I'm just finishing up with recording for my record of Michael Jackson interpretations. Mastering is in mid-November, which means it could be out as soon as Christmas. Meantime I have to set up licenses and manufacturing, decide on a graphic designer, and all the rest of that niggling jazz that you often wish someone else would do (see next paragraph). I plan to offer the album in two formats: compact disc, via this website's store, and MP3 files, via itunes. So those of you who like some cute pictures and slightly better sound, and don't mind waiting for the USPS to do its thing, will be able to gratify yourselves, and the rest of you can download like normal people. Based on my last experience with tunecore and itunes, I think the CD will beat the MP3s to the street by two months. The content should be identical across the two formats.
I must admit that the indifference of record labels to this project surprised and disappointed me. Beyond the musical excitement and challenge communicated by my etchings, about the translation of which to other ears I've learned to expect nothing, the commercial plausibility of the record struck me as plain. But what do I know about commerce? I mean, other than chairing the Interstate Commerce Commission for six years, as shallow and figurehead-like as that job no doubt is. Anyway, labels seem to be going the way of the dodo. They certainly have plenty of things to be immediately alarmed about, and for that reason along with the traditional reason that media companies big and small have no earthly clue what people prospectively want to watch or hear, I don't think it would be smart to be deterred by their indifference, do you?
So the period of my life (2000-2009) during which I get to arrange and track and mix great songs like "Billie Jean" and "The Man in the Mirror" to suit my own voice and aesthetic interests comes to an end, which makes me sincerely sorry. Nine years, six studios, 21 tracks (don't worry, I won't foist all of that on you); and amid it all the tributee made a comeback record that fizzled, was jailed, fled the US, became ever more a figure of pathos and contempt and fun and disgust, began to stage another comeback, died. The aughts were happier times out where I live. I got more animal enjoyment out of making this record than any of my others, possibly excepting South Mouth. I enjoyed working on music I didn't have to write first -- that's easier. It's enjoyable being the agent of enjoyment in others, and audiences clearly prefer the familiar to the un-. And I personally get enjoyment, although of a lesser, thumb-to-chin variety, from striking a contrary stance, being a handmaiden for unpopular but sound ideas. The idea here is that the compositional credit on a song has a weak relation to its performance's originality, authenticity, and personal investment. In the post-Beatles and -Dylan era of pop vocal music, we exalt the auteur, and tend to accept too easily that there exists some symbiosis of writerly impulse and vocal character that cements a performance's integrity and enhances its value. The era of the auteur has of course given us music that differs markedly from the output of the golden-songbook era of Frank and Ella &c., but strangely, it hasn't given us music that is more original. The performer is the author too, and the much louder one.
If you don't think the music written by and for Michael Jackson over his forty-year career bears comparison with the golden-songbook era, I have two words for you and they are "Mama's Pearl." If you think I am an idiot to invite comparisons of my vocal chops with Michael's, then you are...probably right. But by all means buy my record before boxing either one of us in!