Sep 14, 2018

Our Lawn

42 comments

Edited: Sep 18, 2018

An unreleased song from the 11 Tracks Of Whack era (c.1992-3)

BONUS alt take: No "talking intro", w/ extended outro. By Download only

movie: matt kerns

Our Lawn

Words and Music: Walter Becker

© Zeon Music, 1992

 

They very best days of the summer

Now will they jazz us no more

Spare parts and leftover pieces

Lay out across the garage floor

Babe it's a sad situation

Tell me, what can it be?

What's happening all over Elm Street

Is happening all over me

 

We frolicked here once in reckless green abandon

Stretching out to the horizon line

Even as the season ended

We were running low on sweet borrowed time

 

Those dead leaves piled up out by the mailbox

Stacked up against the first decent blow

You wonder what would it feel like

To just dive in and let go

 

All of sudden there's that tear in your eye

It’s the end of an era so kiss kiss goodbye

Our lawn is dying, we're watching it die

 

Well when the sun starts looking lazy

On ‘bout a quarter to five

The girls are talking and laughing

Up at the top of the drive

Me stuck here in my wood-paneled dungeon

Wondered what we're gonna do

Who's gonna save the Bermudas

Now that we've forgotten to

 

A little taste, a little light conversation

Isn't that the way it always was

No lousy zero-sum equation

Nor a lesson in some long-lost losing cause

Green Peace Whole Earth Utne Reader

Tell ‘em that I already gave

Tell ‘em it's the midnight hour

Dancing by the side of the grave

 

The margins are crumbling now and its starting to show

You might not even notice cause it’s going down slow

Our lawn is dying, in case you don't know

 

Let's throw a party on this doleful occasion

Show the bastards who you really are

No aging overnight sensation

Hitched his hammock to the wrong shooting star

All the way from DC to daylight

Illumination in the cold, gray dawn

Jacked up on the cellular level

In case you got to call someone

 

There's no one to blame now

And there's nothing to do

Let's just make the best of

What's real and what’s true

Our lawn is dying, so what else is new

 

 

Walter Becker, Vocals

Adam Rogers, Guitar

Dean Parks, Guitar

Fima Ephron, Bass

Ben Perowsky, Drums

John Beasley, Keyboards

 

Engineer: Roger Nichols

2nd Engineer: Dave Russell

 

 

Sep 14, 2018Edited: Sep 14, 2018

A Long Wait

 

I know some of you have been waiting a while for this. The delay was due to the best kind of problem (but exhausting nonetheless): the band ran this tune down a lot. You can flip through the DAT logbook (bless you Dave Russell) and see, oh, maybe 8 -12 rundowns on any particular day— and the same again in a few more days, and again, then 4-5, then, then… over months. In short, they ran this sucker down to within an inch of its life. And it all sounded great.

 

My problem: try to listen to it all, (!) and select the “best” for a post, the one with the most good stuff, and the fewest unfortunate aspects — such as Walter half-singing from the middle of the room; a favored activity, apparently.

 

It was an impossible task, because so many of the takes were varied in wonderful ways: sometimes these great musicians played balls-out, sometimes they wove a delicate filigree. But I had to cut bait at some point, amirite?

 

So — can we call this a true unreleased track? Essentially finished? Not quite. Most obviously, this was a version I picked to post, not a take Walter would have selected for a track. These were scratch vocals from Walter with no effects like compression or EQ on him or on anything else beyond the amp or maybe pedal level. The song had not been mixed. Maybe there'd be a solo where WB scats (or not). And there’s always the possibility that Walter might have added a little something here or there, a bell or percussion or a whatnot — something a couple a guys I (used to) know would call the touches that “brighten and clarify”.

 

That it sounds so good without actually being finished is a real testament. If it is perhaps not formally release-ready, I hear it as satisfyingly complete nevertheless.

 

It’s been a long wait. Hope you enjoy finally hearing this cutting-room floor gem from our boy and his talented friends.

 

Walter Becker’s Our Lawn

 

Sep 14, 2018

Thank you so much D-Mod!!

Sep 20, 2018

That Becker scat... oh yeah. Many thanks, ineffable D-Mod.

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Sep 14, 2018

Sounds great, just like it is.

Sep 14, 2018

Good enough to publish

Sep 14, 2018

I like it better then other tracks on the 11 Tracks album. It was great to hear and almost better with the rawness of WB's vocals before things would get all "slicked up" in the mixing. I still can't believe he's gone. I don't really care about celebrities but in his passing I sensed my mortality. RIP Walter you have a place in my soul.

Sep 14, 2018

Another winner! Thank you D-Mod.

Sep 14, 2018

Awesome song! And the Lyrics:

"Green Peace Whole Earth Utne Reader

Tell ‘em that I already gave

Tell ‘em it's the midnight hour

Dancing by the side of the grave"

Sheer poignant poetry!

Sep 14, 2018

wow, what a heady piece of music. so ... dense, harmonically, with a relatively sparse arrangement, maybe to let the listener try and wrap his head around what Jon Beasley and Adam Rodgers are playing ... I love it. thanks as always for sharing, D-Mod.

Sep 15, 2018

This is gorgeous, harmonies out of this world!

Many thanks for letting this see the light, D-Mod.

Imo, this one also would have richly deserved to be on 11TW - one of my top 3.

Did Walt do all the editing and selections himself or did he have advise/input on this?

Sep 15, 2018Edited: Sep 15, 2018

not sure what you mean. Tapes we post are live reherasal tapes, that we (your hosts) select from usually dozens for that song, and are unedited. If I missed your meaning please try again

Sep 15, 2018

@Moderator: D-Mod

Sorry, I meant the selection of tunes which made it onto 11TW and which one's were left off for whatever reason. Did Walt have someone in his ear or was it all him deciding what stays in the vault and what gets released.

@Lutz that is such a complicated question -- I've thought long and hard, trying to find an adequate answer. Still looking...

Sep 15, 2018

D-Mod it sounds great just the way it is. I'm very glad, I have this chance to hear it. I enjoy everything produced by Walter Becker. There is and will be no other Walter Becker.......................RIP Walter, many people miss you and your special talents.

Sep 15, 2018

A large part of our lives. One of us.

Sep 15, 2018

I'm flummoxed as to just how in the hell this song didn't find a home on 11TOW. This is so, so good. (Also, I am in awe of how punchy and crisp Ben Perowsky's drums sound in this recording, and jealous of how whenever I dabble in recording/mixing music, I can't even dream of getting drums to sound that good.)

Sep 16, 2018

It might have "just" been a run-through, but it was a run-through at Walter's world-class studio, Hyperbolic sound, with Dave Russell and Roger Nichols at the board. It was bound to sound good.

Sep 15, 2018

Great song! Thanks for getting it out to the masses!

Sep 16, 2018

Great to hear this. I saw SD last year in London. It was disappointing, as there wasn't another guitarist apart from Herrington.

WB was so much of SD, let us not forget.

Sep 17, 2018

An embarrassment of riches already on this site, but this is my favorite. The little wonky keyboard flourishes; the Walty Scatting (tm.; pat pend.); the already-mentioned drums. & those lyrics! Thx so much DB. Xmas in Sept.

Sep 17, 2018

The more I hear from them via this site, the more I'm somewhat disappointed that 11TOW, as great as it is, didn't feature more of The Lost Tribe. Live musicians playing the chords WB originally stacked in a sequencer produced a very distinct sound that is unlike anything else.

Sep 20, 2018Edited: Sep 20, 2018

"Live musicians playing the chords WB originally stacked in a sequencer produced a very distinct sound that is unlike anything else. "

 

I think that's a right-on observation OTC.

 

Dean Parks ,who wrote out the chart, said "Btw, these are merely take-downs of synth parts Walter had done as a keyboard performed composition." This blew me away at first.....are these really Walter's chords? I went back to the demo and sequences and -- I'll be damned, they were in fact exactly his chords. Proving your point OTC: the effect was so much greater when live musicians are playing the stacks. And yes, quite a unique sound,. .

 

Dean then went on to say The chart existed to allow session musicians to play or augment this skeletal core. I think we can agree that how great musicians "play or augment this skeletal core" makes a hella difference. Hence...great performances and feel = a song way more than a collection of its notes, no matter how distinctive

Sep 18, 2018Edited: Sep 18, 2018

BONUS alt take: No "talking intro", w/ extended outro. By Download only

Sublime acoustic interlude by Parks; more Walty Scatting (tm.; pat pend.); Special Becker (sung) bass part at the end of a lovely extended outro

Sep 18, 2018

Great stuff D-Mod but I have a question: in the credits you posted with the original version, Fima Ephron was on bass. In this version, is it Walter all the way through on bass? Or just on the outro?

Sep 18, 2018Edited: Sep 18, 2018

oh no that's Fima thoughout...just at the end you hear WB "singing" a few bars of the bass part. Other sessions showed he was very precise about that part: had to "punch" but also "legato. Legato!" I imagine it's no fun playing bass in a WB band. But I always thought Fima sounded just fuckin great; I love his playing --as did Walter, obviously.

Sep 18, 2018Edited: Sep 18, 2018

speaking of bass parts and the precision of same so often important to him -- : was listening to an old promotional interview W did after release of 11TOW - and was interested (it was news to me) in his answer to the interviewer asking something like How did Book of Liars” come about?

 

and Walter said (paraphrasing) well that’s interesting — I was taking the kids to school, still half-asleep — and the moment I pulled out of the driveway this great bass part came to me. This was in the days before portable recording pocket devices etc, and it was such a cool and *precise* part that I had to keep singing the part to myself overand over, all the way to school and back, a good 40 minutes. I knew I couldn’t loose the precise rhythmic aspects of that part. Another way my children came to feel their father was very strange. In any case, that bass part…things just sort of dropped in from there.

 

Sep 18, 2018

LOL yes kids Daddy is a bit unusual. Was that in the Words and Music interview?

Sep 18, 2018

No, it is on a DAT labled "Walter Becker 11/15/94: The Interview Factory". No idea what that means in terms of outlet(s). Walter's answers were recorded at Hyperbolic Sound, and the interviewer was on the phone.

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  • (Surprise Piano Version) This extremely early rundown of Book of Liars by The 11TOW band [Adam Rogers (Guitar): Fima Ephron (Bass): Ben Perowsky (Drums): John Beasley (Keyboards): Dean Parks (Guitar)] is interesting on several counts, not the least of which is the peek it affords into the studio process . Walter enjoyed almost everything the band played as it emerged from their interaction, rather then from any strong a priori “instruction” he offered. The rule seemed to be: Let’s just play it. See what we see. It’s interesting, for example, to hear one of the first rundowns of this tune took on a sort of calypso vibe. Yet all the tracks invariably developed, changed —through a combination of the creativity and explorations of the musicians playing together, and the small, subtle shaping that Walter would occasionally offer. It’s probably too obvious to observe that the feel of the final versions as we all know them from Whack and Alive in America traveled quite a distance from this earliest rundown. The 11TOW recorded version of this song has also long inspired speculation a’plenty about that rather unique keyboard solo. Here, on one of the earliest rundowns — and with only the above musicians in the room — we hear what might be its etiology. The quasi-comic conducting Walter would often exercise is in evidence here — “big piano passage”….then “Piano solo. Surprise piano solo!” (sandwiching an expression of juvenile gun-lust). A playful response follows, and that we hear a “yeah” during the staccato playing leads one to suspect the die on this one was cast early on; there was just something about that general vibe of this early keyboard part that he wanted preserved in the recorded version. We'll leave it to the listener to hypothesize who did or did not play the recorded solo or, at the very least, from whence its inspiration sprang. We see it springing right here. Then there’s “Fima’s got it” as a few players seem to momentarily lose their bearings in the unfamiliar chart….and of course the wonderful end-talk about different ideas for “the bridgy kinda thing”….and, well, from 5:14 out…that’s our Walter all over, isn’t it? Hope you enjoy. D-Mod P.S. Speaking of Book of Liars: Don Breithaupt's band Monkey House released a new album TODAY with their own cover of Becker's Book of Liars! You may know Don from previous Monkey House albums or from his insightful look at Steely Dan's Aja album for the 33-1/3 series. "As a lifelong Steely Dan fan, Walter's death hit me hard," said Don. "I thought it'd be a nice gesture to do one of his." The new album, " Friday ," also features the talents of Steely Dan musicians Michael Leonhart and Drew Zingg. It's a damn fine album, and it looks like listeners agree—" Friday " is currently sitting at the #1 spot on iTunes' Jazz charts. Congrats to Don and Monkey House! - Matt
  • 1997 He Wants You (Out) words & music Walter Becker (1997) © Zeon Music LLC 2018 Well we all ride together in this world Fall together where we stand And we all got one slim chance to be heard It's all written in the plan This is all I ask of you Tell me sweetness tell me true From that very first soul kiss You knew it would be like this We all ride together in this world Well didn't we just girl He reads you — he reads you loud and clear He wants you — he wants you out of here He needs you — you and what army dear He wants you — he wants you out of here Well we all need protection from the pain For protection we will pay And we all seek the shelter from the rain Here comes that rainy day It won't make it real again Not all the horses all the men It won't do you any good Not all the pills in Hollywood We all need protection now and then Here it is again He loves you —he loves your story dear He wants you — he wants you out of here He sees you — he sees you disappear He wants you — he wants you out of here Well we all ride together in this world Wait forever on the curb And we all ask for much more than we need And we get what we deserve He hears you — he's seeming not to hear He wants you — he wants you out of here He's got you — he's had you up to here He wants you — he wants you out of here He needs you — you and what army dear He wants you — he wants you out of here He reads you — he reads you loud and clear He wants you — he wants you out of here Another one of Becker's infamous "Love Songs"! Anyone woman at all familiar with his Whack work and demos would think long and hard before sweetly trilling "write me a love song, dahling!" -- knowing she was as likely to get one of these than an Almost Gothic  or a  Paging Audrey . That musical bouquet of his was always as likely to conceal a shiv than sweet-nothings. This tune was one of three demos Walter sent me on a DAT in late 1997  (ever-thoughtful, he bundled it with a portable "Walkman"-type DAT player. Sort of like Voyager. I was impressed). I asked him: "so these are rejects from Whack ?" to which he replied nah,  just a few things he'd been working on lately. By this time he was  deep into writing for Two Against Nature  with Fagen, so it took me a couple of beats to realize that after his Whack  work, he and his Opcode had apparently just kept on trucking along.  He must have liked this one, must have been keeping it on his "potentially active" list, since he was still occasionally listening to it few years later...  ...as he was one afternoon in late '99 .... PS: His vocals on these three '97 demos were uncommonly lackluster, to put it kindly.  One of them, in fact -- a tune called The Love You Ax -- will remain forever sealed, falling into the rare category of the demo vocal  he would never allow out of the box. It's a nice tune though; perhaps one day 'll post an instrumental of its solo and outro, for a sense of its feel. I just have to guess first  if that would make more of you pissed or pleased.