A Note Before:

As I sat down to write these song summaries (which is a real pleasure for me, every time), I realized that very unintentionally, I sequenced this album so that the topics in the songs get “bigger” as the album goes. It starts with very simple ideas, but starts to explode in the middle, and by the end I’m talking about some pretty heavy concepts. (The exception is track 6… “System Error” is one of the deeper concepts on the album, and it hits pretty early. But hey. Shut up.) I don’t know if that observation means anything. Probably just a coincidence. But I think it’s neat.

I really enjoyed working on this album. It was fun, and it went FAST. A lot of the songs were written after my last album, “Third Act Problems.” (That doesn’t always happen.) I recorded all of the principle instruments in about a week. (Also rare.) Even the vocal tracks you hear are mostly first takes. (Pretty much unprecedented.) When stuff moves that quickly, it’s because I’m wrapped up in it and having a good time.

The album title obviously came from the cover photo–that’s my Jonco, who incidentally, does NOT particularly enjoy boops! (He got shocked by one in the first Winter he spent with me and now views them with caution.) I take a lot of cat photos. They’re all over my Facebook and Instagram. This one jumped out at me as an album cover. Title wrote itself.

I think this album is a good snapshot of where I am as a person right now. It’s got a lot of fun on it. A little serious. Some maudlin. A touch of anger. But I think it’s ultimately the most hopeful album I’ve probably ever written. My favorite of my albums is the Vonnegut album (“*”) but this one might be on its heels.

Let’s go song by song, and I’ll tell you where my head has been since the last time we did this.

Lyrics and Song Summaries:

Would you like to do something sometime? 
It could be anything or nothing—either way, it’s fine. 
But if you’d like to do something sometime, 
I think I’d like to move ahead a few steps in this pantomime.

‘Cause we’ve been dancing around it. 
I think we’ve both thought about it. 
So I’m thinking of acting on it… 
‘Cause I don’t know about you, but I’ve been losing sleep.

Would you like to see my cats? 
I’d like see your cats, 
if everybody’s cats will come out to say hi. 
What do you know about that? 
We both have shy cats! 
But it seems like they’re not the only ones who’re shy. 
(Would you like to do something sometime?)

‘Cause we’ve been dancing around it...Etc...

Would you like to do something sometime? 
Or are you good with it how it is? 
I might want something deeper than what we have right now. 
But I’m happy that we’re friends.

But I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve been losing sleep…

A fun little love song. Or almost-love song. Longing? Whatever. It’s about liking somebody and wanting to act on it, but being too freaked out about ruining the friendship or whatever to do it. 

Y’know. Story of my life. 

I like how frantic it is. It’s joyous, but also desperate–which is a bit what having “the feelings” can be like. But it mellows out at the end, too…which also seems appropriate. I think it has a Get Up Kids meets Pearl Jam vibe. But that’s just me. 

Plus, I mention cats. Because that’s my whole thing now.

I wanna watch Game of Thrones with you 
if that’s your favorite show. 
I’d even learn a baseball thing or two, 
if that’s important for me to know. 
What’s your favorites list? 
I wanna go through it–
one binge at a time. 
What’s your favorite book? 
I wanna give it a look. 
Maybe it could be mine. 
There’s one more thing I wanna do. 
I wanna write songs for you.

You and I should build a fort 
of BluRays and CDs. 
And we should keep the password short. 
Maybe a song title by Squeeze. 
Or if you’d rather find a bar 
and shut the whole place down. 
I’ll make sure I can drive the car, 
while you paint the town. 
But then, when we get back again, 
let's finish up that season of Friends, 
even though we’re both pretty sick of Ross’s bullshit.

Then I wanna watch Doctor Who with you—
it’s your new favorite show. 
I’d even watch a football game or two–
how many points in a field goal? 
But what’s your favorites list? 
I wanna go through it–
one binge at a time. 
What’s your favorite book? 
I wanna give it a look. 
Maybe it can be mine. 
There’s one more thing I wanna do. 
I wanna write songs for you.

You and I should sit around, 
talking about what we don’t want to eat. 
Then give up and order out. 
There’s that one pizza place that’s cheap. 
Or if you want some Mexican food, 
I could probably eat that too. 
Wish you liked sushi as much as I do…
but I just want to be here with you. 
And then, we can watch Frasier again. 
We’re getting pretty close to the end. 
Niles and Daphne end up happy.

Then I wanna watch Community with you–
it’s one of my favorite shows. 
I think you’d probably like Columbo, too—
just one more thing I need to know… 
Wanna see my favorites list? 
I won’t even edit it–
though it might get weird. 
Here’s my favorite book, 
and I hope you’ll get hooked 
on this Who song I want you to hear… 
But the main thing I wanna do… 
I wanna write songs for you.

Another love song. And this one’s positive and fun and hopeful! (What’s happening? Is this a Derek Brink record? Somebody look into that…) 

Basically, any relationship with me includes a lot of pop-culture. So this is a taste of what that’s like. This is one of those “idealized relationship” songs where I do some wishful thinking. And it falls into the genre of “a list of things I like” which represents a significant part of my writing career. I’ve been saying for years that sooner or later my lyrics are going to just be lists of bands and TV shows alongside lists of the names of my friends. And this is another step closer to that.

No money. 
No trickle down. 
No money–
they’re gonna push you around. 

What wine goes with eating the rich? 
I feel like it’s a cabernet. 
What good is digging the ditch 
when the work is never gonna pay? 

No money. 
No handout. 
No money. 
No way out. 

Don’t stoke the fire at home 
if your neighbor’s burning, too. 
What good is eating your own? 
There but for the grace, go you. 

No money…

I was as surprised as you probably are when at one point I realized I’d basically written a ZZ Top song. That’s fine. I like ZZ Top. But…y’know…there it is. I think the solo is even exactly the same amount of measures as “Sharp Dressed Man.” I don’t know. Call it an homage. 

Lyrically, it’s a simple song about being pissed off at how hard it is to make ends meet. I’m particularly proud of the line, “What wine goes with eating the rich? I feel like it’s a Cabernet.” And I like how few words are in it. I’m learning lyrical truncation, as time goes on. It’s fun finding ways to say a lot with a little. 

Plus…big scream in the bridge.


I’ve been tinkering with this one for probably a decade or so. It’s really the only “old idea” on this album. I’ve never recorded it before now, and I don’t know what took me so long. Nor do I know why NOW was the time. But I’m very happy with how it turned out. Feels like a modern take on old-west gunfighting music. It was meant for Blue Tattoo back in the late 00s–so I guess it’s been closer to 15 or 20 years. Yikes. Anyway…I think it’s fun.

I put a button on my jean jacket, 
it’s the most important one. 
No other jacket is my jean jacket, 
it’s the most important one. 
It’s my jean jacket. 
It’s my jean jacket.

Not as warm as the leather 
or the canvass one I bought one Spring. 
But in the perfect weather, 
it tells the world the important things. 
It’s my jean jacket. 
It’s my jean jacket.

I put a button...etc…

It’s where I want you to see it. 
It’s how I want you to think of me. 
It’s just a button on a jean jacket, 
but it’s a mark of who I want to be. 

It’s just a button...
on my jean jacket…

I put a button...etc…

I wrote a song about my jean jacket. 

What do you want? Deeper meaning? Well…okay, there kind of is some. There’s a slight commentary about how you choose what to present to the world. Sometimes the things you wear aren’t just things you wear, they’re a mark of your personality. The pins, patches, and other adornments that you put on–or take off–can tell people a lot at a glance. Sometimes so much, it might even be overwhelming, if you’ve got a lot of interests. And that’s somewhat at the heart of this song. 

But mostly, I just like my jean jacket.

Save me! 
This  mind is not my own. 
Save me! 
These thoughts are not my home.

I know your face. 
I’ve seen your smile. 
I haven’t been myself 
in quite a while. 
Find me where I am. 
I hope you understand. 
Follow in my path 
to wake me.

Save me! 
File cannot be found. 
Save me! 
Can you reach me now?

You’ve never known. 
Never really ever known. 
Once we’ve found myself, 
then please take me home. 
Help me live forever 
or at least while you live on. 
As long as I have you, 
I’m never really gone.

I think I can see you. 
Yes, I can almost see you. 
If I could only reach you. 
If I could only teach you. 
If I could only...
if I could only...
if I could...
if I could...
but maybe?!

There’s a lot to say about this one, and half of it probably isn’t even in the song. 

I’d say it’s the darkest song on the album, for sure. I think it’ll be obvious to everyone that the song is chiefly about Alzheimer's (or similar), from the point of view of the patient. I think one of the most horrifying things people say about people suffering from those types of conditions is that, “I think he’s still in there somewhere.” Every time I hear that, I just think, “Christ, I hope not.” Can you imagine still being in there? So this song is walking around with that idea. 

But there’s also an undercurrent that you might not catch… The song is also about AI, which seems to be all the rage these days. It’s about the idea of transferring our consciousness somewhere else, so it will keep going…what if an Alzheimer’s patient’s mind could be kept alive by technology? Maybe THEY wouldn’t be there…but maybe we could still experience them? It’s a hard concept, and that’s probably why it doesn’t come through very well in the song, but that’s what the last line of “...but MAYBE” is all about, as is all of the digital noise (an effect called "Formant") you hear popping in and out, and especially in the outro. (For further, and way more interesting reading on the subject, I recommend the novel “The Unseen World” by Liz Moore.) 

The song also contains the most visceral scream of my recorded career so far. So that’s neat.

I’m going on safari. 
I’m not even leaving the room. 

There’s lion in my stairway 
and he’s roaring up at me. 
If I feed him, he’s still hungry. 
But he seems so happy and carefree. 
He’s a little afraid of the doorbell. 
Likes his world just how it is. 
It’s a big world even when the bedroom door is shut. 
It’s a big world and it’s his. 

And he’s a good boy, 
my little lion. 
He’s a good boy, 
my McGuire.

There’s a panther under my coffee table. 
He’s quiet, but he’s there. 
If I reach for him, he may go running. 
But if I wait, he’ll meet me in my easy chair. 
He lets me know when he wants me 
as he taps on the back of my hand. 
He lets me know when he’s missed me. 
When I have to go he never understands. 

But he’s a good boy, 
my little panther. 
He’s a good boy, 
my Jonco.

And they’re purring…

I mean…you knew it was coming. You knew I’d have to write a little love song for my cats, Jonco and McGuire. 

This is one of the rare songs where everything in it is true (with the obvious exceptions of calling them lions and panthers). McG does sit at the bottom of the stairs and yell up at me. We play a little game where he does that, and I look over the handrail and ask him if he heard a lion roaring, because I sure hope I don’t get chased by a lion, and then when I turn my back he chases me up the stairs and through the kitchen. It’s adorable. And he’s a little freaked out when people come to the door… 

And Jonco does hide under the coffee table and runs away if you try to get him out, but he’ll come right up to you and snuggle in hard, when he’s ready. And he does this cute thing where sometimes I’ll be standing or sitting there and he’ll come up alongside me and tap on the back of my hand with his paw. It’s his way of saying, “Hey…use this to pet Jonco.” And I do. Every time. He also really does hate it when I leave. He sometimes gets outright MAD at me when he sees me putting on shoes.

They’re very sweet boys and deserved a song. So here it is.

I’m sorry about the noise. 
Sometimes it might get loud. 
It’s one of life’s simple joys 
to plug in and make yourself a sound. 
Sometimes you’ve gotta sing. 
Sometimes you’ve gotta shout. 
But sometimes you still need quiet 
to figure out what to sing about.

Don’t you wanna hear it? 
Don’t you wanna see? 
A song can make you anything 
or anyone you could ever hope to be.

Sometimes you sing for joy. 
Sometimes you sing for pain. 
Sometimes you sing to pass the time. 
And sometimes just to keep yourself sane. 
The song is all I know. 
The song is all I have. 
The song is all I’m really looking for. 
And the song is never bad.

Don’t you wanna hear it? 
Don’t you wanna see? 
I’m here in every single note. 
Everyone, take what you want for free.

Don’t you wanna hear it? 
Don’t you wanna see? 
I am just a singer. 
And the song is made of me.

A little love song to music. Very Neil Youngy–except I sing lower. There’s not a lot to say that isn’t in the lyrics. I just dig music, man. It goes into a minor key here and there that’s a little foreboding…you’d think I’d have something to say about that, right? But nah.

All you know 
is meaningless. 
You have no soul. 
You do not impress. 
All you are 
is empty breath. 
You’re heading toward 
an empty death.

You talk down to build yourself up. 
Empty words that aren’t worth two bucks. 
If you’re looking for help, you’re shit outta luck. 
Everything you’ve built will turn to rust.

When I hear you speak, 
I hear static noise. 
No melody. 
A toneless voice.

There’s not a word you say anyone should trust. 
You’ve skated by on looks and lust. 
But it’s fading for you as for us all it must. 
Everything you are will turn to rust.

As anything you’ll return to dust. 
Not soon enough to make what you’ve done just. 
Even the sound of your name fills me with disgust. 
You’ve never been anything but rust. 

Return to rust.

The “influences” list on this song is all over the place. Iggy Pop, Drive-By Truckers, Neil Young (again), Metallica, and so on and so forth. I channeled a lot into this one once I had the riff. 

It’s been a while since I’ve done a song that can be summarized as simply, “I fucking hate this guy.” And if that’s all you get out of this one, that’s enough, but there’s a little more. 

The reason I mentioned Neil Young is that the word “Rust” is very important to a Neil fan. He’s used it fairly iconically in album titles and whatnot. Rust is interesting. Because it destroys, for sure. It is decay and rot and ruin and all that. But it also sort of REPLACES the thing it’s destroying. Something that’s rusted retains its shape, at least for a while… It still looks like a bike or a car or a swingset, or whatever it used to be. But it’s no longer safe to use. It’s becoming brittle. It’s becoming a health hazard. Soon it will be full of holes, then it will be gone. But for a little bit, it looks like the thing it was… 

I sure know some people who keep walking around looking human…but they stopped taking care. They stopped preventing their own destruction. They’re turning to rust. And that’s this song.

When we met, you had a different name. 
And somebody wrote that name on your grave. 
Even though that name’s been dead longer than the one I say. 
Some people never stop being afraid. 
Some people never stop being afraid.

When you were young, sometimes you’d show up looking sad. 
If anyone asked, you’d always say it was nothing bad. 
Truth was you had to find a way to get away from your mom and dad, 
and couldn’t explain it to kids who didn’t know what they had. 
Some people just don’t know what they have.

Somebody asked me if you had been “saved.” 
Some people can only think that way. 
Through surgeries and therapy, you made your body feel less like a cage.
So I said yes, I believed you had been saved. 
Yes, my friend, I do believe you have been saved.

I released this as a single a while back for Trans Awareness Week. Pulled it down at the end of that week because it would be going on the album (and the single version wasn’t a final mix). 

It’s a song about a friend–I won’t go into much more detail than that, because in the short time it was already out there, it came to mean different things to different people and I don’t want the whole story to dilute whatever your experience of it might be. But suffice to say, there’s very intentional religious imagery. There’s very intentional Humanism. A lot of care went into this one. 

The guitar solo is willfully Irish–we do mourning well–and the move to ending with just the acoustic guitar and vocal was a deeply personal one for me. And I was also purposeful as far as the album playlist to follow a song that was very angry with a song that has some sadness and some hope in there at the same time… The implication is that there are those you mourn and those you don’t…

But mostly, Trans Lives Matter. I shouldn’t have to tell you that.


Y’know, it’s really hard to know what to say about the instrumentals. And there are TWO on this record! (Which is 11 less than on “Departure,” but y’know…) 

This one’s obviously very Irish. I’d been playing around with alternate tunings, and it turns out I really love Open C. Counting this song, four songs on this album feature Open C tuning–I’ll leave it to you to guess which ones. (Fun, huh?) 

This song fell under my fingers more or less as a warm-up that I expanded. It was really fun to construct all of the parts of it, and it’s a blast to play–although I need to keep it well rehearsed! It slips away easily, too! When I started playing around with the riff, it made me happy, so it went on the album. 

The word “Slainte” is Irish for “Cheers!” (Or actually “health,” but they use it as “cheers.”) Pronounced “Salon-cha” or “Salon-ch” depending on who you ask and where they’re from.

It’s been a while since I was talking about leaving. 
I never made it out the door. 
‘Cause Logan County is a long way from St. Louis 
and I don’t know the way there anymore. 
People try to idealize things. 
People think the grass is green. 
Truth is home is simply where you lay your head. 
Anyplace else is just a dream.

You’ve gotta make it beautiful where you are. 
You can make it wonderful where you are. 
Everything you’re running from might end up in your arms, 
but you only have to carry it so far. 
The sun is going to rise again where you are.

I’ve tried hard to get around it 
and settle down somewhere else instead. 
But it turns out no matter how far I go, 
I always find myself again.

You’ve gotta make it beautiful...etc…

I’m not trying to misdirect you. 
I’m not saying not to try. 
I’m not saying to let go of the brass ring, 
but it’s up to you to make the brass ring shine.

You’ve gotta make it beautiful...etc…

This song is a companion piece to a song I wrote years ago called “I Go” (available on “Sorry I Didn’t Mean to Shout” and/or several places on the “From the Brink” Bandcamp). I’ve been saying “I Go” is a song about leaving. “Where You Are” is a song about staying. The chord structures are very similar, just with the progressions reversed. The lyrical structure is willfully opposite at all points, too. They both even mention Logan County. 

When I wrote “I Go,” I was in my early 20s. All I could think about was getting out, going away, and being with some idealized person, who at the time sort of existed, but I was blind to their realities that later came crashing down hard. Over the last 20 years, I’ve gotten much more interested in staying still and making something good for myself where I am, with my support system, with no chasing of mirages. I still have dreams, but I don’t have to abandon the good things I have to chase them. They can be built here just as easily as in wherever the hell “Logan County” might be… I genuinely don’t even remember which highway goes there, anyway. 

It always bums me out when my friends who live here will say something like “I’m going home for Christmas” or similar. I know that what they MEAN is “I’m going to see my parents/family.” But I always think, “I really wish you thought of HERE as your home.” I’ve voiced that a couple times and it seems to make people mad. I don’t know why. If home isn’t where you are, where the hell ARE you? You’ve got to MAKE home. If all you do is chase it, you’re just going to find yourself looking for it again. Roots matter. You’ve got to set them down–they can’t all just belong to your parents. But, since we’re on the topic…the last song on the album kinda deals with your parents, too...

How did I get here? 
How did I start? 
Where did I come from? 
How did I end up so afraid? 
What did I drink to get so numb?

I’m one in a million. 
One in a million. 
I’m one in a million, just like you.

I’ve been so down I couldn’t stand up. 
I’ve been so high I couldn’t stop. 
I’ve walked with God and the devil, 
and I’ve been alone with just my thoughts.

I’m one in a million. 
One in a million. 
I’m one in a million, just like you.

We all turn into our parents. 
You get the worst or the very best parts. 
For the worst, I got my mother’s anger. 
And for the best, my father’s bleeding heart.

I’m one in a million. 
One in a million. 
I’m one in a million, just like you.

Earlier, I accidentally wrote a ZZ Top song. This time I’m pretty sure I wrote a U2 song. I’ve got a lot of influences that I wear pinned to the sleeve of my jean jacket… 

“One in a Million” came together from a few sources. One was that I had the “we all turn into our parents” line sitting in a note in my phone for like four years and something about the drone-vibe of this riff made me want to use it. And for what it’s worth, I really do think I ended up with my mother’s anger–which can be very hard to tame–and my dad’s bleeding heart–which I won’t ever try to.

The other major source of inspiration on this one was thinking about a friend who had adopted a child and was about to adopt another. They expressed some nervousness to me about the coming child, pointing at their present kid and saying, “This one’s been one in a million…” And I quickly said, “Well, so is everybody.” (My Humanist bullshit knows no bounds.) My friend later told me that those words meant a lot to them and helped calm their nerves. 

So I had that on my mind. And I had my parents on my mind. And I wrote a song about parents and about being an individual. In the whole world, you’re the only you…but you came from all these other onlys… It’s a big thought for a simple song. Knew it’d close out the album as soon as I wrote it. And look at that. It did.

I’m especially happy with the guitar tones in this song. I had bought a Strymon Cloudburst pedal prior to making the record, and it’s the primary reverb on the record. Anywhere you hear a glimmer of strings, it’s in the “ensemble” mode of that pedal. The single-note stabs on this song are very informed by that reverb and the tone-shaping in it. And the Jason Isbell Telecaster. But that’s a whole other story for another place on the website

A Word Afterward

That’s probably one of the more concise song-summary pages I’ve ever written. Good for me.

Just so you know, this feels like it might be the last album for a while. Unless there are new developments in my personal life that I end up wanting to write about, anyway. If I end up dating somebody, the discography could get real weird. But I feel like this one is a good one to let people just kinda sit with for a year or two. Or whatever.

I probably feel that way at the end of the process every time, but I keep on putting stuff out about once a year or so anyway. This one does feel like it’s got a “period” at the end of it. But it might be a semicolon. Or a long-ass hyphen. I do feel like I’m in a different stage of my life than I was even when I wrote the “Happy Now” record. In fact, I think that one might mark the end of whatever stage that was…and “Third Act Problems” started the new one. It’s hard to look at your own discography and not think about what era of your life you were in when you wrote it. In that way, I’m a lot like Taylor Swift. You heard me.

All I know is that at the end of “Third Act Problems,” I had a couple lyrical sketches and maybe a riff or two lying around. I don’t really have that this time. At least nothing I think needs to be built upon. I might just relax a while and keep throwing copies of the last two albums at people. And the Vonnegut one. It really IS my favorite.

Or, y’know…talk to you again next Spring when my next album comes out. One of the two.

In the interim–however long it may be–I hope you enjoy “Boop.” It really was my pleasure to make it. I didn’t get bored or frustrated. Even the mastering process went smoothly. And I’m still enjoying listening to it. I hope the same can be said for you, when you’ve been living with this one for a few months!

Thanks for listening. Thanks for reading. Thanks for shutting up, like I asked earlier.

-db 4/4/24

All songs written and performed by Derek Brink

Dad, Dave, Susan, Valerie, Tessa, Patterson, and Melody.

Jonco and McGuire. They are the two BEST boys.

The Lynns (of all variants). Kim Carpenter. Josh Woodard. Kristen Little. Dave Knobel. Doug Lay. Jim Ousley. The Gambills. Mike, Abby, Tobias, and all the other nice people I work with. Amanda Bergdorf. Erik, Dan, Will, and Steven. The Heacocks. The Heeleys. Mike Feldman. Kevin “Mr. K” Koontz. And everybody who presses “like” on my cat pics. 

Of course, thanks to Betty, after whom the album is named.

And thank YOU, too, whoever you may be. (This is a double-thanks to those above, of course. If you want to be double-thanked on the next album, do better.)

We’ll move from the expected, to the understandable, to the weird… The Who. Pearl Jam. Elvis Costello. Neil Young. Drive-By Truckers. Jason Isbell. The Tragically Hip/Gord Downie. Aimee Mann. Michael Penn. The Pixies/Frank Black. Big Star. Bowie. Cheap Trick. Rush. Lou Reed/VU. Bob Mould. Sloan. GBV. Get Up Kids. Vigilantes of Love. Old 97s. Ray Davies/Kinks. Paul Westerberg. Little bit of Queen in ways you probably won’t notice. You also won’t notice Squeeze. James McMurtry. Traditional Irish music. Hayes Carll. Leonard Cohen. U2. Rich Mullins (out of nowhere). ZZ Top (which is new). Iggy Pop. Queensryche. Van Halen. Metallica. (No really. Those last few were all serious!

“System Error” draws much inspiration from the novel “The Unseen World” by Liz Moore. She’s fantastic, if you’re unfamiliar.

Guitars Used:
Fender Jason Isbell Signature Telecaster
Fender American Professional Telecaster
Fender Geddy Lee Signature Jazz Bass
Rickenbacker 4003 Bass
Parkwood Acoustic tuned to Open C (everywhere but “Saved”)
1973 Martin D18 Acoustic, Standard tuning (“Saved”)
Ernie Ball Strings on the guitars. Rotosound on the basses.
Shure and MXL Microphones.

None of those companies sponsor me, but I’m willing to talk.