Mike Errico: Story Songs Playlist

Mike Errico: Story Songs Playlist

I’ve been working on new material, and for me, that means taking a look at where I’ve been. I’m finishing the writing phase, and drawing lines through my songs, dating back to the beginning of my career. I thought I’d share what I’ve been noticing, in playlist form. I’ve been drawn to what some people call “story songs.” I found my writing voice listening to punk-folk, rock, country and early hip-hop artists, and particularly loved when the songs told, well, a “story,” as opposed to capturing a mood, or rallying around a single phrase, and so on. Some that immediately come to mind: – Space Oddity, David Bowie – oh, man. When communication cuts off from Ground Control? I’ll never forget when I first heard that. I actually wrote about it here. And here. – Cover Me Up, Jason Isbell – This guy gives me faith. I put him with Sturgill Simpson and Father John Misty, who sang about “subprime loans” and made me feel that there were no limits. – Main Street, Hollywood Nights, Night Moves, Bob Seger – I’m there every time he awakes to the sound of thunder…”How far off, I sat and wondered…” Me, too, Bob! Me, too! – The Distance, by Cake – I love the insane determination of that driver! “Someone for whom…he…still…BURNS.” Me, too, Cake! Me, too! – I Left My Wallet in El Segundo – Tribe Called Quest. In a similar vein as Cake, and maybe a goof, but it isn’t to me. It’s a cockeyed story in which the journey itself far outstrips the destination. Which is kind of the...
Autodidactic Asphyxiation

Autodidactic Asphyxiation

New: A seasonal piece of anatomical theater. I put it on Medium, but it’s here in its entirety, too. I will be handing it out to the urchins who knock on my door thinking I might give them my Crunch bars. They never learn. Happy Halloween. Autodidactic Asphyxiation A terminal diagnosis The Anatomical Theater of the Archiginnasio at the University of Bologna. The room is an elegant Renaissance box: varnished spruce floors, walls, and ceiling, with rows of straight-backed benches, now empty of students and spectators. Statues of men stripped of skin stand sinewed and elemental on either side of a central, empty throne. Overhead, wooden angels gift thighbones to allegories of truth and beauty. A peep door near the rafters is provided for the clergy to inspect the autopsies for religious impropriety. The door is shut. In the center of the theater, a white-coated doctor and doctor’s assistant stand over a marble slab, upon which lays a cadaver so dissembled it’s barely recognizable as human. It looks more like an oozing pile of body parts. The doctor’s assistant, also in a white coat, holds a clipboard with a facing page that reads: Initial diagnosis: Autodidactic asphyxiation. DOCTOR: There’s no piecing the examined life together. ASSISTANT (unnerved): Doctor? DOCTOR: Perhaps the unexamined life is the more ‘lived’ because whoever lived it never lathered him or herself up enough to arrive at the futility of post-examination findings. ASSISTANT: What are the findings, doctor? You have dismembered the patient, and so what are your conclusions? DOCTOR: Life is a mess. ASSISTANT (flips nervously through the papers clamped to the clipboard): I’m sorry, doctor? DOCTOR: Life...
The Mike Errico Eternify Challenge

The Mike Errico Eternify Challenge

Recently, I wrote a piece on Cuepoint about how :30 second songs might be just around the corner because streaming services pay artists after :30 seconds. Well. About a week passed. There’s a new site called Eternify that claims it gets artists paid by streaming only the :30 needed in order to count as a “stream.” The future, kids. I don’t get it either. So let’s have some fun. The link I’m not-so-strangely interested in: http://eternify.it/#Mike-Errico Technically, all you do is click on a piece of mine and it will stream :30 clips. I’ve never done something so easy in the entire Internet. Here’s the deal: You work with me, I’ll make stuff for you. If you are leaving work/stepping away from your computer for the evening, or if you don’t listen to music while you work, you can click on it, then simply hit mute and go about your day/evening. If that’s too intrusive, you can click on it before you step away from your computer for the day, and just let it run. You can, it appears, even open multiple tabs and let them run simultaneously. (I tried it. Seems like it works.) Would you rather get another artist paid, too? Not a problem — just open a tab and stream that artist, too. It also gives a running total, so you can keep track of your contribution by taking a screen grab. Like so: YOUR EXCELLENT QUESTIONS PROBABLY ARE: “Mike: What will you do with the money, if it arrives?” I’ll make more of the stuff you (hopefully) already like. Same as if you subscribed to a Kickstarter or Patreon campaign, except...
Gigging for God: My Time in the Church Folk Group

Gigging for God: My Time in the Church Folk Group

[Every other week, I’m releasing a new story that comes with music, playlists, podcasts, and photos. The whole archive is being collected right here. Check it out, and if you liked it, I’d appreciate it if you’d hit the RECOMMEND button at the bottom to let others know about it. (It’s just like a Facebook like.)] Gigging for God: My Time in the Church Folk Group I was an “at-risk” tween rock guitarist, so my parents sent me to a halfway house to play Dylan songs for God. Here’s how it...
Joni Mitchell is Not a “60s Folksinger”

Joni Mitchell is Not a “60s Folksinger”

[With attention turning toward Joni’s health, so too has a media shorthand that seeks to encapsulate an artist who has spent her life defying easy classification. But to call her a “60s Folksinger” is to ignore almost everything she’s done. New piece on CUEPOINT.] “If one more major media outlet refers to Joni Mitchell as a “60s Folksinger,” I am seriously going to lose. It.” — Julian Fleisher, via Facebook It took a second for me to register what my Facebook/actual friend had noticed — news outlets using shorthand to encapsulate someone who spent a life defying exactly that. I’m going to suppose that, to some extent, it can’t be helped, that people just don’t have enough time to see more than the easiest talking point. They have careers, lives, and a newsfeed that scrolls endlessly in both directions. “‘60s folksinger” is good enough for enough people. It’s all that people who don’t really care have time to care about. And in an age where the “power” of the sharing economy lies with the consumer and not the artist, perhaps Joni should count herself lucky to be remembered even for that one sliver of her output. But man, I wouldn’t say that to her face. She has been cantankerous with her legacy, scrapping biopics that smell shallow or expedient, eschewing stars who can’t yet hold a candle to the role they’re being lined up to play. Maybe some people are surprised by that — surely she knows the money she’s leaving on the table, right? The sales bump, the retrospectives and accolades she could fill her closets with? Read “Joni Mitchell is Not a ’60s...
Ground Rules for a Whisky Tasting

Ground Rules for a Whisky Tasting

With a head full of stones and a heart full of sand, I have returned from the Highland Park Record Club. The goal of this gathering was to establish that music and whisky are good friends, maybe even cousins: They both have dynamic personalities that unfold over time; they both are hard to do well; and both warrant repeat drink-listens. We were curated from the creative class and dispatched to a members-only basement where bookshelves swelled with thick hardcovers recounting retrospectives at the Whitney Museum. There were dark, overstuffed couches, and a gas fireplace with a thick glass pane in front of it that offered the dance of light with none of the extraneous by-product of actual fire. There were bowls of nuts with honey notes that whispered from the back of my palette, “How did you get invited here? You’re a fraud.” But I’m not a fraud, I whispered back to my nuts, within earshot of a vinyl technician who scratched garage rock into Plexiglas 45s on a vintage lathe. I am an aficionado, in that I have awakened next to empty bottles of Highland Park and hit play on recording equipment to hear a song that I couldn’t remember I even recorded. So. I’m a pro at this. It’s really something, to hear a song for the first time and know it’s you singing. It’s as close as I may get to inhabiting Keith Richard’s body. Scotch people, I report the following: Highland Park 12 remains a standard bearer, the one you’d hand the Olympic torch and let run down your gullet with trust, even pride; Highland...
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