Monday, August 23, 2010

Everything They Say

<a href="">Everything They Say by Sparky Grinstead</a>
A lot was happening in 1978. I was more or less happily married. I had 3 or 4 girlfriends (depending on the day of the week). I was working on Won Out and Le Bonx while writing songs hand over fist. I had a cool job driving a delivery truck for a local office supply store which gave me a tremendous amount of discretionary time during the day. Lots of music, lots of women and sex and lots of alcohol and drugs (well, marijuana, anyway. I didn't discover cocaine until 1980). Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. It was a fun time. I was young, foolish and kinda happy.

There was no e-mail, no cell phones, no GPS, cable TV, satellite radio...really, it was a very free time. If you were out, you were out. Nobody had to know where you were. There weren't CCTV cameras everywhere to make you a liar. I didn't even have a gas card, much less a Visa or anything like that. Everything was cash or check - usually cash because even though I had proper ID, some places were reluctant to accept a check from a guy with an afro. 

I wrote "Everything They Say" sometime in '78 and for once I had a song that wasn't about how I wanted someone or how she had gone and broken my poor heart. It's one of my favorite compositions and recordings. Lyrically it's all over the place. In the first verse I'm admitting to a little jealousy - my baby sister Olga was now the star of the family (rightfully so - she'd been accepted to Stanford and was on a very positive life path. She was so ant and I was so very grasshopper) and she was stealing my thunder. The second verse is four of the warmest, most tender lines I ever wrote about Arlene. The chorus is from something Matt's mom, Nancy, said to me after she discovered that I'd done the dirty with one of her friends. I still remember sitting down to write it - I had a capo on my guitar, which I hardly ever used, and it gave the chords a different feel (I'd been fooling around with that type of chord progression for a while) and the words just spilled out. The only change I made when we went to record was I dropped the words "...isn't wrong" from the last line of the chorus. This was recorded at Xandor in Orinda with me playing my Martin and Arlene plonking out that cute little piano part on a grand piano that was in the studio. The backing vocals were a last-minute idea. Peter Helgeson was present in the studio, sitting on the floor reading a book. In fact just as the song begins you can hear him knocking over a guitar stand!

C               F                  G          C 
I see your name on the old marquee
                     F                   C
Right where mine used to be
                 F               G              C            
I see your face in the upcoming show
                     F                   C
Right where mine used to go

Dm               G                    C        F
You've been picking up on all my friends
Dm                G                   C        F
What kind of stories are you telling them?
                           Am    C       G
Everything they say...          (piano riff)

I remember your blue nightgown
The one you wore when it got cold
I kept a fire in a lonely place
Til you were warm enough to hold

(repeat chorus twice)

The Backorders (my current band) did a very nice version of this at the Won Out 30th anniversary show, which you can watch above left! The Backorders are like an older, more professional version of the best Bonkeenies line-up from 1974. Jim Usher plays drums. Jim's daughter is one of my daughter's bestest  friends, and Jim and I got aquainted via the "our kids hang out so we'd better get to know each other" route. We'd actually been friends for a number of years before I found out that he played drums. More about that later. Mark Bluestein is the bass guy. He walked up to me after I'd performed at the local elementary school (helping out my youngest son's class) and introduced himself. Mark, Jim and I started getting together in my basement soon after that. I hadn't had my own band in over 10 years. Eric Kampman plays keys. Eric's son went to school with my youngest son and we met when he came to pick him up after a birthday party at my house. Our conversation went something like this: Me: "I understand you play keyboards" Eric:"I understand you have a band". Eric and I made Winter Comes and Goes together (yep, more about that later). My sister Olga (going by the name Robin Famous) and her husband Greg sing and play guitar. They were both in that classic Bonkeenie lineup with me - and that's a long, long story that deserves its own entry. So....more about that later, too.....

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