When I asked folks I know to take a listen to My 3 Addictions and write responses, I didn't know what to expect. I sort of wanted blurbs, but I sort of wanted interesting stories, and basically I wanted to see what people's reactions would be.
Today, I got an email from Mike Baglivi (pictured far right, with his band Heroes of the Open End), in response to my prodding: "Hey, you said you would write about 'Sundaes on a Sunday Afternoon,' where's it at?"
To say Mike's email about the song was unconventional is a bit of an understatement. In response to my little song about grandmas and ice cream, Mr. Baglivi has created a four-page-plus exploration of his personal feelings on family and food, and other tangential topics. Now, this blog is already getting a little big for its britches (how far down did you have to scroll to read this bit here, huh?), so I've placed Mr. Baglivi's response in a separate location right here: CHECK ME OUT!
Two of the first people to hear "Sundaes on a Sunday Afternoon" were Garin Glassy and Seth Ekblad, coworkers at Troma Entertainment. They both really liked the song, and Seth even got slightly emotional and said he knew that obviously I was as close to my grandma as he was to his. Mildly embarassed, I conceded that it was true, failing to mention that the song wasn't about my own grandmother.
See, I lived for about 2 years in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and one day I went to this combo sub shop/ice cream store about a block from my house to get a sandwich. As I waited for my food, I watched this grandmother and her sugared-up, bratty grandkids for a few minutes. I realized that she didn't give a shit that they were acting nuts -- they were having fun because she bought them ice cream, and that seemed enough for her. I found the idea touching; hence, the song you have before you now.
The "Temptations" Sound
Jon Glovin (right) frequently says that he really likes the way this song sounds like The Temptations to him. Frankly, I think it sounds nothing like the Temptations, but that's because I was raised listening to lots of old-timey pop and I know what I'm talking about, while he listens to newfangled indie stuff. (Also, as you can tell, I am a crotchety old man in the body of a nearly-27-year-old.)
But, I do know what he means. However, I would pinpoint the "sound" as something more like '50s rock, with some doo-wop tossed in for good measure.
And although I'm always up for some classic '50s/'60s-style excesses (did you check out the "sha-la-la"s on "Jeanette Is Working" in the video up above?), this song started off with a more subdued-Ramones-style "thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud" approach.
During one of our practices, though, Preston intuited that the 1-6-4-5 chord structure of the tune is, as Lou Reed points out in this old-school essay, basically the same as every '50s rock song ever (and many many songs since). He eased up on the straight-ahead flavor and started doing something more like a slowed-down "Don't Be Cruel." Herb picked up on it, playing some real "clink-clink-clink" jazz in a "Great Pretender" vein. I reluctantly followed suit. Months later, when Doug joined the band and added his spicy syncopations on the cymbals, there was no turning back -- we had made our answer to "Leader of the Pack," only instead of a rebellious young antihero at the center of our story, we've got a rebellious old grandma. She doesn't die at the end of the song, but who needs martyrs anyway?
ENB goes electric
This is the first of a few tunes to feature electric guitar on this album. The honors on this tune were given to Preston's former roommate, Angel O. Mendez.
To give him a model for the style of playing I wanted, I emailed Angel a number of tracks from X's second album Wild Gift. (X's influence is also elsewhere on this album: the extended "eeee"s in "Cheese Fries" are my attempt to do what John Doe does during the song "Los Angeles".)
I especially wanted Angel to hear the X song "Adult Books" (which, if I could find anywhere, I would link to here). But frankly, I don't know if he ever listened to any of those songs, because when we did the recording, I remember just talking with him about how it should sound right before he played, and then sort of singing the sound to him. And then he played back what I sang. I do remember, however, that he just came up with that twangy bit during the bridge (where I'm just singing "Aah" for 30 seconds) on his own, moments before.