Is this the new album? No, that comes out on May 13th (album release party May 13th at Ottobar!!! You can still donate and pre-order at www.gofundme.com/brookslong)
This, friends, is my island of misfit songs I call The Songster Part 2. (Long story) It's an ever-expanding collection of songs that don't fit with The Mad Dog No Good shows. So I've got nine new ones for you - My Mission, Hallelujah Choir, She Done Digged Deep, Tenderness, Blues In The USA, Empathy, The Songster Part 3, Strange Jigsaw Case and Mr. Trump. What a guy.
This 2nd edition is dedicated to Cody Chestnutt, who showed me that if an artist has something to say, he or she can and should find some way to say it, conventions be damned. Also, I unconsciously stole his main lyrical theme in "Headphone Masterpiece" for The Mad Dog No Good's upcoming album, "Mannish Boys."
-Brooks Long, April 2016
Table of Contents
I. Incoherent rant
II. Coherent rant
III. What is The Songster Part 2, anyway?
There is a great spewing revolutionizing our times. Every thought, emotion, ambition and whim is casually immortalized by the great glow of the nexus. Type, type. Click, click. New ones all the time and in the tangled jungle of the nexus you can either read or be read by friends you never would have had before. Yet here we sometimes see great warfare, powerful aggression, though without the sting of suffering because it doesn’t really matter, does it? And you read more words than your grandfather ever did, but what matters? Only the glow itself matters, says the glow. Can you remember how much every sound, every painstaking etching must have mattered at the beginning of language? Tree. Mother. Beast. Love. Out on some dangerous and golden African savanna, can you recall the value of meaning? What a struggle it must have been to get near the center of your mind’s focus, what a rush when you found others who had been trying to get at the same center, as if there were a center somewhere outside of the mind. Truth. Sometimes you sang it to each other. You felt proud, connected and mortally comforted when someone remembered your sounds. Oh dear, but here come the lies, and using the same sounds too. A lie is a non-thing that isn’t or doesn’t matter. Since there is more of nothing than there is of something, there are more lies than truths. Yet every lie desperately wants to be true. Today, there are many desperate people, people willing to pacify and be pacified, knowing they don’t mean what they say when they say they are searching for truth because they know they don’t have the time. Lies grow stronger and faster by the second, while truth comes by the same slow struggle it always has, its verification requiring a solitude the glow cannot provide. I am no better than you and cannot claim any truths to waste your solitude on, but I have been searching. Stay a while, away from the glow that we may soon find the substance and the center of the substance.
Which is to say, The Songster Part 2 was, is and will be written away from our hyper-connected world and if there is anything of value in it, you will find it when you distance yourself from that world also. If you don’t have the time, believe me, I understand. There is so much happening these days, isn’t there? Hard to keep up with it all, much less slow it down. I wrote the above some months ago; you’d think something happened to my head. But just because a man goes crazy doesn’t mean he’s not saying some real shit; check out Sly & The Family Stone’s “There’s A Riot Goin’ On.”
The glow of a computer screen. You know, social media can be so wonderful, but ultimately it scares me. Yes, it is a place where we find engagements, births, graduations and occasionally thoughtful social discussion. But much of the time it is a place to blurt. And blurting is strongly encouraged on these sites; it is the quantity, not quality, of expression that generates attention. I can’t see this being good for anybody, most especially artists. The time it takes to step back, take a walk in the park, internalize and reflect is time that could have been taken to blurt twenty or so posts that would really do well for your “Likes” average. Yet no one needs social media attention more than an independent music artist and yet still no one needs to stay away from the blurting environment more than an artist. What the hell are we going to do? We owe it to our art and to the fellow artists who help us create to bring attention to the art; we also owe it to ourselves and to those who give us attention to make sure we are creating great art. You can’t take money or “Likes” with you to the grave, but great art rarely goes in the grave in the first place.
On the way to an amazing Al Green concert in 2010, I got into a car accident that should have killed me. After that, I felt great pressure to release an album that would show totally who I was as an artist just in case I never got another chance. That was The Songster, which we’ll now call Part 1. But now it’s 2015 and I’m still not dead. I spent a few years literally believing I had to allow my passion to kill me; I sacrificed my finances, my relationships, my friends, my family and sometimes my own life, accidentally. Figured it was worth the risk; some sort of “beautiful suicide” notion. Stupid. I don’t care how many others have that notion; I don’t care how many times that notion has worked out for people. It’s stupid. Live your dreams, yes. Let them kill you? Fuck that shit. Anyway, I wound up on the side of the road again, this time after my own gig. Could have died. Again. But Geico Roadside Assistance and my dad came to the rescue, just like he did a thousand times as a kid. Later that night, he drove me to the train station so I could make the Wilmo Rock Circus. Backstage after the set, I told the guys something had to change and I needed time to do some figuring. That’s when I thought up The Songster Part 2.
The Songster Part 2 is not an album, but a continually expanding collection of songs that will be added to every few months or so for the rest of my life since I am now under the assumption that life could be quite long. It is a promise to myself that I will uphold my life-long commitment to song craft no matter what the future holds in store. Is The Mad Dog No Good still going? Of course! As long as it still makes sense. And as of this writing, I am very grateful that it still makes sense. But you know how it goes. I just don’t want some snot-nosed kids asking, “How come Grandpa Brooks never has any food for us?” “Don’t ask questions, honey. Just tell him he looks great for his age and that the band’s gonna make it.” I’d rather them come over, get some good, possibly nutritious food and play them some records. “This is Sam Cooke. The ‘e’ is silent. Yes, you can have another cookie. Did your parents let you have a Facebook account?” Then after they went home, I’d pick up my guitar, turn on my futurized recording machine and maybe that’s when I’d finally, after all those years of trying, finally make my masterpiece.
I wouldn’t consider these songs demos, but my main concern is not production, as you can probably tell. On my home recordings I had fun, but I’m sure a million things were done wrong and since The Songster Part 2 is my own little corner of the world, I will happily keep them wrong. Lo-fi, they call it. But if anyone wants to spruce any of these tunes up proper, be my guest! It’s every songwriter’s dream that people will keep singing the songs. For me, as long as the songwriting is presented well enough, I’m satisfied. So yes, now that I think about it, these are a bit like demos. But I hope they connect.