Ezra Furman is a guy you want to know all about. That's why when the Internet was recently invented (ca. 2008?) Ezra snapped into action and began his two-year preparation of his blog. On this blog he will include every single thought that crosses his mind, all the songs he likes, all the bands he likes, all the songs he makes up, and everything he writes including poems prose and grunts.
Basically it's just about music and poems. Probably just music actually.
First song I ever released on an album. First song I ever played in a practice space with a band (the Harpoons). For the nth time: this song has nothing to do with my mom. It was written on this auspicious day of mothers, in high school, nine years ago I think. Call your mom.
Rock’n’roll is a kind of music invented by black people in Chicago in the mid-20th century. It is probably my favorite kind of music. It is definitely the kind of music I most enjoy playing. Listening to it, playing it, thinking about it and planning my life around it have occupied a huge percentage of my time, particularly over the past eight years. I think at its best it combines nervousness, anger and joy into one indescribable feeling that is not fully mental and not full physical. You could also call it the combination of joy and frustration.
I read that Pete Townshend started smashing his guitar out of pure frustration that he couldn’t make it sound the way he wanted it to—it was loud but not loud enough, it was alive but not alive enough. He started to shake it wildly, as though trying to shake a bigger sound out of it, and he crashed it into the low ceiling of a club where he was performing with The Who, damaging the guitar. At that point he got so frustrated he purposely destroyed the instrument, in a surprising blaze of rage and glory. That act, as I understand it, is the essential feeling behind rock’n’roll.
Anyone who tells you “rock’n’roll is dead” is not working hard enough to find it. It is living underground. I have tried very much to get down there and join that community of people who play it. But it’s not so simple. It’s hard to tell when it will show its face. Some people who say that they play rock’n’roll do not actually play it. Some people find themselves playing it almost by accident. Sometimes you are listening to something that is not rock’n’roll and then all of a sudden, POW! It happens.
This was at Northwestern U.’s radio station, mere blocks from my parents’ house. My hair was upsettingly long. I’ve got a face for radio.
It’s got a different verse (“The scene by the graves…”) from the usual version that I play, but listening to it now I think that may have been an improvement. I scrapped the verse because it wasn’t clear that I was talking about Hamlet, or what the fuck I was talking about. Such are the songwriter’s constant concerns. Anyway, hope this satisfies. I’m sure there are other versions around, I just don’t have immediate access to one. They’re not on the Internet but I definitely recorded the song and gave it to some fans as part of the Kickstarter thing I did. BLAH BLAH BLAH
Anonymous asked: i found this video of you on youtube singing "Wild Feeling" (tumblr wont let me post the link, what? lame). the caption says you had written it about 3 hours earlier, and I was struck by how similar that version is to the final version on the album. I can see from a lot of the music your posting here that you rework songs quite often, so I was wondering how often you just let a song be, or rather, how do you know when a song is complete?
It was more like 24 hours earlier, but yes, that song was very fresh that day. I don’t know how to explain how I know when a song is complete. It’s done when I don’t hate it. Which is saying a lot for me. I hate all the songs I posted, pretty much. Don’t get me wrong, I also like them in some ways. But I hate them all, which is why I didn’t put them on records. Songwriting for me is a process of continual humiliation, of listening to what I’ve got so far and feeling great shame and disgust. But then I get to a point where I say, hey, that’s actually not so bad. And that’s when it’s almost done.
The ones I rework repeatedly are like bad boyfriends or girlfriends. You kind of hate them, but you’re crazy about them. You want to make it work. You’ll try anything. But sometimes it’s just not meant to be.
I’m not as promiscuous as I used to be, songwriting-wise. But it is one way to meet that special someone. If you get my meaning.
“Jealous Angels.” The first song I ever wrote on piano, I think, but I had to rush back to the dorm room to transpose it to guitar and record it before I forgot the tune. That’s always a danger. I hope you like this song.
“Hopeless.”Here’s one from early 2006, right around the time we first formed the band. Thought I’d take a shot at a country song. The tape ran out before I sang the last verse, which probably was an unnecessary verse anyhow.
“Everybody’s Waiting For Something.”I must have rewritten this song ten times. First I thought it would be like a Bessie Smith sort of song, then I thought it would be more like a Smiths B-side, then I thought I’d do it more like Johnny Cash. This was the song’s Johnny Cash phase. I’m sure I rewrote it more after this version. It never really came together but there’s some good elements.
This is a weird process, posting these songs. It’s both embarrassing and vindicating— there’s at least a moment or two in all of these songs that I always longed for someone to get to hear. But these moments are buried in not-that-great songs and super-bad recordings/performances. Not the good kind of super-bad either.
Oh well, I can always delete ‘em if I start to get really embarrassed. I know I’d probably enjoy if a songwriter I liked did this, so let’s forge onward.
Me and Job Mukkada (that’s the Harpoons’ bass player) tried for a while to get a Lennon-McCartney style songwriting partnership going— he’d bring me a verse or two and ask me to write a chorus and another verse. We figured Furman-Mukkada sounded close enough to Lennon-McCartney that it had to work. Only a couple of those songs ever saw the light of day (“Doomed Love Affair” and “Portrait of Maud”) but we did it a good number of times. It helped that he lived down the hall from me senior year of college— we could avoid doing homework by trading unfinished shreds of songs.
The first two verses are classic Job pop sensibilities, and then I bring in some stomach pain for the chorus. Kind of a cute little number.