Back in February of 2006, Jefferson Pitcher, J. Matthew Gerken, and I set about writing and recording the original demos for these Presidents songs as part of the February Album Writing Month challenge (www.fawm.org). We wrote and did demo recordings of 42 songs (all but G.W. Bush) in Februrary–28 days and 42 songs. Sheesh.
In any case, as part of that, we wrote little texts to accompany each new song as we got them up on the FAWM website. I like looking through them now as they seem part of a crazy, crazy time.
Burr Settles, a fine songwriter in his own right and the FAWM-lord, was kind enough to get me an html backup of all the original texts we wrote, and it includes the comments other songwriters wrote on the demos as we got them up. I’m including those as well.
12 Taylor (Rough and Ready)
this one was a beast. problem after problem after problem (mainly computer related) that i won’t even bother to explain. some songs just don’t want to come out i suppose. last night, after writing here and explaining the song, lyrics etc. the computer crashed again and i simply went to bed. how is it that we can be so angry at these machines?
so, zachary taylor. number 12. i have crested into the double digits. taylor was a complicated man. incapable of making any firm decision about the issue of slavery, he essentially avoided the issue until his abrupt death. he himself had over 100 slaves, but felt that the new states forming in the west such as california and new mexico, should be free to vote about the matter themselves. this of course caused great frustration from the southern states, whom he attempted to placate for years. just after his death (he was in office just over a year) the compromise of 1850 was passed which basically ruined the idea of freeing the slaves for a while longer; not really a compromise at all. it basically said that any slaves found anywhere in the united states (those who had fled to free states) could be arrested and brought back to their slave owners. anyway, he was ultimately a bigot who didn’t want to be. he felt that the best way for whites and indians to get along was to be seperate.
he ot his nickname “rough and ready” by starting a battle with mexican troops which ultimately led to the mexican american war. amazingly, his troops of 6000 defeeated a mexican army of 20,000, which made him a national hero and led to his presidency.
as for the song, it is nothing like i intended, which i suppose is the point of this project in some way. i was given a drum kit this year, but no cymblas, hence the rumbling drums. the weird space in the middle after the 1st chorus was again one of brian eno’s cards, which read “do something unpredictable and destructive; incorporate.” i chose silence. i thought it sounded so stupid that i added some stick clicking and then tried to make that sound interesting with efects, then gave up as the computer kept crashing. ugh. were i to re-track this, the eno section would disappear. the song longs for piano i think. off to work.
- sweetmusic999 | 2006-02-10 @ 05:09pm (EST)The first thing that occurred to me while listening this song was that your guitar riff is beautifully unique. My favorite part of the song was the first time you sang “rough and ready” – it just seemed to fall into place perfectly. The fade out instrumental in the end is both pretty and a good idea. Keep em coming.
- Ben J. | 2006-02-10 @ 06:45pm (EST)Nice! No constructive comments, you’re too good at this. I can feel what you were going for for the quiet section, and if maybe the execution wasn’t working, at least the idea was a good one, I think… sometimes those details take a little time to crystallze, and for FAWM, the temptation is to not dwell on it if it’s not coming there and then, and move on, which is a good one, seeing as how may of us obsess over everything for too long. Lovely guitar work – as always.
- friendof | 2006-02-14 @ 02:07am (EST)Taylor is actually my 12th great grandfather. I really enjoyed your song and breif bio. As I saw you doing these presidents I was certian you were going to focus on the mystery of his death (it was thought to be poisoning, but when the dug him up years ago, they determined it was not likely poisoning).I love the change in tempo of the song. I also love the drums… it really gives it that military feeling, which is essentially what Taylor is known for. I also love the harmonies on “oh rough and ready.” You’ve done an excellent job. Now I am off to listen to the more recent presidents!
- Matt Hopper | 2006-03-02 @ 01:04pm (EST)This tune is nice…reminds me of the band Gomez…I think it’s the harmony in the verses…very soothing.