5 years ago Jonathan Coulton (that's me) started a project called Thing a Week, in which I released newly recorded song every Friday for a year. I'm replaying it in real time here with all the songs and the text from the original posts.
Just so you know how bad this monkey problem of mine has gotten, every time I type the title of this song my fingers want to type “Monkey” instead of “Money,” which would make for a very different song. This is more on the theme of “asshole sings a breakup song,” in this case his assholism is that he is a scrub, the kind of guy who can’t get no love from the lovely ladies of TLC.
I should also mention, by popular request I have made available a huge honking box set – it’s at the top of the songs page, it costs $50, and it gives you everything but the current Thing a Week album in one big zipfile. If you’ve been waiting to jump in and purchase, this may be the place to do it…
PRESENT DAY JOCO SAYS: This is one of those songs that I basically haven’t thought about since the day I posted it, nor do I really remember writing it. I was just now surprised by the lyrics in the 3rd verse, which I could swear I’ve never heard before. Also: hey, this one has a bridge? Obviously it’s not one of my favorites. I do like the backing vocals in the chorus, though I sure wish I had resisted ending the chorus on that m7b5 chord, which you JoCo scholars will recognize as JoCo Harmonic Crutch #217. As a concept it’s OK, but I feel like it didn’t quite come together enough to transcend the jokes and become something else - think about Skullcrusher Mountain, funny, but there’s a lot more going on in that song. Here I think the concept gets you to the jokes and then leaves you there with not enough change in your pocket to take the bus home.
I also would like to complain about the arrangement (do NOT like the percussion loop and the way it fails to work with the croony acoustic vibe) and the mix (muddy! should have sharpened those chorus vocals a little) and the form (that bridge was a terrible idea, I can tell I was tacking it on to add something, anything, to what is just kind of a dull song all around). This song feels like part of the calm before the storm - we’re just a few weeks away from where it started to get really interesting.
This is exactly the kind of song you need to write and then LEAVE OFF THE ALBUM. Of course I didn’t have that luxury given my Thing a Week concept, which was just to release everything in chronological order, in its current state of completion, and regardless of quality. In that way the whole Thing a Week collection is less an album and more an archive of my creative process that year, which is interesting, but a very different beast.
I guess I really haven’t done a proper album since Smoking Monkey in 2001 (or something). The one that I’m working on now feels in many ways like my first album ever, which is weird given the fact that I’ve been doing this professionally for six years. I have to say I’m enjoying it quite a bit. In contrast to TAW, it’s all about diving deep, spending LOTS of time working on a song until it’s everything it can be. There are quite a few songs that you will never hear, because they are not good enough in my opinion. But it’s a great pleasure to not have to compromise based on how much time I have before Friday, whether or not I can play the banjo, etc. While I think there’s great value in something like TAW where you just go and go and never look back, it doesn’t leave any space for any consistency of vision. As I’m stepping back now at the end of this album process I’m finding that the whole of it is taking a shape, and telling a larger story. It actually seems to be “about” something, and that’s very exciting.
On the business and career front, this was the week when the PopSci Podcast launched - great fun to do, but I very quickly ran out of time to do it. I also started selling the Box Set of mp3s, which was the entire collection for $50. That’s been a really important part of the business, it’s a great deal and it gets people to listen to LOTS of stuff (even bad songs like this one, oy). Spiff’s WoW videos were starting to pop up on YouTube, and in general it seems like things were really buzzing out there. I’m almost certain that Code Monkey was the catalyst for this particular bump - all the little bits and pieces of my career were out there in a trail of breadcrumbs, and Code Monkey was the flashing neon sign at the trailhead.