Anomalous Anomalies

In preparation for the release of the new Aztec Hearts record, I was compelled to check the status of all BSM-related Soundcloud accounts, including Golden Tones and Henry Miller Sextet. As many of you know, Soundcloud has a couple of different types of accounts, which vary by price and amount of upload space. Only the flagship BSM account, which was mainly established to host Bob and Ron’s Record Club, has been upgraded to Pro. The others are free, which means they get approximately 120 minutes of uploads. The Pro account is unlimited and I think I pay something like $30 a month, which isn’t bad, I think. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Anyway, I’m not much of a “stats” guy, although I do occasionally check to see how things are going on BSM and so forth. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that despite being MIA for seven months, the blog generated a decent (relative) amount of traffic. The whole clicks-listens-downloads system of web metrics is nice, but it doesn’t mean much to the nobodies of the insanityCDworld. And with Soundcloud, it means even less when I’m paying for the music to be free. Whatever. Out of curiosity, I browsed over the stats for each account and I came across a relatively shocking statistic – shocking in my world, not the everyday world of popular digital media.

Of the three BSM bands – Golden Tones, Henry Miller Sextet and Aztec Hearts – and including traffic generated by the Bob and Ron shows, by far the most listened to and downloaded item is a delightful and obscure song called “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking With It” from the equally delightful and obscure Henry Miller Sextet debut album, Start the Insanity Now (1999). You’ll notice that we were billed as “The” Henry Miller Sextet, which was amended not long thereafter.

At 263 listens and a whopping 90 downloads, “That’s My Story” leads the second most popular song, “Gorilla For Sale” (also by Henry Miller Sextet, from the second album) by 200 listens.

“That’s My Story” is a curious case of several anomalies within an anomaly. First of all, only 100 copies of Start the Insanity were pressed and at least half of those were used for promotion. If we sold a copy of that record, it was to a well-meaning friend who insisted on paying in order to “support local musicians”, but in fact, their $10 was most likely spent at the bar within the next 20 minutes of said transaction. Absolutely nobody has ever listened to that record all the way through on purpose. “That’s My Story” was the second-to-last cut on the CD.

Next, the song itself features a couple of musical and stylistic anomalies. One, it is based on a one-bar looped drum sample from an intro to an unidentified Wilson Pickett record. It may not even be Wilson Pickett; could have been any number of soul and R&B records: Sly Stone, James Brown, Santana, War, Stevie Wonder, early Prince…InsanitybackI was listening to all that stuff back then. In all honesty, I don’t remember and I keep thinking I wrote it down somewhere but…Wilson Pickett is the name that keeps jumping out at me. Christ, I mean, good luck to anyone who tries to figure it out, but I really really hope that doesn’t happen.

Using loops and samples is not at all unique to my work; we did a ton of it in Golden Tones and I’ve continued the trend in Aztec Hearts. However, we were mostly using delay pedals to treat guitars and keyboards; we didn’t have an Akai MPC-60. We didn’t really need to sample the drums when we had a perfectly good Matt Tucker on hand. Nevertheless, this particular sample was used in tandem with live instrumentation to form the foundation of “That’s My Story”, and in that way, stands as an anomaly in the pantheon of Henry Miller Sextet. We never did that again. In fact, it’s the only song from the record that we never once attempted to play live or in practice.

Two, it is one of a half dozen songs in my entire 30 years of songwriting which do not have any six-string guitar on it. Zero. It’s all drums, bass, keyboard and saxophone, which was performed by one of the coolest cats of all-time, a dude named Chris Warland, who at the time was the lead singer of a band called Ancient Greeks – who were one of my two favorite locals bands at the time. Chris also sang co-lead vocal and wrote his parts of the verse.

Three, it’s the only song in my catalog to feature saxophone.

And so here it is. There’s nothing else like it on the record, to say the least of the HMS oeuvre.


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