you don't know me
Release Date: 9/04
Album: YOU DON'T KNOW ME
Writer: ADAM MARSLAND
I got it now I know when I'm blown off
the arch of your brow,
your dismissive scoff
but you don't know me.
You lose your mind for dogs and ponies,
toeing the line for posers and phonies.
You dropped your pants and told me to pucker,
but I ain't your sucker, you smug motherfucker!
Take back your straight jacket,
take back your skinny tie,
take back the Knack,
'cause baby, I'm not that guy,
I'll tell you why:
'cause you don't know me.
Derision is cool.
I'll be captain of my own team
- the foot is on the other
YOU DON'T KNOW ME followed the LUDLOW 6:18 album and even though they're thought of in the same breath by some of the people that are into my music, they couldn't have been more different in terms of how they came about. LUDLOW was meticulously written and rehearsed over the course of a year. YOU DON'T KNOW ME was basically written between tours and during commercial breaks of TV shows during a rare couch potato period and was recorded very quickly after just a few rehearsals with a brand new band. LUDLOW was all about economy; YOU DON'T KNOW ME was about sprawl -- extended fades, elaborate arrangements and exotic instruments. I just wanted to see what would happen if I stopped thinking about things so much and just cut something on instinct.
Surprisingly, people don't seem to think there was much drop off in quality and in fact, many people think it's a superior record to LUDLOW. There's no question the performances and production are better -- after two years on the road my singing voice and playing abilities had improved markedly, and the vocal tracks that used to take all day now went down in just a few takes.
Thematically, the albums are very dissimilar too -- LUDLOW was about loss. YOU DON'T KNOW ME, to the extent it's about anything, is about feeling that nobody understands you at all, they never will, and so the hell with everything.
The title track sums that feeling up pretty well. A big middle finger to musical elitists everywhere (think certain rock writers and L.A. indie radio DJs) -- or more fairly just the ones who I personally felt dissed by -- it expresses my feeling, rightly or wrongly, that when I was involved with something musically cool, I rarely got credit for it, but when a critic or music pundit could lump me in with something they perceived as stupid or lame (e.g. skinny tie power pop), they would, even if it was something I was barely involved with. And how it was all superficial anyway, since that was people who didn't know me evaluating things based on their own cynicism, rather than considering that I just do my own thing because it's what I do, it's unique to me and that's enough reason to do it. But if you're a cynic, that's too simple and too idealistic. Therefore, it must be that I'm too stupid to know that nobody's listening to me and nobody cares. As if I could spend two years on the road and not know that! I've gotten good feedback from some music critics over the years, and found many things to improve, but I learned a lot more by facing down 200 cowboys in a bar in Mesilla, New Mexico.
The song also expresses my own cynicism -- and frustration -- that much of what seems to get celebrated in the media just doesn't have that much going on under the veneer of coolness. Nobody in 1968 would have ever thought that Iron Butterfly 30 years later would be considered less artistically significant than the Monkees. But wipe away the cultural prejudices of the time, you have a monochromatic group of bombastic egomaniacs vs. four creatively active and nimble musician/singers with a varied repertoire and a high percentage of quality songs.
Not to say I'm as good as the Monkees, mind you.
Having run down my own pet peeves, I don't like to write personal songs that don't also have some sort of resonance for the listener and my justification for putting this song out in the world is that, even though to some extent it's me just letting off steam, I think everybody at some point feels dissed and unfairly treated by people that basically misread them. I actually saw someone had recently named this as one of the Top Five Angry Rock Songs of all time in a blog. I thought that was pretty cool...and apparently the track did succeed in expressing someone else's feelings as well as my own.
On the positive side, a fun thing about doing YOU DON'T KNOW ME is I finally got the opportunity to bring all my friends in and direct them a little bit and everybody, despite being very busy, made time to come in and help. Darian and Probyn took a whole day out and showed up in the studio basically saying, "what would you like us to do?" I gave Darian the lead vocal on the second half of this song, and it's great to hear him do something with this much edge and bite to it. Wondermints are basically a mellow band but Darian, when he puts his mind to it, is a superb rock 'n' roll singer. Also appearing vocally on this clusterfuck of a track are Stew and Heidi of The Negro Problem and Evie Sands.
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