Full entry is hanging out on LJ here.

My favorite live video of the show that I could find on Youtube is below. This is Betsy and me, performing live at CONfusion outside of Detroit, this past January:




Here's a video from a couple of years ago. This is me performing the song unplugged, just a couple of months after I wrote it, at a house concert near Pittsburgh:



Were-owl
Words & music by S. J. Tucker
Guitars, vocals, percussion: S. J. Tucker
Cello: Betsy Tinney
Guest backing vocal: Michelle Dockrey
Tracked & mixed by Tony Fabris, Monkey Brains Studios Seattle

"Were-owl" is a direct result of collaboration with someone I've never met in
person.  I found myself thrown together with artist [info]emilycarding last spring in
the [info]2xcreative  project.  The idea of the project, hatched by
friend and photographer [info]kylecassidy and others, was to pair creative
people all across the world and give them a month or so to collaborate on something,
anything new.  All we had to do was say "yes" to the following question:  if you
had the chance to make a damn fine piece of art with another human being, would
you take it?

Emily and I talked over email.  We laid out our websites for each other--I sent
her a link to my bandcamp site, where she could listen to all of my recorded
work, and she sent me a link to her online gallery, where I could view all of
her drawings, paintings, and digital art pieces.  We agreed to trade a song about
an art piece for an art piece about a song, and we turned each other loose.
I wandered through Emily's online gallery, clicking on anything that caught my
eye.  The piece that stopped me in my tracks was a photoshop treatment titled
"Were-Owl"--a depiction of an owl with a very human face turning a worried glance
upon a full-moon sky.  I couldn't look away from his expression.  I knew
at that moment that I'd be writing a song about him very soon.

Meanwhile, Emily fell in love with my Wendy songs and decided to include me in
her Neverland Tarot deck (still in progress, right Em?), depicted as Red-handed
Jill/Green-eyed Sue, on the Queen of Wands card.

It's one thing to know that you've inspired somebody.  It's another for it to
be mutual and simultaneous.  Emily's piece brought out of me a tribute to the
wild creature in each of us, to the uncertainty and danger of love, and to the
wonder of loving someone who's a bit outside your ken. 
(I do admit a tiny homage to a certain goblin king, here, but who wouldn't?)

About the recording:
"Were-owl" originally appeared as an internet single, July 2009. 
You can meet that incarnation of him, listen, and read the lyrics here.
He's been remixed and polished up for his appearance on Mischief, thanks to
[info]tfabris , who toiled away for days upon days to satisfy my every
artistic and technical whim.
"Were-owl" is just one of the many songs on Mischief for which Betsy wrote a
gorgeous cello part.  On this song and on all of the others, she recorded
with her stunning black carbon fibre five-string, Raven, beloved of
Betsyfans everywhere.
[info]vixyish  has a beautiful cameo appearance on the last chorus of this song. 
Those of you who know and love her voice should be able to find her
immediately.

Interesting facts:  I composed "Were-owl" in St. Louis, in my friend Stephen's
basement, where Ginger and I were mixing the Tricky Pixie album together.  I
wrote it in the key of B-flat minor, which is the same key it's recorded in.
In order for the cello part to be playable in that key, [info]stealthcello  had to tune
her entire cello down a half-step.  This is why, when we perform "Were-owl"
live, we play it in B minor-so that Betsy doesn't have to re-tune mid-show.
  

Special thanks to Em, Kyle, Monkey, Vixy, and Betsy.
Cheshire Kitten (We're All Mad Here)
Words & music by S. J. Tucker
Guitars, vocals: S. J. Tucker
Tracked & mixed by Ginger Doss, Eagle Audio USA

I started writing "Cheshire Kitten" in the winter of 2008, at a restaurant north
of Portland, Oregon, between a bookstore concert in Portland and an appearance
at Conflikt 1 in Seattle.  I finished the song that July, sitting outside the Camellia
Lounge in Portland, Oregon, before a Tricky Pixie concert.  The concept arrived
as a "what if", and I don't remember what, if anything, prompted it.  The same
thing happened with the Wendy songs, when I wrote them--a lightning-bolt idea
snuck into my head unannounced, and I asked "what if?"  What if the Cheshire Cat
isn't always so sure of himself?  What if there's more than oneCheshire Cat? 
How do subsequent generations of Cheshire Kittens feel about living up to their elders'
reputation of madness and mischief?  And suddenly, a Cheshire Kitten walked into
my mind and told me all about how she felt.

Maybe anyplace outside of Wonderland
is not for me, my friend.


In July, her story filled itself out, all at once, pulled together by that
delicious line in the chorus:
If I leave my grin behind, remind me
that we're all mad here
and it's okay!

All of us dreamers must find a balance between Wonderland and the real world,
and it isn't always easy.  Some of us are broken by it.  Some of us are made
stronger.  You can't spend all your time in one place or the other.  You have
to visit both, and you have to trust yourself to find your way back.

About the recording: for the recorded version, I wanted to capture a bit of frenetic
silliness, something like what the voices in your head might sound like when they're
all trying to be helpful at once--hence the devolution into kitten-talk and scat
singing in the last minute or so of the song.  I recorded those vocals in our friend
Karla's basement laundry room (just about anything can become a vocal booth
on short notice when you're on the road.  Ginger and I are pretty adaptable), in
Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Interesting fact:  the opening guitar lick of "Cheshire Kitten" is a direct nod
to and a near carbon copy of the ending melody of Michelle Dockrey's "The Girl
That's Never Been", a song inspired by a story about grown-up Alice meeting the
Cheshire Cat for a drink.  Michelle (aka Vixy) and I often put those two songs
back-to-back in our setlists at shared shows, completely on purpose.  Vixy was
one of the first people to hear "Cheshire Kitten", after I finished writing it,
and we sing it together nearly every chance we get.  Spookier and spookier: I
started writing it a few hours before she and I met, and I finished it exactly
one week after we had our first shared concert.  ooOOOOoooOOOOOOOOoooo

Special thanks to Karla and family for use of their space, Gingy, and my Kitten
Sundae tribe.
.

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