when you gonna flower - john southworth used to come over to my apartment overlooking the DVP on weekday mornings… he and i would goof around and write pure pop ditties… he came one morning with the idea for this song and it was fleshed out in a matter of minutes. it has taken many shapes and forms before settling into the version that appears on the record… but there must be at least 3 or 4 others kicking around.
is this what you call love? - when i left the desert, i went to LA to work for a day or two with doc. he has a way with bringing the best out of me. we knocked this tune out at jim henson studios across the hall from randy jackson’s studio. los angeles always fills me with excitment and vigour. after the success of this writing session i would return a year later to write the bulk of this record with him.
girls on crutches - doc and i took over studio B at cherokee studios around beverly and fairfax. it was one of the last great LA studios still operating at the time. michael jackson to tom petty to queens of the stone age who moved in after us. we kept a nice, tight daily routine of writing and trips to whole foods for snacks and medicinal juices. doc would cook up a groove and i would banter lyrics and melody until we had a song. this one fell out and we thought it had something.
kissing girls (you shouldn’t kiss) - i had had the idea for this song for a while, john was instrumental in helping me get it out. it’s pretty obvious i think… but on the backdrop of dark, apocalyptic thinking.
it’s a drug - i wrote this in the desert during the writing for treeful of starling. i think the ‘sort-of-sexiness’ is propped up by the guitar lick wyatt burton brought to this tune.
in my blood - while doc struggled to make a old guitar amp work, I played the drums and the tape was rolling… the modulating, gutteral repeating lick is the sound of the amp giving up the ghost. i thought it was the coolest thing i had ever heard. we looped it and i rapped a dark little tale of dust and decay. i had come to these sessions from europe and somehow was looking at los angeles, in part, with the european sense of mythical wonder… the real dirty, hollywood. I drove home from the studio that night and heard the most incredible mariachi music. i never figured out what it was but i can still remember how bizarre and inventive it sounded. it reminded me of playing bass with a mariachi band in chicago 1997 for a union convention. they all had the full outfits with pagers on their belts.
lonely people - doc was strumming something in the studio on the last day of writing sessions. i had pretty much resigned to taking the day off. there was a bit of magic in what he had started to cook up. he and i are both dedicated fans of richard butler and the psychedelic furs. this was my attempt at writing ‘heaven’.
piano blink - i had just got off the plane from paris. i was completely exhausted and just wanted to go to bed. doc insisted we get something done before calling it a day… this was the first thing we did together.
the city is a drag - this song was written for a record that is still sitting unfinished. i wrote it on the piano in the upstairs lounge at blue rodeo’s studio near the danforth in toronto.
in the bedroom in the daytime - doc and i sat with two cheap guitars and drum machine. i told him we should write the easiest little pop tune… something with ooo’s and a kooky boy/girly lyric.
prettier face – doc would kick me out of the studio as he built the grooves and textures for me to sing and write lyrics over. it’s resembles more the way a rapper works with a producer. i would come later with a coffee and sandwiches and he would reveal what he had built for me. the lyric came very easily. the feel of the track just spoke to me.
oh you delicate heart - i wrote this as a birthday gift for a friend. this is the original drum part.
fatty wants to dance - having just come from europe i wanted to bring some straight euro-techno to our writing sessions in LA. doc was very reluctant. i had had this lyric kicking around for a while. i was always the “husky” kid in class and was always very self conscious about my body. i think that one of the big reasons i was so taken by michael jackson when i was a kid was his obvious connection to his body and his effortless dance moves. i always wanted to be able to dance like him. i used to write in my grade 3 school journal that i was going to be a dancer someday. i would bring drumsticks to school dances and ‘air-drum’ in the corner.