First Rehearsal - Roll On, Mighty Danube

Hello, all. Our first rehearsal for the new album is on September 14th at Suburbia Studios in Portland. We're excited to get back into it. I have many new songs a-brewing. One of them, I'd like to tell you about now.

I mentioned in my last post that one of the themes of this album will be about travel. In that vain, I came up with a song over the weekend called Roll On, Mighty Danube. At first, the song felt a little bit like a Nick Cave ballad, but then as I started to play it over and over again, it became almost a gospel folk song. As I was coming up with the lyrics, movies of driving around in Central Europe started playing in my mind and what do you think showed up in the films? Images of castles? Rolling green hills? Nope. Not in my films. I saw fast food joints and box stores! That's right, of all the beautiful things to see in Central Europe, my suburban subconscious focused on the urban sprawl. So the first verse I wrote came out:

Just about an hour from Budapest
I counted 15 Burger Kings.
I was tempted to stop for
A coke and a Whopper
And an order of onion rings.

(What do you think of the Stephen Merritt-esque rhyme "stop for" and "Whopper".) I know what you're thinking, but you can sense the irony in the lyric, right? Plus, I love the contrasting image of an enchanting, old world city like Budapest juxtaposed against the garish image of a Burger King. Two incompatible images mashed together. It's also kind of a self-depricating lyric, laughing at the American who stops in at Burger King when he visits an exotic place (Not that I would ever do that. Ahem.) Then, when the refrain comes in:

Roll on, mighty Danube, your waters run deep
Roll on, mighty Danube, your waters run deep

The irony really gets thick. It almost sounds like a spiritual. So on the album I'd like to have a choir of African American singers in the background, singing away like it's a Baptist church service. Almost a bit like Walk On The Wild Side, but with even more melismas and shouts of "Oh, yeah!" and clapping and such. We'll see how it goes. Maybe you can imagine it on this little demo:

So it looks like the song is a simple verse with refrain narrative about driving along the Danube river and all the global chain American-style box stores, fast food joints, and strip malls along the way. So far, in addition to the Burger Kings, the song features an IKEA outside of Belgrade, a Hooters in Bucharest, McDonalds in Vukovar, and on and on. 

It just wouldn't be a Parks & Recreation album without some mention of a strip mall, would it? More later.