I’m well on my way to finishing my second record.  In fact a few weeks ago I had one of my final days in the studio, tracking electric guitar and percussion.  The night before the session I realized that I hadn’t got around to buying some of the random percussion instruments I intended to use on the record.  Because it was late, nearly eight by the time I remembered, and because the day had the unfortunate distinction of being a Monday (the only day my favorite local shop, Trading Musician, is closed), I was forced to make the journey to the ongoing reconstruction surgery of Mercer Street and the Hell inside its womb: Guitar Center.

 

I made the drive in a car named Don, a friend’s Volvo which I was baby-sitting, down a dark interstate with NPR chattering under the rumble of road.  As a matter of fact they were playing a program hosted by Matt Pinfield (of minor MTV fame) about an all-star grunge group getting ready to release a record after a members death and several decades.  I arrived in South Lake Union awash in the light of construction and newly lit condos.  I took the  winding three sixty turn into Guitar Center’s outdoor parking garage and under a rare clear Seattle night sky took the keys out of Don.

 

Inside Guitar Center, through the silver turnstile and door person more liable than a TSA agent, was an unfolding much like walking into the greens of a beautifully built ballpark: cream, yellow, blue, black and red Telecasters hanging on a wall above every variation of Cobain’s Stratocaster flanking the heavier and solid fat bottoms of Gibsons.  Each shone with the glitz of rock and roll, each with a placard spinning from the head stock displaying zeros from the hundreds to multiple thousands.  With valiant self-control I ran into the back of the shop, where the things you hit were displayed as “drums”.  

 

I bought a shaker (to replace the one my roommate broke with a drum stick during a living room drum circle the night our friend was back in town), a triangle (because I heard one in a Van Morrison song and became enamored with the lack of rock and roll in its sound), but did not see on the shelves the one thing I had my heart set on: finger cymbals.

 

I had one very particular song, one that had yet to take shape, that I knew could use the shrill twang of these metal discs.  This idea I stole from an early version of Van Morrison’s “Madame George”, and as I had been intermittently high the entire week listening to Morrison’s magic track, I was thrown into a stupor once I finally found the magical instrument, wrapped in an imitation red velvet cloth and kept behind the counter, as if a beautiful woman had walked through the door in slow motion.  I asked the clerk for the bag, took the small but dense golden discs out the bag and began to smash them together a midst the scatter shot sound of homeless looking men playing drums in the room.  But something seemed off with the cymbals, and because of my lack of experience with the instrument I asked the attendant, “These elastic ropes don’t tie off.  Is that on purpose?”

“I don’t know, man,” he responded, bored.

“Yeah, this elastic won’t tie, how are you supposed to keep these together?”

“I have no clue, dude,” he was tapping on the register.

Hardly insistent, more so thinking aloud I wondered, “It seems like they’d just slide off your fingers… how do you PLAY these things?”

“I don’t know,” he responded firmly, annoyed.  “I play real drums.”

 

Whoa.

 

Shocked by his jab, I was reeling on the ropes, wanting to be cut, the blood packet drained beneath my eyes after taking the brunt of his quip right in the face.  I was in the middle of a George Castanzian moment, and in this way so worried that the next thing I said would send me to the mat, that for years after the fact I would plot the perfect thing to say to this man: a Nickleback sploodge sucking cretin of an order reserved for Dorito soiled crummy X-Box controllers…

 

I met his eyes and said, “there is no reality.”

 

“TOUCHE,” he said.  I’VE BEEN HIT he said.

 

And so I walked out of Guitar Center, cymbals in my bag, the victor of a musical, possibly metaphysical, sparring match.  An artist getting ready to release his second record.

Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” is a prime example of the old saying “great artists steal”. Check out the first two seconds of this Luiz Bonfa riff, sound familiar?

And that haunting little xylophone riff?

Gotye does an amazing job of reframing the story of “we used to date” in the fine tradition of, among others, Phil Collins (his voice reminds me of him when he sings out, too):

But then you put it all together and you have something vaguely familiar and ultimately magical! It’s one Frankenstein of an amazing pop song.

Americana Night at The Blue Moon was in full effect with the most dogs I’ve ever played for (3), a man missing his front teeth playing a pipe, and me making an aol.com joke on stage.  This is the fast life of a rock and roller, folks.  Don’t try to board until the train has come to a complete stop.

My attempt to write at least two songs a month on the way to the next record is coming along swimmingly, and I’d like to point your attention to my soundcloud page for the latest track in the Demo Club series, “Strange”.

March 25th I’ll be playing at the Hideout with The French Letters and Super 8, more details to come but mark your calendar now.  It’s FREE and 21+.  And I might cover Lana Del Ray (videoh gahaymes).  Speaking of which, I’m going to be in the mass of humanity that will be at Easy Street Records this Saturday witnessing LDR’s in store, desperately trying to look over heads and find out if she actually looks like a human in person.

The cat laying next to me, warm and sprawled out upon two cushions, is dreaming that she’s running.

James

 

“If you could ask Steve Jobs anything, what would it be?”

“Where are you right now?”

Sometimes people surprise you.  And then you laugh and laugh and that moment never stops.  

I’ll be at the Blue Moon on March 4th, more information on that soon.  And I’ll be home all week, so if you know where that is and want me to play you a little something, by all means stop by.

James

Happy 2012 everyone!  I am excited to announce that I am starting a DEMO CLUB!  Semi-weekly all participants of the DEMO CLUB will receive an email with an mp3 attachment from me.  These will be demos of songs from an upcoming album, unreleased tracks, and cover songs.  It should be a lot of fun, validating the time I spend writing and recording and allowing members a glimpse into my songwriting process.  If you are interested in the DEMO CLUB send an email to jameskellypitts@gmail.com with DEMO CLUB in the subject line.  This is a new venture for me, so please be patient with any bumps in the road.  annnnnnnd…  I love you.

James

So my batch of shows for August is over, thank you to those of you that came out or thought of coming out or were alive during the time in which I played.  The Mars Bar show was really great, I met the awesome Thunder Power from Omaha and stayed up all night talking music and shitty jobs with them.  Beyond that they are amazingly talented musicians.

This evening I opened at Piecora’s for the lovely Kate Graves.  Not only is she an amazing voice, but I could talk to her for hours about music.  Not bands per se, but the process of writing and gigging and what it means to truly be an artist.  Her voice must be the extension of the wonderful person inside her.

I might have something in the works for September but most likely I’ll be laying low until I play a Halloween show in at a cafe in Wallingford.  Should be a lot of fun, I wonder what I’ll go as….  Hopefully something that involves sunglasses, as I’ve always wanted an excuse to wear them on stage.  Also, I’d like to cover a cool Halloween song, maybe Halloween by Jackson C. Frank or Halloween by the Misfits.  Or Monster Mash, in a perfect world.  The time and place are in the air, so I’ll pass along more information as I have it.

Oddly enough my next performance will be private, I’ll be playing a cover of “I Love How You Love Me” at my dear friend Will’s wedding.  I’m excited to send him and Jen off with a musical number, and honestly the 200+ confirmed guests will be the most I’ve played to in years.

And on a final note, I met a really lovely young lady tonight (friend of Kates) that told me my voice reminded her of J. Tillman (!).  However right or wrong she is matters not, that might be the most flattering thing someone has told me after a show yet.

Hope all is well,
James

All this talk about Seattle not really having a summer, or only 78 minutes of one, has got me wondering what that night my roommate and I were drunk on gin and running barefoot through samples of carpet inside of Ravenna Interiors was exactly.  A fever dream?

Or the night that brownie kicked in just in time for the fireworks to be something like exploding poems, was that just a hallucination?

I guess complaining about the weather is some sort of a tradition, so we might as well.

But frankly, I’m really enjoying a prolonged spring, especially as I’m hitting the pavement and dropping off CD’s around town.  It’s nice to have the wind at your back.

 

After a few requests I’ve decided to post these to the internet, I hope that giant brain in the sky can put these in the hands of those who were asking.


1. Got My Number
I wanna be
as soft as the deep blue sea
I wanna see
as far as a blank canvas canopy
If you got my number
why won’t you use it on me?
I wanna ride
as smooth as nursery rhyme melody
I wanna hide
my love inside the belly of an ugly beast
If you got my number
why won’t you use it on me?
Hey girl, use it on me

2. Kettle
I make myself tea in an orange kettle
a woman gave to me it was her grandmother’s
and I’m not getting out of bed today
the world is frozen and the sky is grey
got a couple books I wanna finish reading
gotta couple years I gotta keep on sleeping through
writing letters in my mind
with various forms of blue
point of view has gotten kind of hazy
perspective’s less objective losing creativity
saw a nativity scene on my tv screen
and swear to god baby jesus winked at me
turn down the heat and I pull down the covers
throw a couple hail marys thinking of my mother
and hoping that she’s staying warm
that she’s not worried even though she should be
kaleidoscope of every girl I’ve kissed
a thousand journal entries of the friends I miss
stop keeping track long ago
where I’m from never constitues as home
two empty bottles on the nightstand glistening
I’m on the other side of the wall listeing
I wonder who will find me first
I hope it’s not that lady from the church

3. Made for TV
I’ve got, I’ve got no reason
in space there are no seasons
I’ve got your nose you know
moondust, blood in the drizzle
on earth your love will fizzle
that something there was air
take me, take me for granted
your bangs are wacked out and slanted
in zero gravity
why aren’t you laughing with me?
the end, the end is near us
sweet orange juice on the bus
see stars, I’m seeing stars
what city has no Broadway?
spacetime gives you some leeway
rework your working terms
the rings around both our eyes
sleepless and planets size
x-rays extra precise
why aren’t you laughing with me?
drug induced
made for tv
mini-series
freakout

4. If You Run I’ll Run
You’ve got a mouthful
of discount menthol cigarettes
won’t eat a damn thing
let the boys cum on your cheeks
walk to the show
corner of monroe
I can’t feel my toes
and it shows
I’m walking into
you know
there are other places we could go
we should go
and now my knuckles crack
never having any fun
we’re talking shit in the back
let’s take 90 west
leave everyone else
we might find my muse
your moon
the pacific or we’re immune
to a.m. radio
never would’ve know, never would’ve know
there’s places where it does not snow
we choose to go the places where it will
and we could run away
run away
I remember we were walking so slow
I remember we were walking

5. Wild Wants
Sometimes that quiet desperation
can find a pretty voice
and you can sing it all night long
she was lit by the coke machine
i barely even saw her
a barefoot beauty humming Greensleeves
a melody so haunting
I try
to satisfy
my wild, wild wants
sometimes it’s like the walls are breathing
and the breaths get deeper
I bought a diet coca-cola
she asked me for some change and smiled
i gave her three state quarters
she said, “I’m only sixteen,
but I bet that you thought i was older.
I try
to satisfy
my wild, wild wants”

6. Water and Bread
My baby
she’s got legs like a spider bite
so tight
crawling up my spine almost every night
I see I see I see
a light brite smile in the dark
it’s her teeth
she’s aiming for me
and I’m sinking beneath
get me out of this bed
get me out of this bed
I need water and bread
get me out of this bed
get me out of this bed
she’s getting into my head
my baby
she’s got eyes like the ocean side
so vast
crashing at my flesh like a camera flash
I hear I hear I hear
a sweet blonde cinamon song
it’s her voice
she’s singing for me and I’m falling asleep
get me out of this bed
get me out of this bed
I need water and bread
get me out of this bed
get me out of this bed
she’s getting into my head
my baby
she’s got legs like a spider bite

7. Oh, Julia
Oh, Julia
my love’s a storm
of which you have been warned
and if you’re caught
in the calming eye
lay still and please don’t die
windows shatter all around
the town flips upside down
know that was only our first kiss
a mere taste of bliss
your brown hair is golden
that’s my heart you’re holding
Oh, Julia
we’re spinning fast
can this perfection last?
color theory will hold us tight
but weddings are black and white
and funerals are meant to dance
let’s bury this romance
rebuild the ruins of embrace
instead of fanning flames
your brown hair is golden
that’s my heart you’re holding

8.  White Noise Woman
He said, “man,
you gotta watch out for those girls in the bands
all they ever wanna do is get drunk and dance.”
I said, “man,
you can’t understand how i felt last night
my feet were light
my head was dizzy
for once in my life I loved this city.
Yeah, just for the night”
reveal yourself slow
like white noise on the radio
I know girl
you are the type that will walk the world
but with each step your heart becomes unfurled
you know girl
the things that you want are the things that you’ve got
just like a firefly in a jar
the magic you are
once captured
begins to stop
just please don’t stop
reveal yourself slow
like white noise on the radio
a cab took her away
what a dream
dream she will stay

9. Cancer Mouth
Hey cancer mouth
I wanna kiss you in the gravel teeth
get this feeling that you’re scared of me
I come around and you can barely breath
the tv
the tv screams murder
the tv screams
don’t flinch my love
it may cut to the bone but the knives not sharp
no need to romanticize the heart
that’s not even where my touch would start
the tv
the tv screams murder
the tv screams
my hands are clean
just listen and you’ll
it takes two to pull bodily triggers
inevitably someone’s aim is better
the tv
the tv screams murder
the tv screams
hey cancer mouth
your firework eyes have lost their spark
we’re smuldering pair sitting in the dark
under the chime of smoke alarm
the tv
the tv screams murder
the tv screams
hey I’m still talking
where do you think you’re going?

10. Look Back
I don’t know your name
but I call anyway
in the night
in the pouring rain
I’m waiting on your voice
a sweet resolve
to fill my void
but I don’t you’ll
look back now
I run after you
my legs are lame
my breath is turning blue
the moving sidewalk sprints
as you check your watch
my body starts to split
and I don’t think you’ll
look back now
what am I to do
but spend my life
chasing you
I don’t know your name
but I sing it in my sleep
and flows
like cheap champagne

		
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.