New Detholz! demo – “Ghost of Christmas Palsy”

DETHOLZ! play one of their only shows this winter– and it’s ALL AGES! THIS SATURDAY, 1/19/08 at AVIE AERIE with our friends, PIT ER PAT and REDS AND BLUE. Mr. Bobby Conn will also be DJ-ing that night. This is a benefit for the lovely Dill Pickle food co-op, and is a great cause caused by great people. For more information, go here : http://dillpicklefoodcoop.org/

Welcome to Detholz! Mp3 Blog XXII!

This week, it’s back to business– another “Death to the Traitor” demo (see previous posts). Feel free to utter a hearty “bah humbug” if you don’t like this one:

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PALSY

If you DO, however, then God bless you, every one!

I. SONG CONCEPT

As another installment for consideration on “Death to the Traitor” (the next Detholz! release), “Ghost” follows suit in the Grand Guignol tradition, this time chronicling the sad ending of a life ruined by bad decisions.

Without getting too personal, I’ll say that this one is more biographical than other newer songs– a vision of my own death and potential regrets that I put down here mainly as a warning to myself. Hence the Dickensian reference to the Ghost of Christmas Future… this is a picture of a possible future, if my personal Scrooge were to get the best of me.

The gist? “Make Good Choices.”

Thanks, Mom.

II. SONG COMPOSITION

The next few Detholz! songs will be written without guitars — the “Piggly Man” approach (see previous post). This is as much practical as artistic — Karl, the Detholz! guitarist, is in school this semester, so we’ll have to do some shows without him. Plus, I’d like to be freed of my instrument in order to prance about with more reckless abandon!

I attempted to limit myself here to only 3 different keyboard tones — ended up using 4. Not bad, given the shameful lack of restraint I’ve exhibited on another new song, written directly before this one, which I’ll post next week. It almost exploded my laptop.

As with the other installments in the “Traitor” series, the bass line is constant throughout which always presents a interesting challenge when crafting melodies for verse as opposed to chorus. I feel a lot more freedom to write verse melodies that are more improvisatory — as I’ve discussed before, I’m not an especially good improviser. All the same, a little variation in verse melodies helps songs breathe better, in my opinion. There are innumerable examples of this in popular music. In this case, I borrowed a little bit from The Smiths and Morrisey (can you believe it?!?).

The centerpiece of this song, of course, is the bass line. I also wanted, once again, to write a “Hall and Oates” type of drum part — a simple, 4-on-the-floor that remains unchanging throughout the song. I’ve discussed my fascination with this simple approach in other posts. Trim-trimminy, trim-trimminy, trim-trim the fat! It’s an interesting challenge– very tough to write this way, at least for me. With practice, though, it’s getting a little easier and I was satisfied with the result here.

The chorus melody involves a lot of triplets and “staggered” rhythms, which was an attempt at word-painting. Once the “Do It Again’s” were in place, the chorus came quickly and painlessly. Yes, yes, I realize using phrases like that is a cheap maneuver, but… hey, it was exciting to me when the song was working itself out!

Perhaps that’s a topic for next time… lately, I’ve been feeling more and more like a thrall to whatever song is working itself through my system. This one is case in point.

Tune in next week for another brand-new Detholz! demo…

III. LYRICS

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PALSY

Veiny gums
Hospital slums
Wad of phlegm in the Gerber

State ward
Bed sores
Memories of a pervert

“D!”
The cheerleaders say:
“N!”
The pretty nurse says:
“R!”
Anyone gotta liquor?

Blank stare, Medicare
Thick blood on a hospital blouse
He’s code blue and quiet as a mouse

Do it again
Shake me like a dying friend
Do it again
Shake me to the end
Do it again
Make me shake under the ground
Do it again
Make me shake without a sound

And now the doctor is in
And now the nurse is with him
Shaking her head and his body
I got my teeth in a jar
Picked off the floor of some bar
It’s a long and lonely story

“D!”
My dead ex-wife says:
“O!”
My secretary:
“A!”
How I used to love to liquor/lick her

Had the right pills and marketable skills…
Thick blood dribbles out of my mouth
If you got the shakes, you gotta shake it out

Do it again
Shake me like a dying friend
Do it again
Shake me to the end
Do it again
Make me shake under the ground
Do it again
Make me shake without a sound

Do it again
Shake me
Shake without a sound

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5 Responses to “New Detholz! demo – “Ghost of Christmas Palsy””

  1. WOTSAC Says:

    That’s the right embodiment of cheer.

  2. detholz Says:

    WOTSAC: Happy to be of service!

  3. kebabdylan Says:

    ok. on first listen I really disliked this one. my only real gripe is the melody on the chorus. you have such a knack for writing odd and evocative melodies that when you pull out the really simple almost predictable choruses i’m kinda let down.

    having said that, I just listen to it again and I kinda really really liked it. So I have no idea anymore. It lacks that something special that I come to expect from the best of the detholz but this might be your break through radio hit.

    would be interested to hear it with the full band.

  4. detholz Says:

    ‘Bab: Given your history with the band, I’m not surprised this one wasn’t a stand-out for you. Though it may chafe our longtime fans a bit, I was actually more pleased with this one than most of the other recent songs.

    I was purposely going for a more “radio-friendly” approach with this one, especially given the Grand Guignol themes in the lyrics. That combination was appealing to me as this one panned out.

    As Artie Bucco says of one of his creations on the Sopranos, “it’s about the contrast…the crispness of the beans, the smoothness of the cheese.”

  5. Jim Says:

    Like Bab mentioned, this one seemed to lack the special stamp that so well defines your other keeper tunes as awesome Detholz material. So it took a while to grow on me as well, but by now I’m diggin’ the simplicity. The whole song just kinda chugs along nicely. Pretty catchy.
    And I love the “you gotta shake it out. Hoo!”
    I could even learn a thing or two from it.

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