Carl Newman made the demo for “Your Dick” on the voice note recorder on my recently deceased Blackberry. Keep your iPhones and your apps. I don’t care if there’s a guitar tuner and chord finder on your iPhone. I am unimpressed by the fact you can turn your iPhone sideways and the picture elongates and enlarges. Keep your touchscreen and your mobile music library. Ever since I saw a blackberry in Sarah Jessica Parker’s hot and fast texting fingers on the set of Sex and the City – the TV show not the movies – in the year of our lord 2000 (!) – I have been all about the Blackberry.
My Blackberry died an undignified death in January (even after Tegan and Sara both tried to give it artificial resuscitation by plucking the trackball out like a fish’s eye with their beautiful rock star fingernails and cleaning out the unmentionable filth that collects deep underneath – what we don’t want to know is within our most sacred and personal electronics) but because that demo is on there, along with many treasured text conversations with people who no longer speak to me, I have kept it on life support, still plugged into the charger, sitting on my desk. I can go to it when I need to, pull up Carl’s sweet pop and pitch perfect voice, singing couplets written to a long lost lover’s member at sixty second intervals as well as unanswered late night texts to said lover whose member was likely in use in or on someone else at the time, explaining the lack of text back.
I love The New Pornographers, as I am particularly fond of Canadian supergroups – such as Broken Social Scene and Stars and of course Tegan and Sara. These guys make modern music great. One day, I hope to win a Juno, for all my Canadian canoodling and collaboration. Carl brought his beat up guitar to my New York office -“like Willie Nelson’s!” – a tiny room at the Maritime Hotel where I set up shop for a few weeks. He brought the lyrics printed out from my email, explained that he had nothing for a long time, and then one day, he had something. Then he proceeded to sing me the prettiest song I have ever heard written about dick, literal and figurative. When the smoke had cleared and the chords were written out and finger positions drawn on my ever present chord paper, Carl made the Blackberry demo and I took him to eat pad thai in deep and resounding gratitude.
I was so excited to have Carl’s demo on my Blackberry I would play it over and over, listening to it like I was 12 years old and a boy I liked called me and left a message. It also helped me to learn chords I was not yet familiar with, some barre chords at that. I learned the song and premiered it at SXSW, and the cute boys setting up their drums and keyboards performing after me sang it ‘ironically’ to the other cute boys they were in a band with, and I knew I had a hit on my hands.
I recorded most of “Your Dick” in Los Angeles at the fabulous laurel canyon home studio of Ben Lee, who is in many ways the main creative force behind this album. He produced and wrote the most tracks, gave me the best advice, served as my backing band countless times and was the perfect guide into the mysterious and magical business of making music. With Ben, the song was made like food. It was kind of like making a very tall ice cream sundae, with layers of layers of sweet, different kinds of sweet. First, the vanilla plainness of drums set down lovingly at Elliott Smith’s studio in Van Nuys, pot candies stretching from my hand to musician’s and then engineer’s to enhance the experience and enlighten the moment. Then lush keyboards like hot fudge layered on top of the beat at Ben’s by Alexander Burke, the brilliant piano player from Magnolia Memoir, who I made my indentured piano servant, after making a video for his band with a super 8 camera for free. Alex played on almost every track on my album, so clearly I got the better deal. His tenure is not even over. He is still ‘contracted’ to play for me for free for the rest of the year, so I am sure his services will still be needed. The saxophone on the song is the nuts for sure – the testicles which of course a song called “Your Dick” needs. My voice is the whipped cream, as I sound as airy as if I were made of clouds of bubbles and softness, thanks to Ben and lots and lots of olive oil mixed into herbal tea. The cherry on top are Ben and Sam Shelton’s angelic and then very manly backing vocals, which hilariously top the whole kitchen sink. It’s a fucking grand dessert of a pop song. You just want to consume the whole thing in one sitting. It’s a song that makes me feel like it’s my birthday and Christmas at the same time. I hope that the Gay Men’s Chorus covers this song. It’s got to be a big dick singalong number for sure. It’s the most glorious anthem to dick ever.
Thanks to Portland Gay Men’s Chorus for performing this song with me on the first stop of my tour! You made me cry!!!!
Photo by Bill Barry.
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