Besides, Vol. 2

It’s barely February, and it’s was barely ten o’clock in the morning, but already my head was spinning with the question, “How am I going to get it all done?”

Abbi and I were discussing it all over coffee: the live album, the “from the vaults” album, the documentary. It was beginning to feel like a little too much.

Worse, with numerous interviews, broll and pickups left to shoot, not to mentions hours of scripting, editing, voice over, and scoring, the September Sundance was beginning to feel like the day after tomorrow.

Something had to give.

“What’s it going to be, then?” Abbi asked. “What’s your priority?”

“Mister Rogers & Me,” I asnwered.

The first step was to cross something off the list. And so I wrote Tommy over at Rockwood Music Hall. “Hold the thought on my proposed March 24/May 5 live CD recording/release,” I wrote. “But I’d like to put together a benefit night in support of the documentary I’m writing/directing.”

The next step was to outline the next six months: raise some money, hire a production assistant, keep seeking and shooting interviews, and start rough cutting.

Still, I couldn’t let all of my musical projects languish, especially the one that was half done. So I finalized the track listing for “Besides.”

I’ve been digging through my closet for a few weeks now, and I think I’ve unearthed that last of it.

In all, I found some 42 previously unreleased songs (Morning Mix MP3s notwithstanding) spanning the last (get this) fifteen years of studio recordings.

After careful pruning, I’ve arrived at the following (get this) double album:

Besides Vol. 1 (1993-1997)

1 Crossing To Safety
2 Wax & Feathers
3 Rebecca
4 Flood
5 Keelhauling
6 I-90
7 Late November Mind
8 She Said She Said
9 Kathryn (Of A Thousand Faces)
10 Five Star Day
11 Message In A Bottle
12 Manifest Destiny
13 The Michael Song
14 I’ve Been Waiting
15 Debris

Besides Vol. 2 (1998-2003)

1 Wishes
2 Christopher Street
3 Beholden
4 Untitled No. 1
5 The Rest Of My Life (Demo)
6 Annalia (Come Back Home)
7 Golden Wings
8 She’ll Come Undone
9 California (Demo)
10 Intent On St. Paul (Demo)
12 Radio (Demo)
13 Shiver (Demo)
14 Babylon
15 Who You Are

I think of these songs as spackle. They’re the pasty white stuff that holds the place together. Most of these songs were recorded between album cycles (like tracks 1-4 which were recorded between “Almost Home” and “Love & Other Indoor Games”), or simply didn’t fit with the sound (“Annalia”) or the subject matter (“Golden Wings”) of whatever album for which they were recorded (“Almost Home” in both cases). Some are solo acoustic demos that found their way to the full band.

Many have seen some light of day (the first five on Vol. 1 constitute 3/4 of my debute release, “Always Almost There,” of which I pressed exactly 50 copies… on cassette!), but none of them have been mastered or available for widespread release (as they will be on iTunes).

Trolling through all of these lost songs has been kinda’ embarassing, kinda’ cool, and kinda’ sad. There are some rediculous turns of phrase (“I am finally free / Come and fly with me” on “Crossing To Dafety”), and some eloquent ones too (“Each moment she spends suspended in air / A dance of dreams and everything that never was there” on “Rebecca”). It’s a little like hauling out stuff you drew with crayons, craypas, and pastels.

Still, I like the idea of letting it all float out there in the ether.

I’m sending Vol. 1 off to Jon Locker tomorrow (Vol. 2 is already mastered). I don’t imagine there’ll be a lot of fanfair around their eventual release, but stay tuned. ‘Cause thereis gonna’ be a lot of fanfair around the “Mister Rogers & Me” benefit concert.

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