Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Another Patron Saint

Steve, Peter and an unidentified female
Greg Reznick showed up one day in January of '79 with a TEAC 2340 4-track reel-to-reel. This song was the first thing we recorded with his new toy. At this point, Won Out was pretty much "in the can" (for that matter, so was Le Bonx) but I remember wanting very much for this song to be on the album. I had written and recorded a song called "Patron Saint" during the first series of Won Out sessions but I was unhappy with the lyrics so it didn't make the album. This song was originally called "Mary" after a young lady with whom I'd had a brief and very unfortunate fling (the less said about her the better - suffice it to say most of my friends had sisters and I had most of my friends' sisters). In fact, if you change the first line of every chorus to "I still miss Mary" you can see how the song originally went. The reason it was ultimately not on the album was because the chord pattern was very similar to "Everything They Say" - and, more definitively, Greg had the master tape and I didn't see him again for about 25 years! The song - in the original mix, no less - is now a hidden track on the most recent digital version of Won Out. Since the phrase "patron saint" was repeated in the lyrics it seemed to make poetic sense to change the title once I had removed the "Mary" references.

The song had been sitting around for a few years - I thought it had promise but I'd never been happy with the lyrics (and certainly Arlene didn't appreciate them!). It didn't come together until Olga and Greg broke up and I offhandedly and very unintentionally reworked it into a requiem for their relationship. Greg was my "guitar" best friend, a guy I could always share musical ideas with and often knew my songs better than I did. I was really quite miffed when he and my sister parted company, hence the faintly mocking tone of the lyrics. I still perform this song occasionally with the Backorders.

C                                         F
She had dreams that couldn't wait
C                                       F
She bought them the going rate
C                                           F
Kissed me in the hallway after class
C                                               F
A subject that I couldn't hope to pass
Dm           G              F                 C                       G
She really scared me - at once my child and patron saint
Dm             G              F                  C                          G
She really scared me - covering  my world like so much paint

I loved her as a bit more than a friend
I thought we'd be married in the end
She left me without warning one July
And I didn't have the sense enough to cry
She wouldn't share me - summer's almost gone and winter's near
She wouldn't share me - what would I be like if she was here

I knew I'd go on living anyway
I heard she'd gone to college in L.A.
I wrote her but she never did reply
And I didn't have the sense to wonder why
Now I smile so rarely and the years go rolling like a time machine
I smile so rarely - I guess I never made it past eighteen

"Guitar" best friends, reunited, doing what they do best: sitting around playing guitars.
Later that year I recorded the song again with Rick Johnson on drums and Arlene on Fender Rhodes. I've always wished I could combine those two recordings a la "Strawberry Fields Forever". If I ever find a tape of that second version version I will post it here! Arlene turned in a brilliant solo and Rick (for once) didn't overplay.

Back when Emeryville was a factory town the Sherwin-Williams paint company had a plant there. They had a neon sign with their motto: "Cover the World" (or was it Earth?) under the fantastic multicolored image of a neon Earth being slowly covered by a tidal wave of neon paint. It was taken down when the plant closed in the early 70's (Emeryville went from a dirty sooty little industry town to a gleaming hipster hub of condos, upscale shopping and overpriced chain restaurants over the course of about 2 decades) but  it was certainly on my mind when I wrote the line "covering my world like so much paint". I'm not sure how much of the original lyrics survived because the song went through several revisions over the years. I believe the first verse was always the same. I began writing it after Steve Hanamura had convinced me to start paying more attention to my lyrics and writing more serious - and less poppy - songs. It was written in what I call my "folky" style, with a capo on the second fret. Steve's influence caused me to become very self-conscious about my lyrics. It took me years to get over that.
Some of Greg's guitars . "Mothership" is 2nd from right.

Greg was playing his Martin D-28 - the "Mothership" - which he still owns today. I played my Martin D-35-S - "Young Neil" - which I still own. Both Greg and I have gone on to amass large guitar collections but these two remain our most prized instruments.

"Another Patron Saint" is available via download at bandcamp.com as part of the Won Out album.

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