‘I Don’t Want To Go On With You Like That’ from 1988’s ‘Reg Strikes Back’. Like I said, I’m deeply fascinated by artist’s ‘meh’ parts of their careers, almost love them as much as the good stuff in a weird way.
‘Hard Times’ Live is the song from ‘A Life In 10 Tracks’, with my one-gig backing band at a rehearsal. They were all teenagers… this all sounds awful. All the stuff from this year is hilarious to me.
‘The Great Pretender’ was my staple song around Summer 2003. Done originally by The Platters, but also by Freddie Mercury, whose version I would base mine on way more. My online writing partner Joe sent me a CD called ‘The Freddie Mercury Album’, which is where I first heard it. There’s a bunch of footage of me singing it at tons of contest, plenty of which is in the video playlists. I knew the big last note was a worry for me – we didn’t know if I could hit it, but with the adrenaline of being on stage, I would always do it.
‘As Simple As A Prayer’ is a dictation, a sense of what dictations sounded like back in the day. I’ve never identified myself with a particular religion, never have. Never even was religious at all here. ‘Get This Party Started’ by Pink inspired the melody indirectly. See later in the playlist for plenty more dictations.
‘Brown Eyed Girl’ with my same one-gig band, for that battle of the bands contest near the end of the year. Van Morrison song.
‘White Queen’ is a Queen song from Queen II, as is ‘Nevermore’. So early at guitar… literally just a couple months at that point. My fingers were constantly charred from playing so much. Thankfully, you build calluses and your fingers don’t look so gross anymore, usually. However, I have literally had times where I played till my fingers bled, and stuff like that.
‘Heart Of Gold’, I think, is the first song I ever learned on guitar. I must have been playing for a month or two tops before I dictated this one.
‘Landslide Radio’ is an incredibly unfunny thing I made for a school project. I literally stuck a mic up to my speakers to play the thing I had just edited back, so I could record it all into one file. I was editing it in a way where I couldn’t export it from the project itself. Weird. Anyways. So bad. I can’t listen to this! There would have been other tracks too on the CD, for a paltry attempt at bonus marks, as if sticking ‘Landslide’ by Stevie Nicks on a CD is supposed to improve your grade.
‘Perilous Year’ was for a book about pioneer times we were reading in school.
‘Prophets Song’ Chipmunk is literally the Queen song sped up. This give you a taste of a ton of the dumb ‘Chipmunks’ albums I made very early in the year. To avoid legal repercussions, I won’t include a lot more. However, a lot of them included singing on top from me as well, so I guess its a little ambiguous. I was fascinated with the idea of artist’s careers, go me excited for my own future journey, so I made these Chipmunks CD’s that covered the fake career of them. Chipmunks album art in the playlist above.
‘Something’ is an early vocal warmup tape I would do vocal warm-ups to.
‘Crocodile Rock’, Elton John, natch. ‘You’re My Best Friend’, John Deacon. With an early attempt from my Mom to join me with harmonies.
‘It Must Have Been 97’ through to ‘Ambition’ are some examples of dictations from this time. Often very vague and done with varying levels of intentionality. I thought this was serious music back then :). The lyrics are often just… wow. What!? And of course I don’t have the education to properly express my ideas and enthusiasm, but I could hear it in my head. Trying to express the song in my head with my fleshy limitations is a bit like having a stutter, or a constant case of the hiccups – except other people can get used to it more easily. Some of these titles are so epic and interesting (‘Deaths Montage!’ ‘Moral Of A Funeral Pt. 2’), I still like ‘Sittin In A Bathtub Outside’ as a title. It reads like a song you want to listen to based on the title. ‘Remember The Sun Rays’ was inspired, melodically speaking by Freddie’s ‘I Was Born To Love You’.
‘We All Have A Path’ would be used and adjusted in ‘Bulletbone’, an epic song I was making that I tried more with early 2004.
‘Radio Babies’ is more incredibly unfunny earlier 2003 Taylor, based on ‘Radio Ga Ga’. Artwork below. It was a little E.P that also included ‘You Don’t Play Pool With Me’, based on Queen’s more obscure hit ‘You Don’t Fool Me’. I play that one with the keyboard, which must have taken more work. These were also recorded by a mic up to my speakers.
I’ll skip a bunch of this really unfunny stuff. Nothing much to say. ‘Who Wants’ is based off ‘Who Wants To Live Forever?’ ‘South Park’ would have been for an uncompleted ‘Hammer To Fall’ parody. ‘Great King Rat Remix’. Ugh. Groan. There was also one called ‘A Kind Of Habit’ based on ‘A King Of Magic’, about endorsing smoking. All in jest of course. They were edited in some video software’s 2-channels of audio editing, because that’s all I had if I wanted to really have multiple channels of audio I could visually control. Then, I kid you not, I stuck the mic up to the speakers to just record the audio since I couldn’t export just audio from the movie program. I recall ‘A Kind of Habit’ was actually recorded onto my tape recorder and then sent back through the mic… three degrees of audio saturation and mucking up. I thought as long as I was recording in 16 bit audio though, I was doing well.
‘Pebble’s Song’ was for our cat, Pebbles. She would get noticeably uncomfy if I tuned down the guitar and abruptly tuned it up again, in a funny way. Her pupils would dilate, ears would go back, etc. I think this was included on a first home CD ‘album’ I made in the summer, which would have included all covers except a couple choice songs, and no Band-In-A-Box yet.
‘Unfinished’ would have been my first little dabblings with ‘Band In A Box’.
There’s a bunch more dictations here and smidgens, etc. Not much to say, just a kid starting to learn to play.
‘Message From Piggy’ is from a bunch of silly little cartoon shorts I would have made early in the year with MS Paint. You can find those in the video section.
‘Dario’ is, I guess you could say, my first attempt at sampling. Really dumb. ‘Looking Under The Kilt’ is from a little digital-only album I put together for my class featuring the musical talents of my fellow classmates. Its really a respected piece of traditional Scotland music by Bagpipers that would rehearse in the main armory hall. I snuck a recording of them to stick on the collection, since we would make fun of them. We were kids.
All the little smidgens at the end were, for the most part, included in my Chipmunks collections.