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Album title back stories


Most albums are, of course, titled either after a song on the album or based upon the name of the artist / band. However, sometimes albums are named based on something else; some bit of back story about the album. Simple examples would be Abbey Road and the multitude of albums titled Live!.

However, occasionally there is a somewhat more involved story behind the name of an album. I think that I now have a new favorite album title (*just* the title, completely apart from the content, since I haven’t heard the album in question).

A few nights ago I went to The Ark (think in terms of the high end of the coffee house circuit) to see a group that I hadn’t heard of before seeing the preview article in the previous day’s newspaper: the bluehouse (lack of capitalization purposeful). They’re an Australian all female trio, singing three part harmonies and playing two acoustic guitars and an electric bass guitar. Their on stage demeanor makes one think that they might really be frustrated comics (although, like a lot of folk groups, a lot of their songs tend toward the somewhat depressing if you really listen to the lyrics).

So you have to imagine this story being told in a style reminiscent of three friends telling you about their crazy road trip the previous weekend, constantly interrupting each other to add details. I will doubtless miss a bunch of details, and not catch anything like all of the humor. And I won’t even try to list which of the three told which pieces of the story (with one obvious exception at the beginning). But here it goes:

When we were going to record our second CD we built the recording studio in Bernadette’s garage.
The garage of the rental property where I was living. And we didn’t tell them we were building a studio there. But it doesn’t matter now, because the place has been condemned.
We did all of the work ourselves, with some help from a few of our friends. When we finished putting up the first layer of soundproof cladding we could still the Jack Russell terrier barking outside, so we put another layer on. And we kept putting up soundproofing and the room kept getting smaller. But we were in there all on our own learning how to do all of the building, use all of power tools. We learned how to hang ceilings and everything. When we were done, it was really soundproof and we were really proud of all of the work that we had done on it.

So we were telling Jacqui’s Dad about it, and he said:
“So what did you do for ventilation?”

(Here you have to imagine the faces the three of them made to re-enact their reaction to that question. :D )

So then he said “because in a room that size you have about six minutes of breathable air.”

And it turned out that he was right. If we spent more than six minutes in there we would start to get the giggles. It’s like when cavers get really deep, if there isn’t enough oxygen in the air they start to get the giggles. If somebody just starts to say anything it makes everybody start cracking up. (There was some audience interaction here where they were asking if anybody had experience caving; but since it’s an area where you get below the water table long before you would have to worry about the oxygen content of the air, they didn’t get much help.) And, of course, if there are more of us in there then you can start dividing that.

So there is no song on that album longer than 4 minutes and 35 seconds ….. For a reason. And if you listen to the CD you can hear where we’re starting to get the giggles during songs and barely stifling it. We weren’t getting enough oxygen to our brains.

So, of course they titled the album:

“Six Minutes of Breathable Air”

Anybody ever pick up any similarly interesting / entertaining back stories like that?
That one's pretty hard to top, and I'm not going to try. The Austin Lounge Lizards, who also play at the Ark, have a couple of my favorite album titles, Creatures From The Black Saloon, and Highway Cafe of the Damned. They probably have a back story based on touring experiences, but I don't know them. I wouldn't be suprised if there were lots of back stories on folkies' album titles, since folk songs are often stories, and most modern folk musicians write their own songs/stories. That's probably less common in rock.
Nice :)

Charles Mingus has a tune called Gunslinging Bird, which expresses a fantasy for Charlie Parker to come back to life and shoot all the sax players that were copying him. :eek:
It doesn't suit the CD we are about to record, but I am hoping my band and I get to call one of our albums "What time is the Midnight buffet?", dedicated to the elderly couple who my wife overheard asking that very question of a hotel receptionist a few years ago.

That's cute. People do say the darndest things.

To be fair to the elderly couple, though, I have seen signs that said things like:

"Midnight Bowling: 11:00 PM - 2:00 AM"

The story from the bluehouse that I recounted above does raise one question, though:

Especially since it was a rental property and therefore unlikely to be used more than once....
Even completely discounting any value for your own time doing the work, can building your studio really be more cost effective than just renting time in one?

I guess you save a lot of money by skipping things like ventilation ...... and I'm guessing any permit or license fees and inspections etc. :D

As an aside:
the bluehouse does very few covers. I think there were 3 in their entire 2 set show, including one that was really just platform on top of which they could do a comedy routine (that being the torch song "Fever"). However, their version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" was truly amazing.

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