What is UP with this guy?

By JoCo October 16, 2013

From the mailing list:

Hooboy, Summer is truly over isn’t it? That fact came crashing down onto my poor little head a few weeks ago as I was driving back from a weekend spent in the country, where mostly what I did was make river cairns with Hodgman. I try to take it easy on the work stuff in the Summer. The kids are out of school and ready for fun, and everybody is fading in and out with their own vacation plans anyway, so I can get away with letting the world slip into my peripheral vision a little bit. It’s good for my brain and soul (but murder on my waistline, am I right?!). Now it’s back to work, which is both a bummer and a relief, which is probably how it should be.

It’s been a pretty much nonexistent tour schedule for me so far this year, which is new and different. At the end of 2012, I did the enormous bus tour with the band and John Roderick, which felt a lot to me like it put the cap on Artificial-Heart-related touring. It seemed to me that was when Artificial Heart stopped being my “new album” and became my “last album.” (“One Christmas at a Time” is technically my last album, I know, but that feels sort of like a Very Special Holiday Episode of the JoCo TV series.) Between all the opening for They Might Be Giants and my own experiments with longer band tours, it felt like I did more touring in 2011 and 2012 than I had ever done. It was an amazing stretch of really fun shows, and I learned a lot of new things about electric guitars and rock shows and audiences that were standing up. But at the end of it I was pretty tired, and starting to feel a little disconnected from my home and family, like life had gotten out of balance. Being a rock star is great fun, but it’s always trying to take over. So I decided to take a break from touring, on purpose, to just be at home a little while and get my head together, maybe write some things.

And so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my job actually IS, based on what I actually DO on a day-to-day basis. The answer is: I do a lot of stuff. Here’s what this year has looked like for me, work-wise.

Glee happened in January, which sucked. That took up a lot of time and energy. After the dust had settled and the lawyers had talked, it became clear to me that I could either pursue a long, stressful, and expensive journey to some unknown, probably not very satisfying version of justice, or I could drop the whole thing, get on with my life, and be satisfied with the story that had thus far been told. As it stands, my track “Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)” sits side-by-side with the Glee version when you search for “Glee Baby Got Back” in iTunes. Their track has a pretty low star rating. And my track raised $5000 for It Gets Better, and $5000 for VH1 Save the Music. Anyone who has heard the story has already made up their minds about what happened and what it means. Anyone who was a part of it on the FOX side has already decided whether or not they are ashamed of themselves. I have no power to significantly change either of those things any more than I already have. So I’m calling it a victory (I don’t know what FOX is calling it).

And then Greg Pak and I did the Code Monkey Save World Kickstarter, which was amazing. We got a lot more than we asked for, and we’re now making this incredible thing. I’ve been watching the story and the artwork come together, and it’s absolutely thrilling. The universe feels just right, like all these characters belong together. We still have an enormous amount of work to do in getting together all the various rewards, on top of finishing the graphic novel itself, and the acoustic soundtrack album, and “The Princess Who Saved Herself” children’s book. As they say, a nice problem to have. Issue #1 is now available for purchase on ComiXology, with more to come over the next couple of months.

In and among those two big sources of background noise were quite a few Ask Me Another shows at the Bell House in Brooklyn. We took a break for the Summer, but they’re starting up again this month, and I’ve just posted them all to my show calendar. It’s been so interesting to watch the show grow and change as we’ve all figure out what it is and how to do it right. For my part, I mostly get to show up and play and sing and crack jokes, which is a pretty fun job. Come and see us – this coming Tuesday our guest is Justin Long. Oh, and you kids still listen to podcasts? Because the Ask Me Another podcast is right here.

And of course, there is JoCo Cruise Crazy in February 2014 – our FOURTH cruise! We’ve been quietly working behind the scenes to create another awesome experience, and we recently announced an amazing lineup of performers. In addition to Paul and Storm (and of course ME) we’ve got Jim Boggia, Hank Green, John Hodgman, Tig Notaro, Pomplamoose, David Rees, John Roderick, Peter Sagal, Nathan Sawaya, Paul F. Tompkins, Sara Watkins, and even I can’t believe this list as I’m typing it! Also there will be some kind of ball pit. A ball pit at sea. What? That’s right. It’s going to be GREAT.

We’re getting to the point where some cabin types will start to run out, so if you have your sights set on a particular kind of room, my advice is to get on it. We’ll have more information about hotels and transportation “soon,” as we like to say in the cruise business.

Well, yes. I’ve been messing around. That’s very unsatisfying I know. But it’s true: I’ve been playing with knobs and computers and guitars and drum beats and synthesizers and words, in pursuit of ideas that I find interesting and fun. I have made a bunch of little bits of things all for myself, trying stuff out. I have a few musical ideas that I’m looking forward to fleshing out into actual songs. All of it will become an album eventually. What form it will take I’m not entirely sure yet. Trying to follow the muse, but as many of you know, she can be tricksy. The other day I put all these little half finished ideas into a list, and it was actually kind of a long list, and there were actually some good things on it. So I’m optimistic.

I think that’s what I got, for now. I hope your re-entry into non-Summer life was a gentle one. And I hope we don’t default on our debt and cause a global economic crisis. Fingers crossed!


Chloe says

I feel like I just got the first of my Christmas letters really early :) Thanks for letting us know what you're up to!

Gotta admit, my heart fluttered at a few of those names in the line up, maybe one day I'll be able to plan a trip to America to coincide with a JoCo Cruise.

Dave M. says

If it's any consolation Jonathan, IMDB does have you credited as the Arranger of the piece:

Baby Got Back
Written by Sir Mix a Lot
Arranged by Jonathan Coulton
Performed by Oliver Kieran-Jones
(Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2403585/soundtrack?ref_=tt_trv_snd )

It's not perfect, but at least they acknowledge that they took your arrangement.

Paul R. Potts says

Hmmm... re: the Glee thing. I'm disappointed. I think I understand why, but I'm disappointed, and a little frustrated, that there doesn't seem to be any validation for the righteous anger and desire to see justice for not just JoCo, but the other performers they've ripped off. I had high hopes that Fox would have to pay -- in some way. That someone would have to testify, that someone would lose a job. I had pushed the issue to the back of my mind pending hearing some news. I'll get over it but I think I'm going to have to go through a bit of a grieving process about this...

Dave M. says

They are consistent with how they handle the covers they perform. In IMDB, they credit all the covers for each episode. IMDB is pretty much the industry DB for Hollywood talent. If Glee performs a song I don't know, I can go to the IMDB and find out all I need to know about that song in there.

I can understand why they don't put the song credits at the end of the show. They would have to cut time away from the actual episode to present those credits at the end and most likely the channel you watch Glee on would probably shrink the screen to put an ad for a future show on their channel or even a regular ad so you wouldn't be able to read those credits anyway.

Accrediting the music of the episode in IMDB seems an appropriate place to do so.

Erica says

I hear you on the Glee thing, Joco. Sadly, justice is expensive and time-consuming, especially when you compare the resources of one person to a giant corporation like Fox. I'm sorry it didn't work out the way you hoped, but I think your side of the story was heard.

Jay says

Eventually they will probably do a cover of a cover of one of your songs, and you won't get paid for that either. ;-) Welcome to the music business....good thing your wife works for a living. ;-)

Dave says

congrats on having a more normal year, If you aren't touring and the show isn't listed as a performance....

what's this?