The FAWM 2015 songs of Pop Mythology and its amazing friends

resized-pop-mythology-logo
(Pop Mythology logo: Anthony Nowicke)

As a writer, I don’t feel that I need to write for all media and genres. That was me in my 20s, and not just with writing but with other mediums as well. But a combination of experience, personal circumstances and ruthless pragmatism have demanded that I focus on just a tiny handful of things. I’ve become quite content with that and now consider myself  simply a non-fiction prose writer.

Because of this, no one could have been more surprised that I was myself when on Feb. 18, past the halfway point of FAWM (Feb. Album Writing Month), I was suddenly seized by the mad urge to write some lyrics. Now, I get ideas and urges to do different things all the time, but if they are not relevant to the tasks before me I ignore them because I can’t afford to be distracted. But on that day, I thought, “Okay, just try one set of lyrics. For fun. What could it hurt?”

So I wrote “Karma Whore,” didn’t have a clue what I was doing but enjoyed it, posted it since that’s what FAWM was about, and thought that would be the end of it. Back to work, back to reality. But then one of my absolute favorite FAWMers, Sapient (aka Abomnium), contacted me about doing a demo. I was dumbstruck but said yes, of course. He posted the demo literally within several hours and I tell you, listening to it was one of the  most joyous moments of my life. I still thought that was the end of it but Debs (formerly of Debs & Errol) said, “Do more.”  I thought, “We’ll see.” But more words came so I wrote them down (“I Love Lucy” and “Wolf Song”). I posted those too and thought, “Now,  that’s the end of it.”

But then Valerie Cox (@valeriecox)  and Darci Strutt (@darcistrutt), respectively, promptly asked about demos for those as well and I was like, “What’s going on?!”

To make a long story short, I managed to settle into a rhythm where I was still mostly doing what I had come on FAWM to do—listen, comment, blog about and support—but was also able to scribble out one or two set of lyrics per day. Even more surprising is that more than half of the songs I wrote found their way to willing musicians, all of whose work I already happened to know and admire.

To carry on like this while managing the other duties of this site and of life itself was extremely hard (I feel you struggling FAWMers!) but the creative energy I got back was threefold and more than worth it. I hadn’t felt this creatively galvanized in years, certainly not since I’d first started this site and written its earliest thought pieces. Like everything, though, this too had its price and I ended up paying one quite recently, in fact (but that’s an entirely different topic).

More than anything, this experience has been a testament to the generous and thriving atmosphere that is FAWM. And speaking of which, before I get into sharing the songs themselves some thanks are in order:

• Chagall (@kirrivath): Early on in FAWM, before any of this, you suggested out of the blue that I try writing songs. I thought, “Yeah, right. Where’s this coming from?” Well, you told me so.

• Peter (@sapient): This is pretty much all your awesome fault. Your demo of my first song was “the perfect drug,” as were your words of praise.

• Debs (@debs): I was pretty confident I was done after that first song. You said to keep going. I wasn’t sure about that but I did. Good things happened.

• Valerie (@valeriecox) and Darci (@darcistrutt): Sapient may have given me the first taste of the FAWM drug but you two sealed the addiction.

All my collaborators (@leslie, @ductapeguy, @tesla3090, @gslade, @wickedmessenger1) : You rock. Figuratively and literally. Thank you for taking just a bunch of words and giving them life. I don’t exaggerate when I say that February was perhaps the single greatest month of my life for all kinds of reasons I just can’t explain here.

• Everyone who commented frequently on my songs: Off the top of my head these include, but are not limited to, @owl, @caterwauler, @tesla3090, @timfatchen, @candle, @helene, @scubed, @wyatt, @clioem, @bradbrubaker, @meriamber, @michaelsalamone, @vomvorton, @tcelliott, @temily, and others I know I’m forgetting at the moment.

• The entire FAWM community: Seriously, I’m not just saying that. You can read my other FAWM posts to see how I feel overall about you, the community.

Lastly, despite a comment I got on social media that in context was obviously snide saying, “Good luck on your recording career,” I do not suddenly fancy myself a song lyricist nor do I even remotely want anything resembling a “recording career.”  And so to any friends, family or colleagues who may be concerned that I’m getting distracted from what I should be doing: don’t worry, I’m as focused on that as I’ve ever been. If anything, I am always so  focused that I too rarely let myself just relax and have a little fun. And we all know that can be an important part of healing as well. Well, for 11 days in February I sure had a lot of fun.

So here, then, are the results of  11 days’ worth of creative play with my collaborators. There’s such a fabulous range of themes and styles in these songs that they don’t quite cohere as an “album,” but if I were going  to sequence them as an album it might go something like this:


@debs   @popmythology  “Duh! Do Run Run”

This is a geek parody of one of my favorite songs of all time, The Crystals’ “Da Do Ron Ron,” poking fun at all those horror movie cliches.  I don’t know if it’s because I love the original song so much, but for some reason I wanted to hear this sung even more than some of my other original songs. This demo by Debs fills me with more joy than I can properly express in a short comment. Break out the headphones because you’ll need them to fully appreciate her doo-wop harmonies.

Whenever you hear creepy music start to play
Duh, do run run run! Duh, do run run!
Boyfriend says “let’s have a roll in the hay”
Duh, do run run run! Duh, do run run!

Yeah, you’re really dumb
Yeah, you’re almost done
Cuz whenever you’re in doubt
Duh, do run run run! Duh, do run run!

When someone reads Latin from some dusty book
Duh, do run run run! Duh, do run run!
Anytime, anywhere you see a hook
Duh, do run run run! Duh, do run run!

Yeah, the car won’t start
Yeah, you’re sure not smart
Cuz whenever you’re in doubt
Duh, do run run run! Duh, do run run!

(Sax solo)

Don’t ever check the body to make sure it’s dead
Duh, do run run run! Duh, do run run!
It ain’t dying even if you shoot its head
Duh, do run run run! Duh, do run run!

Yeah, you better not split up
Yeah, don’t ever trust your luck
So whenever you’re in doubt
Just run run run run! Just run run run!


@gslade  @debs @popmythology “Pac-Man”

I love what G and Debs have done with this. It was originally written to be an extremely short micro-song but they’ve added considerable meat and fleshed it out into a bona fide pop song complete with a catchy hook by Debs and some genuinely funny and clever lines rapped by G.

(Yeeeeaaaah)
(Know what just happened?)
(Know what this means?)

Power pellet
I just had one
Now you better run better run like I’m poison
Better ghost motherfuckers
Or you’re toast motherfuckers
No more running no more hiding I am Pacman motherfuckers

Just when you’re thinking that you’ve got me cornered
Just when you think you’ve got me backing down
That’s when you’re really gonna feel my hunger
That’s when it all gets turned around

Shit is real, motherfuckers
Better peel, motherfuckers
Now you’re blue now you’re screwed i will eat you
Try to trap me, motherfuckers
You don’t scare me, motherfuckers
Ain’t no maze that can hold me i am free motherfuckers

Just when you’re thinking that you’ve got me cornered
Just when you think you’ve got me backing down
That’s when you’re really gonna feed my hunger
That’s when it all gets turned around

I’m P A C to the M A N, gonna eat you little bitches, I’m the motherfuckin’ PACMAN,
Ain’t no game that I can’t win, every body knows my name, I’m the motherfuckin’ PACMAN,
Chasin’ after me, shit, you must be crazy, I’ll eat a power pellut and I’m ghost like Swayze,
Bring all your little friends, and you still can’t phase me, Even Casper won’t try me since I ate his lady,

Dorian Gray? I’ll eat a portrait a day, just get out of my way, you busta’s don’t wanna play,
Ghostbusters ain’t got shit on me, who ya gonna call? It’s the P A C
I know you’re not surprised that I’m droppin’ rhymes, I’ve been eatin’ lines, since Reagan was alive,
Now I’m eating beats, there’s no retreat, I’m the little yellow thang that you can’t defeat

Just when you’re thinking that you’ve got me cornered
Just when you think you’ve got me backing down
That’s when you’re really gonna feel my hunger
That’s when it all gets turned around


@bradbrubaker  @popmythology  “Pac-Man”

One of the fun things about FAWM is sometimes hearing multiple interpretations of a single set of lyrics. This here is an alternate version of “Pac-Man” by @bradbrubaker whom I covered in my Week 4 post. I sincerely love both versions equally but this one comes uncannily close to what I initially “heard” in my head as I was putting these lyrics to paper. This has been the first of my own songs to receive two interpretations and it’s been hella fun. Thanks to all three artists for infusing such life into my foul-mouthed, angry Pac-Man.


 @leslie  @popmythology  “Dracula & Frankenstein”

This was inspired after I heard a filk song about Dracula by @ductapeguy and then, later, a surf rock song called  “Doctor Frankenstein’s Guitar” by @tinam and @bigmart  (both of whom I covered in my Week 3 post). This got me to imagine a comedy musical in which Frankenstein (the doctor, not the monster) and Dracula were working together somehow and it led to this song. My original didn’t have a chorus so I thank Leslie for adding a brilliant one and thus making this a complete song in itself rather than just one imagined part of a larger whole.

INTRO
(Dracula)
Dr. Frankenstein, may I ask you something?
(Frankenstein)
Of course, Count Dracula. Ask me anything.

V1
(Dracula)
What are we doing in this alley?
You’re supposed to come up with a cure
So the smell of blood won’t be a lure
It’s midnight and I’m getting hungry

V2
(Frankenstein)
Oh, have patience, Drac, will you cut me some slack?
Please go and find me a dead body
I need one that’s fresh and not so smelly
And better one that has a strong back

CHORUS
(Both)
What a macabre pair are we
Under the cloak of night
Working in harmony
Is our delight

V3
(Dracula)
Are you suggesting that I kill someone?
Just so you can make another monster?
(Frankenstein)
Yes, but can we hurry up and get it done?
It’s not like this would be your first cadaver

CHORUS
(Both)
What a macabre pair are we
Under the cloak of night
Working in harmony
Is our delight

BRIDGE
(Dracula)
I asked for help because I’m sick
(Frankenstein)
Your blood addiction you can kick!
(Dracula)
But you are feeding my craving
(Frankenstein)
Will you just do it, man, and stop your complaining?

V4
(Both)
Oh, why is it so hard to find some good help?
Why do I have to do everything myself?
(Dracula)
I should have known that you were just a fraud
(Frankenstein)
Dammit, Drac, I’m a doctor, not a god!

CHORUS
(Both)
What a macabre pair are we
Under the cloak of night
Working in harmony
Is our delight

V5
(Dracula)
So are you curing me or not?
(Frankenstein)
I will cure you but I need more time!
(Dracula)
Then all the time in the world shall be thine
(Frankenstein)
By the blazes, you are talking rot!

CHORUS
(Both)
What a macabre pair are we
Under the cloak of night
(Frankenstein)
Working in harmony… *looks around*

OUTRO
(Frankenstein) *spoken*
Drac? Drac, what are you doing? No, wait, Drac! Noooooooo!


@valeriecox  @popmythology  “I Love Lucy”

I don’t know when, if ever, I will get around to writing down some of the fictitious tales inside me that want to be told. But one of them is about a young female embodiment of Lucifer who enters people’s lives and brings light into it, contrary to the bad PR she’s been given by her former boss (you know who). This story had patiently accepted its place in the back burner of my mind for years, but when it saw its chance to see at least some  form of life via FAWM, it shoved me out of the way and just leapt out onto the page. Given that this is a love story between two high school girls, I can’t imagine anything more perfect than the pop punk sound Valerie has given it.

Used to be lost in the terrible darkness
Lived like an animal wandering aimless
You brought life to what used to be barren
Fell into my life like lightning from heaven

Don’t know what was in that apple you gave me
But I see things much differently now, Lucy
Don’t know what was in that apple you gave me
Now I see my true self so clearly

When I first saw you on the school quad that day
The way you showed up that big bully Dante
I had a boyfriend but I fell in love then
I could never go back to Adam again

Don’t know what was in that apple you gave me
But I see things much differently now, Lucy
Don’t know what was in that apple you gave me
It even cleared away all of my acne

When they caught us sharing apples they freaked out
The teacher yelled at us, the one who had gout
Sent us to the Principal’s office that day
And we got expelled from Eden High hurray!

Don’t know what was in that apple you gave me
But I see things much differently now, Lucy
Don’t know what was in that apple you gave me
But I will love you forever, my dear Lucy


@ductapeguy  @popmythology  “The Search for Spock”

On the second to last day of FAWM I saw the news that Leonard Nimoy had passed. As much as I wanted to do a tribute, by then my brain was already so wiped out I didn’t think I could do it. But I tried and what came out, while not perfect, didn’t seem all that bad.  I definitely didn’t expect any collaborators to express interest this close to the end of FAWM, but lo and behold,  Sean (@ductapeguy) sent a “surprise” demo my way and said, hey, if you want this it’s yours. Oh, I wanted it all right.

he helped define a generation
the center of calm, the voice of reason
a counterpoint to his friend’s passion
his mind was a light and a beacon

we watched him with starry-eyed wonder
of riddles and answers we’d ponder
wondered what lied beyond and yonder
as we stood inhaling the night zephyr

so come join me in my search for Spock
fearless as we open the airlock
over uncharted lands we will walk
together we’ll start a new epoch

as they went about their starry crusade
even if danger had others dismayed
and the captain too found himself dazed
when he was there I was not afraid

his logic was the antidote to fear
when combined with love my mind was clear
my heart breached the stratosphere
and I had the will to persevere

so come join me in my search for Spock
fearless as we open the airlock
over uncharted lands we will walk
together we’ll start a new epoch

others dream of sailing the firmament
but my eyes are on the inner descent
where I will use his steady discernment
until my soul scales the highest ascent

so come join me in my search for Spock
fearless as we open the airlock
over uncharted lands we will walk
together we’ll start a new epoch

won’t you join me in my search for Spock
fearless as we open the airlock
over uncharted lands we will walk
together we’ll start a new epoch


@darcistrutt  @popmythology  “Marco Polo”

This was one of two children’s songs I’d written and while I was quite fond of it, no one expressed any interest in it for a while until the wonderful Darci, who had already done the music for “Wolf Song,” asked me if I wanted to give it another go and I said, “Yes, please.” But this time I made a specific request because by then I had heard her play the mandolin in one of her songs and thought the old-world sound of that instrument would suit the subject of this song well. Well, the way it turned out is, once again, more perfect than I could have imagined. And those harmonies, oh!

marco polo desired a legendary jewel
traveled far and wide, by foot, by mule
no matter where he looked it was not there
‘till one day he said, “what a load of hot air!”

magellan traversed the seven seas and beyond
look for me that way and you will despond
for i’m not just any ol’ kind of jewel
i’m the kind you can’t cut, no matter the tool

marco (polo!)
marco (polo!)
looking everywhere, it will drive you loco!
marco (polo!)
marco (polo!)
never find me *that* way, not even on pluto!

I hope this song will help you understand
you won’t find me if you search the whole land
like the explorers named lewis & clark
wherever they went, they kept missing the mark—

—oh! polo’s a sport i can’t understand
you hit a ball with a swing of forehand
chase me that way, you can call it a day
whenever i’m close you just whack me away

marco (polo!)
marco (polo!)
looking everywhere, it will drive you loco!
marco (polo!)
marco (polo!)
never find me *that* way, not even on pluto!

moral of this tale: don’t be like marco
don’t know what i mean? your brain might be poco
marco settled for trinkets and lockets
for you can never find what’s in your own pockets

marco (polo!)
marco (polo!)
looking everywhere, it will drive you loco!
marco (polo!)
marco (polo!)
never find me *that* way, not even on pluto!


@darcistrutt  @popmythology  “Wolf Song”

Most of my lyrics this month came first as other words, feelings or abstract concepts. This was the only song (except for maybe “Pac-Man”) that came first as images. I saw an image of a pack of wolves looking at me with those haunting but soulful eyes of theirs. I imagined that they wanted to tell me something but the next image was just of them turning away and running. In truth, of course, I knew what they wanted to “say” the moment I saw them since my own brain was the one creating the images. How well I translated that into words is arguable, but I think Darci’s musicality more than makes up for any of my shortcomings.

we feel you watching us
we who are the nameless
but your thoughts have no place here
concepts will be your death here

we stay close to the ground
while you hunt the profound
you are looking everywhere
but our sky is always there

here there is freedom
freedom at a price
the hunger of wisdom
demands the sacrifice

survival cleanses you
the fear liberates you
a thousand scents in the air
every sense alive, aware

cut the shackles you wear
shed the burdens you bear
be guided by Luna’s light
taste the nectar of the night

here there is freedom
freedom at a price
the hunger of wisdom
demands the sacrifice

here there is freedom
freedom at a price
the hunger of wisdom
demands the sacrifice


@tesla3090  @popmythology  “Problem/Solution”

I’m a big fan of the industrial, electronica, and ambient genres and Kolton (@tesla3090) wielded all of these with aplomb and ease. Given that we also share an interest in dystopic and cyberpunk sci-fi I thought it’d be fun to collaborate and I tried writing some words specifically just for him. As an experiment, I used an arbitrary rhyme scheme in which every line that mentions a manufactured problem ended by rhyming “problem,” and every line that mentions a faux-solution ends by rhyming “solution.” I thought this would make it turn out really cheesy but it turned out okay, and I’m even happier with what Kolton has done with them.

First get you to drink from fear’s sweet venom
Then promise the cure from the same cauldron
Keep whispering how you are a victim
And that healing comes from acquisition

Create the problem
Sell the solution
Create the problem
Sell the solution

Broadcast on the TV non-stop bedlam
Mass produce safety dressed up as a gun
Scream that someone is attacking your freedom
Then we’ll recruit you to fight a religion

Create the problem
Sell the solution
Create the problem
Sell the solution

Instill loneliness in you that you can’t fathom
Offer smartphones that promise constant connection
Nurture a culture of narcissism
Invent new forms of self-beautification

Create the problem
Sell the solution
Create the problem
Sell the solution

Making you believe it’s due to the system
A distraction to prevent introspection
Keep you obsessing on the outer symptom
Anything to stop your evolution

Create the problem that this is the problem
Sell the solution that prevents a solution
Create the problem that this is the problem
Sell the solution that prevents a solution

Create the problem that this is the problem
Sell the solution that prevents a solution
Create the problem that this is the problem
Sell the solution that prevents a solution


@sapient  @popmythology  “Karma Whore”

Yup. This is what started it all. This is honestly one of the absolute best metal songs I’ve heard anywhere in recent memory and it’s not just because I was involved with it. If anything, my own words get in the way when I’m listening to Sapient here shedding his mortal exterior and revealing the metal god underneath. The response we’ve gotten on this from the FAWM community has been absolutely phenomenal too.

creationism atheism nihilism tribalism
feudalism anarchism socialism despotism
conservatism liberalism nepotism… schism

blame you label you brand you ban you
hate you fight you break you kill you
i want you i need you i love you i use you

who am i without my enemy
who am i without my war
i need you to feed my identity
i just want to be your karma whore

red states blue states united states a sad state
agitate aggravate denigrate segregate
it’s not our fate to annihilate but maybe it is just too late

you’re so stupid you’re so wrong you are weak for i am strong
i will shame you and defame you there is no right without wrong
we’re god’s people they are sheeple (everybody sing-along!)

who am i without my enemy
who am i without my war
i need you to feed my identity
i want to be your karma whore

if you left i would be lost
for a better world, it’s too great a cost
villain makes hero in this fantasy
don’t you see?
you need me

who am i without my enemy
who am i without my war
i need you to feed my identity
i want to be your karma whore

i said
who am i without my enemy
who am i without my war
without you i cannot truly be
without you… i am no more


@sapient   @popmythology   “Anti-Social Media”

Talk about going out with a bang. With literally just a few hours left in FAWM Sapient messaged me and said, “Hey, wanna give your Internet song a last minute go?” Only, this time I actually felt a bit embarrassed because I thought these were my least impressive lyrics which I’d written super fast in a sort of stream-of-consciousness way without much regard for structure. But Sapient said that he thought a Napalm Death style would be good and when I heard that I wasn’t as embarrassed anymore because if you’ve ever heard/read ND songs, they’re exactly  like this in terms of lyrics, style, song length and everything. Again, I am indebted to Sapient.

paint a filthy picture
of your fellow human
five seconds, all you need to
figure out what i think
don’t read what i wrote
jump to your conclusions
predict who i am
assume what i stand for
put words in my mouth
grasp at little straw men
misread between the lines
addicted to your rage
makes you feel so good
jump at any excuse
to one up someone else


@sapient  @caterwauler  “The Eternal Return”

I wouldn’t call this a 3-way collab by any stretch but I was involved with it—first, in the sense that I specifically requested Sapient and Cat to collaborate with each other and secondly in the sense that they used a snippet of my lyrics from “Ouroboros,” which I thought was a very cool and nice thing for them to do.

i feared the loss of everything but i
must lose everything to gain something, i
must reclaim my own false creation, i
am Saturn taking apart his own son


@candle @popmythology  “Ouroboros”

Though it might not read like it, in some ways this is actually the most personal song I’ve written in my 1.5 weeks of lyric writing (in addition to another song called “The Walk” that didn’t find a collaborator). I imposed an idiosyncratic structure on it (click here if you want to read about my nonsense) so I didn’t think any songwriter would want it. But Darby (@candle) was interested and I knew that among the FAWMers who could give this song the conceptual weight it needed, he was definitely one of them. He even came up with a musical algorithm to match my numerology that is way over my head, but, hey, I can still dig the spacy, mystical sound.

pick the self apart one scale at a time
feed myself each piece to the rhythm of breath
burrow through the ground, seek out every false desire
i’m not swimming against the current, i’m
embracing the freedom hidden in this death
i’m setting this effigy of myself afire

i feared the loss of everything but i
must lose everything to gain something, i
must reclaim my own false creation, i
am Saturn taking apart his own son

to be filled i must empty the vessel
pour out every last delusion held inside
and then shatter the container that once kept it
i will tear down the Tower of Babel
among the loss and ruin i will abide
until what digs itself out is my freed spirit

i feared the loss of everything but i
must lose everything to gain something, i
must reclaim my own false creation, i
am sacrificing myself to the Sun

who i thought i was must be crucified
so as to peer beyond the fictitious veil
to see the face of Self that cannot be undone
and so I coil around and face my end
swallow deep, impale my throat upon my tail
and keep spiraling till death and rebirth are one

i feared the loss of everything but i
must lose everything to gain something, i
must reclaim my own false creation, i
am recircling the path of the Son


@wickedmessenger1  @popmythology  “Talkin the Sick Brain Blues”

Aside from the buzz of hearing your words brought to musical life, another addictive experience is when it feels like a song is writing itself. I had several of those during FAWM and this was one of them. And as opposed to most of the songs here in which I was open to pretty much any  genre interpretation, with this one I had expressly written it as a talking blues song. Again, like “Ouroboros,” this is a deeply personal one but in a more plain-spoken and humorous way.

There’s a benefit to being chronically ill
And it’s better than taking a happy pill
You see, the things that happened yesterday
I will totally forget come today…
…and all that isn’t remembered is well

Well, you might as well call me Forrest Gump
My memory is like a garbage dump
Because a bad event in the past
Whatever it is, it doesn’t last…
…and life is like a box of chocolates

They say I’m easy to get along with
It’s because my brain don’t have much bandwidth
Anything you did to me the other day
I sure as hell can’t remember on this day…
…so I take my friendships one day at a time

See, I’ve got this bacteria in my brain
that makes me feel like I’ve been hit by a train
And when your body hurts as much as this
not thinking too much is such a sweet bliss…
…and you can just be thankful for the air

While everyone lives life like it’s a race
I only focus on what’s in my face
If you do the same you’ll be more content
You’ll have less things that you want to lament…
…and I won’t have to talk these blues anymore (no, siree)

People have so much to worry about
But future worries I can do without
I have enough trouble hanging on now
So I trust that I’ll just make it somehow…
…and that’s how I can live in the moment.

Now I got nothing against making plans
But the results are now outta your hands
So even as you are on this little quest
If you can let go then you are truly blessed…
…and you can just enjoy the experience

So if the road is tough and it feels eternal
Just be more like me and make your intellect dull
Cuz Fools survive while the Kings kill each other
And once they’re gone we all can love one another…
…just one big dumb and happy family

Now, then…where was I…
Oh yes…

(repeat verse 1 and fade)


 

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About The Pop Mythologist

The Pop Mythologist
The Pop Mythologist is the founder and editor of PopMythology.com. He has been a staff writer for the nationally distributed magazine KoreAm , the online journal of pop culture criticism Pop Matters and has written freelance for various other publications and websites.