Jim Shelley & Book Of Kills

Giant Asteroids & Unfinished Songs

About 5 PM today Eastern Time, an asteroid about twice as big as the average American home will pass between our moon and Earth. Gives one pause, eh? We waste so much time thinking we have all the time in the world, when the fact is, all the days we think lie ahead of us might be obliterated in a heartbeat. 

I haven't had much time at all since last Friday to work on recording for one reason or another. However, today it looks as though I'll have all day for the first time in a long time. I have to do some book selling things that I've fallen behind on but I'm quite sure I'll get the eighth song (finally) done. I'm embarrassed to realize that I started on this song TEN days ago. It isn't nearly good enough to merit having spent this much time on, but what are you going to do? Back in the '90s, I sometimes wrote and recorded two or three songs in one day! I have only the vaguest idea as to what the next song will be like...most probably a semi-acoustic number. One thing that has struck me about the eight songs I have written is how (generally) slow most of them are. And the next one promises to fall into the same mold. Well, I guess you write what comes out of your head.

Some interesting quotations about songwriting from Black Francis (taken from a semi-legendary interview in Spin magazine back in 2004):

'I never write in a notebook. I don't have a diary in my back pocket. I don't scribble music on cocktail napkins. I sit down to write a song and I write it. "Caribou" is about reincarnation. "Ed Is Dead" is about a brain-damaged girl I knew.'

'You can trace certain songs to people in your life, but, um, it's a lot more complex than that. If we're talking about the first three Pixies records, they're not really very relationship oriented, shall we say. But a song like "Where Is My Mind?" — my girlfriend heard me working on that, and she poked her head in and said, "Finish that one. That's a good one.'

'"Gouge Away" is about Samson and Delilah. "Dead" is about David and Bathsheba. There were some Biblical things I had gotten into. You can't go wrong with the Old Testament.'

'I did have some UFO experiences when I was younger, and I decided to tap into that and explore. I thought it might be fun. I don't know if I wrote my best songs while doing it, but whatever. Again, it's like you start to get rid of the jabberwocky "I'm going to sing the first words that come into my head" approach. In a way, that kind of thing is good, but in a way that can become kind of hack. You sit down and you want to write a song about something. It's hard to keep that abstract surrealist thing going. Or I just wasn't talented enough to keep it going.'