Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Now We Are Twenty-Eight

A while ago, actually last year, I turned twenty-eight.  Twenty-eight isn't really a very advanced age I guess, but at the time I was tutoring at the university and my cohort of students hadn't even been born yet when C+C Music Factory's seminal track Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) reached number one on the U.S. Billboard hot 100 chart, so I was feeling old. These kids thought Robin Hood was Russell Crowe not Kevin Costner, and the scary movie that gave them nightmares when they were ten?  That was The Fellowship of the Ring.  So I was feeling old.

So of course I did what anybody would do in my situation, which was shut up and write a song about it. The song I wrote is called Now We Are Twenty-Eight, and it deals with, you know, issues.  Like the feeling of feeling old.  Issues and feelings, in one single song - that's value for money. What's also value for money is that you can actually download this song off my bandcamp site and stick it on your ipod or off-brand portable mp3 player for free, and here's why: it's the lead single off my new album, and we've figured out that secret about economics where you make money by giving stuff away.* The album is called Spring Summer Awesome Winter, it's out it June on Monkey Records/Banished From The Universe, and don't worry, we'll talk about that later.

The thing that's quite exciting about this song is that as well as giving it away free to the good people of the internet (that's you), Ms. Millicent Crow and myself have also done a limited edition hand-printed run of actual physical copies, handmade on this nifty little screen-printing machine called a gocco.  I can't remember why we decided to do this, but here's what we did: each of us designed a cover based on pictures of a petrol can and a pile of books (which are kind of in the song), and then we printed up fifty of each of them, making a total run of 100 copies.  These are available exclusively at shows until they run out, or if you see me in real life you can ask me for one.

What I will do before I give you one, though, is get you to look at both of the designs and make you tell me which one you like the most. I've been doing this to people for the past week or so, and the results so far confirm what I suspected, which is that I'm not as good at drawing as Ms. Millicent Crow is.  So far 100% of respondents have said they like hers the best, but on the plus side they've given me feedback like 'Your one is actually surprisingly OK,' or 'that's not bad  for someone who doesn't draw much.  You don't draw much do you?' Which is pretty encouraging.  I mean yeah, I don't draw much. I'm kind of an outsider with this drawing thing.

 Millicent Crow's one

  My one.  I think mine has a naive charm.

The other quite fun thing about this song is that Nigel was apparently shooting video on his little camera the whole time we were tearing around Europe in an A-class mercedes on the tour with Tim Guy last year, and he's put together a video for the track using footage from that time that features me looking reasonably classic with my touring beard on, driving quite fast, sleeping in cars, talking to geese and so forth, which is a fair summing-up of what went on on that tour. Like the best music videos, the pictures don't have a lot of connection to the song, but it does feature a guy nearly setting his face on fire and it's definitely worth a look for the waterfowl alone.

And just in case you were thinking that there isn't another thing about this song - wait, there's another thing about this song: it's actually three songs!  So both the free download and the handmade CD include the title track Now We Are Twenty-Eight, and also two more tracks from the Spring Summer Awesome Winter sessions.  The first, The Old Place, is about accidentally telling the cab driver to go to the house where you used to live instead of wherever you live now and then rambling at him about it, which I think is something that most people do at least sometimes.  For various reasons that song won't be on the album, so I guess its official status is 'outtake.' The other one is a complete reworking by Nigel Wright of another track off the album and one that he's been doing with me in the live set lately, and it's a totally unrecognisable and very beautiful reverby drone piece that makes me think about falling asleep in a long-range nuclear submarine, or maybe inside an empty grain silo on a hot day, and having a dream about alien monks chanting in slow motion, which again is something I think will resonate with a lot of people.  So: Content! For you! Hope you like it.

*If I tell you how it works, economics will stop working, money will become worthless, and we will all starve.