"Backyards that Weren't There Before" opens with the song "The Sky and The Woman" which is a celebration and a mantra about staying positive. It has an all-encompassing drive fueled by Leslie guitars and triumphant hand claps. The image that comes to my mind is the Maharishi bedecked with floral garlands riding on a steamroller, flattening dismal attitudes in it’s path.
"Heavy Heart" was inspired by Gogol’s "The Nose". It’s not a direct inspiration, but I believe that when someone was telling me about the story, I was walking along the Champs Elysees. Heavy Heart is about a man in need of a new heart valve as his current device, The Arc de Triumph, is failing him (incidentally, circulation in French means “traffic”, and the Arc is famous for the difficulty in which to merge into busy traffic). He has grappled with guilt over the years since his first procedure about stealing a famous monument, yet it was the only thing on earth that would keep him alive. The song is a patient’s plea to doctors to save him again. The doctors are simply puzzled.
"Garage (How Often will I Entertain?)" is what I call a “parentheses song” (ex. Satisfaction (I Can’t Get No)) The song was inspired by a trip from my garage up through my basement when I noticed an ugly view from a basement window. At which point I exclaimed to myself “Well, how often will I be entertaining friends from this angle really?” The song eventually took on themes of recognizing different perspectives and not seeing things from peoples’ own vantage points.
"Summercholy" combines the words "summer" and "melancholy". Many of us Mainers agree that the summer of 2009 was dismal. The song is driven solely by acoustic guitar, vocals, and a flute sample from a mellotron ( the instrument featured in the opening of Strawberry Fields,) which kicks in during the second verse thus reinforcing the sense of forlorn in the song.
"The Manhole Yarn" is about a story I love to tell everyone, much to the chagrin of my poor husband. This waltz-y number begins with the chorus of “My Baby Fell in a Manhole”. It’s based on the time my husband and I were traveling in Turkey. We were walking in the park near Topkapi Palace when he actually fell in a manhole. Only minutes before the incident took place, we were approached by women panhandling in the park. Trying to play it safe as tourists, we gave a stern “no” to each of these women. We were immediately exposed as NOT SO seasoned tourists the split second my husband set foot down into the manhole. The women laughed. I did too, and at this point in the narrative in the song, the laughter reverberates at mythical and seismic proportions, swirling around mosques and on down to the Bosphorus.
"Seismic Ballad(e)" is about plate tectonics. What would happen if America folded in half after the New Madrid Faultline (located in Southern Illinois) were to give way? States would combine into “Califlorida” or “Hawaidaho”. The chords alternate between maior and major, offering a “when life gives you a bad hand, you make lemonade” kind of attitude.
"T.S. Baby" is based on probably my favorite film of all time. You have to guess which one it is!
"Old Cold Bold" is another bittersweet song about others’ speculations on a couple’s separation. The chords G, Dm and C repeat amidst lyrics about a two people reflecting back on the demise of a relationship.
"Allium Invasion" is about the discovery of an onion bulb by a narrator (who could be either male or female) who lives a rather ordinary life. She/he finds it on a beach, and quickly dismisses the foreign object as a pebble, and tosses into Casco Bay. Resuming her or his daily humdrum routine, two weeks go by. At this point, a giant “yellow dome” appears in the middle of the channel. The dome is actually a giant onion! It’s gargantuan presence in the middle of the channel suspends maritime traffic. People become outraged as Mainers, and people from out of State and even Canada can’t get their heating oil. The song combines the folkloric with literary onion metaphor and self reflection (Peer Gynt, John Lennon) with modern themes of the current energy crisis.
"Lonely Kitchen Zealot" you could say is based on truth. It’s about a spastic in the kitchen whose ideas are “commendable”, but whose “deliveries are insane!!” Chocolate strawberries dipped in rice? Nice. Soup tacos? No thank you. She eventually drives her friends away with her disastrous delicacies.
And now the bonus tracks...
"Fluzzerly Squuzzed"- that one instrumental track a young teenaged girl in Portland, Maine c. 1986 listened to over and over again.
"I Wanna Clone You" - a song about having the great idea of cloning someone who did not grow up in America to see what it would be like, but then deciding against it in the last verse.
"Summercholy B"- The same as "Summercholy" but with friends joining in.