Thirty (or thirty-one).

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Is this one of those years with a “7” at the end? Right, I thought as much. I guess that’s another decade in the can then, right? Fuck all – I am old.

Oh, hi. I was just having a little conversation with Marvin (my personal robot assistant). He keeps a lot of useless information in his memory banks, and among those bits and bobs are statistics about the history of Big Green, the music collective we formed some thirty years ago. Yes, I believe we adopted the moniker back in 1986, in a 2nd floor apartment in Ballston Spa, NY. That was the first incarnation of Big Green, which cracked apart in – yes – 1987, leaving it in the state it remains in today. (And no, I don’t mean the state of New York.)

Some may think it’s a bit of a problem that our band historian is a robot. That’s not that unusual, actually. I hear that the historian for “Captured by Robots” is also a robot. And then there’s Kraftwerk. All German bands have robot historians, from what I understand. (Though most bands choose not to read me in on the details.) Marvin can handle this task because he has what mad scientists call an “Electronic Brain”. Mitch Macaphee, our mad science advisor, invented it himself. The sparking contacts and dusty transistors inside that whirring little box function not unlike the synapses of the brain. Marvin can think, captain. And if he thinks, it’s only one small step from there to – dare I say it? – ruling … the world. Mwa-ha-ha-ha ….

Okay, well THAT took a dark turn. Why do we have multiple start dates for Big Green history? Well, it’s complicated. In point of fact, my personal opinion is that Big Green was born when Matt wrote and recorded the song “Sweet Treason” for a tape he sent me for my birthday in Spring of 1985. I think we’ve played versions of the song on our podcast. The original is a very scratchy recording that Matt did bouncing between two cassette tape decks and using a mixing bowl for a snare drum. The lyric, personalized for the occasion, goes like this:

Joe is "happy fitness" thanks to JFKEveryone into the pool
We’re all fun at the club
All of us nasty loud
Our metal detectors are safe from ambush
Our stomachs elastic with eclairs
Master’s beer

Joe owes much to gym class
Joe is “happy fitness” thanks to JFK
All of us join him, we’re grateful, JFK
All of us upside-down
Fungus on our knees

This time, it’s gonna be
gonna be easy
Sweet treason
Strange inclination has us warm up separate TVs
Every box word echoes neatly
Then it explodes

Joe, the mayor’s systematically going through your mail
He’s sifting, but not finding
He’s searching for some west-end sandwich
ten years good and stale

And on that day, Big Green was born. (Editor’s note: the “mayor” in this song refers to a kid we knew out in the Albany area back when we were trying to make a previous incarnation of this band work. Which brings us back even further, to 1979 … damn it!

 

Back pages.

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Looks like rain again. And forty, maybe fifty degrees. You call this winter? I call it bullshit, man. Fifty years after the blizzard of ’66, and it’s like freaking April out there in the middle of February. Freak. Ish.

Right, I know. Don’t start a blog post by talking about the weather. Very well. But I should add that, even though the weather’s been less than frightful, we’ve been sticking pretty close to home this winter. Old habits die hard, I guess. And while the sun shone over these past few days, we’ve occupied ourselves with digging through the vast Big Green archive, looking for rare nuggets of a glorious past that never was. The odd gig poster. A broken guitar string. A broken guitar. A broken guitar case. (Interestingly, I found those all together.)

Some will remember that my first instrument was the bass guitar. (And when I say “some”, I don’t mean anyone reading this.) When Matt and I started playing out in the late 70s, that was my axe, for the most part, though I started banging on my brother Mark’s Fender Rhodes piano fairly early on. Matt and I spent more than a few years in the wilderness, putting together bands and watching them fall apart. First we couldn’t hold on to a guitar player. Then it was drummers – before John White picked it up, we hopped from one player to another. After that, it was guitar players … I think we had three in the space of two years in the early nineties. Big Green was invented in 1986. It Yep. Busted. kind of came up in our alphabet soup while we were hanging out in Ballston Spa, NY, waiting for something interesting to happen.

Okay, so … if you look around my basement, you’ll find my P-Bass, still virtually unplayable (just like it was thirty years ago). If you look hard, you’ll find Mark’s Fender Rhodes. We’ve got some recording from those early days, but they’re spotty at best. I may post one at some point just for laughs. We popped into a studio in Utica back in 1981 and recorded some live tracks, including a couple of originals. It’s a pretty good snapshot of where we were musically back then – rushed, tired-sounding, no sense of parts or arrangement. We were a mess! Kids those days!

God damn, I wish it would snow so that I wouldn’t feel as thought I’m just wasting my time down here. (That’s right, friends … it’s all about me.)