Thing a Week 24: Don’t Talk to Strangers Yes: the Rick…

March 4th, 2011

Thing a Week 24: Don’t Talk to Strangers

Yes: the Rick Springfield song. This recording is based on an arrangement I once did live at Little Gray Books with my friend Phoebe. I heard a recording of it recently and my voice sounded terrible, but I liked the arrangement a lot so I thought I’d flesh it out a little more and give it to you nice people.

PRESENT DAY JOCO SAYS: This marks 6 months into Thing a Week (but only 24 songs due to the two weeks when I failed to make anything). So terse! What was happening in my life? No idea. I was just looking through blog posts from around then, nothing interesting. Nothing on my calendar. Was I even there? Happy JoCo is kind of a boring JoCo I guess.

This was a fun cover to do - I don’t think you can do sad versions of up tempo pop songs forever, but it sure would feel great. I cringe a little about the vocals now, it’s so damned high, I really should have dealt with it a different way. Changed the key or something. I remember recording that B section a million times, screaming into the microphone trying to keep it under control, coughing blood for a few minutes and then trying again. If I had one musical wish it would be to extend my range a little higher - on a good day I can hit a short chirpy G as long as I don’t have to linger on it, but it sure would be nice to be able to belt it out up there. Then I could do Journey covers…

You can find more info on this song, a store where you can listen to everything, and also other stuff at

Thing a Week 23: A Talk with George Chapter 23 in which you…

February 28th, 2011

Thing a Week 23: A Talk with George

Chapter 23 in which you are visited by the ghost of George Plimpton and he relays to you an important message about life.

It was Jim Hanas who told about the song contest going on at The Plimpton Project, an organization dedicated to getting a statue of the man erected somewhere in the city. George was a hell of a guy, and he deserves about 10 or 15 statues, but I guess one would be a good start. I met him at a Paris Review party once, and he was pretty charming for a Harvard man.

PRESENT DAY JOCO SAYS: This might be my favorite from Thing a Week, and it was a real sneak attack. It started with Jim’s suggestion that I write a George Plimpton song, and my initial approach was to make it some kind of list song as sung by a guy who has done everything. I was tempted to go goofy (as always) with sort of a “isn’t it funny this song is about George Plimpton” vibe. But it wasn’t working - it wasn’t that funny for one thing, but it also just felt kind of pointless and off the mark. I met George once at a party he hosted to celebrate the latest issue of the Paris Review (which, not coincidentally, contained a short story written by John Hodgman - John is how I get to meet all the famous people), and he was a real treat. He was stork-tall, he was never far from his drink, his cheeks were flushed red, he was constantly grinning, and he wore a jacket and tie in the same way you and I might comfortably flounce about in our pajamas. I was a little star struck because I was a great admirer of his career - it seemed like the extent of his job was to be himself and do the things that were important and interesting to him. Nice work if you can get it.

So I kept messing with it, I tried going super serious about how awesome George was and then it just sounded all earnest and weird. And then somewhere in there I decided to switch it from “I did this…I did that” to “You should do this…you should do that” and it just clicked for me. Once I made it about George giving advice, it felt a lot more natural to me and it finished itself up pretty quickly. It became a warning that life is short, and an exhortation to go out and do the things you know you were meant to do. That has always seemed to me like a pretty good approach to living one’s life, but I had only just begun to really live that way, and it was just barely starting to seem like it might pay off. All that stuff that came out during the dark beginnings of Thing a Week when I was so terrified and lost turned out to be about this  - about finding my way to a place where I could really try to be that person. Looking back I see this song as a kind of secret pep talk to myself. I needed it then, and I continue to remind myself of it often.

So: go out and do something, won’t you?

You can find more info on this song, a store where you can listen to everything, and also other stuff at

Hey, Band!

February 1st, 2011

Thanks to the kind audiences of Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Philadelphia who sat through a bunch of new material with the new band without freaking out. I myself was freaking out a little, but mostly in a good way. Still learning to deal with this electric guitar thingie, but for the most part I think the new stuff is working great. This probably will not come as a surprise, but playing loud fast music with a band is SO MUCH FUN. I should make some sort of an “album.”

Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver are the next cities to have a chance to call me Judas, when I bring the rock (and the band) there in February. I’m excited to announce that JoCo Cruise Crazy phenom Mike Phirman will be opening for me all three shows. He’s a delightful fellow, a talented musician, and a very funny guy who absolutely killed on the cruise. You would not be crazy to come to these shows just to see him, never mind my dumb set.

OK, wintery mix, have to go salt the car.

All My Shows

January 25th, 2011

Just sent this to the mailing list:

In spite of the fact that I still have plenty of work to do writing and recording songs for this new album, I do have a few shows coming up. You should totally come see them! Many of them will be band shows, all of them will include at least some new stuff from the new record. I’m trying out this “touring with a band” thing and we’ll see how it goes. For those of you (most of you) who have never seen a band show, it means me playing a mix of old and new stuff on the electric guitar with the band, plus a chunk of just me on acoustic. THE VERY BEST OF BOTH WORLDS!
Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater
Friday Jan 28 at 8 PM
This will be a show with the new band, at which I will play A BUNCH of new material. Paul and Storm will open too, and I have to tell you, that’s an awful lot of entertainment.
Baltimore, MD – The 8×10
Saturday Jan 29 at 7 PM
Another band show, but no Paul and Storm this time.
Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
Monday Jan 31 at 7:30 PM
Band show, Paul and Storm. Again, how could you say no to this enormous chunk o’ fun?
Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater
Thursday Feb 17 at 8 PM
Band show, some opening act yet to be determined.
Vancouver, BC – Rio Theater
Friday Feb 18 at 7:30 PM
Band show, some opening act yet to be determined.

Seattle, WA – Triple Door
Sunday Feb 20 at 7:30 PM
Band show, some opening act yet to be determined.
Boston, MA – Bigass Convention Center
Friday March 11 – Sunday March 13, show time TBD
PAX East!
Excited to be coming back to this. Probably will bring the band. They haven’t told me yet when I’ll be playing, but in past years at PAX it’s usually Saturday night. 
Alexandria, VA – The Birchmere
Friday May 6 at 7:30 PM
Acoustic show with Paul and Storm
Annapolis, MD – Ram’s Head Tavern
Saturday May 7 at 8:30 PM
Acoustic show with Paul and Storm
Other news: the album is still going well, but sheesh, hard work is hard! The cruise was really awesome and we’re trying to figure out when and where we can do another one (see wrapup here: 
Buy some tickets, would you?

2011: Already too busy

January 14th, 2011

Seems like I just got my land legs back, and already I have a lot going on. To sum up a few things that are happening:

1. Yes, I am doing a song for Portal 2, and no it’s not quite finished yet. But while the success of Still Alive is an impossible thing to live up to, I’m pretty happy with how this new one is turning out. I can tell you that the game itself is also going to be great, regardless of how badly I screw up the song. Look for more news on all of that soon.

2. The new album is back in my sights, after the cruise stole all the attention for a few weeks. I’ve got a few more songs to write and record, but already there are 11 great tracks that I’m extremely excited about. You’ve heard a few of them at shows or maybe caught the performances on YouTube, and to my relief and delight you’ve given me a lot of positive feedback. Thank you. I guess you just haven’t heard the bad ones yet though (sigh).

3. Touring! Yes, I am playing shows again. I’m putting together a larger mass email and post and everything, but in the near term I have San Francisco, LA and Denver next week, Pittsburgh and Baltimore and Philadelphia the week after, and then Seattle, Vancouver and Portland in February. Some of these will be with the band, others will be standard acoustic shows with Paul and Storm. Check my show calendar for details.

4. The next cruise: as difficult as it is for me to plan ahead, I think it would be smart to start thinking about the next JoCo Cruise Crazy. This last one went so well, we’d be nuts to never do it again. I’d like to get some feedback from everyone though, just to see how this one went for you if you were there, and what things might most entice you to join us on the next one if you weren’t. If you have a moment, please take the poll here.

More news as it happens…