Crash Test Dummies Blog

Written by Brad Roberts


23 Nov

Rant for the day


Well folks, the Toys record just keeps getting better. Some very accomplished, high-priced players and arrangers have volunteered to play on it for free, just because they think it is extremely unique. Obviously, i’m quite flattered by this. This project seemed an impossible task when i started; and now, 3 years later, it’s all falling into place like a finished crossword puzzle.

My wife’s mom is staying with us for the last few days. I am truly blessed to have the best mother-in-law in the world. She is entirely self sufficient, and has no expectations of being entertained. She leaves the house early and goes to art galleries all over New York. She’s smart, and a good conversationalist. Sounds too good to be true, but it’s true!

I’m still very excited about Obama winning the election. The last thing this country needs is another war-monger. And the rest of the world are actually responding. Obama has put the nation in a much better light on the international stage. It is also truly moving that white people are capable of putting aside any racist tendencies and put a black man in the white house. It gives the world hope that America is not the backwards, gun-toting, fundamentalist Christian place that it has appeared to be ever since Vietnam.

Wow – I talked about politics. I don’t usually go there. I’m sure I’ve probably alienated many of you with the above paragraph, but I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut on this one.

My brother Dan, CTD’s bass player, is having a second child with his wife Sheri. They love being parents. I’m not cut out for parenting – I would make a terrible father – but I’m glad that my Mom is getting some Grandchildren. For my own part, my songs are my babies. And instead of costing me money, they earn me money. To the people who say you just can’t understand what a joy having children is until you have them, my response is simply this – you parents will never understand what a joy it is to be able to live creatively, unbound by the chains of being responsible for a child. And anyone who thinks childbirth is a creative act in the true sense of the word, they are sadly mistaken. Anyone can get knocked up. It requires no mental resources whatsoever.

Well, that’s my rant for the day. Slap me if i get out of control.

Best,

Brad


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18 Nov

Back from Toronto


Howdy dudes and dudettes,

I just got back from Toronto, where I had the pleasure of getting an award for 100,000 spins of ‘Superman’s Song’ on Canadian radio. I was able to visit my good friend and co-writer/guitar player Stuart Cameron. But after that, it was action packed the whole time. Never got the chance to see my brother, his wife or my nephew.

Today I did a spate of 3-minute-songwriting tips, taped for an up and coming Canadian television network called AUX (sp?). My old manager and good friend Jeff Rogers is part of the project, so he slipped me in there, and I was happy to do it. Hopefully they’ll use it. You never know in this business.

It was a whirl-wind trip, all in all: I never got to the point of constipation, weight gain, or chronic fatigue! I know, I know, I can hear you:  too much information! But that’s what I’m all about. Too much information.

I heard a new mix of Ellen singing one of the songs on the ‘Toys’ record we’re making, and it was achingly beautiful. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to finishing this record and hearing the final sequence.

Working with Stewart Lerman has been really great. I am blessed to meet these kind of people. Stewart is a consummate pro with HUGE20ears. Not to mention a very dear man.

It’s funny:  I’ve worked with my good friend Scott Harding on my last several projects. He’s so good and we’re so comfortable that I never considered anyone else. Then when Stewart Lerman came along, I suddenly had a second person with whom I could work my craft. What luck, l thought.

Then, by pure co-incidence, I saw a guy I know from Winnipeg walking down the streets of New York in my neighborhood. He’s a musician, has a studio, and I’ve been working at his place as well! He too is a fantastic person, wildly enthusiastic, optimistic, and up for anything. So now out of the blue I have three people in my life that i can work with.

Having these three people in my life as of late has been a huge thing for me, particularly because I chose not to learn any music programs, and so I need other people just to get my ideas down. Learning music programs was for me too time consuming; I wanted to use my time to write. Oddly, it has served me well, I think; I don’t like the idea of making a record at home with my gear, alone. Two heads are better than one – if they’re good heads at all – and the whole thing is just more fun to do with another human.

Anyhow, that’s all for now.

Kirk out.


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17 Nov

Heading to Toronto


Howdy guys and gals,

I’m going to Toronto tomorrow to get a SOCAN award. I told you about this. I’m also going to shoot some footage on songwriting which may or may not appear on an up and coming Canadian television network. I’ve never taught songwriting to a camera before, but i figure I’ll get used to it.

Hoping to see my nephew, too. I don’t have kids – don’t dislike ‘em, just don’t want ‘em –  so I live vicariously through other people’s kids.

Tune in when I get back for more nonsense. I’ll try and have another poem by then.

Brad


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15 Nov

Late Night Entry


It’s 3am and I’m wide awake. Still ill. I’ve been looking at David Byrne’s journal. The guy writes beautiful, well thought out discourse, unlike my drivel. I urge you to check it out.

While I’m endorsing people and products, you all have to buy a recent release of Paul Anka called ‘Rock Swings’. He reinterprets everything from ‘The Eye of the Tiger” to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It does not sound merely novel, as one might expect. The arrangements are killing. Killing! They have more rock than the rockers and more swing that the swingers and his voice! He’s an old guy now, and his voice is smooth as velvet.

I found a version of the bible that lays it all out in prose or verse, as the case may be, and there aren’t any of the usual numbers, so it feels more like one is reading a narrative rather than something to be memorized.

My fave NEW New York band is called ‘Not Waving But Drowning’. Check out their website and buy their records! They are really a unique combination of people with very different strengths, which adds up to a great chemistry. If you can see them live, all the better.

For you American readers, download ‘The Trailer Park Boys’ TV episodes, or the movie for that matter. Just trust me on this one.

I wrote a lyric I’m not nuts about. I think I’ll transform it entirely for the record. But not now. South Park is on. The only reliable political commentary on television today.

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE IT

There’s nothing like a heart of stone
To help one through one’s misery
To be a rock, wherever thrown
And face life’s sometimes ugly mystery

There’s nothing like the loneliness
When suddenly, love is snatched away
However mighty be your throne,
Your Queen is dead, and dead she’ll ever stay

There’s nothing like the vast unknown
When death looks on, and time’s run out
To close one’s eyes and be alone
Troubled not by fear nor faith nor doubt


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14 Nov

The Flu


Hey folks,

I spent the day with the flu. Couldn’t stay awake. Fever, chills, sweat, you name it.

Here’s another villanelle. First time I ever wrote about writing music. The form is formidable, as usual. Had to get out the old rhymezone.com. Its a great dictionary, particularly for rhymes. Sometimes I get a line out of the word, as when I typed in ‘boot’ and found ‘champagne flute’ and ‘three piece suit’. That led to a song immediately.

All for now.

HE HEARD A MELODY THAT GENTLY BLENDED

He heard a melody that gently blended
The interval was first a minor third
But then his finger slipped, unintended.

Now, he played it back and comprehended
The note he hadn’t chosen, how it stirred,
He heard a melody that gently blended

A sixth held gently, then descended
Passing by a flatted fifth, undeterred
Again his finger slipped, unintended

And there he stared, like a chord suspended:
He stopped playing, and did not say a word.
He heard a melody that gently blended.

He wondered if he’d hear how it ended.
It was as though a shift had just occurred;
He’d heard a melody that gently blended
But then his finger slipped, unintended.


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12 Nov

Studio Day


Hey folks,

I spent the day in the studio with Ellen Reid, putting the back ups on the final tune. I even talked her into singing lead on one song. She did a beautiful job.

I’m predicting fans will either love or hate this one. I’m loving it. i have about 20 songs now, and must pick the best ten.

I’m going to Toronto to receive an award for Superman’s Song having been played over 100,000 times on Canadian radio. I don’t care much for awards. Usually it just means that you are the flavor of the month and are making big money for record companies. But this award stands for 18 years of continual airplay on the FIRST SONG I EVER WROTE.

Pretty crazy, huh?

A close friend of mine was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Any words of wisdom out there from others who know about this? I’d like to help, but don’t know how. Very frustrating.

Here’s another new poem for you:  blab with you soon.

Smell you later,
Brad

CHUTE

Jumping from the plane
and falling into the sky -
the howling wind,
the intoxication of acceleration
as the full force of gravity
comes hammering down.

Then, ripping the rip cord,
the shoot blooms,
jerking upwards at first
and settling into a slow drift.

Our parachutist gazes
on the enormity below:
the geometry of farmland,
the patches of lakes,
the snakes of roads.

Then, closing in on ground,
he returns to the scale
of the everyday,
the flat, familiar world
which had been,
for five minutes,
a great expanse,
a vastness, abundant,
uncharted, and
pregnant with possibility.


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11 Nov

Toy’s Record


Hello people. I haven’t been much involved with the site lately, so I figured I may as well do my bit and let you know how things are going.

You all know about my fondness for scotch whiskey. However I have stopped drinking entirely and feel like a new man. I was really over-doing the boozing and my health started to fall apart. Don’t worry, though – I’m not one of those people who quit drinking and stop hanging out with his friends who drink moderately. I still go to bars, and I have a club soda instead of a beer. No big deal.

When I stopped drinking I knew I had to get in shape, so I got a yoga teacher and committed to developing a steady practice. I’ve been doing it for over 2 years now, and I am healthy as a freakin’ horse. Lost a ton of weight, and literally changed my body and my entire being. I actually get high from doing it.

More recently I started kickboxing with a world-class kick boxer. I do it because it’s a really fun work out. I can’t jog or lift weights simply because it bores me. But kicking the crap out of my teacher (they wear pads) is very satisfying. I’d love to compete but I don’t I’d be ready to get in the ring for another 5 years, at which time I’ll be 50, which is kind of old to be starting.

I am finally near the completion of my new record, ‘toys’. ellen sings on it, but the rest of CTD’s have families and can’t just fly off to new york like she can, so we are the only two dummies on the record. I can say with confidence that this is going to be a killer record.

I’ve been writing poetry and actually taking the time to send it to magazines. No luck yet. But it doesn’t matter. I’ll keep writing them and they can keep rejecting them.

One of the poems I wrote is a villanelle, which is a very formal structure. Google villanelle if you want to know the structure. It’s one of the more tough forms, because the rules are very strict.

I’ll sign off now – here’s the poem. Hope you all are well and good.

Kirk out.

AND AS HE PACKED

And as he packed, he did not say a word,
Nor did she move, frozen in tableau:
She watched, her head cocked, like a tuneless bird:

Her pigeon chest, her racing heart, unheard;
She tried to speak, but what? She did not know.
And as he packed, he did not say a word.

He glanced at her, then went on, undeterred,
While on her face no feeling could she show;
She watched, her head cocked, like a tuneless bird.

My verse old-fashioned, better left unheard?
My theme, a thing grown tiresome and slow?
And as he packed, he did not say a word.

The years have passed, since all if this occurred.
Remembering now, it seems not long ago,
That as he packed, he did not say a word.
She watched, her head cocked, like a tuneless bird.


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