Jabberwock - Southland


SOUTHLAND Greetings from the city of the devil Greetings from the place where you belong Greetings from the city of fine amusement Greetings from the city that is gone, gone, gone I made my way past the lemonade stand I floated down in my luxury cocoon A symbol of Jesus was bent in the earthquake Now there’s a crooked cross looming over you I’m only skimming the surface of the river I hardly make a ripple in the pond Is there any excuse for the shelter I have built myself Keep tunneling, tunneling on Greetings from the city of the devil Greetings from the place where you belong Greetings from the city of fine amusement Greetings from the city that is gone, gone, gone c 1994 by Wishnefsky, Dave Rodgers, and Todd Jameson Wishnefsky – vocals, bass, feedback guitar, samples COMMENTS I wrote and recorded the original piano part for Southland on an insanely hot night in our Van Nuys studio – before we had proper air conditioning. We’re talking corona of the sun hot. I seriously thought I was going to faint. I was by myself and it occurred to me that if I passed out, no one would find me until the next morning, at which time I would be thoroughly micro-waved and ready to be served for breakfast. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was on a songwriting roll and my solemn duty to the muses trumped any desires for personal comfort. It was so scorching hot that the only way I could sing was to imitate Tom Waits’ drunken gravel pit baritone. That is not the vocal you hear on Southland today. It did provide ample entertainment for my bandmates after I eventually mustered the courage to play it for them. The lyrics describe the experience of driving down the street where I lived at the time. It was a nice street in a pleasant neighborhood in Pasadena. Or, so it seemed on the surface. The Devil often dresses in angel’s attire. I did drive past a lemonade stand. (Come to think of it, that may have influenced the prominent role lemonade plays in my recently completed science fiction/fantasy novel, Reed the Replacement. But that’s another story for another day.) There was a church at the end of the street that was damaged in the earthquake and there truly was a crooked cross looming over the passersby. No kidding. That image was far too irresistible to leave out of a song. The voice you hear at the beginning of the song is from a recording I made in Tanzania of a most fascinating Norwegian gentleman named Bjorn. He owed the tour company taking my parents and me around the East African wilderness. He was talking on a walkie talkie and it sounded so cool in a Pink Floyd sort of way that I had to whip out my little recorder and capture the moment. As a matter of fact, we did have a third night at the crater: the Ngorogoro Crater, that is. Apparently, they don’t let visitors in the Crater anymore for environmental reasons. It’s an other-worldly place and about as far from Los Angeles as one can get. We only played this song live once and that was during the one-off performance of Southland in its entirety. When I say that “we” played the song, I really mean the royal “we.” I performed it all by my lonesome and it was certainly a lonely experience because the piano sample was simply nightmarish to play. For any antiquated keyboard buffs out there, I was using a Roland D-50 keyboard to trigger a Roland S-330 sample. In other words, it played absolutely nothing like a piano. I pulled it off somehow, but vowed never again to subject myself to such miserable keyboard torture. If I ever perform live with Veneer, which is piano based, maybe I should give Southland another chance. I do love the song. Wishnefsky

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