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!
Wherein Phil ruins a romantic moment with science. Give a listen to my new track “Halfway To The Stars”.
I’ve long been a fan of old jazz torch songs. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald doing “Stars Fell On Alabama” was probably what I was listening to right before writing this. Sentimental, great melodies, all that stuff.
But I’m always a little too logical and scientifically minded when it comes to this stuff. (Honestly, if stars DID fall on Alabama it would probably do a lot of damage. A loss? That’s for your to decide.)
So you can hear me do a little crooning on here and finally using that college degree in jazz guitar I worked so hard for. (After giving up on a Physics degree – And now it all starts to make sense.)
You can listen to Halfway To The Stars below and click the “buy” button to have to keep forever and ever like a trinket your grandma left you in her will.