Sunday, June 1, 2014


Ten years ago this Spring we released the Double Duet 7" single, featured here in it's entirety for your listening enjoyment (click the magic link above!). A rock n' roll angel named Paulie Heenan helped me put the whole thing together in the crucial final stages of creation. For a while now, I've been meaning to write a little something about our short & special time working together. This must be it. But 1st, some info on the music. More about the amazing Paulie in a moment...

Side A rocks-out with my best heartfelt attempt at the time for a college radio hit. A duet with the relentlessly melodic songbird Kaleen Enke, entitled "Time Is A Trap". The secret star of this tune is E-rock (Erik Anderson), the magic fingers behind the sticky moog-sythesizer hook (not to mention the piano solo, organ, etc.). I didn't have much decent recording gear of my own back then, so my good friend & collaborator Joel Dennis lent me some of his (it wasn't nearly the 1st time, or the last). Recording took place in the basement of the tiny pink house I was living at in my hometown of Madison, WI.

Side B features the oddly sexy casiotone slow-jam "Tomorrow's A Big Day", another duet with a friend, the musical superconductor known as M. E. Donnell (who also co-wrote the tune with me, and played the air organ, guitar, piano, and pedal steel!). Not only does Melvin (as we called him) have a crazy amount of talent, but he also has great taste as a creator, which is much rarer. We just hung out in the back of his house down in Murfreesboro, TN and put the whole thing together during a couple of rainy days.

Now back to Paulie. After I had finished the recording of both songs, he & I mixed the A-side together at good old DNA Soundlabs, just on the other side of East Washington Ave from my house. It took 13 hours. Towards the beginning of the session, Paulie softly informed me: "I like to take a lot of breaks". That was important. He was serenely focused, like a magical & silent spirit at the board... Bouncing back and forth between the racks and the console to tweak signals and massage malfunctioning mixer channels back to health. Paulie smiled beautifully. He was tall and skinny like me, but the massive afro of curls surrounding his brilliant noggin made me look like Mister Clean by comparison.

He could fix anything... The Space Echo began acting wonky just as the mix was gathering steam, but he got it right back in line by tightening the tape loop's path with a #2 pencil. Once every hour or two, he'd wander off for a little bit, or we'd ramble though the snow together to the corner store for fresh treats. He maintained the freshness of his ears thusly... it was a really nice revelation in workflow. A very humane process. He got great results, but was fun to work with too. We never got burned-out, and the mix wound up sounding great. A couple days later, we met again to edit together the final masters for the plant, while he tried to keep up with numerous text messages from a young lady he was seeing. We put a ribbon on it, and that was that!

Just for fun, and to get the most value out of the pressing (vinyl is expensive!), we filled the balance of both sides with the forever-building-and-then-deteriorating outro tag of the A-side. The color of the 7" is also unique... The pressing plant offered a deal where for the same price as plain black vinyl, you could opt to get your records pressed onto whatever random color (or colors) were left-over from the next colored-vinyl order. I was delighted to open the 1st box and discover our blessing of hypnotizing, transparent emerald records (which matched the green/yellow/white sleeve design perfectly). It felt just like Christmas morning!

After it was released, I toured all over the US & Canada for two months on a double-bill with Sandman The Rappin' Cowboy (a wonderful man deserving his own separate ode). I got a couple (few?) hundred of those 7"s out into the world that way. After the tour, everyone moved-on to other things, and the remaining copies out of the 1,000 pressed went into storage in a friend's basement when I moved out east. Another friend (and proprietor of the start-up record label which released it) was "keeping an eye" on them, but (perhaps predictably) the landlord came to clean-out the place a few years later and they're now resting peacefully somewhere deep in the landfill on the south side of town. Luckily, I held on to a copy for myself -- and now (thanks to computers) it can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere.

Two Novembers ago, I heard the insanely bad news that Paulie had been shot and killed by a police officer in the middle of the night, in front of his home. Deadly force was used for absolutely no good reason, during what should have been a humorous mix-up. Paulie passing-away at 30 years young would have been horrible enough, but he was actually blown-away. Crazyness. Senseless and tragic. The sky over our community turned very dark. Paulie had a whole lot of love & life & music left in him.

We weren't close friends, but we were closely-related creators in a small scene. That wild-haired magician taught me some good stuff, and was I blessed to work with him. That's a little drawing I drew of him which you see resting on the arm of the turntable in the video...

This one's for you, Paulie.

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