Here are a few songs which I have written or co-written, and some quick thoughts about them. Will add more audio to these soon. Meanwhile all of this stuff is available at iTunes, in Spotify, etc.
Bad Men Of Bodie
When I visited Bodie, CA and heard the legend of the “bad men of Bodie,” all I could think of is “that has to be a ska song.” A few weeks later I heard Ben Eastwood playing a bass line and said “that’s it” and we wrote it at rehearsal.
Here’s The Uptones’ studio version, with myself on lead vocals.
Bested By Pelicans
The Rev. Paul Jackson’s ode to nature’s glory and the pitfalls of cheese-food-stuff is one of my favorites. We were at the beach, Pelicans arrived and well, it’s all in the song, exactly as it happened. I was there.
Here is Reverend Paul himself, telling the saga, backed by The Uptones.
Erik Rader and I wrote this cussed outburst of youthful vitriol while at Berkeley High. It’s mortifying. I like it.
Here’s The Uptones doing it live with myself on vocals.
Fish In A Tree
My psychedelic pop fantasy trip across oceans and rainy mountains. I love the song but I still don’t know what it’s about.
Here’s me singing it with HOBO.
This one came out of the air. I wrote it in about the amount of time it took to sing it. It was just an outburst.
Here’s me singing it with HOBO.
Get Out Of My Way
Another outburst. Erik Rader blurted the words as I banged out the chords and shouted along and we had all three verses and the arrangement in a half an hour. It became a local radio hit and was our opening song in hundreds of shows. Was thrilled when Rancid covered it as the closing track on their 1st album.
Here’s The Uptones’ version from our 2008 “Skankin’ Foolz Unite!” CD.
I wrote this with Paul Jackson and Emily Jayne. Emily improvised some cool vocal melodies over this minimalist power chord progression that Paul was doing, and it gelled into a song very quickly.
My dark and angry rant about the futility of hate, war and bigotry.
Televisions are not “boxes” anymore, so not everyone will get the title of this anymore. When I wrote this, TV’s were boxes, and they made us into idiots.
A catchy commercial pop song about how catchy commercial pop songs are annoying?! This one used to get tons of play on college radio.
My Friend Josh
A reprehensible and puerile rant of unbridled jealousy and bile.
This was the first song that Paul Jackson, Charles Stella, and myself wrote together after Erik Rader left the Uptones. So we had to sing suddenly, the three of us, not just background but lead! The existential crisis that followed caused this song.
No Provision For Appeals
Honestly this is about me and the Uptones trying to get a permit to do a block party before we ever had a gig and we appealed to the City Manager who said “there is no provision for appeals in that area,” and we wrote the song.
Not From Here
One of my favorite collaborations with Paul Jackson and Matt Kaufman. We first recorded it with Stiff Richards and later added horns and did an Uptones version. Somehow the lyrics just get more “current” as time passes.
An utterly insane yelling match between an authority figure and an insubordinate punk in a furiously uptempo ska song.
Ben Eastwood’s epic political meltdown over churning, apocalyptic bass line.
Outta My Mind
Wrote this one with Tim Armstrong shortly after they started Rancid. He came over with this beat up acoustic guitar he used to carry everywhere without a case and we just banged it out.
Out To Sea
This is an anti-war song, an anti-draft song, an anti-military-industrial-complex song, and a wicked little vintage punky ska piece. Collaborating on this with Paul Jackson and Erik Rader was a creative milestone for us as teens and we were all blown away when it became a regional hit in 1984.
A moody pop-rock rumination on trying to find perfect love or a perfect life or a perfect anything.
Learning about nuclear waste as a teenager and listening to the Dead Kennedys and The Specials made this song inevitable. Always one of the most fun songs in the live Uptones set.
This song is an ode to actual events perpetrated by some friends who shall remain nameless in respect for their reputations.
This song started with a giant guitar riff and then these words came to me about mayhem and destruction. Strangely, it’s also a love song.
“So I hid in the broom closet, til everyone was gone, I put my head in the loudspeaker, and turned that shit on.”
I remember thinking as a kid, guns on TV shows are great! They only hit people when it’s necessary for the plot! The rest of the time you can spray away and no one gets hurt. More recently I made the dark observation that extensive, instant media coverage of terrible, violent acts actually encourages unhinged people to do such acts in order to become instantly famous.
Here’s me singing it with The Uptones at Michael Rosen’s Berkeley studio.
The 11th Hour
Tim Armstrong and I wrote this as Rancid was finishing up recording tracks for “…And Out Come The Wolves.” The last thing to go on was the title, at the 11th hour, and I was thrilled to see it actually made the cut when the album came out!
You Don’t Know Anything
A belligerent burst of power chords carries this broadside against any form of authority. We recorded it with Stiff Richards and later Emily Jayne rocked it in The Fashion Slaves.