Music minus fun.

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There’s that funny music again. And the really strange thing is, every time I hear it, there’s someone at the front door. What’s that? A door bell? Oh … okay. Never mind.

Well, I thought I was on to something important there; maybe a new scientific principle born of some random observation, like noticing a minor irregularity in the orbit of Mercury. No such luck, my friends – looks like the Nobel Prize for Physics will be going to someone else this year … again. (Don’t know how many of these disappointments I can stand.) I understand that our mad science advisor, Mitch Macaphee, has been nominated for the Ignobel Prize in making things blow sky high. That’s a tough one to win – it’s a little hard to guess how high sky high is.

Lord only knows, we don’t do what we do here at Big Green for the love of prizes and little metal statuettes. Neither do we do it for the money. (The simple fact is that there IS no money in what we do.) Nay, we just do it for the simple joy of music …. that omnipresent mellifluous force that lifts our spirits up on high. That unseen power that unites us with the choir invisible. That … I don’t know …. ear worm that drives you out of your skull for three days; thanks an effing bunch, Matt! YOU AND YOUR CATCHY TUNES!

Not MY master's voice.Honestly, if we relied on positive feedback, like all of our coaches and half of our therapists suggested, we would have left this “business” years ago. I’ve known enterprising individuals who consider push-back a strong indication that you’re doing the right thing. That sounds good to me, but frankly … we don’t even get a lot of negative feedback. We’re like the band in the bubble. We’re music minus fun.

Hey, maybe we’re on to something, right? Matt wrote a song years ago called “Motivation X” which celebrated the sentiment: use your motivation to restrain yourself. That’s the revolution, right? Go easy on the world. Start a collective and make music because that’s what you do, not because you want to rip the world a new asshole and burn through a lot of money, a lot of trees, a lot of water, a lot of gas, etc. Make your revolutionary act the act of not succeeding.

Wait …. there’s that funny music again! Mailman, perhaps?

Post not.

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Ask not what Big Green has been doing for you this week. Ask what you can do for Big Green. And yes, I am cribbing from John F. Kennedy – that’s how we roll around here. It’s all JFK, all the time.

Interestingly, president Kennedy did have a role in Big Green’s history, albeit a minor one. Back in the day when we were fighting the cat for the scraps that she had just wrestled away from some mice, we would record in our childhood bedrooms, our mother’s living room, some spare room – wherever we could fit a cassette machine and some battered instruments. (Those instruments!) Matt and I would bang around the way we still do now, hammer together a song, then release it on cassette. And when I say “release”, I mean something like tossing it out into the middle of the road and hoping someone chances upon it. (You know – essentially like posting it on the Internet … without the Internet part.)

Hey, Abe ... Does this song remind you of the war?Well, many of those cassette collections were made up of Christmas songs – not carols, but songs Matt wrote on the theme of Christmas. (He typically recorded these collections himself to retain the element of surprise.) The one Matt put together in 1989 was entitled “PT 109” and the sleeve featured a slightly modified version of the heroic cartoon-like cover of Kennedy’s war memoir by the same name. The song PT 109 was actually a country number ripping on George H.W. Bush, who had just become president and who had a heroic WWII story about how he had rescued a future president of the United States – himself – from a plane crash in the Pacific. The lyric was written in the posthumous voice of one of Bush’s crewmates, lamenting that he hadn’t served under another commander:

Had I served on PT 109
I would have had the good fortune to be
on patrol with lieutenant JFK
and I might just have survived to this day
‘Cause sometimes not only the hero survives to tell the tale

Anyway, that’s Kennedy’s contribution to Big Green. Not unique, of course – our songs feature many presidents, including the current one. Occasionally they show up in the titles as well. Fun fact: one of our cassette collections was entitled “Songs that remind Lincoln of the war”. Extra points if you can guess which president was on the cover of that sucker.

THIS IS BIG GREEN: November 2016

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Big Green laments the dire fate of mankind with a spanking new episode of Ned Trek, seven brand new songs, and some kvetching with the Daleks. Make America green again.

This is Big Green – November 2016. Features: 1) Ned Trek 30: The Deadly Queers, featuring 7 new Big Green Songs; 2) Song: Tinkerbell Neocon, by Big Green; 3) Song: Fairy Dust, by Big Green; 4) Song: Oklahoma Mo, by Big Green; 5) Song: Space Fandango, by Big Green; 6) Song: Let Me Go, by Big Green; 7) Song: Potato Salad; 8) Song: Spanking Machine, by Big Green; 9) Put The Phone Down: The Daleks react to Election 2016 … with a song; 10) Turning off the TV; 11) Building bridges; 12) Kazooing for Climate Change; 13) The 1.7 percent solution; 14) Time for us to go.

THIS IS BIG GREEN: August 2016

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TIBG celebrates its 5th anniversary with a slammin’ podcast that features a new Ned Trek episode, three vintage Big Green live recordings, and some crazy robot talk. Resistance is futile!

This is Big Green – August 2016. Features: 1) Ned Trek 29: Error of Mercy; 2) Put the phone down: a rendition of Dead Thing, by Peter Lorre; 3) The Daleks arrive, and they’re singing; 4) Election news: avoiding Trumpageddon; 5) The Daleks endorse Trump; 6) The progressive millennium … not; 7) The cave is deep in our memory; 8) A partial rendering of Two Lines, by the George Takei Singers; 9) Song: Sensory Man (at 1:29:33), by Big Green; 10) Song: I Hate Your Face (at 1:34:42), by Big Green; 11) Song: Why Not Call It George? (at 1:38:53), by Big Green; 12) 5th Anniversary Dalek song; 13) Time for us to go.

Sensory man.

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Did you feel that? No? Okay, check. How about that? Really. Right, then. Check again. Now let’s try the pointed stick. You don’t want to do it? Well, aren’t you the sensitive one.

Yes, we’re back. I’m just interrogating Marvin (my personal robot assistant) to get some idea of the degree to which his primitive analog circuitry has the capability to emulate human emotions and mock the various senses we take for granted. So far, it’s not going very well. His brass exterior seems impervious to brillo pads, water, even fire. Not sure about pointed sticks – that may be his Achilles’ heal. (I guess I could wait until he’s feigning sleep, then try it on his heel.)

Why am I wasting my time in such a manner? Well, while I’m waiting for Matt to get here and start recording the next episode of our podcast, THIS IS BIG GREEN, I am consuming myself with summer projects, some of which I’ve blogged about over the past few weeks. Annoying Marvin is one, though it’s hardly just a summer project. Still, this is kind of a pointed annoyance, and not just because it involves pointed sticks. You see, as part of one of my OTHER summer projects, I just posted on our YouTube Channel another live performance video from Big Green’s 1993 demo. This song, “Sensory Man”, is another Matt number – his exploration of the robot experience via Lost In Space. We’re talking Robot B-9 here, people. You know, that does not compute. Danger, Will Robinson. Etc.

Aren't you the seismic man?As I think I mentioned before, we don’t have a lot of video footage of us playing live, and even less of us playing our own songs. This demo included a lot of covers – all stuff we liked playing. So it’s kind of a freeze-dried sample of our set list from the 80s and 90s. We’ve got three takes of “Sensory Man”, as well as a rehearsal sequence on that song, a couple of takes of “I Hate Your Face”, and one of “Why Not Call It George?” – that’s it for our songs. That is, unless someone out there has video of us playing at Middlebury College or SUNYIT, when we opened for Bloodline. Anybody? Thought not.

Leave us face it – Big Green’s earthly performance faze was relatively brief. Most of our archival material is from a time before Big Green …. a time when, dare I say it, beasts of every size and description roamed the Earth. The scarier ones were club owners. But then you knew that. (If you own a club, you’re probably a cave man. Am I right?)

THIS IS BIG GREEN: May 2016

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Big Green gets up off its lazy ass and drops an awesome podcast featuring a spanking new Ned Trek episode, eight new songs, and some strange thumping. Turn it off … turn it off!

This is Big Green – May 2016. Features: 1) Ned Trek 28: Disheveled in the Dark, featuring 8 Big Green songs; 2) Song: Say Can You Fear (at 16:14), by Big Green; 3) Song: Romney and You Know It (at 22:04), by Big Green; 4) Song: Down In The Polls (at 39:12), by Big Green; 5) Song: Herr Mr. Hair (at 49:14), by Big Green; 6) Song: You Made That Bed (at 1:05:25), by Big Green; 7) Song: Demigod (at 1:15:16), by Big Green; 8) Song: Hey, GOP (at 1:21:49), by Big Green; 9) Song: Cry for the Children (at 1:26:36), by Big Green; 10) Put the phone down: Trawling through the archives; 11) Falcon watch, Utica; 12) Time for us to go.

New song: Romney and You Know It

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Sure, we’re taking forever about finishing the next installment of our podcast. And because you’ve been so damn patient, we’re posting this mix of one of the eight songs that will appear in the Ned Trek episode included therein, entitled “Romney and You Know It”. Willard sings this hopeful little number about his dream of a brokered G.O.P. convention. Give it a listen and let us know what you think. (Swearing is welcomed.)

Bringing it back home.

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What do you mean the broken-down car has broken down? How much more of a heap could it possibly be? Okay, okay … we’ll call the hook. No, not CAPTAIN Hook. Unless he’s opened a towing business in his dotage. Seems unlikely.

Our audience is a little hard to reachWell, as you can see, the bottom is falling out of Big Green, economically speaking. Nothing new, right? As a class, musicians tend to be monetarily challenged, let’s say. Doing music for a living is tantamount to perpetual unemployment, interrupted by occasional contract work. And when you’re a plainclothes band, the gig money sucks. Usually you get a percentage of the door. If you’re more well known, they might give you the WHOLE door. And if you draw a good crowd, they might even throw in a window as well.

Now, when you play mostly original music, like we do, that’s an even bigger problem. Nobody knows the songs, for one thing … when you’re not famous, that is. Even worse, the audience starts requesting songs by the Scorps, or Stairway to Heaven, or maybe Beethoven’s Ninth. (That last one is hard to pull off with a four-piece rock group. Especially the vocals!) Before you know it, you’re walking out of that dump with your tail between your legs, your pride in the toilet, and your self-respect on a slow boat to Madagascar. You’ve been there – don’t deny it!

Now, we’ve tried to adapt to this harsh reality. Playing for plants and trees. Booking jobs in outer space. (Once you’ve solved the transportation problems, it’s easier than it sounds.) Making sandwiches instead of music (it CAN be done). But there’s only so much you can do to alleviate the pain of independent music. Nobody knows the trouble we’ve seen. Nobody know but … I don’t know … Weezer? Cue the violins.

Okay, enough about me. Let’s talk technique here. Unlike a lot of interstellar circuit groups, we play our instruments with hands. Not pseudopods. Not antennae. Not mind waves. That makes us more of a curiosity in venues on Neptune. That helps the door take a little. So … keep playing Neptune, right?