messier81 logo  surfing the soundwaves  Cover of Surfing the Soundwaves

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  1. An Amazing Story
    1. What’s really amazing is that this is the first song I ever wrote! (Well, I wrote one other before it, for a music theory class, that does not count. Trust me.)  Acoustic guitars, bass, vocals, and electronic synthesizer swirls help to tell the story of a very obnoxious little planet known as Earth. A mighty cheerful-sounding ditty, especially in light of the Earth’s fate at the end of the song...
  2. Any Place She Wants
    1. (Lyrics by Eddie Leiper)  Vocals, acoustic guitars (with special tuning and capo), mandolins, hi-hat, handclaps, and a giant drum sound that you will never believe came out of a Juno-60. Some nineteen simultaneous tracks piled onto my little 1/2" 8-track, and it came off beautifully.
  3. Major Dust
    1. He is the kind of man who would destroy the world in order to save it. To sing about him, I marshaled up brash piano, hard-edged guitar, a military drumbeat, and proselytizing vocals: Believe in Major Dust! (I trust the sarcasm is self-evident.)
  4. Love When I Need It
    1. Rocking acoustic guitars, synthesizer bass, kick drum and handclaps, a honky-tonk piano (actually my family’s old upright) and a quadruple-tracked vocal for just the right strident sound, serve a song about trying to find that elusive thing everyone is looking for. Remember, you will always find it in the last place you look (unless you manage to lose it again).
  5. Land Called I-Don’t Know
    1. This is my anti-prejudice song, in the form of a gentle fable about a far-away land with an unusual name where they keep deciding people they don’t care for have to leave—until everyone’s gone. Acoustic guitars, mostly, and a little percussion, accompany vocals with some pretty harmonies.
  6. Far Side of the Heart
    1. A kind of experimental song, Far Side of the Heart proceeds simultaneously in two keys, using two keyboards (Juno-60 and a venerable Crumar Orchestrator) and vocals singing one of my most poetically obscure, Keith Reid-inspired lyrics. (Mr. Reid writes the lyrics for that fine British band Procol Harum.)
  7. Walking in the Sun
    1. A simple song about exactly what it says it is about. I wrote it walking to work one day. It features vocals, acoustic guitars, bass, drums, and some sampled saxophone tones adding just the right George-Martin-kind-of sound. Warning: this song may be too optimistic for the perenially morose.
  8. Intrepid Hunter
    1. Vocals, synthetic piano (oh, how I tried to record an authentic upright...but what worked in Love When I Need It failed to work here), synthesizer bass, high strumming acoustic guitar, wild crunchy electric guitar, synthetic cellos, percussion samples including bongos and congas, all add up to the story of a man investigating himself, hoping to find love. (This is the father of a highly similar song called Secret Agent that I played in my live band.  Secret Agent is on the Dr. Zero CD Fun With Radiation.)
  9. I Tried To
    1. I tried to make like early Robin Trower with the electric guitar parts on this rocker, but the fuzz bass is more of a sixties Beatles influence. This began as a little fragment I wrote on the piano that I kept around for years; one day, I finally figured out how to turn it into a song. The moral of the story: never throw out a good idea!
  10. You’re So Cool
    1. Mandolins are featured in this song, and with the minor chords of the chorus and instrumental breaks it seems to sound like an old Russian folksong (especially after I added a chorus of low voices singing a melody on the syllable “ah”). Fuzzy electric guitars add a distant sheen, and one melody is heard on the electric bass played in an unusually high register. (Well, it is a guitar, after all.)
  11. More is Less
    1. A difficult song to describe, More Is Less has a hypnotic, marching rhythm given out in basic synth, bass, and drums and droning vocal. On top of this are added a spaced-out  trumpet-like tone, an indescribable tone called “oooze”, twanging electric guitars and bagpipe-like synth riffs. This is one in which I am not sure who else I sound like in the pop world—but there seems to be a Scottish piper in me!
  12. Love is Inside You
    1. Acoustic guitars swirl into action to announce that love is close by, will flow through you, shine like the sun, and so on, with haunting, smooth vocals. Some might even remember the sixties after hearing this, but I like to think of it as timeless, and the best song with which to end the album.
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