Hey, ‘member just a couple of weeks ago when The Crazy Boy Floyds didn’t have any officially released songs, just copied MP3s that had been passed around? Well, now it’s a new week and four new songs by CBF have been released into the wild.
This week we have a song about the problem of a sleepy shepherd who has to count his sheep without falling asleep, the joys of being a monster, a timely political tale of clashing protests, and a wistful song about all your beloved childhood toys and games becoming real:
That’s a grande totale of SIXTEENE songose from CBF now! Yikes!
It seems like just yesterday that I announced that The Crazy Boy Floyds would actually be officially releasing songs into the wild after 20+ years of gestating (it turns out their songs hatch from eggs). Well, later in the day after I posted about that, they released a whopping FOUR more songs!
Here they are:
I’m especially fond of “The Bullet That Never Slows Down” because I wrote the music for it, and it’s always been one of my favorite compositions. But that’s not the song this post is about!
Did you catch the secret code embedded into “My Control Pad“?? Here are the lyrics to that song; see if you can find it (don’t worry, I’ve bolded and italicized the relevant words).
MY CONTROL PAD
Would grin in their masks and
Their honeybees would carry me UP to his steel hands UP and we’d jump through the cool August sky
The world was the view seen by diving red barons and I
Knew what it did when I opened up the box lid
Didn’t even plug it in to play
Soon DOWN the gravelly road I’d run
Knowing by the pond was a waiting someone
And that beekeepers
Would grin in their masks and
Honeybees would carry me into his waiting hands DOWN and we’d bound over grass growing high
And leap over fences that spread out for acres and I
Wish I still had that control pad
I wish I still had that control pad
LEFT and he went RIGHT
And he went LEFT if you moved RIGHT
That way if someone stole it they could never understand
Sometimes I would confuse it for the other one but use it
Sometimes I would say that I could just say my command
And the beekeepers
Would grin in their masks and
Honeybees would carry me into his waiting hands B and his three mini missiles would fly
And pop on the fence posts and scatter the hornets and
Sometimes I still used it for its factory made function
Didn’t want to see the Blue Max crash or give Bub a concussion
It always worked despite the sight of mud and grass stains clinging tight
And a sticker so you’d know if he was friend or he was foe
Would grin in their masks and
Honeybees would carry me into his waiting hands A and we’d wave as balloonists blew by
And swat at mosquitoes that came out at twilight
Would grin in their masks and
Honeybees would carry me into his waiting hands START and his heart and the lights in his eyes
Would rev up so strong now those summers are gone and I
Way back, well over 20 years ago, the Harris brothers and their friend Geoff for some unknown and unwise reason started to scrape songs together. Geoff & I would write music (usually without collaboration; he would compose songs and I would compose songs) on those extremely old-school music trackers like Scream Tracker and Schism Tracker. We would then give the music to Mike, who would write lyrics and melody. Those would be given back to Geoff to sing.
And the songs started pouring out. Dozens and dozens of them. About any conceivable nerdy/childish subject, like robots, halloween monsters, video games, and very weird people. We decided to call our trio “The Crazy Boy Floyds” based on a character from “Under the Mailbox Theater,” our sketch comedy TV show that we were creating concurrently.
And nothing much came of it. CBF recorded a full album in one sitting at one point, but weren’t entirely pleased with it (most of the recordings that people have of CBF are from this session), and there were a couple of other less-than ideal recording sessions here and there. A few years ago Geoff went to China to train in Kung-Fu, and in his downtime he was able to record many demos of songs, but they were just that; demos.
None of these recordings were ever officially released. And in the meantime songs were still being written. Dozens and dozens of them.
Well, that all ended as of last week. Geoff, Canadian-ensconced and with copious free time, has at long last begun recording, mixing, and finalizing the real, final, actual versions of these songs that have been gestating for oh-so long—with a pledge to release a new one every week (in addition to the weekly Trevor Peach songs that he is producing).
The songs are generally divided into four categories, which correspond with four albums into which the songs will be released:
The Crazy Boy Floyds:
“This collection of music by The Crazy Boy Floyds is for the strange music that doesn’t fit in with their common themes. Much like the Island of Misfit Toys, the songs gravitate toward this “minus world” lacking any clear definition. Also, much like the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys, there’s actually nothing wrong with the songs.”
“It is well known that The Crazy Boy Floyds are obsessed with Halloween specifically and Classic Monsters in general. Indeed, all monsters and modes of costuming are fair game in terms of subject matter in this collection of audio works. But will there be time…. to stop them if we must…”
Construction Paper Robot Assembly Line:
“The first construction paper robots created by The Crazy Boy Floyds (designed in the German tradition – to go out of control) attempted to take over the world in the year 1992. They failed, of course, but they inspired The Crazy Boy Floyds musical fascination with robots that continues to this very day – on this very album.”
“In the distant past, one could travel to an “arcade” to play “arcade style video games” which cost one US quarter- 25 Cents. This collection of music by The Crazy Boy Floyds celebrates that time, and celebrates classic video games in general, and the nostalgia of childhood play – though at times it is unclear how.”
Four songs were dropped in one big dump (that sounds dirty) last week. Here they are! Partake and enjoy:
And most likely I’ll be posting more songs as they drop, or every couple of weeks I’ll collect them and post them here. The point is, this is exciting, and something that has been percolating for more than half of my life. Literally.
As a mental exercise recently I decided to see if I could figure out what are my favorite songs from my favorite musician. It took a while. Some of my choices might surprise you! But here is what I have:
10: Motorcycle Bong
An instrumental (a rarity for JM), this song is all funk and swagger and some great bombast. It’s like the Best 1970s Cop Action TV Theme Song Ever.
9: Here Is a Stone Wall
This is just lovely and heartfelt, with only Julia’s voice and a single guitar. The lyrics are meditative and celebratory, about small moments and well-lived lives. Just reading through the lyrics gets me all teary-eyed.
Ugh, so catchy. A very distinctive synth hook anchors this song and the added choir effect during the chorus really elevates it into something special. The lyrics are about passing time and death and the impermanence of all things, but are also super-uplifting (so, pretty much the usual Julia Massey lyrics :P). But even if I’m just some ash that kicks up in the wind, I know I’ll find my way to fields of wheat in Ireland.
This song is just pure pop goodness. It’s peppy, it’s upbeat, there’s some really cool bass stuff going on from Geoff. Sometimes I picture Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount going on a late-night talk show to perform (usually Conan), and this is the song that they always play in my head. Also: you should listen to the previous song on the album (“#712” – an adaptation of poem 712 by Emily Dickinson) before listening to this one, because they blend seamlessly into each other and it makes “Spaceships” even better.
This one is just a masterpiece. It’s epic, it’s loud, it’s got awesome drums and bass and it just kicks ass. The intro and outro instrumental segments are some of the finest instrumental segments that JM+FFD have ever put out. And the lyrics are sweet and funny. It’s also more than five-and-a-half minutes long, but it’s so interesting a song that the time just flies by.
5: There Is a Song
This is an anthem. This is the most exquisitely-sung song on any of JM+FFD’s albums. Julia’s voice is full of power; she belts this song, and it is glorious. The swing tempo is delightful, and the sleigh-bell outro give it a magnificently gentle ending. The lyrics are very empowering; it’s like Julia is standing behind you and shouting, “You can do it!” while you’re trying to do something difficult. JM+FFD would often end their live sets with this song, and it is so complete and final a song that it’s sometimes hard to imagine anything else coming after it.
4: Montana Capri
This song is not high on this list just because it was written about my daughter. That’s right: we didn’t want to announce the baby’s name until she was born, so “Montana Capri” was the fake codename we used for the baby while my wife was still preggers with her. It’s not just because of that; It’s also just a great song. The first part of this song has such a strong, focused drive to it. It’s like a train speeding through a tunnel, chugging forward relentlessly. And then in the second part it completely opens up and becomes epic and spacey. It’s like the train comes out of the tunnel and bursts into a beautiful moonlight vista, all mountains and stars and valleys. It’s awesome.
3: Jenny Towner
A beautiful and funny portrait about a real-life person whom I’ve never met. My favorite lyrics are the adorable (and slightly creepy) “Got the goddamn cutest face / It’s already in my suitcase / She’s coming with me everywhere I go.” One time JM+FFD did a full-band, rockin’ version of this song for me on my birthday. “Jenny Towner” hasn’t ever been released on an album. There used to be a link to download it on Julia’s website, but I can’t find it anymore. Alls I can find is this YouTube video of a live version from a long time ago.
2: Don’t Worry ‘Bout Us
A loud, almost-bluesy, piano-banging romp with a fascinating time signature. It is nothing but unadulterated happiness for six full minutes. Gobs of solos show off each of the instruments, and the music is just so voluminous it’s hard to imagine that it was all made by just three people. This song is just joy, joy, joy.
This was no contest. Not even close. And it’s completely bizarre: I usually do not like repetitive songs at all, and “Catacombs” is basically just the same set of lyrics sung three times in a row. But this song pushes all of my musical buttons. From the opening drums to the opening piano riff, to the vocals coming in, then the strings and bass and backing vocals. It all just such a lovely build to the first time Julia belts out the chorus. I’m a sucker for songs that build like this. And the lyrics about “I know somehow you’re more than memory / ‘Cause I feel you in my bones, weaving caves in my marrow / Where I feel the echo of your memory / Where I feel the echo of your Earthly dream.” When Julia finally does belt out the chorus, “I’m not hollow” sounds almost like a statement of defiance. The world may take from us, but it cannot take our memories of each other. You fill me up. I’m not hollow. I would love this song to be played as a sing-along my funeral—I’m completely serious!—with everyone there belting out “I’m not hollow!” all together. Beautiful.
These are the songs that were all fighting to get the coveted #10 spot.
Turn It Into Everything
This song is a clever little pop ditty metaphor about games turning into something more. It’s just so catchy I can’t resist it.
Always Been There Anyway
An early song that was never put on any albums. Like “Jenny Towner” you used to be able to download it from Julia’s website, but I can’t find it anymore. It has a very different feel from any of her other songs due to a fascinatingly different choice of instruments like a sitar-sounding thing and some bongos. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Come Here, You
This one I can’t post any links to audio because it hasn’t been recorded yet! And I couldn’t find a video of it uploaded to the internets anywhere. But this song has a great part towards the end where the audience starts clapping along to the song, and then the song ends. And every time I’ve seen this song performed, the audience just keeps on a-clappin’ even after it ends! It’s very charming. If you go to a show nowadays it’s very likely that you’ll hear it!
And there you have it. What do you think? What songs would you add and/or remove from my list in order to make your own?
I’m very looking forward to Julia’s next album; there are some really good new songs happening in her live sets these days. If you’d like to experience more Julia Massey, you should come to her next show! It’s this Friday, November 20th at Columbia City Theater in Seattle!
JM+FFD are the 2nd band!
MoZo (CD Release) // Julia Massey // Richie Aldente (Facebook Event)
Friday, November 20th 9:00 PM
@ Columbia City Theater
4916 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 (map)
$8 adv / $10 door