Misery Harp

A little housecleaning: sometimes when a piece of music seems to be tending in a vaguely pop direction I’ll mock up a demo in GarageBand. That’s the story with this ditty, which has been sitting on the hard drive for a couple of years now. It was originally one of a projected cycle of songs, but I realized this week that I had absolutely no recollection of what the rest of the songs were even going to be about. So now it’s just an unusually well-groomed orphan.

“Timber” (MP3, 3.7 Mb)

Three things I remember liking about this song:

  1. The crazy bass line under the chorus.
  2. The quote at the end.
  3. The fact that, if you put enough audio compression on high Beach-Boys-style falsetto, it sounds like the Chipmunks.

Yes, that is me singing. Sorry.


  1. Matthew, I really like this – the world can use more of this kind of pop music. Or at least I can. Around the time you and I met, I had XTC’s “Skylarking” on repeat on my stereo. And the melodic line and lyrics of this song combined with your voice is not dissimilar to that album. Now, the *piano* is not very XTC-like.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, but I think someone else would have to come up with more pop music like this. i only get an idea in this direction about once every six months. When you’re less productive than Steely Dan….

  3. The compliment of the day: While listening to your track, my wife came running into the room all excited, thinking I was listening to some new Ben Folds that had been posted on the internet (she’s a huge fan). Not sure if you like the comparason, but she loves the song.

  4. OK, I’ll ask – did “Die Mainacht” slip in first as a textual reference or did something in the music take you there first? (I’d like to frame that question in analogous/homologous terms, but I’m afraid I’d get something backwards.)

  5. Russ: I’m a big Ben Folds fan. (Strangely enough, so is my mom, which is not something one would predict.)Michael: If I remember correctly, I was just bound and determined to work it into <>something<> any way I could—I was a little obsessed with Brahms lieder that year.

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