Seeing as how I’ve been jamming you kids with 5,000-word posts lately, I’m going to keep this one relatively brief. Of course, more epic posts will follow.
“Sandy Beaches” is a cleaner, softer remix of a song called “Sandy” from the last record, Bigger Brighter Faster Worse. The original mix is sadly uneven and heavy on the drums. The new version of the jam has a nice, California breezy feel with just a hint of a dark undertone. The original recording sessions with Chris Lanier (vocals), Matt Tucker (drums) and Susie Smith (vocals), are among my favorite moments of a time period (2007-2008) where great memories run few and far between.
Anyway, “Sandy” is a true rarity in my song catalog; technically, it’s a love song. Musically, the Beach Boys’ influence is obvious, and I was listening to a lot of Television and Wire, which manifests in the electric guitar stuff. I wish I could say the marimbas are legit, but it’s all keyboards and processing. All in all, “Sandy Beaches” is by far my most “California” song.
The “Sandy” in the song is relative to actual sandy beaches, with a tangential reference to this girl from high school named Sandy Something-or-other, who was somewhat of an enigma. To be honest, I vaguely knew her; don’t know that I ever had a conversation with her.
Years later – it was 1990-91 – my band was playing well-paying fraternity party gig at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Sandy showed up, completely out of the blue. It wasn’t like she was a fan of the band, and she wasn’t a student there, that’s for sure. We spied her as we were setting up and I remember one of us saying, “The hell is Sandy Something-or-other doing here?”
Anyway, there was an incident back at our hotel room after the party. Our entourage of more than a dozen people was sharing a double for the night; it was all four band members, our girlfriends, and social crew – which Sandy was not a part of. We drove up from Chicago in my Chevy cargo van – which in fact belonged to my employer – and it was packed with bodies and equipment.
We played two really good sets. The kids liked us and we rocked. The show-stopper was a cover of “Stop!” by Jane’s Addiction. Still amped after the gig, the whole gang went for a 3:00 a.m. run to IHOP.
Meanwhile, the bass player’s brother, a student at UW-Madison and a member of the hosting fraternity, somehow got a key to our hotel room, and brought Sandy back for some private time. We come back and a dozen people piled into the room to find these two banging on the bed. She was riding him cowgirl. First time I’d ever seen that move in person, if I recall correctly. Nice. Some of our group – namely the females – were outraged, perhaps rightly so, while others were highly amused. At any rate, things took a turn for the worse.
As they got dressed, I cleared the room to diffuse the situation. The bass player’s brother just bailed out, abandoning Sandy in our room. Somehow it became clear that she was now officially with us – she was our problem now. She sat in the corner with a blanket over her head for the next six hours, sobbing occasionally, while our girlfriends berated her with “Stupid slut!” and “Whore!” and “Get the fuck out of our room!” At the same time, me and the guys were trying to keep the peace. “Just leave her alone.” Nobody slept very well that night.
How Sandy even got to Madison was a mystery – mainly because she hardly said a word. The next eight to ten hours were surreal. Clearly, Sandy was having some sort of mental or emotional breakdown, but we were like, “What the fuck is wrong with this girl?” It wasn’t until later that we pieced it all together and realized that the bass player’s brother was behind the whole thing. And he wasn’t a bad kid; he was one of us. Obviously, he got us the gig in the first place.
Sandy was in the van back to Darien, IL, our hometown, and we dropped her off at home. From that point forward, whenever the story was retold – and it was, repeatedly – we jokingly referred to Sandy by her “porn” name, Sandy Beaches – it might have been Sandy Peaches.
I’m pretty sure I never saw the girl again. If Sandy is alive and remembers that night, I’d like to apologize for the way we handled the situation. I think some of us could have been cooler about it. So if you’re reading this Sandy, sorry about that. This song isn’t about you, but your spirit lives on.
The second jam is an acoustic version of “Mountains of Honey” [Note: This link takes you to the full electric version]. Not much to say about it except that I couldn’t decide which version I preferred – like Buridan’s mule – stunned by indecision, when I realized I can do whatever I want. Put ’em both out there. At any rate, enjoy! Or not.
Mountains of Honey (Acoustic Version)