A friend from Eastern Washington (who goes by the nickname “Puck”) recently sent me a touching post, thanking me for a certain song that lifted his spirits, and sharing one of his own, thusly inspired.
Whenever I perform at Hogan’s Pub in Clarkston, (usually w/ Scott Cargill & 7 Devils) Puck requests my 12-year old break-up song “Better Off Without You.” I wrote it a dozen years ago — a paradox of anger & levity — and it got me through a difficult time. (It was cheekily deemed “the greatest break-up song ever” by a Eugene Weekly writer.) Here is a version from my former “Alternative Rock” incarnation (from Pollyanna Loves Cassandra):
The song seems to have helped my friend see the hard times through. That is the best news a songwriter can get. And, even better, Puck paid it forward by writing a similarly-themed tune “Better Off.” He graciously allows me to repost his video here:
As much as we performing/recording artists strive to get good reviews from the press, nothing gratifies like finding out that a fellow human being has been emotionally affected by the work we do. And even better, that someone would be inspired to put their own creativity to work and keep the collective torch burning.
Artists work for real human beings, not just Entertainment Biz entities.
Thank you, Puck. Keep up the good work. See you in April to celebrate happier times.
Here is the live acoustic version from the 2001 A Stealthy Portion, featuring Elisabeth Babcock on cello. (It was selected for Michelle Malone’s compilation of independent artists):
So, I did a Soundcloud search for myself, to see how my cloud was coming up. It didn’t. Jess Elaine Edwards’ cloud came up. That’s odd, I thought. Who is Jess Elaine Edwards?
Upon closer look, I see my song–a lullaby called “When I Am King.”
Ah yes, I remember. From the Plug-Pulled Pollyanna Sessions (circa 2000). It was the first aborted attempt to record Pollyanna Loves Cassandra at Supernatural Sound in Oregon City. It was going to be my most ambitious project to date, recorded in one of the best studios I’d ever seen in my life. Alas, we were too raw as a lineup. After laying down basic tracks for nearly half the album, producer Mike Davis said, “I don’t get the feeling we’re making a good album here.”
So we pulled the plug. And we hit road to sharpen up (revisting the gargantuan project in 2002). We did, however, get a nice demo of this particular song, with the help of Isaac Szymanczyk on keys, and a budding teenage diva named Jessica Lageson.
“When I am King” is favorite amongst Shipe fans. But I rarely perform it. When I double-bill with a fine female singer, I try to rope her into doing a duet with me: Shannon Curtis or Jessica Plotkin (who plays viola on the official recorded version).
As lovely as this song can be, I don’t feel that I’ve gotten it right yet. The official recorded version, on Cassandra, features Stephanie Schneiderman. You can listen here and compare the two versions.
I’d love to hear this song given a complete makeover by some hitmaking machine–pop, country, or R & B.