This album is the sister-album to "Almost Moving Backwards." Both were released the same day. Of the sisters, this one's a little more grumpy. Still a good kid though. This metaphor is thin.
I explained a little more of the background of both albums on the "Almost Moving Backwards" page. So I encourage you to read that too. But in brief this album was meant to be "part 2" (or "side b" as it were) of the same album as "Backwards." Following the format Dylan laid out, there was going to be an acoustic "side" and an electric "side." This album would've been the electric "side." But time, logic, and an excess of songs shelved that plan. Instead I put out an Americana album ("Almost, etc") and a rock album (this one) on the same day.
It's worth mentioning that when I had the idea to do the "two sides" plan, there were less songs. But stuff got fleshed out and it made more sense to split them up entirely and give both their own personality. When I wrote "I Hope Your Happy" and it got placed in the "electric" pile, this album's title was born.
The art is super simple, obviously. Just letters in a bunch of different colors on a blue background. But it might interest you to know that the blue background is actually a photograph. Two Summers ago I was outside and took out my phone to take a picture of something on the ground, but the selfie camera was turned on and I saw how BLUE the sky was...so I took a picture of that instead. And I used it here as an album cover. Which I think is neat.
As I said on the other page I've summarized the two albums by saying "Almost Moving Backwards" is about regret and "Happy Now?" is about anger. But it's not that simple--nothing ever is... This album's also got some loss and regret on it. And some silliness. And fun. And reflection. And so on. Which I guess leads us into the song write-ups, huh? Let's get to it.
I Hope You're Happy
The song, of course, is a "lost love" type of song. But it's one where you wish the other person well. Which there isn't much of on the rest of the album. Or on the other album coming out the same day. This is pretty much the one spot of well-wishing on the project. And it feels good to start there. In tone it's sorta GBV meets Bob Mould...which is actually probably a fair summary of my overall career, if you throw in some Who as a mixer...
This one's simple. It's fun. And it does absolutely nothing to prepare you for what follows. :)
How Do You Let Go
Even though it's angry, this one's still fun. I like the piano part in it, which you might not even notice. It's a very energetic, "up" song. It's bitter though. A good old-fashioned "break-up" and "kiss off" song all in one. And it's punky, which I always enjoy doing and hearing. Not much to say about it. Just enjoy it. Or not. Whatever.
If I'd Known You
I particularly like that I wrote the line, "You're so vain, you don't know that this song is about you (THAT'S HOW THE LYRIC SHOULD GO.)" Because I've always hated "You're So Vain" for linguistic reasons alone. So I got to address it here. For no good reason. Yay!
I'm going to get out ahead of it and admit that the chorus of this song and the chorus of "Midlife Suicide" later down the list are close to identical. I think they're even at the same BPM. Oops. Didn't hear it until I was into mixing and mastering. We all make mistakes. Hopefully that one's forgivable. If it isn't, pick whichever one you like best and listen to that.
This one has actually been around a while. I demoed it for my band Blue Tattoo several years back, but it was decided (by others) that it wasn't a fit for what we did. I disagreed. But it took me 10 years to use it, anyway.
Look...there's no summary here. It's a good, cool riff and a guy yelling "Bullshit." You either think that's fun or you don't. If you don't, I'm not sure we're likely to go to the same cocktail parties. But that's cool. It's like a minute long. You didn't lose much, all things considered.
I first started playing this song with a band called Uncle Dick in the early 00s. I've always loved it and wanted to go back to it. I like playing it. I like singing it. I like the harmony vocals. I like everything about it. I'd even like it if I hadn't written it. Uncle Dick recorded it in one form or another over the years, but never really nailed it on those recordings, in my opinion--no offense to the other guys. I don't know if I nailed it here either, to be honest. But this is the cleanest and best it's sounded so far. So that's something.
I've toyed around with what to say about this song over the years. I sort of know what it's about--or WHO it's about... But I like that it's not that clear, too. Long story short, I had someone in mind when I wrote it. I don't really know that person anymore. But when I play this song, I feel the same feelings I did at the time. Feelings of love, but also of disappointment and desire to see the person become better rounded. "Cry, baby, cry..." And all that. In some ways it's a sad song. In others it's...I don't know...not?
I like this song so much that I don't want to ruin your experience of it any further by getting more specific about the reasons I wrote it almost 20 years ago. Just dig that fucking bass solo.
That Weekend (Blue Tattoo)
The tone of the song comes a little bit from listening to the soundtrack for the movie "Juliet Naked" which is based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name. I liked the book and the movie a lot...so I also bought the soundtrack. It's good. Despite the involvement of some people who've since been rightly "Me Tooed."
The "Blue Tattoo" phrasing is important to me, by the way. I was in a band named Blue Tattoo for several years. Several of my BEST years, in fact. I miss that band. A lot... The band was named after a song on the "Hard Core Logo" soundtrack. Lotta soundtracks involved in this song...
The solo is, of course, basically just "Heroes" by David Bowie, with a twist or two to keep me from getting sued by a dead man.
The "story" in the song is what it is...it's about a Friday night that turned into a Sunday morning. But then on Monday, everything was back to normal again. So it goes...
I don't want to say much about this song. It's one of those lyrics that will mean something to you if it's SUPPOSED to, and whatever anyone else reads into it--INCLUDING THE AUTHOR--shouldn't change it for you. I could go line-by-line and tell you what every WORD of this song means to me...but it might hurt what it means to YOU and I don't want to do that with this one... I will go so far as to say the "God in my window" line was inspired by the fact that I slept with a Dream Catcher hanging in my window at the time of writing...but otherwise it's all up to you.
This song has an obvious (to me, anyway) Bowie influence. I hope you can hear that. If not, that's cool too...but Bowie's all over this one, in my heart.
Fight to Win
The song is, obviously, my strong statement in support of the BLM movement. I don't think I need to say more than that. Black Lives Matter. That's all I'm saying. As loudly as I can.
The audio from the protests was pulled from the social media feeds of friends who would prefer to go uncredited. Because sometimes even being on the right side of history comes with a need for anonymity.
Look...you know what I'm saying... I'm saying it's LIKE suicide...but it isn't suicide... Can we just move on?
As mentioned above I realized too late that the chorus to this song is virtually identical to "If I'd Know You." But in my defense there is MORE of it in this one. Whatever.
This is a song that's basically a guy looking at an ex and seeing that they're spending their 40s pretending their in their 20s, and that just doesn't end well. That's all there is to it.
The Party Years
Look... I know it's basically a song by The Hold Steady. I didn't rip them off, but stylistically, it's in that same vein. It happens. You have influences. You have sleeves. You wear one on the other.
The lyrics are a brief summary of what it was like to be in my rock band in high school. It's not verbatim. There's some exaggeration. And the names have all (or mostly) been changed. Actually...that's maybe an interesting window into my "process." I'm in my 40s, right... So... Like... By the time anybody is above the age of like 21-25 you've probably got names in your phone that you don't call a lot, but when you see them they spark a feeling. Not LOVE. Not HATE... But just something. They're names that mean something to you. And if you're a writer in any genre, your phone's "contact" list is a GREAT resource for names if you need them. Pick the names that mean something, but not EVERYTHING...and you've got your character names. And that's how I wrote the bridge for this song.
But at least most of us weren't doing coke when we were teenagers... There's a little fiction for every fact...Just to be clear about that...
The clip at the front of the song was from a tape of a party that band played when I was like 14. Some of the party-goers had drifted upstairs and somebody (I'm not sure who) grabbed the microphone and yelled that into it. I rediscovered the tape recently and decided to use that as and intro. If anybody wants to claim credit for being that voice, please fill me in. :)
The lyrics of this song are as close as I will ever get to being able to explain to people what my complete theological and personal breakdown was like in 2019. This is the closest I will ever get to being able to explain what it's like to live with depression but also find hope through God in music, even though you aren't sure if He's singing anymore. It's the closest I'll be able to get to explaining what I wrote in the liner notes of my very first solo record "Grounds..." "Nada Brahma--the SOUND is God." ...but what if music doesn't work this time?
In 2019 I hit an all-time low. So bad people could see it just looking at me. So depressed, broken, and miserable that people were actively telling me what they thought I should do to feel better, like it was any of their fucking business. The most poignantly yet unintentionally hurtful thing anyone said to me during it was, "Are you feeling better yet?" And I wanted to reply, "IT'S NOT A FUCKING COLD." Instead I wrote this.
In that time, several people reached out to me in the right ways. The first person to do so was my friend Becky. She's outright NAMED in this song--in this case it wasn't just a name I picked from my phone. The Becky named in this song is absolutely a real person who made a personal, real gesture to me that meant a lot. She sent me a simple message on August 26, 2019 saying, "...I just wanted to say that whatever is going on, I hope it gets better and I'm always here if you need to chat." She was the first one to say anything. She even beat my *family* to it--although they were hot on her heels. I produced some music in the immediate aftermath of that time. Becky listened to "A Prayer in Faithlessness" and in part said, "If you're not ready for talking, keep writing and singing out the pain. To me, music is a great healer of pain!"
Becky's chats and messages are all over this song. Because they're the closest thing I had to a theology at the time. In fact I think the ideas in the lyrics of this song may be the closest thing I've EVER had to a theology, long before Becky echoed it. The SOUND is God...but what if the sound doesn't work? I'll still sing this way...forever...lost in the floodlights...they feel like home...etc...
This song might be the most personal look behind the curtain I've ever given. But you'll have to cut through some metaphor to see it.
There was no question that this would be the last track on the album. I couldn't top it. I hope some of you get it. And thanks again, Becky. I'll keep singing. I promise.
I like this album a lot and I hope you do too. Thanks go to the usual folks, as stated on the page for "Almost Moving Backwards." All the same names from there apply here of course. But I want to particularly shout out my friend Becky, mentioned in "Denouement." A small, simple gesture on her part is sort of responsible for the whole of this album. "Keep singing" indeed.
Influences on this album:
Anything else you bring to it is welcome, too.