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.
I went trolling for some interesting audio this week over at the Internet Archive – frankly, I’m a little sick of writing songs, and I wanted to flush out the system with a found audio thingie. I found this treasure trove, a collection of kids on cassette in the public domain (if you’ve never been to the Internet Archive, you should check it out – it’s non-profit with an enormous library of, like, everything). It brought back fond memories of yelling nonsense into the grill of a 40-pound tape recorder with a record button you had to lean on and mash down with your whole hand. And I was blown away by six-year-old Justin’s “Rock and Roll Boy,” which begins with the most fantastic opening lines in the history of rock and roll. So I wrote a song around Justin’s vocals. He wasn’t thoughtful enough to provide a third verse or a bridge, and he wandered a bit in terms of key, so I had to improvise. But I really think he had an actual song in his head. Which is more than I can say for myself some weeks…
PRESENT DAY JOCO SAYS: Well, hm. I find my backup vocals hilarious: “He loves to live in this crazy crazy town.” And I seem to remember it was quite a bit of work to get the audio to do what I wanted, so that part feels like an accomplishment. But I can’t really say I’d ever, you know, CHOOSE to listen to this song. I like the guitar solo, which is unusual. One thing I would do differently today is not make it three and a half minutes long - a lot of the songs from the new record are just barely two minutes, and they’re just fine that way. There’s just not enough material here to justify so long a song.
Boy was I tired! I can remember making the decision that I was not going to write anything that week, and how relieved I felt. At this point the relentlessness of the weekly schedule was kicking my ass. It was harder and harder to find ideas and tricks that I hadn’t already used at least a couple of times. I think that after you’ve written enough, that happens, in fact I still feel that way today. Like I’m cooking dinner and nobody’s gone shopping in years. Rice? I guess we could have rice again. Rice with chicken? Haven’t had chicken in a couple of meals. Maybe if I put these mushrooms in, nobody will notice that it’s still just rice and chicken. It’s either that or this can of cheese soup I’ve been staring at for six months. Fuck it, let’s open the can.