The CDs of
CDs of recovery music dealing with alcoholism, drinking problems, alcoholic recovery stories, and the personal recovery from alcoholism.
Behind The Songs
1. "Ready To Surrender": Hitting step zero -- "This stuff has gotta' stop." Asking for help and willing to go to any lengths.
2. "Outside Issue": Dang, all these people want to keep me on track. "It's not them"? That's no fun.
3. "Newcomers In Love": Bored? Apply the principles to a program romance.
4. "Yeah-But Habit": Take a suggestion, then do the opposite.
5. "High & Dry": Why drink when you've got drugs?
6. "Didja' Miss Me?" Going back out and coming back in. It's a lot easier to just stick around.
7. "Awakening": Yes, life does get better and better when you give it up.
8. "Middle Of The Herd": I am not unique, and I am not alone.
9. "How To Have A Good Time": Looking back at the life of the party and the death of the party-- a little bit of fourth-steppin'.
10. "Your Ego Is Not Your Amigo": More inventory, Spanish-style.
11. "Sick People Getting Well": Personalities before principles--judging the group and finding it sadly wanting.
12. "I'm Bad & I'm Mad": The Rage Stage is powerful, but the last house on the block is still the only game in town.
13. "I Am My Own God" Self-will run riot all over spiritual fitness.
14. "Drinkin' Alone": A little perspective, anyone?
15. "I'm Gonna' Live": Life definitely beats the alternative-might as well go for it.
16. "My Own Way": Running the show myself I direct myself to a dead end.
17. "By The Book": Solutions are such simple things.
18. "Closed Meeting": The only requirement for membership is a desire to quit drinking and the approval of ex-drunks with Old-timer's disease.
19. "Winos, Whiners & Winners": Who they are is who I am, and we are all together.
20. "The Good Life": Time takes time-and it pays off big-time.
21. "One Thing Right": Pain is mandatory; suffering is optional. Don't drink, and the rest is conversation.
22. "Amazing Grace": Campfire harmonica and bluegrass gospel.
23. "Hillbilly Higher Power": Holy Hee-Haw! Heaven is a picker's paradise.
24. "Promises": It really works. It works for us, and it will work for you too.
"People With No Last Names"
"I Think I'll Quit Drinkin' Today" was all about The Guy. "People With No Last Names" is all about The People who are there waiting when The Guy decides to get sober.
Each song represents a different character. These characters form a whole picture of G.O.D. – the Group Of Drunks.
The Chinese have a saying: "First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man." This realization is the essence of drinking. This rationale is familiar and common to alcoholics. The production features Tim's banjo tearin' it up on a bluegrass breakdown.
The title tune comes next, putting a new old spin on anonymity and revealing a mind-boggling cast of characters: Railroad Dick, Railroad Dan, 3-Finger Dave, Smilin' Sam, Fully-Clothed Mary, Bike Mike, Father Mike, Hot Dog Mike, and, for the tune's finale "Oscar, Bev, Phil, Patricia, Becky and James - people with no last names!" This one's a funky country-blues pseudo-cajun romp.
"There's A Heart Here" is passionate with a light touch musically, the narrator welcoming all aspirants into a new way of life with "warmth and wisdom, faith and trust". The lyrics are based on the promise that "we will love you until you can love yourself".
Then WHAP! - a rocker called "Y.E.T. (You're Eligible Too)" wherein our high-bottom hero plays the "I'm-not-as-bad-as" game with every denial line followed by a chorus of hollered-out "YET!" This track features the Psycho-Babbettes, a dozen recovering alcoholics who clustered 'round a microphone to lend transcendent magic to the cut.
"...our insides matched our outsides." Someday maybe, but not for "Mr. Humble", who talks the talk while living superman fantasies in his imagination. The song switches back and forth from subdued and sparse to outlandish, flamboyant and tasteless with no segue or warning.
Next is "Lifeline", the real deal, the gift and awareness of the gift. We're on the road and making the most of the journey. There's a tinge of reggae to the tune, spurred on by a sweet harmonica-slide guitar riff.
And then we meet the "Old Timer". He doesn't drink, he almost never goes to meetings, and he knows what it's really all about. Semi-'50's doo-wop.
"Mabel The Enabler" appears in a flash of rockabilly-surf (is this style a Messengers invention?), the character vowing undying love to his co-dependent sweetie and threatening to "make her my wife and stay drunk for the rest of my life!
"Relationship Meeting" is a swashbuckling waltz whose narrator begs for New Age group therapy, spouts psycho-babble buzzwords, and promises to "stew in self-pity until I get drunk". The Psycho-Babbettes lend inimitably rousing beer-stein vocals to the track.
"Family" is a straight-ahead rock and roll gospel number about telling the truth, cleaning house and coming home to folks who know you. Phil's harmonica soars.
Then our train song comes roarin' down the track. "Comin' Back" reveals that glorious feeling when the booze is losing and we're winning back our freedom to live. Paul and Joy's call-and-response vocal revs it up, and Jeff's drums drive the song relentlessly.
"People With No Last Names" ends with the best prayer of all: thank you. "Who'da' Thought" talks about "dreamin' the dream in your eyes" and "walkin' the same side of this sunny street". It's acoustic folk music with that fine Messengers touch to give it just enough soul.
This second effort is an inescapable extension of the first. The songs, the band and the production are all growing into a life of their own.
It's a labor of love, but how can it be work when it's so much fun?
Hop on -- you're in for a heckuva ride.
Michael's First CD
"I Think I'll Quit Drinkin' Today"
"I've always thought of the character in these songs as The Guy, as in, The Guy finally decides maybe he's got a drinking problem, or, The Guy decides to take action about his situation.
Anyway, The Guy started popping up in all these songs almost accidentally, as if the tunes were already written, and my job was just to physically document them.
Irreverence was comfortably coupled with cold hard truth, humor married stark horror, and fear and faith walked happily together hand in hand.
The Guy's still partyin' hearty in "Personal Bottom", the alcohol is doing the job, but he knows there's a day of reckoning coming.
The title tune, "I Think I'll Quit Drinkin' Today", finds our hero all done...well, sort of.
"Newcomer" is in second person from the viewpoint of helpful souls who've found sobriety and relish The Guy's presence as new blood, fresh meat and a necessary reminder that "there but for the grace of God go we." They've been there too.
"I Am The Booze" is the demon in first person. The alcohol announces its intentions in no uncertain terms.
In "Sayings On The Wall" The Guy encounters two primary recovery tools: redundance and cliches. And it's all "...startin' to make sense even to a smart guy like myself."
He's sober and grouchy, and his new life is "Gloom, Doom, 7-Up & Jesus". He's half in and half out.
So The Guy looks for entertainment. The famed 13th Step involves hustling women at meetings. Only trouble is, " Under every skirt there's a slip." Relapse, that is.
So he consults a long-term sobriety pal and is coached on character defects, or "The Seven Deadlies".
Now The Guy says, "I Got A Choice". Life does not just sort of happen to me. I can drink or not drink, laugh or cry, live or die, be honest or lie. It's up to me.
And he finally decides maybe he's not the center of the universe after all ("There Is A God And I Ain't It"), even though he still acts like it a lot of the time.
Then comes the gratitude of having discovered the "Last House On The Block". Consistency. Home. Hope.
"Two Dancers" is a song that stands for itself. I really can't get literal with it, except to say that it was the obvious choice to wrap up this whole project. Something in it tells the story about the "inside job" we all go through when we wrestle with our demons and the death grip becomes an embrace. I got to learn to live with me.
"I Think I'll Quit Drinkin' Today" is mostly just for fun. But there's a few things goin' on here that might bear a second listening, or maybe even a third. If nothing else, the pickin'll getcha'."