Saturday, March 9, 2013

Here's a Song I Wrote 17 Years Ago

This is "Last Chance to Change," a student work I wrote and recorded with Graham Burks back in 1996.  It's been lost to me until this week, when I digitized it from the original quarter-inch tape.

When I was an undergraduate at Rhodes College, I took a music theory class from professor David Ramsey.  He explained to us that he didn't like to give grades higher than A-minuses in his classes.  In order to get an A, a student would have to do a special assignment that went beyond the course's expectations.

I took the challenge, so I asked my new bandmate Graham Burks to produce a song I had recently written called "Last Chance to Change."  (We were such new friends, in fact, that I misspelled his name on the cassete case at the top of this post.)  We spent a few nights getting it down on his TASCAM 4-track, and we were pretty happy with the results.

Working out a score was a difficult task, and completing even the three bars you see at the right took us quite some time.  I then wrote up a paper about the song (title: "My Last Chance for an A"), which worked in the word "Beatle-esque" before the end of the second sentence.  Well done, 19-year-old version of myself!

Choosing the cover for the cassete, though, was easy.  I picked a black and white photograph that I had taken in a cemetery because that's how you tell the world you are a moody, intellectual artist.  

On presentation day, I took my essay and little cassette tape to class and played my song for my classmates.  They seemed to like it, as did Professor Ramsey.  I felt reasonably confident that my work was enough to get me an A on my transcript.

I got an A-minus.

(You should be able to listen to the song on the player above.  Let me know in the comments if it is not working.)

This week I found the long-lost tape and had the equipment to import it to Garage Band.  And here you have it!  A bit of mid-90s four-tracked indie rock.  It's sunny and warm, with great melodies and a pump organ and a bassline that won't quit.  The end-rhymes are a little bit dubious, but if you look past that, you might just find your toes a-tappin'! 

And I would be remiss to fail to mention that Graham and I are still making music together with The Perfect Vessels.  I'll have more to say about the Vessels coming up soon.

Graham and me, circa 1998


  1. catchy! and who the hell is blair pearle?

  2. That's Blair Pearce, who I played with in the Perpetual Motion Machine and then here and there in the following years. He's a good dude.

  3. is that my Moog? Wish I still had that thing. I sold it when I was trying to make rent in the early years.

    1. Actually, that's Graham's old air organ that you are hearing. I could never get your Moog to do much more than make R2D2 sounds.