albums
Underway
2017 The Walking Dad
2006 Wonday
Compilations
1993 Songs to Sleep By
1997 Songs to Sleep By 2
2002 Sunday Sampler
2002 Dad's Picks
1999 Mix 1 (sy55)
2010 Mix 2 (triton vocal)
2010 Mix 3 (triton instr.)
SY55
1991 Archives
1992 College Collection
1993 College Collage
1994 The Hermit
1997 Where's My Muse
1999 South or Southeast
Triton
2001 In the Margins
2002 Renewal
2002 Re-treat
2002 Convenience
2002 Back Up
2003 So So
2003 So On
2003 So Long
2003 Baby Steps
2003 Baby Talk
2004 Schmocial
2004 Brroom
2004 Chuckadee
2004 Disco Hike
2004 Extra Extra
2005 Coma Pill
2005 Ourboretum
2005 Jaminy
2005 Padden Drift
2005 Gorilla Love
2005 Aminals
2005 Vegibles
2006 Fruitine
2006 Dignored
2006 Miner
2006 Mouseculine
2006 Yata
2007 Zipit
2007 Sixawon
2007 Halfdosin
2007 Whatcom Home
2008 What Roses
2008 Pho Kit
2008 Composed Pile
2009 Decomposed Pie
2009 Swaddlicious
2010 Lost Train
Soft Synths
2011 Out the Margins
2011 Redebut
2011 Reprogression
2012 Working Progress
2013 Tripico
2014 Aerosol Concrete
2015 Reduced to Clear
2016 Motions
  • Title: The Hermit
  • Artist: Tripecac
  • Timespan: 1993-1994
  • Theme: living room punk
  • Length: 81:51
  • Tracks: 20
  • Lyrics: 19
  • MP3s: 20 play all locally
  • Rating: (none) rate this album

Track List

# title lyrics time download listen started recorded rating
1 Millions of Monkeys lyrics 3:21 download listen locally - 1993-05-14
2 Blame the Game lyrics 4:18 download listen locally - 1993-06-19 (none)
3 The Burping Song lyrics 1:00 download listen locally - 1993-07-01 (none)
4 The American Son lyrics 3:45 download listen locally - 1993-07-01
5 It's All Relative lyrics 1:18 download listen locally - 1993-07-21 (none)
6 New Moon lyrics 4:44 download listen locally - 1993-07-23 (none)
7 My Computer and Me lyrics 4:55 download listen locally - 1993-07-26 (none)
8 The Hermit lyrics 5:37 download listen locally - 1993-07-29
9 Who Needs People? lyrics 6:04 download listen locally - 1993-10-12 (none)
10 Eyed Closes lyrics 1:07 download listen locally - 1993-10-15 (none)
11 Do My Heroes Pee in the Snow? lyrics 5:10 download listen locally - 1993-10-18 (none)
12 Introvert lyrics 4:58 download listen locally - 1993-10-20 (none)
13 Freud Couldn't Get a Date lyrics 5:31 download listen locally - 1993-10-29 (none)
14 Orchestral Warmup - 0:43 download listen locally - 1993-11-15 (none)
15 Stop Playing the Blues lyrics 5:07 download listen locally - 1993-11-15 (none)
16 Down lyrics 6:08 download listen locally - 1993-12-14 (none)
17 Forever in Mind lyrics 5:01 download listen locally - 1994-01-28 (none)
18 Little Ducky lyrics 4:44 download listen locally - 1994-01-?? (none)
19 Amateur Night lyrics 5:02 download listen locally - 1994-01-?? (none)
- Interview(not on cd) lyrics 3:18 download listen locally - 1994-01-?? (none)
Total 81:51 play all locally album rating: (none)

Notes

My main instrument was a Yamaha SY55 keyboard workstation. I also added a Roland TR-505 drum machine on some of the songs. I used a four-track to record the SY55, and then adden vocals and sound effects to the remaining two tracks.

I was getting into UK punk (Clash, Buzzcocks), and wanted to make my own punk album. I was also really into Julian Cope's experimental albums (Skellington and Rite), which "proved" to me that truly cool music could indeed be made in a home studio. I decided to give "living room punk" a go.

The music conveys my mindset more effectively than the lyrics. I usually spent an hour or so on the lyrics for a song, and then recorded one or two takes before doing a final mix. The lyrics were analytical, self-conscious, often humorous, and tended to focus on whatever was on my mind that day, which was usually myself. :)

CD Liner Notes:

2001-05-10

The Hermit (recorded 1993-1994) is my favorite batch of songs for a couple reasons: the music is more focused, complete, and upbeat than on my other albums, and the lyrics focus on a simple, geekily honest theme: being a hermit. This album is a celebration of geekhood!

Unfortunately, the sound quality on The Hermit is awful! All of the songs have noticeable hiss and/or distortion, and there are several cut-outs and abrupt pans. Although much of the noise was generated by the equipment I was using at the time (e.g., a RadioShack reverb box), some of the glitches are probably from listening to the original tape over and over again for seven years before finally putting it on CD.

During the remastering I did everything twice: digitized from 2 different tape copies, used two different noise-reduction approaches, and made two different sets of fades/edits. I then picked the "best" digital version of each song to use for the CD. The end result still sounds cruddy to my ears production-wise (especially with headphones), but hey, it's the tunes that are important, not the production. Plus, I can always remaster the songs later...

For now I'm really excited about finally having these songs on CD. I can listen to them over and over without having to worry about tape degradation or consumption.

Meanwhile, I get to work on new music! I have a whole new set of gear now, a whole new set of ideas, and more free time than I have had in years... Can I churn out another set of tunes I like as much as The Hermit? Time to disappear into my room for a while and find out! :)

-- Travis (the Happy Hermit)

Production Notes:

For each song, I created the music on my Yamaha SY55 keyboard workstation, recorded it to tracks 3+4 of a Tascam 4-track, and then added vocals and other sounds to tracks 1+2. For effects I used a RadioShack reverb box and a SoundBlaster for the computer voices. I mixed down to a Pioneer tape deck.

Contributors: Beth Ogura - vocals on "Forever in Mind", "Little Ducky", "Amateur Night", and "Interview". Maureen Higgins - wrote lyrics for "Forever in Mind".

Brief Song Notes:

"Millions of Monkeys" is a "punk" song about winning women by acting childish; the intro is from the IPECAC song "My Familiar" (Catharsis, 1988). "Blame the Game" pokes fun at the "victims of Dungeons and Dragons". "The American Son" is... uh... easy listening??? ...with a democratic message? What was I thinking??? "New Moon" returns to familiar territory with tales of NetHack, computers, and role playing; can you guess which movie I'd just seen? "The Hermit" is pure Travis and reveals how I've lived most of my life: cooped up in my room playing games and writing music... this is not a sad song! "Who Needs People?" was my attempt to sound like a "big live band"; the lyrics are equally exaggerated. "Do My Heroes Pee in the Snow?" was inspired by Mark E. Smith's rude remarks to his fans on The Fall's mailing list. "Introvert" was for my then-girlfriend Beth when she asked me to make a melodic song; it's about me, surprise surprise... "Freud Couldn't Get a Date" vents my frustration at footprint-following psyche majors and professors. "Stop Playing the Blues" pokes (friendly) fun at my former bandmate Jon, whose later bands sounded way too serious and conventional for my tastes. "Down" is counseling for acrophobia. "Little Ducky" is about the ducks that Beth and I used to feed on the way to class, and she sings on it! "Amateur Night" was inspired by jazz poetry readings at First Night Virginia; I recorded the music first and then Beth and I improvised the "poetry"!

Here's the orginal tape cover (from 1994):

+--------------------------------------------------------------------+
|                                                                    |
|       This was recorded with DOLBY NOISE REDUCTION set to ON.      |
|                                                                    |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|                            "The Hermit"                            |
|                                txe                                 |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|t                                x                                 e|
|   |  |                                 +--------------+            |
|  -+- +-+ +-+                           |              |            |
|   |  | | +-+                           |              |            |
|   +-     +--                           |      GO      |            |
|                                        |     AWAY     |            |
|                                        |              |            |
|   |               .  |                 |o             |            |
|   +-+ +-+ +-- +-+   -+-                |              |            |
|   | | +-+ |   ||| |  |                 |              |            |
|       +--            +-                |              |            |
|                                        |              |            |
|                                        |              |            |
|'93 ------------------------------------------------------------ '94|
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|                               SIDE ONE                             |
| 1) Millions of Monkeys - [3:26]                                    |
|    This is a "punk" song about ripping down a woman's protective   |
| barriers with the help of a hoard of monkeys.  The intro is taken  |
| from the IPECAC song "My Familiar" (Catharsis, 1988).              |
|                                                                    |
| 2) Blame the Game / D&D Deity - [4:28]                             |
|    This super-distortion reggae song pokes fun at the so-called    |
| "victims of Dungeons."                                             |
|                                                                    |
| 3) Intermission I (The Burping Song) - [1:00]                      |
|                                                                    |
| 4) The American Son - [3:51]                                       |
|    Easy listening?  A democratic message?  What was I thinking???  |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 5) Intermission II (It's All Relative) - [1:20]                    |
|                                                                    |
| 6) New Moon - [4:50]                                               |
|    Yet another song about Hack, computers and Role Playing.  The   |
| music is a cross between "I'm Too Sexy" and "The Addam's Family."  |
|                                                                    |
| 7) My Computer and Me - [5:00]                                     |
|    I whipped up this NewAge-ish song in an afternoon.  I couldn't  |
| resist singing on the end and adding the computer voices. :)       |
|                                                                    |
| 8) The Hermit - [5:45]                                             |
|    This is how I've lived for the most of the past two and a half  |
| years: cooped up in my room playing games and writing music.  It's |
| not supposed to be a sad song, though!                             |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 9) Who Needs People? - [6:05]                                      |
|    This song is weak, very weak.  It was a (very poor) attempt at  |
| emulating the Siouxsee and the Banshees style.  Too much distortion|
| and too little substance.  In a word: annoying.                    |
|                                                                    |
| 10) Eyed Closes - [1:08]                                           |
|    Vocals in one take, music grabbed off a long untouched track on |
| my keyboard.  They don't really mesh, but I wasn't really trying.  |
| Like most of the short songs, this was recorded simply to get it   |
| off of the keyboard, so that I could have room for the next song:  |
|                                                                    |
| 11) Do My Heroes Pee in the Snow? - [5:20]                         |
|    The groove was about three months old; the lyrics were inspired |
| by Mark E. Smith's rude treatment of his own fans on the newsgroup.|
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|                               SIDE TWO                             |
| 1) Introvert - [5:09]                                              |
|    Beth (my girlfriend) asked me to write a nice melodic song for  |
| her, and here it is.   It's about me, surprise surprise.           |
|                                                                    |
| 2) Freud Couldn't Get A Date - [5:45]                              |
|    This is for all those ditzy psyche majors who worship Freud.    |
|                                                                    |
| 3) Intermission III (Orchestral Warmup) - [0:43]                   |
|                                                                    |
| 4) Stop Playing the Blues - [5:15]                                 |
|    Another song written for the Anchovies lamenting the departure  |
| of lead saxophonist Jon Friesen.  The bass line is derived from    |
| "How Ya Is'n," whose lyrics were written for us by Jon himself.    |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 5) Down - [6:22]                                                   |
|    Agoraphobic rambling put to music.  The same style as the last  |
| couple of songs on the first side; but this one I actually like.   |
|                                                                    |
| 6) SuperStuds - [3:35]                                             |
|    Actually an Anchovies song we played over Christmas, I included |
| it here because all the music was written and programmed by me;    |
| we recorded it with my four-track, and added the vocal tracks      |
| separately.  Anand wrote most of the lyrics.  Luke was out of town.|
|                                                                    |
| 7) Forever In Mind - [5:15]                                        |
|    Maureen Higgins wrote the lyrics and asked me if I could make a |
| song out of them.  I threw together some music and Beth and I sang.|
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 8) The Littlest Ducky - [4:55]                                     |
|    Beth wanted me to write a cute, gentle song so I did.  This one |
| is about the ducks we often feed on the way to class.  Quack!      |
|                                                                    |
| 9) Amateur Night at the "Karokee Bar" - [5:15]                     |
|    Inspired by some Jazz poetry readings I attended at First Night |
| Virginia in Charlottesville.  It really made an impression on me!  |
| Beth was afraid she couldn't improv; ah but she is so cute!!!      |
| "Birds, birds, flying in the sky / I looked up, and something      |
| plopped in my eye."   Can't improv, indeed!                        |
|                                                                    |
| 10) Interview - [4:10]                                             |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------|
|            All songs were written, performed, recorded,            |
|                mixed and mastered by Travis Emmitt                 |
|               except: II/6 (The Dead Anchovies) and                |
|             II/7 - II/10  (Travis Emmitt and Beth Ogura)           |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------+
      

Here's the original CD cover (from 2001):

The Hermit CD Cover (2001)

Participants

Name Performed Wrote
Travis Emmitt Yamaha SY55, Roland TR-505, vocals all music and lyrics except where noted

Songs

Millions of Monkeys

This was my first "punk" song. I think it was a mother's day present. I love it, but not many other people seem to "get it". I wonder if it's the music that puts them off, or the apparently violent lyrics.

I don't remember what initially inspired the lyrics. I think I was just trying to come up with something that sounded violent ("punk") but was actually silly. I was probably listening to old IPECAC tapes at the time, and stumbled across the improvised monkey attack in "My Familiar" (from 1988's Catharsis), part of which I used as the intro to this song.

In any case, "Millions of Monkeys" is about a guy who has become frustrated by his relationship with a girl. He's sick of the mind games and insecurity and just wants to relieve the stress. He does this by "sending in the monkeys", which has dual interpretations:

The dark (punk facade) interpretation is that the hero resorts to violence and/or rape, with the monkeys symbolizing vandals or sperm. In the light (Travis-humor) version, the monkeys are clowns or jokes that win the girl through their childlike exuberance and humor.

In either interpretation, the song is about "being yourself": drop the acting, drop the mind-games, and just be simple and primal, and if the girl likes you, then great! :)

The recording starts with the noisy, muffled sample from "My Familiar". Right off the bat, you'll realize that the sound quality on this album isn't going to be stellar. This (hopefully) deflates your expectations, and gets you focusing on the actual tunes rather than the production.

The music itself was an attempt to sound as "punk" as possible on my keyboard. The drums were easy enough to program (on my drum machine), but I couldn't find a good punk guitar sound. At the time, I was really into Julian Cope's "Out of My Mind of Dope and Speed", which has a really driving, punk-like piano sound, so I decided to take a similar approach in this song. I also threw in some distorted baritone sax... Does it actually sound punk? I really don't know!

The bottom line is that I really liked "Millions of Monkeys", but none of my friends or family seemed to appreciate it. They told me it was too noisy and atonal, non-melodic, and that the lyrics were "too violent". I don't think they ever "saw" the second, lighter interpretation of the lyrics and only perceived the violent one... or maybe they disliked the music because they weren't into punk.

In either case, I was really bummed that no one seemed to like "Millions of Monkeys". I loved the energy and spontaneous feel and really wanted to make more "punk" songs, but the unenthusiastic response got me thinking that maybe my keyboard just wasn't suited for playing punk.

Lyrics to "Millions of Monkeys":

INTRO: [spoken ending of "my familiar"]
  and suddenly
  millions of monkeys
  swarmed the house
  broke and busted in every window
  and strangled the poor

  it was a gruesome sight
  but a sight worthy to be seen
  by the naked eye
  stripped of its...
  god this is dumb!!!
  1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4!

VERSE 1:
  i don't know what to do
  oh, i don't know what to do
  my head is split in two
  all because of you

  'cause i don't know what to do
  i really wish i knew
  if you and me were through
  you've got me so confuuuuused-ah

CHORUS:
  millions of monkeys!

VERSE 2:
  i don't know what to do
  i don't know what to say
  i don't know if i should go
  i don't know if i should stay

  i'm tired of bein' abused
  i'm tired of being used
  it's guesswork every day
  i've gotta get awayyyyyyyyyyy-uh

CHORUS:
  but wait...
  millions of monkeys!

BRIDGE:
  hoo-ah! hey! hoo-ah! hey!
  hoo-ah! hey! hoo-ah! hey! [repeat]
  hit it, minkey...

VERSE 3:
  millions of monkeys,
  screaming around (eek eek!)
  they're driving me crazy
  they make such awful sounds

  i'm locked outside of you, girl
  i can't break down your door
  so i'm sending in the monkeys
  i'm sending in the monkeys
  now, now, now, now!

CHORUS:
  eek eek eek!

BRIDGE II:
  hoo-ah! hey! hoo-ah! hey!
  hoo-ah! hey! hoo-ah! hey! [repeat]
  i'm sending in the monkeys
  i'm sending in the monkeys [repeat]
  millions of monkeys

VERSE 4:  [repeats]
  millions of monkeys,
  they're gonna break down your door
  you'll be begging me for mercy
  you'll be prostrate on the floor

  millions of monkeys,
  i'd like you to meet my friend
  she's been giving me quite a headache
  it's time the pain should end

  millions of monkeys,
  they're gonna break down your door
  you'll be begging me for mercy
  you'll be prostrate on the floor

  millions of monkeys,
  i'd like you to meet my friend
  she's been giving me quite a headache
  it's time the pain should end
  

User Comments:

  1. "It a post-punk head-banger, I like it!" - Giovanna (2011-09-06)

Blame the Game

For the second song, I opted to play it "safe" and stuck to a genre I "knew" (reggae). I think when I wrote the music I was trying hard to come up with something that would please my parents... Was this around Father's Day?

When it came time to add the vocals, I decided I wanted to make the song more "punk", so I added lots of distortion and reverb. I yelled and chanted and screamed about death. And guess what... My parents and friends hated it even more than "Millions of Monkeys". Sigh.

The lyrics make fun of the "victims of Dungeons and Dragons", the people who responded to role-playing defeat by killing themselves or others. I was also making fun of any concerns that my grandparents and parents may have had regarding my enthusiasm for games and isolation. I wanted to convince them (via parody) that there was no need to worry, that I was in no way depressed, "sick", violent, or otherwise "at risk".

I wasn't into actually pen-and-paper RPGs, so I sang about Hack and Moria, which were my favorite Roguelike games at the time. For those of you unfamiliar with these games, they are little ASCII maze-games full of humor and stats, kind of like a slower, nerdier version of Gauntlet.

Anyone who's actually played Roguelike games will realize that although defeat (character death) is "permanent" (with no easy reloading of save files), it's (a) frequent and (b) entertaining in itself. You get a cute little tombstone and (hopefully) a slot on the high score list. Sometimes your dead character becomes a "ghost" with which your future characters can interact. Death is just another part of the game, and the thought of actually getting upset when a character dies is ridiculous!

"Blame the Game" pokes fun at the notion of games "causing" people to get emotional enough to kill themselves. This song was my way of saying, "Hey, come on guys, lighten up!!!" This became a recurring message on this album.

The "humor" I used was very dark and exaggeratedly morbid, full of vivid images of death and cult-like chanting. I think at the time I had just seen Faces of Death and Man Bites Dog. Faces of Death was disturbing since it was real, but I really got a kick out of Man Bites Dog, which is fictional and wickedly humorous!

My friends and family hated "Blame the Game". Maybe they didn't realize it was a parody. Maybe they even thought ([sub]consciously) that I was indeed suicidal and that this song was my "cry for help"...

Hey, come on guys, lighten up! :)

Lyrics to "Blame the Game":

INTRO:
  oh, it's over
  the whole game is over
  because my character
  died today

VERSE 1:
  i was speared by an orc, i was crushed by a log
  i was flamed by a dragon, i was absorbed by a fog
  i was trampled by unicorns, i was gored by a hog
  i was drained by a wraith, and i couldn't handle it all

  it's over, oh it's over, it's over, it's over...

  so i died and a little bit of me went too
  i'd been playing this character for over a year
  and now he lay in a pool of his own sweet blood

  he was a tough little gnome with a hole for a home
  his whole history was written, his reputation was known
  he was a twelvth level rogue with some magical stone
  but now he's dead as a brick, hacked to the bone

CHORUS 1:
  i think i'm gonna cut my throat
  or maybe hang myself with a rope
  these games, they always take control of me
  and i just can't face reality

VERSE 2:
  he had a +10 dagger and a pile of scrolls
  some potions of poison and a blessed crossbow
  he had gauntlets of power, and his ac was low
  his hit points were high but he just moved too slow

CHORUS 2:
  i think i'm gonna cut my throat
  or maybe hang myself with a rope
  or give me a gun
  let me take control

SAX VERSE:
  blame the game!
  blame the game!
  blame the game!
  'cause you gotta blame something!

  blame the game!  tie a noose!
  blame the game!  get a knife!
  blame the game!  fetch a gun!
  kill yourself!  'cause you're a loser!

SAX CHORUS:
  the dungeon master... can't get me now
  the dungeon master... can't hurt me now

VERSE 3:
  the dungeon master... can't get me now
  the dungeon master... can't hurt me now

  well i'm staring down the barrel of my dad's .22
  my fingers are shaking but i know just what to do
  the chamber is loaded, it's all set to go
  i place the gun in my mouth... let it blow

  [bang!]  ohhhhhhhhhhh.....

  i'd been playing this character for over a year
  and now i lay in a pool of my own sweet blood

GUITAR VERSE:
  come on, d&d diety - save me [repeat x3]
  come on, d&d diety - take me!
  come on, d&d diety - save me [repeat x3]
  come on, d&d diety - drain me!

  come on, d&d diety - take me [repeat x3]
  come on, d&d diety - sate me!
  come on, d&d diety - take me [repeat x3]
  come on, d&d diety - saint me!

GUITAR CHORUS:
  come on, d&d diety - take me home
  my character has left me and i'm all alone
  come on, d&d diety - hear my cries
  my body's convulsing and there's blood in my eyes

  come on, d&d diety - raise me!
  taste me!  baste me!
  come on, d&d diety - take me!
  'cause i'm a d&d baby!
  come on!
  

The Burping Song

By this time, the negative reaction to my first two songs was starting to bum me out so much that I took up the hobby of noose-tying... ;)

For my next song I picked an even lighter, safer song genre (easy listening). I wrote a simple little tune but got bored with it and didn't want to go through the bother of finishing it. I didn't want to delete it, so I recorded it to my four-track and added burping noises as a token "punk" element.

Despite the burping, my parents liked this silly little tune. I received a lot of compliments for it, which is strange because the song isn't all that memorable (to me). My guess is that this song serves (for some people) as a "relief" from discomfort caused by the first two songs, which are apparently about rape and suicide (but are really about humor and suicide). :)

Since I love so many songs on this album, it tended to be the first bunch of Travis-songs I played for people. When people heard "Millions of Monkeys" (violence) and then "Blame the Game" (suicide), they usually looked at me strangely and with concern, as if they were wondering, "Is he okay???" Then they'd hear this goofy third song and got a "Pshew!" expression on their faces. :)

If it were placed in a different context, I wonder if this song would still be called "good" or just "so-so".

Lyrics to "The Burping Song":

    check it out
    check it out
    [burping]
    the intermission
    check it out: the intermission [repeats]
    check it out
  

The American Son

This song is a musical and lyrical sell-out. It's an ultra-safe "lounge band" song with lyrics that unhumorously tackle what I considered to be "painfully-PC" at the time: social consciousness and capitalistic guilt.

In a sense, this is my "oh, screw it" song. I was tired of seeming (and being) rude and crude and came up with something that was listenable and likely to please my regular audience at the time, which was my parents.

The only "punk" elements in this song are the violent sound effects (machine-guns and explosions) and perhaps the snotty, "rebellious" devil's advocate voice of the Evil Republican.

The humor knob is set very low on this one. Yeah, deep down I was making fun of being PC, but my wise-cracks were more sneer than smile.

The "audience" (my parents) responded so-so to this song. I think they liked the music but weren't very interested in the lyrics.

Serves me right, for being pretentious.

The "fight fight fight" in the lyrics comes from a Cure song I liked at the time. I don't remember why I copied it for this song. I'm guessing it was intentional, but I'm not sure.

Lyrics to "The American Son":

INTRO

VERSE 1:
  come on, everybody let's dance
  let's lose ourselves in dreamy romance
  let's turn down the lights and try to forget
  that people are killing each other tonight

ORGAN CHORUS 1: [gun and bomb noises]

VERSE 2: [w/ sound effects]
  come on, everybody let's party
  let's clap our hands and toss up our money
  for punch and pretzels and a strobe light too
  while people out there don't have enough food

ORGAN CHORUS 2:
  it's all relative
  you say it's all relative
  you say it's all relative, but
  how can this be?
  how can you treat your relatives this way?

BRIDGE 1: [tribal screams, etc.]
  in five years

VERSE 3:
  they're gonna fight fight fight...
    while we dance away the night
  they're gonna fight fight fight...
    while we drink away the night
  we're gonna fight fight fight...
    while we laugh and sing all night
  they always fight fight fight...
    can't you feel this isn't right?

ORGAN CHORUS 3: [w/ war effects]
  it's all relative
  you say it's all relative
  you say it's all relative, but
  how can this be?
  how can you treat your relatives this way?

VERSE 4:
  the beggar grunted and held out his hand
  to the yuppie in the sports coat, a really fine man
  the yuppie just ignored him and he walked on by
  because beggars are losers - they deserve to die!

ORGAN CHORUS 4: [w/ war effects]
  i'm a republican, he thought to himself
  a social darwinist, he reasoned with himself
  and i'm an american, with a job and a house
  if anyone deserves this quarter,
  it's me, not that mouse!

BRIDGE 2 (LONG): [monkey noises]
  in five years,
    i hope this song is happier
  in five years,
    i hope the world smiles a little bit more
  in five years,
    i hope i won't have to sing about this
  in five years,
    i hope the story's changed

  yeah, right!
  

User Comments:

  1. "The melody is so catchy....love it!" - Giovanna (2011-09-06)

It's All Relative

As with the first intermission ("The Burping Song"), this was recorded to tape in order to free up sequencing memory. It includes sound effects and vocal fragments from "The American Son", which was still on my four-track.

Lyrics to "It's All Relative":

[battle noises]

yee haw!

it's all relative
you say it's all relative
you say it's all relative
but how can this be?
how can you treat your relatives this way?

[battle noises]

fight fight fight
fight fight fight
fight fight fight
fight fight fight

it's all relative
you say it's all relative
  

New Moon

I decided to stop forcing the songs to be something that I thought other people might like and instead focused on making music that I knew I would like. "New Moon" is a catchy blend of "I'm Too Sexy" and the theme from the Addams Family movie. Maybe I was trying to [subtly] imply that fantasy-related entertainment can be "sexy" (socially desirable).

The lyrics talk about Roguelike games, Hack in particular. One of Hack's many "easter eggs" is that it calculates the current phase of the moon from your computer's clock. If you start a game when there's a full moon, more monsters will be generated than normal (which makes the game harder but can also give you more rewards). Similarly, if there's a new moon, fewer monsters are generated (and/or your luck is higher than normal) and the game is less difficult.

So, in one sense, this song is about taking the easy route. For me, this meant staying in Dillard Dorm a second year, abandoning my physics major in favor of computer science, and maintaining my hobbies rather than "forcing" myself to go out and socialize.

It's also about trying to forget other people's opinions about your interests and habits (however "geeky" they may be) and instead just focusing on the actual fun. (In other words, "Hey, come on guys, lighten up"...)

My friends liked this song. Most recognized the Addams Family influence, and although the song was about geeky stuff, at least it there wasn't any death in it. (Well, except for "hack and slay").

Lyrics to "New Moon":

INTRO
VERSE SANS LYRICS
CHORUS SANS LYRICS
SAX SOLO
CHORUS SANS LYRICS, WITH STRINGS

VERSE 1:
  i like singing about my games
  like planning my next plays
  like wasting the days away

  in front of my computer screen
  though sometimes it seems to me
  that people just don't agree with me

  they think hack
  is the ultimate waste of time
  it atrophies your mind
  and the screen destroys your eyes

  take dad
  he thinks all my time spent is bad
  he says my addiction is sad
  he'd rather me be like brad
  (who went to harvard)

CHORUS 1:
  oh the new moon shines
  hear that?  the new moon shines
  it glides across the sky
  tonight my luck runs high

  the new moon's out today
  and i'm about to play
  i'm gonna hack and slay
  nothing can stand in my way

VERSE 2:
  you may think that i am a nut
  and you think that i'm in a rut
  that i am dependent

  upon fantasy,
  the insurance of the weak
  the citadel of the meek
  and you think it's there that i sleep

CHORUS 2:
  well, the new moon shines
  hear that?  the new moon shines
  it glides across my sky
  tonight my luck runs high

  i know you probably don't care
  'bout how my hero should fare
  tonight when he climbs down the stairs
  into the dark dungeon air

  i know you probably don't care
  i know you probably don't care

BRIDGE:
  this is the bridge; what do you think?
  it took me two minutes to write and record it
  this is the bridge; what do you think?
  it took me two minutes to write and record it

VERSE 3:
  i also like riding my bike
  and writing new songs that i like
  take this one for example

  so i have a life outside of my computer
  though sometimes i'd rather play nethack or dune
  than sit on the couch and curl up with a book
  or eat chips and watch tv till 2

CHORUS 3:
  oh the new moon shines
  hear that?  the new moon shines
  it glides across the sky
  tonight my luck runs high

  the new moon's out today
  and i'm about to play
  i'm gonna hack and slay
  nothing can stand in my way [repeats]
  

My Computer and Me

I wrote this piano-heavy instrumental for my mom.

Even though it was easy-listening, I still wanted it to "rock". I added drums and a peppy ending (with wordless ahhhh singing). There's also a lot of distortion; perhaps that was part of my "punk" production strategy. After recording it to 4-track, I noticed I had a free track, so I added computer voices. The end result is listenable but not as memorable as the songs with real lyrics.

My dad liked it enough to select it for Dad's Picks. I guess memorability isn't everything.

Lyrics to "My Computer and Me":

COMPUTER:
  ???
  do you like this
  do you like ants in your food
  ???

TRAV:
  [scat]
  

The Hermit

Here we go!!! This is where everything "clicked" into place. It was my dad's birthday, and I think I recorded this very quickly as a last-minute gift for him.

Musically, I turned to simple, catchy piano-based pop which I probably wrote in half and hour on my parents' upright piano before scurrying off to my room to finish the song. The lyrics are simple and straightforward. There's no symbolism, no pretentiousness, no real effort... It all flowed very naturally.

Everyone liked this song, including me. My parents enjoyed the music but thought the lyrics were "sad".

By this time I think I started realizing that my parents just didn't "get" the point of many of my songs, which is that:

  1. I enjoy being a hermit.
  2. I like to talk (and sing) about myself.
  3. I like to be funny when I write.
  4. So, I often make fun of myself when I sing.

There is no "depression" in my life. There's no real tension, and rarely is there any stress. My life is fun and easy, and I like it! However, when it comes time to sing, I feel like I need something dramatic, some sort of conflict.

It's like making faces in a mirror (or on a video). I don't want to make pretty faces; I want to make ugly faces, the more grotesque and disturbing the better! That's one of the "fun" things about self-reflection.

It's the same way with lyrics. When I'm writing a song (about my favorite subject: me), I'm "looking" at myself and instead of posing "properly" or "handsomely" I prefer to look like the Biggest Dork Ever.

Right now, I'm in my room writing this, getting a total kick out of listening to my music and writing about myself and looking forward to a nice long jog or bike ride this afternoon... I love the control that solitude gives me over my activities. I am having a blast doing these things by myself, and I've always been like that for as long as I can remember.

Of course, every once in a while it's fun to actually talk to another human being. :) There's something inside me, either an instinct or something I was taught at an early age, that tells me to "socialize every once in a while". My guess is that this drive is natural (hardware), that most animals have a primal urge to seek companionship...

Regardless of its origin, for me, the drive to seek human companionship is usually nowhere near as compelling as the drive to accomplish things. For me, creativity, organization, learning, and exploration are the Big Satisfiers, both exciting and pride-instilling, and along with them comes (either naturally or through experiential associations) a desire for "daytime" independence from The Pack.

Of course, if The Pack actually shared 90% of my interests, then maybe I wouldn't "have" to be a hermit in order to pursue the Big Satisfiers. Maybe someday I will find a Travis-compatible Pack, but right now the easiest, most reliable way to have a Good Day is to plan to do things by myself.

If you don't believe me, listen to the music rather than the words. The music is un-selfconscious and FUN, just like my days in my room... It's joyfully indulgent! :)

Lyrics to "The Hermit":

VERSE 1:
  another day of sitting at home
  reading a book and staying close to the phone
  just in case somebody happens to call
  and when they do i hop in my car

  drive to the city, taking care not to wreck
  it's been 17 days since i've been out of my shack
  i've subsisted on pop tarts and cracker jacks
  my mother'd kill me if she knew 'bout that

CHORUS 1:
  oh i'm a hermit yes i know
  but i don't dress like a hobo
  i don't wear rags with holes in fact i...
  i look pretty normal

VERSE 2:
  i was pushing 20 livin' in a dorm
  my hallmates often came and knocked on my door
  they said "hey travis, wanna go out with us?"
  and i said "nah, i'm busy downloading from a bbs"

  pretty soon people stopped dropping by
  i guess i said "no" too many times
  a couple nights i tried to call them up
  but they were busy -
  so after that i pretty much kept to myself

CHORUS 2:
  oh i'm a hermit yes i know
  but i don't put on a show
  i don't beg like a bum in fact i...
  i act pretty normal

  oh i'm a hermit yes i know
  i know my life seems slow
  i don't have anywhere to go
  so i guess i'll stay at home sweet home

  stay at home, baby

VERSE 3:
  so here i am - driving to town
    (for games)
  got my seatbelt on and a worried frown
    (what if they're out of stock?)
  i feel like such a loser - look at me now
    (i used to have friends on the mud)
    (but it closed down)

CHORUS 3:
  oh i'm a hermit yes i know
  but i don't dress like a hobo
  i don't wear shoes full of holes in fact i...
  i look pretty normal

  oh i'm a hermit, yes i know
  i think real fast but i move too slow
  i had my youth and my looks but i threw it all away
  i can't think of anything else to say

CHORUS: [a capella]
  oh i'm a hermit, yes i know
  i know my life seems slow
  i don't have anywhere to go
  so i guess i'll stay at home sweet home

REGGAE:
  [humming]

  i've got my computer
  and i've got my radio
  and i've got my books to read
  and i've got my piano let's go!

  hit it trav!

  i've gotta get out on my own,
  i've just gotta get out on my own
  i've gotta get out on my own,
  i've just gotta get out on my own

  i've just gotta get out, gotta get out,
  gotta get out on my own
  i've just gotta get out, gotta get out,
  gotta get out on my own

  tomorrow.  tomorrow...

  [repeat]
  

Who Needs People?

This was recorded on my sister's birthday.

I was back in college, and listening to lots of Siouxsie and the Banshees. I especially liked the live Nocturne album, and was trying to see if I could get an "epic arena" sound on my keyboard. I don't think it worked very well...

It starts off with an excerpt from my lightest and sappiest song on the album: "The American Son". My "punk" idea was to insult that song ("who is this guy? he sucks") and then "desecrate" it with a "huge and nasty" drum and guitar riff. I cranked up the distortion and reverb, but you can still tell it's a keyboard, with really muddy production. Ugh.

After I finished the music, I was sick of it and didn't want to spend much time on the vocals. The lyrics are simple-minded and an exaggeration of how unnecessary socializing seemed to me at the time.

Even though I hated this song when I first recorded it, I kind of like its epic feel now. Plus, it's kind of funny, and the 4th verse talks about games, which is a recurring theme on this album.

Would I really pick computers over people? Depends on the computers (and the people). :) Seriously, though, I think I was just exploring one extreme, all in the name of Humor and Fun. :)

Lyrics to "Who Needs People?":

INTRO:
  everybody let's dance
  let's lose ourselves in dreamy romance
  let's turn down the lyrics and try to forget...

  who is this guy?
  he sucks

  people
    (hit the road)
  people
    (see you 'round)
  people huh? who needs 'em?
    (get out of my face)
  people huh? who needs 'em?
    (you're blocking the screen)
  people huh? who needs 'em?

VERSE 1:
  i met a guy and his name was frankie
    (go frankie)
  i met a girl and her name was suzanne
    (boring boring!)
  i met a girl and her name was carol with a "c"
    (silent night, holy night)
  and i met a guy and his name was dan

TRANSITION 1:
  all these people
  all these names
  all these people
  they all look the same

CHORUS 1:
  people - who needs them?
  dear computer, tell me now, tell me now
  people - who needs them?
  dear computer, tell me now, tell me now

VERSE 2:
  i met a girl and her name was debbie
    (debbie debbie)
  i met a guy and his name was rob
    (rob rob)
  i met a girl who called herself jenny
    (jenny jenny)
  and i met a guy named chuck
  or was it bob or rob or corncob?

TRANSITION 2:
  all these people
  all these names
  all these ugly faces
  they're all the same
  you're all the same
  you're all the same

CHORUS 2::
  people - who needs them?
  dear computer, tell me now, tell me now
  people - who needs them?
  dear computer, tell me now, tell me now

VERSE 3:
  i forget which one was ricki
  and i forget which face was clair's
  and i don't remember the name of that blond guy
  and to tell you frankly, i don't really care

TRANSITION 3:
  all these people
  all these names
  all these measly humans
  they're driving me insane

BRIDGE 1:
  i'll give you these people
  if you give me a computer
  i'll trade you all these people
  if you just get me a 486
  hit it, trav

VERSE SOLO:
  go go go go [repeat]

VERSE 4:
  i have a game and its name is nethack
    (it's awesome)
  and i have a game and it's name is moria
    (moria moria moria moria)
  and i have a game called golden axe
    (chop chop chop 'em up)
    (chop chop chop 'em up)
  and i have x-wing - i'm in euphoria!

TRANSITION 4:
  all these games...
  they keep me happy
  all these programs...
  they keep me alive

BRIDGE 2:
  nice and predictable
  there's nothing despicable about computers
  simple and plain
  you can't complain about computers

  people are so hung up about other people
  why can't they get a little more into computers?

  maybe i'll talk to them
  if they agree to talk to me
  about computers
  there's nothing wrong with me

  nice and predictable
  there's nothing despicable about computers
  simple and plain
  you can't complain about computers
  

Eyed Closes

This started as a simple, "ethnic" sounding instrumental. I had recently noticed some of Julian Cope's plays on words, and wanted to see what I could do along those lines.

The "story" within the word play is about two factions feeling inexorably drawn into battle. Maybe I was trying to say something about the mindlessness of fighting.

For a long time, I didn't like this song at all. I regarded it as the worst song on the album. I didn't even include it on the CD.

Nowadays I think it's kind of cool. It's not "poppy", but has a mysterious vibe to it. It's a nice buffer between the relentless "Who Needs People" and "Do My Heroes Pee in the Snow".

Lyrics to "Eyed Closes":

with eyed closes
yes, i had my closes eyes
so i reached down for my scimitar
and prepared to do battle

i eyed their closes
they knew they had their closes eyed
so they reached down for their scimitars
and prepared to smite me real hard

well, i rushed forth with my minions
from the door of my keep
and the enemy saw this
and they did likewise

and we met on the field of battle
and without a word of parlay
we hacked and slew

with eyed closes and closes eyed
with eyed closes and closes eyed
with eyed closes and closes eyed
with eyed closes and closes eyed
  

Do My Heroes Pee in the Snow?

I was feeling bad about my pretentiousness on "Who Needs People?", so I wrote this song about the "public" faces that our favorite musicians present to us. In particular, I think I was reacting to a nasty comment that Mark E. Smith (of The Fall) made about his fans. Musically, however, I was still trying to sound like an epic stage band, so the exercise was a bit hypocritical.

Parts of it are kind of funny, though, so it's not a total disaster.

Lyrics to "Do My Heroes Pee in the Snow?":

INTRO:
  psssss......

VERSE 1:
  where are the superstars today?
  where oh where have they run off to?
  i barely fit inside my clothes today
  tell me are my heroes getting fat too?

  i need to know (and i kneed the dough)
  like i shut the do' (i got a need to know)
  yes i read throreau (and i peed in the snow)
  i say look out below (beware the yellow snow)

  who are the superstars today?
  what do people know about them?
  i just bought a banshees tape today.
  and i don't even know her real name.

CHORUS 1:
  oh, oh, oh, oh i'm so bored.
  is robert smith bored too?
  and how about julian cope?
  does he find the 90's as dull as i do?

  hit it trav...
  heroes
  heroes
  heroes
  heroes

VERSE 2:
  i need to know (and i kneed the dough)
  don't shut the do' (i got a need to know)

  why do all the heroes hide away?
  tuck themselves into drugs and heavy rhythms
  i wish i could see *them* through all that fame
  but their faces are blurred,
    just like cope's on kilimanjaro

  oh where did they go?   (did they go to a show?)
  do they like to sew?    (i got a need to know)
  do they read thoreau?   (do they ever feel low?)
  do they pee in the snow? do they pee in the snow?

  oh where are all the superstars today?
  like prince, madonna, and michael jackson
  jackson's been accused of being gay
    (with a little boy)
  and madonna and prince are busy battling wrinkles

CHORUS 2:
  oh oh oh there's so much that I don't know
  about the people that i idolize,
  that i buy in a store
  they're so covered in makeup and gloss
  i don't even know if they floss

VERSE 3:
  where are all the superstars today?
  why won't mark e smith talk to his own fan club?
  and why do i feel the need to write a song?
  is it 'cause most of the albums nowadays are dull

CHORUS 3:
  oh oh oh tell me 'bout my heroes
  is johnny rotten mellowing out?
    why must everyone change?
  oh oh oh please tell me 'bout Mister Julian Cope
  is he psycho at home or only up on stage?

  oh oh oh do they do they pee in the snow?
  are they human like you and me?
  or oh oh oh are they merely phantoms
  the creations of money-hungry record companies?

  oh oh oh do they do they pee in the snow?
  or are they so full of drugs
    that they have to stay in bed?
  oh oh oh tell me, how are my heroes?
  are they still smiling
    or do they wish that they were dead?

  'cause i don't wanna be like that
  

Introvert

My girlfriend at the time (Beth) asked me to write a gentle song, so I wrote this. Like "The Hermit", it was constructed around a simple piano-based melody. The mix emphasizes the vocals which is a good thing because these are some of my favorite lyrics (and the music's a bit distorted).

The lyrics are very autobiographical, poking fun at my introversion (the tendency to fixate on my own interests even when other people are right there trying to interact with me).

By the end of the song, however, I was fixating on my girlfriend. Sometimes the bubble of introversion extends to include other people, and when that happens, the Hermit is doubly happy! :)

Although this song is not "punk" or even "manly", I liked it enough to play it on the radio (I was an occasional DJ). When I broadcasted it, it didn't matter to me that no one was listening except my girlfriend (who recorded my shows); by playing "Introvert" on the air I was saying, "look, here's something I like, and if it happens to be girl-pop, then so be it!" Maybe that "ah, just go for it" attitude is punk?

Anyway, this was another well-liked song. Most of my audience by this time was girls. :)

Lyrics to "Introvert":

VERSE 1:
  hello little girl
  do you know my name?
  have you seen me before?
  do you like my shoes?

  well, my name's travis
  and this is my computer
  i collect lots of tapes
  i write my own songs too

CHORUS 1:
  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t is me
  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t is me

VERSE 2:
  see here are my tapes
  do you like my room?
  should i die my hair blonde
  what's your name, by the way?

  you call yourself beth?
  that's a pretty name
  let's get out my photo album
  and look at some pictures of me

CHORUS:
  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t is me
  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t is me

BRIDGE 1:
  i say seven "i's" for every "you"
  well, what else is an introverted guy to do?
  i'm not like you.

CHORUS:
  you can listen to me play
  my keyboard all day
  you can listen to me play

VERSE 3:
  hey beth i think you're kinda cute
  and you seem to be real nice
  can i see you tomorrow?
  i can show you my games

  or maybe we can bike
  over to jamestown
  and sit on a quilt
  and cuddle up all day

CHORUS:
  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t is me
  i'm not worried because what else can i be?

BRIDGE 2:
  i say seven "i's" for every "you"
  but for some reason
  you felt that i'd be right for you
  what a lucky guy i am
  what a lucky guy i am
  what a lucky guy i am

CHORUS:
  i'm singing,
  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t is me
  i never had someone take an interest in me
  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t are we
  my baby's got my number now i am happy

  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t is me
  i never had somebody take an interest in me
  i - n - t - r - o - v - e - r - t are we
  

Freud Couldn't Get a Date

I was getting frustrated by one of my psychology teachers. She seemed more interested in our ability to regurgitate popular psychological theories than our ability to construct and present our own ideas based on behavioral observations. I didn't appreciate her apparently blind/religious acceptance of Freud's ideas. So I decided to make fun of Freud.

The song is about over-analysis and the instinct that some people seem have (but which I normally don't), which is to actively search out faults in things (including people) rather than focusing on what's fun and entertaining and inspiring.

Again, the bottom line message should be familiar to you by now: "lighten up and focus on the enjoyable stuff!"

Lyrics to "Freud Couldn't Get a Date":

VERSE 1:
  under the sheets,
  under the skin
  what myopic secrets
  are hidden within?

  i can look into your soul
  and see turmoil inside you
  and i want to try,
  i want to try to help you

  so bare, bare all,
  bare your secrets to me
  you better open up
  if you want my empathy

  close your eyes, count to ten,
  and prepare your throbbing brain
  i'm a psychiatric voyeur
  and i'll help you with your pain

CHORUS 1:
  freud couldn't get a date
  because he talked too much
  about nightmares and death and sex

VERSE 2:
  come up to my office,
  take off your coat, have a drink
  you can lay down on my couch,
  no no it's not what you think

  i just want you to get comfortable,
  try staring at this
  and then in a moment
  you might start to feel sleepy.

  and then you're gonna bare all,
  bare all your secrets to me
  you better open up
  if you want my empathy

  close your eyes, count to ten,
  and relax your throbbing brain
  i'm a psychiatric voyeur
  and i feed on your pain

CHORUS 2:
  freud couldn't get a date
  because he talked too much
  about nightmares and death and sex

  freud didn't have any friends
  because he talked too much
  about ids and egos and subconsciousness

BRIDGE:
  sigmund couldn't get a date
  even at seventeen
  he was chatting up girls

  using words like "phallic phase"
  and "repressed"
  and "hypnotic suggestion"
  and "anal retententiveness"

  it doesn't work
  you can't divvy up a mind
  you can't gorge on part of it
  and ignore all the rest

  that's what freud did.
  he was a pervert
  he had a sexual fixation
  he was totally obsessed

  he was sick.
  freud was sick.
  but i'm not
  'cause i can play
  with things other than myself
  hit it, trav

VERSE 3:
  i'd rather be awed by your id,
  that's the truth
  than stare at some plastic,
  wholesome you

  the mask that you don,
  the facade that you cast
  to protect your poreless visage -
  it cannot last

  i'm gonna bare, bare all,
  bare all your secrets to me
  you better open up
  or you're gonna make me angry

  close your eyes, count to ten,
  and turn over your brain
  i'm a psychiatric voyeur
  and i'm feeding on your pain

    [last part of verse repeats during chorus]

CHORUS 3:
  freud couldn't get a date
  because he talked too much
  about nightmares and death and sex

  freud didn't have any friends
  because he talked too much
  about ids and egos and subconsciousness

  [repeat during the following lyrics]

  come see what you embrace
  what interests me lurks below your sweet face
  i know there's a screen, though it'll fall [???]
  my god you're boring on the outside
  on the outside

  you think you're so immaculate
  impervious to cancerous doubts
  immune to perversion
  well, i have some information for you

  frankly, i think your dark and dirties
  sparkle with truth
  they gleam like obsidian
  next to the shallow grey holes
  that dis-orgasmic smile [???]

  subconsciousness...
  

Orchestral Warmup

This is another short instrumental song that I committed to tape in order to make room on my sequencer for a "real" song. It's a gentle string introduction for a song I never finished.

Stop Playing the Blues

Jon was my bandmate in both IPECAC and The Master Anchovies. During high school, Jon quit the Anchovies to join a "real band" (which played Jazz standards). In college, Jon was playing with some other bands and although their music was technically impressive, I didn't hear anything original or exciting in their music.

Meanwhile, Jon seemed to become less playful and more serious and "proper" all the time, so he was less "fun", at least to me.

"Stop Playing the Blues" was my plea to Jon to "lighten up". I don't know if I ever played this song for him. I think I was worried that the lyrics would offend him, even though they were a kind-hearted attempt to reconnect with him. I didn't have much faith in people's ability to interpret my music.

Musically, I wanted something very happy and light that could act as a cheer-me-up, something that's the opposite of the blues. The end result was this jazzy, polka-like ditty. The bass line is based on the one in "How Ya Is'n", which was a song Jon and I had co-written and sang together in IPECAC.

Lyrics to "Stop Playing the Blues":

INTRO: [computer voice]
  do you like this?
  do you have ants in your food?

VERSE 1:
  jon, jon friesen
  tell me where your life is leading
  these days you look so depressed
  tell me, are your insides bleeding?

  we had great times when we were young
  but now you seem to never have fun
  you look so pained, so bored, so unenthused
  you gotta stop playing the blues

CHORUS 1:
  stop playing the blues
  stop playing the blues
  stop playing the blues

VERSE 2:
  jon, jon friesen
  tell me where's your humor gone
  your eyes have lost their twinkle
  have you married your saxophone?

  it's okay that you still wear velcro
  and it's okay that you still wear ring socks
  i'll accept your slouch and dorky shoes
  if you stop playing the blues

CHORUS 2:
  stop playing the blues
  stop playing the blues
  stop playing the blues
  stop playing the blues
  gotta stop playing the blues
  stop playing the blues

  please jon, please jon,
  please stop playing the blues
  please jon, please jon,
  please stop playing those silly blues

SOLO:
  go allen, go allen
  go allen, go allen
  play up a storm for us
  go allen, go allen
  go allen, go allen
  play up a storm for us

BRIDGE:
  and for your information,
  the band is still alive
  perhaps you thought when you quit
  that we'd be through

  but we still get together
  and jam every once in a while
  though I admit we sound a little empty
  without you, that's true

  go anand, go luke
  go anand, go luke

CHORUS 3:
  gotta gotta gotta gotta...
  gotta stop playing the blues
  gotta gotta gotta gotta...
  gotta stop playing the blues

  please jon, please jon,
  please stop playing the blues
  please jon, please jon,
  please stop playing those silly blues

VERSE 4:
  jon, jon friesen
  tell me what's your reason
  for totally forsaking
  the music we were making

  ipecac at least had energy
  the anchovies at least have hope
  so what's with all this
  perpetual doom and gloom?

  stop playing the blues

CHORUS 4:
  gotta gotta gotta gotta...
  gotta stop playing the blues
  gotta gotta gotta gotta...
  gotta stop playing the blues

  please jon, please jon,
  please stop playing the blues
  please jon, please jon,
  please stop playing those silly blues
  

Down

"Down" was the last song on the album (I later added the "Amateur Night EP" to the tape).

For "Down", I paid lots of attention to the production, much like I did in the closer for my last album ("Going Home"). I wanted to push myself technologically and end with a strong, "rock" song.

Musically, "Down" tries to answer the question I first asked in "Millions of Monkeys", which is: can I make punk music on my keyboard? The song starts with a synthy riff (acknowledging my reliance upon my keyboard), and then has a dense bass/tom/drum thrash which crescendos into the main punk-synth groove. The marriage of that energetic, relentless punk/rock groove to the synthy sounds is hopefully good enough to encourage me (and other "bedroom musicians") to continue to explore the harder, more "raw" side of rock music using nothing but keyboards.

Production-wise, this song is a distorted mess except for the reggae-like bridge, where my little reverb box actually put a really cool spin on the vocals.

Lyrically, "Down" is about acrophobia and, on a deeper level, about maintaining optimism in the struggle against the pressures to conform, conform, conform... It's about looking on the bright side of your current situation and not obsessing over (hopefully temporary) declines in money, grades, fitness, or other non-entertaining things. The message is the same as always: Don't let the bad things dominate your life, focus on the good things.

Was I talking to myself? Was I telling myself to cheer up, to lighten up, to not obsess over boring stuff? Well, maybe a little bit... I certainly wasn't depressed, but I was at times frustrated by other people's gloomy perceptions of life. I was tired of people trying to get me to "grow up", to take things more seriously, to join the Herd, even though the Herd didn't seem nearly as happy as I was.

I perceived most Other People as being insincere, incurious, uncreative, and boring, boring, boring... and those "miserable drones" kept wanting me to be more like THEM. No Way!!!

So, was I depressed? Heck no! Frustrated? Heck yes!

Through my music, I was trying to get other people to stop trying to "spoil" my fun, to get them to realize that I'm here having fun and to either join me in having fun or leave me alone!

Lyrics to "Down":

INTRO:
  down

VERSE 1:
  oh, i'm standing at the top of a pyramid
  looking out over the trees
  and i'm fretting about the climb back down
  i'm feeling shaky in my knees

CHORUS 1:
  oh it's only down
  it's only a direction
  if you stand on your hands
  you'll see it's nothing to be afraid of

  it's only down down
  it's only a direction
  if you stand on your hands
  you'll see it's only negative z

VERSE 2:
  clinging to the top of a ladder
  shaking in the highest branches of a tree
  blame the wind and the way it gusts and sways you
  at the top of the statue of liberty

CHORUS 2:
  oh it's only down
  only down down
  it's only down
  down down down listen to me!

  it's only down
  only down down
  only down
  down down down it's coming for me!

VERSE 3:
  standing on top of the eiffel tower
  looking out over sweet paris
  see the ants on the ground
  start spinning around
  feel the vertigo sweep over me

CHORUS 3:
  oh it's only down
  it's only a direction
  if you stand on your hands
  you'll see it's nothing to be afraid of
    (nothing at all)

  it's only down down
  it's only a direction
  if you stand on your hands
  you'll see it's only negative z
    (negative z)

  there's only down
  only down down
  it's only down
  down down down listen to me!

  there's only down
  only down down
  only down
  down down down down it's coming for me!

  coming for me

BRIDGE:
  at the top of the slide
  on the top of the mountain
  at the top of the ski-slope
  at the top of the stairs

  at the top of the beam
  on the roof of my house
  on the top of the wall
  i'm trapped up there

  tightrope (tightrope)
  cessna    (cessna)
  high dive (high dive)
  waterfall (waterfall)

  top bunk      (top bunk)
  scuba diving  (scuba diving)
  ski lift      (ski lift)
  bury them all (bury them all)

  bury them all (bury them all) in a great big pit!
  be careful not to fall in it
  i feel dizzy and whoops i slipped!
  and i'm falling down down down into my pit!

  (ahhh.......)

  i know some day i'm gonna die
  alas for me, i cannot fly
  up to heaven when it's my time
  i'll plummet down, down, down, down
  to the bowels of the earth

  (ahhh....)

VERSE 4:
  i know i've got a fear of heights
  but what what what can i do about it?

  i know i've got a fear of heights
  but what what what can i do about it?

CHORUS 4:
  oh it's only down
  it's only a direction
  if you stand on your hands
  you'll see it's nothing to be afraid of

  it's only down down
  it's only a direction
  if you stand on your hands
  you'll see it's only negative z

VERSE 5:
  i know i've got a fear of heights
  but what what what can i do about it?

  i know i've got a fear of heights
  but what what what can i do about it?

CHORUS 5:
  oh, i'm falling down
  down down down
  falling down
  down down down help me please!

  oh i'm falling down
  down down down
  down down down
  down down down it's scaring me!
  

Forever in Mind

The Hermit started with one nightmarish scene ("Millions of Monkeys") and ended with another, which was "Down". Officially, I was done.

However, I hated to leave the last 1/4 of the tape empty, so I added some "bonus songs" that I recorded with Beth. "Forever in Mind" was the first of those songs.

Beth's roommate, Maureen Higgins, wrote a poem for her boyfriend that she wanted to give to him on Valentine's Day or their anniversary. She came up with the idea of asking me to make a song out of it. So, I wrote the music and added some lyrics to it, and got Beth to sing with me. The result is very peppy, definitely not very "lovey-dovey" if you ask me!

Lyrics to "Forever in Mind":

VERSE:
  it was a special night
  when we first met
  i saw the peace in your heart
  a treasure i will never forget

CHORUS:
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  you'll be on my mind
  you'll be on my mind
  you'll be on my mind
  forever

VERSE:
  we would talk and talk
  without  a care
  laugh all through the day
  and do things i would never dare

  you made me feel special
  made me feel sane
  you held out your umbrella
  to protect me from the rain

  you made me feel wanted
  made me feel gay
  you were there for me
  in my moments of pain

CHORUS:
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  you'll be my friend
  you'll be my friend
  you'll be my friend
  forever

VERSE:
  you made me feel special
  made me feel sane
  you held out your umbrella
  to protect me from the rain

  you made me feel wanted
  made me feel gay
  you were there for me
  in my moments of pain

CHORUS:
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  i said to myself
  you'll be my friend
  you'll be my friend
  you'll be my friend
  you'll be my friend
  and i shouted out loud
  and i shouted out loud
  and i shouted out loud
  and i shouted out loud
  you'll be my friend
  you'll be my friend
  you'll be my friends
  forever

VERSE:
  forever on my mind
  forever as a friend
  forever in my heart
  until the very end

  forever on my mind
  forever as a friend
  forever in my heart
  until the very end

  friendship brought us close
  until one night
  you said "i like you!"
  and you held me very tight

  forever on my mind
  forever as a friend
  forever in my heart
  until the very end

  forever on my mind
  forever as a friend
  forever in my heart
  until the very end

  you will always be mine
  you will always be mine
  you will always be mine
  you will always be mine

  until the end of time
  until the end of time
  until the end of time
  until the end of time

  congratulations!
  

Little Ducky

Beth and I sang this song together. I recorded the music first and then we added the vocals together. I think we wrote the lyrics together.

Although the song is obviously about ducks, it's also about appreciating the lack of aggression exhibited by a "runt". It celebrates rooting for the little guy, not out of pity (because he looks hungry) but out of respect for his non-violent behavior towards the other ducks.

Lyrics to "Little Ducky":

VERSE:
  hey there little ducky
  with the tiny brown wings
  i'll be your friend
  you poor, lonely thing

  cheer up, little ducky
  you don't have to cry
  you're not all alone
  i won't pass you buy

VERSE:
  sure, you may feel clumbsy
  and you're often out of place
  the other ducks are mean to you
  and they peck you in the face

  but cheer up, little ducky
  and stop feeling blue
  i'll be your friend
  if you want me to

CHORUS:
  [quack quack!]

  here, little ducky
  here's some bread
  get the bread little ducky
  swim faster
  don't let the other ducks get it
  eat the bread
  eat the bread, ducky
  here's another piece of bread
  eat all the good pieces

BRIDGE:
  swim swim, get the bread
  swim swim, get the bread
  paddle paddle, use your head
  paddle paddle, use your head

  swim swim, get the bread
  swim swim, get the bread
  paddle paddle, use your head
  paddle paddle, use your head

  fight fight, get the bread
  fight fight, get the bread
  fight fight, get the bread
  fight fight, get the bread

  pecking pecking pecking on my head
  pecking pecking pecking on my head
  pecking pecking pecking on my head
  pecking pecking pecking on my head

  gotta fight fight, get the bread
  fight fight fight, get the bread
  fight fight fight, get the bread
  fight fight fight, get the bread

  pecking pecking pecking on my head
  pecking pecking pecking on my head
  gotta go go go go go go go go
  i got the bread

  munching munching munching on the bread
  munching munching munching on the bread
  munching munching munching munch
  i got the bread, i got the bread
  i got the bread
  munch

VERSE:
  so maybe you cannot swim very fast
  and maybe you can't yet fly
  but you've got potential
  so don't let your spirits die

  but cheer up, little ducky
  stop feeling blue
  i'll be your friend
  if you want me to

CHORUS:
  yes, i'll be your friend
  yes, i'll be
  

Amateur Night

This is one of my favorite jazz grooves! I don't remember anything about writing the music, but I had recently seen my first jazz poetry reading (at First Night Virginia in Charlottesville). I wanted to record another song with Beth, so I threw the music on my four-track and we improvised our own little "readings" on top of it.

I love this song, both for its groovy music and the vocals which, full of inside (and bad) jokes, still make me grin years later. :)

In fact, I liked this song so much that I played it on the radio at college!

Lyrics to "Amateur Night":

ANNOUNCER:
  ladies and gentlemen
  tonight is amateur night
  at the karoke bar... kareoke bar
  featuring jazz poetry readings

  our first guest is travis emmitt
  with his reading
  "bussing tables in june to often care"

TRAV:
  thank you, thank you
  hi, here we go
  my name's travis
  all right

  i smell tables
  i know where to look
  i look, i live, i hear, i breath
  the change
  those pitifiul little silver cents
  little to you
  but their sum
  their sum is great
  and i can only have them
  if i wait

  thank you

ANNOUNCER:
  okay, up next we have beth ogura
  winner of five nationals medals
  for her poetry jazz readings
  and she has for us
  an untitled piece as of yet
  and we'd like to welcome to the stage
  beth ogura

BETH:
  snow, snow
  brrr, it's cold
  flake, flake
  i hate dandruff

  thank you

ANNOUNCER:
  all right beth
  that was very good
  okay
  next up is charles smells
  from nebraska
  with his piece
  "rewind it and play it again"

TRAV:
  i never could figure out
  how the power
  the power can heal
  it can heal well
  but never
  never rewind and play it again
  if the power does not coincide with
  rewind it and play it again
  if the power does not coincide with
  rewind it and play it again
  if the

  thank you

ANNOUNCER:
  all right charles!
  now
  we have a special treat for you tonight
  it's a duo
  minnie minh, from vietnam
  and her boyfriend  mister mels
  (not related to charles smells)
  and they have prepared a piece for you
  specially for this occasion
  it's called
  "supertape hi def hd 46 70 sigma s
    eq a pi derivative smells"
  ok, please welcome to the stage
  these two masters of the art

[in tandem]
BETH:
  birds, birds
  flying the in the sky
  i looked up
  and something plopped in my eye

  pew! pew!
  what's that smell?
  it's you, you!
  it's travis mels!
  (not related to charles smells)

  smelly smelly
  why do i like him?
  i don't know

  the ducks are cute
  i feed them bread
  I don't know what's
  going through my head

  nothing nothing
  nothing nothing
  can't think of nothing
  nothing nothing nothing nothing!
  [crying]

TRAV:
  i said puppies and dogs  never
  never ever get out of the house
  when it's raining
  i said puppies and dogs
  never get out

  "woof woof" said the puppy
  to the little brown sheep
  "never never never
  never go to sleep"
  [repeat x4]

  indeed!
  hd 46
  stick it in the tascam
  quite a mix
  dbx nr,  of course dolby
  oh yes
  she told me  don't put
  eq 70 sigmas s in the pi derivative

T: because travis smells
B: yes he does
T: like supertape that's high definition
B: that rotted
T: like supertape that's high definition
B: that rotted
T: like supertape that's high definition
B: that rotted
T: like supertape that's high definition
B: that rotted
T: like supertape that's high definition
B: that rotted
T: high definition
B: that rotted
T: high definition
B: rotted
T: high definition
B: rotted
T: high definition
B: rotted
T: hide the physician
B: rotted
T: hide the physician
B: rotted
T: give me five your position
B: decompose
T: give me five your position
B: decompose
T: hd 46 70 sigma s eq pi derivative
   super tape
   high definition
   high definition
B: pew pew smelly pew
T: thank you
B: thank you
  

Interview

I had a habit of talking at the end of my albums. For this one, I decided to include Beth since she played a big role in the last few songs. During this "song", she interviews me about finishing The Hermit and my musical history in general. The music in the background is the same as in "Amateur Night", although I think it's sped up a little bit.

There wasn't enough room for this on the CD version of The Hermit, so I included it on South or Southeast.

Lyrics to "Interview":

[edited slightly for clarity]

BETH:
  hello, this is beth ogura
  i'm about to interview mr. travis emmitt about his upcoming album
  what is your album title?

TRAV:
  currently i don't have a title for it

BETH:
  and?

TRAV:
  i'm thinking about "txe 1993"

BETH:
  that's very original
  this is your second album, i take it

TRAV:
  well, actually, you're quite wrong

  i started mailing tapes to my cousin kim in about 1986,
  which was 8 years ago
  i think in all i mailed her about 30 tapes,
  so it had hundreds and hundreds of songs on it

  but anyway, since then i have done a few albums with ipecac
  now, ipecac was a band i was with from about 1988 to 1989
  and there were just two of us: a sax player and myself
  i think that ipecac did about maybe 8 albums

  and then i was in this band called the master anchovies
  and while we didn't really sit down and record our stuff
    like in a studio situation,
  we often recorded our live sessions,
  and i put them all together so we have at least an album of that
  so that's, what, 9?

  and then also i had a somewhat lo-fidelity album (solo)
    of my own from about 1989
  and it's not very good
  but i did play some of the music on soundtracks for english projects
  so that's 10

  since then, all right, i did at least 1, 2, 3 and then this one,
  so 3 more albums, and this, this is the 4th
  so 14 plus however many i sent to my cousin kim
  about 30, i said, so that's about 44 albums
  of course, only about 1 of them is good enough to listen to

BETH:
  wow, thank you, that was very informative
  let's see...
  why don't you describe one of the songs,
  or several songs that you especically like on this upcoming album

TRAV:
  actually it's not an uncoming album
  i've already recorded all the songs,
  and all i have left to do is put on this interview
    that we're currently making
  what was the question?

BETH:
  i wanted you to give us a sample of
    one of the songs on the album that you most liked

TRAV:
  a sample of one of the songs?
  you mean, like, you want me to sing it or something?

BETH:
  sure, and then tell about your inspiration for writing it

TRAV:
  okay, well,
  here's a particularly pungeant song called "millions of monkeys":

  "millions of monkeys
  screaming around
  they're driving me crazy
  they make such awful--"

BETH:
  thank you, thank you!
  why don't you tell us your inspiration for this particular monkey song?

TRAV:
  well, actually the intro came from an ipecac album
  i think it was catharsis
  that was in december of 1988
  the intro just has this...
  it was actually part of the song
  it goes:

  "millions of monkeys swarmed the house,
  broke and busted in every window
  they strangled the poor professor --"

BETH:
  interesting, interesting
  thank you!

TRAV:
  oh yeah, oh yeah, what was your question again?
  oh yeah

BETH:
  the question was: what was your inspiration?

TRAV:
  oh, well, i rarely have inspiration
  i just kind of wing it