Taking Out The Trash

Leave it to Mat Hutt to pen an ode to housework, albeit it’s been said the song also works as a metaphor on the subject of ridding oneself of unnecessary, destructive, hurtful alliances.

Recorded as part of Native‘s winter songwriting sessions in early 1995, today’s featured song became a staple of our set lists for a year or two and then disappeared, perhaps in part due to a misperception that it was about judging people negatively — the metaphor was taken too far!!! And being negative about things that are negative, can lead one down a virtual rabbit-hole of unabashed negativity. Perish the thought!

But, since it’s been taken too far, let’s explore this particular metaphor further, shall we? Grab a flashlight! Into the rabbit-hole!!!!

Let’s have a show of hands. Who amongst us does not have an acquaintance that drags down the quality of their life?

Ah, no hands raised. No surprises there, really.

We tend to let these relationships go, being nice people that we are, but they rarely turn into shining beacons of positivity do they?

No, sourpuss people tend to remain sourpusses and we don’t need them at all, nor do they serve much purpose except perhaps as examples on how not to live. And yet, we allow them to fester in the hope that we are not being diabolically judgmental.

Horses for courses, we say with an air of pompous humility.

Equally though, we all have the capacity to be that person. I know I have skirted the periphery of being a useless, needy Wormtongue of a friend on past occasions. I’ll leave out the fact that I have changed, because that would undermine my pompous humility.

But, this song is not about me, anyway! No, no, no! Perish the thought! Nor, is it about anyone else specifically — Mat was not big on metaphors, you see.

Very literal, that chap.

So, when I listen to this one — I just like to simply dwell on housework — cleaning carpets, dusting the dishware, shaving the cat, and how nice it would be if some needy, moany person would pop around and take over, instead of me having to soil my hands with it.

So, the moral of today’s lesson is — negative people have their place, and at times are quite useful, but this song is not about them.


Cornbread Wednesday


Everyone’s a kid in a thunderstorm

Native‘s on-going recording project, overseen by the redoubtable John Fitzwater was proceeding apace throughout the early months of 1995. By this time, the band were a gigging machine. There was no need to tour, the entire northeast lay before us in verdant symmetry: easily reached from our New York City vantage-point. The entire upper east coast was a corridor down whtich we strode with great alacrity; dashing to a gig in, say, Amherst, and back again to our beds and futons in the self-built cubicles of The Loft, conveniently located in the garment-district environs of midtown Manhattan.

We had made an home for ourselves that was all about developing as a band. We could rise in the afternoon and already be at rehearsal, since it would take place in an adjoining studio — the infamous Marmfington Farm. By combining our forces, instead of having separate apartments, we’d found a way to do nothing but what we wanted to do — play music all the time. Granted, Mike and John Epstein lived elsewhere, but the idea and principle of total focus on music was in place…. and working.

We were playing three and four nights a week on a regular basis — Paul Ducharme, , our manager, made sure of that. Then, rehearsal/writing/recording took place on two days of that selfsame week. We were like clockwork angels in our productivity.

In that context, we offer this snapshot — a demo made in the heady days of yore.

This is another of Mat & Woody‘s collaborations, although they would probably give each other most of the credit. My Cherokee roots are evoked in the recurrent tom-tom pattern in the intro. Mike came up with a typically beautiful guitar-driven theme, and later — a textbook example of how to play a solo; the citing of the theme followed by a stunning flight of light-fingered fancy. I dare any guitarist on the planet to match it.

And then there is the wonderfully-evolving collaboration of Hutt & Wood. More and more, they were approaching the vocals as a duet, like all great duos they held the curves of the melody like race-car drivers in Ferraris at Le Mans.

Add in Matt Lyons‘ signature basslines and the solid support from Mr. Epstein and you have another classic Native tune that somehow defied making an appearance on any of our albums.

Inspired by a particularly violent storm that seemed centered over The Loft, and beginning with an observation on our totally scared reactions in its duration, here is

Thunderstorm v. 1

Digging Holes Again

Welcome to Nativology — where, each Wednesday, we take a listen to rarities from Native’s secret underground high-security vault while enjoying a steaming hot slice of cornbread, slathered in farm-fresh butter, washed-down with generous amounts of kickapoo joy juice!

Or is that coffee with Nutrasweet and extra dried-out creamer? And the cornbread has that weird digital taste to it… mmm, jpegs!

Anyway, we are Native and we are as surprised as anyone to find such a surfeit of riches in our tape library. We were actually quite productive for a bunch of “lazy” hippies!

The studio where we indulgently delved into our every musical whim, was custom-built by our percussionist, the daring and able John Wood, a.k.a. Woody, a.k.a. Toast, a.k.a. Woodtoast, and many other variations, most of them printable.

It was not a large studio, being as it was a room within a room. But, with heavy sound-reinforced walls, and sitting on a bed of thick rubber so the neighbors were not bothered too badly by our twice-weekly rehearsals, it was sanctuary to us.

We dubbed it Marmfington Farm, named after a mis-remembered town we’d passed through on our way to a gig in another mis-remembered town, and that name would become a sort-of catch-all phrase. It meant paradise. When we issued our first (and thus far, only) live album, we named it Live From Marmfington Farm, Vol. 1. Not because it was recorded there, but because we felt that wherever we played — that place became an extension of our paradise.

The song we’ll examine today had it’s origin in that hallowed place. The year — early 1995, in the era when John Epstein was our keyboardist and Native was on fire.

I remember sitting behind my drums watching Mat & Woody working out the lyrics as Mike helped with the chords Mat was trying out, whilst Epstein kibitzed with his often inscrutable observations. At one point, they were stuck for a lyric and I chimed in, “How about — If it doesn’t kill me, it’s made me stronger?” “Nah, too many syllables — If I’m not dead, it’s made me strong. Yeah, that’ll work.”

Like many of our songs, it was born well before we put it on an album, preferring as we did to letting our songs evolve through performance. Happy accidents arising from spontaneous invention are not to be undervalued, and cannot be overstated in their importance. It was a system that worked well for us, although it must be said — it’s amazing how closely this demo from ’95 resembles the track on our ’97 album, Exhale On Spring Street.

So, here it is — one of our best-remembered songs —

Digging Holes

Cornbread Wednesday

Rolling Thunder

In the late winter/early spring of 1995, Native was in the midst of preparing the follow-up to our eponymous first record. Having traveled far & wide to promote that effort, we’d had a whole year to write new material. John Epstein had delivered the excellent Hot Day; Mat Hutt & John (Woody) Wood were coalescing into a formidable songwriting team; I was coming up with my own small contributions; Matt Lyons did not write (but rather chose to lend a big hand on arrangements); and Mike… well, Mike left us gobsmacked and astounded at the sheer genius he could summon when he decided to compose.

I have a distinct memory of thinking that the amount of goodness Mike packed into the two minutes and some odd seconds of today’s featured song had few comparable antecedents. The world in which we operated was the early jam-band scene, where longer is normal, and even longer is even more normal. But, as we finished the first run-through I clearly remember thinking that Mike seemed to have the composition skills of a Jerry Garcia, and the astounding sense of brevity found in that other great California-based tunesmith — Brian Wilson.

The song I compared it to that day was This Whole World, a brilliant two minute plus opus found on The Beach Boys Sunflower. Mike, of course, had not heard that one, and in fact he was not aware that he had packed so much goodness into such a small time frame.

The song was so short that our Sound Wizard, John Fitzwater took a recording Woody had made when he lived on 99th Street at the Hippie Hotel. With a microphone lowered out his window, he’d captured the sound of dogs barking furiously in the courtyard below. Now, those sounds were incorporated into the opening and closing moments, a touch that Mike absolutely loved.

When we played it live, Woody & Mat barked like those courtyard canines, bringing a smile to the listeners, and certifying the wonderfulness of the choice Fitz had made. After all, if most people were looking for a sound effect for a song with the title this one has, they’d have probably reached for a sound-effects record with a thunder track. But, Native was not ‘most people’.

The multi-tracks of this (and all the songs we’ve presented recently) are lost. If anyone ever finds them, let us know. It would be fun to remix them. But, if a remix were possible, the dogs would still be inserted right where they are now.

(Click on the following link to go to our Bandcamp page. This song, like all the selections in our Nativology series, are free to listen to, and download in the file type of your choice.)

Rolling Thunder

Cornbread Wednesday