“A Puggle Named Fred” is now available on all streaming and download platforms!
Intimate relationships are messy. You get to be your true self and that’s not always the prettiest version of you.
And while that sounds a little sappy, there’s plenty of drugs, alcohol, and sex in this song.
This one originally came together during the 30 Second Song Project. I started with the line “I’m no wizard but I’ll be your muggle” because my girlfriend was in the midst of reading all the Harry Potter books at the time.
From there I just kept playing with the “uggle” rhyme until a story started to pop out. Unlike many of my other songs, the lyrics came pretty quick on this one.
I had planned it for one of the short songs albums. Either The Itty Bitty Ditty Committee (also available now) or the next one I’ll be doing later this year.
But as I started to play with the little musical refrain I realized I had a full song on my hands. A bit of a mandolin solo and it was good to go. I say that like I didn’t destroy my fingertips doing a zillion takes of that mandolin solo.
Fun note: This song is only the 2nd time I’ve played flute on a recording. The other is “Kissing In The Rain” which will be getting a new release with a new mix and master in a couple months. Stay tuned for that.
Meanwhile, give a listen to A Puggle Named Fred. Available on your favorite streaming site or feel free to buy it at Bandcamp through the player below.
But why would I write a parody? I never done one before. So why this song?
There’s a book by Alan Light called “The Holy Or The Broken” (Amazon link) all about the history of the song Hallelujah from Leonard Cohen to Jeff Buckley to the song’s place in pop culture as an oft-misunderstood American standard.
At the end of the book the author says “But I’ve never heard a really good parody of it.” Something that went beyond just changing the words but actually makes fun of the song itself.
“Challenge accepted,” said I. And then set out to use the song’s own lyrics against it to make fun of it’s overuse in pop culture.
At times when I’ve played this song people have gotten on my case for defiling a “sacred” piece of music. And yes, those are usually white Christian people who assume this is a Christian song because it uses religious imagery.
However just a little bit of thinking will tell you that Leonard COHEN was probably not Christian. He was Jewish in fact. And this isn’t a sacred religious song. It’s a song about sexual obsession in which he uses religious imagery to portray the depth and intensity of those feelings. Those super religious people, ironically, should find this song to be sacrilegious.
But that shows you the power of a well-hewn chord progression and a strong melody. It is an absolutely brilliant song. The original Leonard Cohen version isn’t the vocal showcase that we expect it to be now. Because it’s Leonard Cohen.
I based mine on Jeff Buckley’s spectacular version which is the what more people are familiar with. The guitar playing on this track is beyond beautiful. So intricate and tightly entwined with the vocal. Except he uses a capo. Capos are cheating and I stand by that. 😉
For my version, I didn’t copy Jeff Buckley’s guitar parts. Instead I played through a transcription of his a few times and used similar ideas but with my own style applied to them. So it’s definitely my interpretation of that style without being the same. And I didn’t do the extended introduction because “Get to the jokes, Funny Boy,” right?
Here’s Jeff Buckley’s version. Seriously, listen to the guitar parts.
I did leave out an extra verse that I’d written because the song was already hitting the 4 minute range and I didn’t want to add a bunch of extra time on.
But here for your reading pleasure is that extra verse.
We’ve definitely been here before
With an ogre pacing on his floor
And school kids leaving out words that arouse ya
I’ve seen your Idols singing grand
But mostly though they’re pretty bland
It’s a limp and it’s a flaccid Hallelujah
Sock it to ya
Ha ha fooo oooled ya
But what about that Rufus Wainwright version from Shrek? That gets a big ‘ol “Meh” from me. It sounds like he phoned in the performance. Nothing intriguing about the piano part. It’s a little too fast. It sounds like a very average cover of the song that he got a paycheck for. And now that he’s kind of known for it I imagine he puts a little more into the performances of it. But his original track doesn’t do anything for me.
So I hope you enjoy my version of it with some lighthearted skewering of it’s place in pop culture.
And no, Alan Light never responded when I sent it to him. So there ya go.
If you’ve ever listened to me talk about music for more than two minutes then you know I’m a HUGE Prince fan. And I absolutely love his original version of this song from the Sign O’The Times album (which happens to be the album that triggered my Prince addiction.)
But the lyrics are so sad and I always wanted to hear him to a downtempo version that matched the sentiment. So I had to do my own.
This is actually a bit of a vault track. Though my vault is way smaller than Prince’s. I recorded this song in 2006 and it was out for a bit. However the licensing hadn’t been done right so I pulled it down. Now it’s all legit. And this let me go back in for a light remastering too.
While I’ve been doing this song on my Tuesday Livestream show… every Tuesday at 12:30pm PT on Facebook and Instagram… I hadn’t played it in years. Doesn’t usually fit the vibe of my comedy club shows.
My most prominent memory of performing the song was a gig I did for an art car event at the San Jose Museum of Art years ago. Sounds relatively cool. What a shit gig.
I was playing on the front steps of the museum… unamplified. Like a damn busker. In case you were wondering why I can’t stop slamming my voice into the mic and annoying soundmen in the process, I used to do a lot of these unamplified outdoor gigs.
There were a ton of people around checking out the art cars, mostly ignoring me. Then I did this song and the crowd paused, quieted, listened. It was the first thing that got their attention.
And while I enjoyed that they were actually paying attention, I spent the whole song thinking “Oh sure… You’ll pay attention to the one song you already know.”
In 2003 I found myself sitting on the floor of my bedroom at my parents’ house next to my black lab, Lolly. I had a new digital recorder in front of me after moving up from my old 4-track.
My mentor, Tim Sweeney, had been encouraging me to play solo acoustic gigs alongside the bands gigs I was doing with Roadside Attraction and I was resistant to the idea. But I sat down to start working out how to make my songs work in that context.
And so I started experimenting with a few of the songs from “Ribbed For Your Pleasure” that I thought could work in an acoustic context.
For a week it was just me, an acoustic guitar, the recorder, and Lolly. It eventually became an EP called “In A Dark Room With A Dog” that’s out of print now.
Fast forward 18 years, lots of solo gigs, and a full home recording studio later. For my new album/EP/mixtape/whateverthing I wanted to recapture a bit of that simplicity. Especially after working on the monster arrangement of “Uprising of 1244”. 🙂
And today you can hear “Itty Bitty Ditty Committee”! Just me, an acoustic guitar, and a couple small percussion toys. Miss that dog though…
Here’s the ridiculous part. There are 33 SONGS on this new release! And the whole collection clocks in at 17 minutes. Yep, they’re short. You could listen to the whole thing and still have plenty of lunch break left.
In 2019 we spent a couple weeks in Italy. Awhile back I was looking through the photos from the trip and ran across one of a Medieval illuminated manuscript.
I love really old sheet music. It makes me think of of how many hundreds of years people have been showing up to jam and getting paid in beer tickets. Or grog or ale or whatever they were drinking back then.
I don’t remember how to read that old Medieval notation even though I had to learn it in college. (Neumes, they’re called.) And I really didn’t know anything about the piece in the manuscript. My Latin is terrible.
But I became obsessed with it for a few weeks and went on a little research odyssey to find out what it’s all about.
Turns out the piece is called “Uprising of 1244” and it’s about the epic fall of a once-beloved king at the hands of his people. A revolt!
Why did they revolt? You’ll see…
I thought, “I wonder if I could record a version of this old song.” Pretty far outside my zone as a musician. But I gave it a shot and I think it came out good!