I shall call it…the Alan Parsons Project.

Frame from Don't Answer Me video, 1983For some reason, I’ve got Alan Parsons on the brain. It’s amazing what comes to you while you’re sweating your arse off doing farm work.

I’ve got an unorthodox approach to music, at least in terms of making it. Also a very frustrating one. Out of the blue, the whole arrangement of a piece of music arrives in one big, beautiful chunk. I don’t read sheet music – I’ve never learned how – and yet I can hear that in my head and know what every instrument is doing when. I might come up with words later if it’s something that’s just popped into my head from pure inspiration – the words are seldom there from the get-go.

The frustrating part comes when I try to match on tape what I hear in my head. That’s really the part that becomes a curse – a fully completed song is playing in my head, and sometimes I’m damned if I can export that to a medium where anyone who happens to be outside of my head – which, as it so happens, tends to be the rest of the entire human race – can hear it. So I slave over a multitrack recorder and try valiantly to match even a fraction of the potential of what’s going on in my head. I’m no great musician, and even less good as a singer, so I’m seldom able to get close. For the past 3-4 years I’ve slowly “written” – in my head, at least – a whole song whose chorus would require at least 12 parts of vocal harmony. It’s a lovely song, the lyrics have finally evolved into a coherent shape (at least those I can write down), and it’s scary to think that should anything ever happen to the misshapen lump that is the aforementioned head, no one else will ever hear that song.

Anyway, that’s a bit of a detour. Today, while working on the farm, and admittedly this may have been a byproduct of the heat getting to me, full chill-out/lounge arrangements for the Alan Parsons Project instrumentals “The Gold Bug” and “Mammagamma” came to me out of nowhere. I like “The Gold Bug” especially – it’s already funky in a late 70s kind of way, and a lounge arrangement would turn the corner into downright jazzy. Perhaps even scarier than that is that I also dreamed up a marching band arrangement of “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You.” I couldn’t even begin to demo that – all the brass sounds on my various keyboards wind up sounding like car horns instead of French horns. That’s another great funky 70s number where the bridge section would allow the horns and especially the drummers to just go batshit crazy. And here’s the killer – I don’t even think in terms of marching band arrangements. I was never even in band. Why that particular style would occur to me, I have no freaking idea.

I’m not going to really get worried about it until I start envisioning the choreography for that number. At that point, either the world is going to have to chip in and get me some professional composition software that I can use with one of my MIDI keyboards, something that’ll turn my flimsy fingerings into a digital recording with realistic samples, or you can go ahead and call the wacky wagon, which in all honesty would be a lot cheaper.

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