#42 Satisfy You- Cracker the Early Years From A Contractual Viewpoint. Ashtray Studios.

Johnny Hickman a couple years before we started Cracker. Oh and Belinda Carlisle called and she wants her earrings back.

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09 Satisfy You

In June 1990 I made my way back from Morocco to Los Angeles. At some point while I was in the UK or when I stopped over in Virginia I called my old friend Johnny Hickman. I asked him if he’d consider trying to write some songs together and if that went well we would form a band. He of course said “fuck off”. Not really. It’s clear he said yes right?

Johnny had also been a little hard to track down. He had recently split up with his wife and was staying out near bakersfield with his brother and mother. sometimes staying with friends in Los Angeles, or even sleeping in his VW microbus. I didn’t really have a place to stay either. I just sort of moved in with my manager Jackson Haring and our attorney Brian MacPherson. I didn’t really ask. I just sort of showed up with a suitcase, guitar and slept on the couch. Jackson without the income from Camper Van Beethoven had gone back to being a process server. A process server is someone who delivers subpoenas for civil actions. His claim to fame was he served Michael Milken . In relating this story toanother process server the other process server interrupted dismissively ”who hasn’t “. ( Isn’t it amazing that someone would trust their money to someone with a name that sounds likeMilkin’. That’s as bad as trusting your money to someone who’s last name can be used in the sentence “made off with my money”.)

Jackson wiped his smile right off his face.

So basically all three of us were down on our luck.

My first order of business was to get some sort of deal with Virgin, so i didn’t go down the slippery slope into Day Job Land. Once you go into the land of the Day Job it’s very difficult to find the time, to write the songs to get you back out of Day Job Land. Jackson and I met up with Mark Williams Camper Van Beethoven’s A&R man. Somehow we talked Mark into giving us something about 10k, to deliver 20 demo’s within six months. This was a pretty crazy promise, but i felt like i had a couple songs under my belt already that i had been working on with CVB in mind. I thought Johnny and I could pull it off.

But there was also a downside to this deal. In exchange (I believe) Virgin had another 6 months to decide whether to retain me as a “Key member”. Rather than sign me as a new artist. Key member sounds great but really this is a fancy way of transferring the contract (good) to my name, along with much of the un-recouped Camper Van Beethoven debt (bad).

So yes we got screwed again. But i have no hard feelings about this. Look I was nearly thirty by this time and i had been a recording artist for 6 years. I’d run a label and i was quite familiar with how all this worked. I wanted the good “points” (percentage of gross sales) that Camper Van Beethoven had commanded upon signing. We had been a buzz band after all. I knew that we would get stuck with some of the Camper Van beethoven un-recouped balance as a result. In my view it was a fair trade. Good points vs bad debt.

Teen Angst Video. These were actors. I swear it wasn’t us dressed like that.

So when the first album came out and Teen Angst rocketed to #1 on modern rock, and was all over MTV me and Johnny gritted our teeth a little. I mean if we weren’t carrying CVB’s debt (part of it) we probably would have seen some artist royalties from that album. But that’s okay, we started getting them on Kerosene Hat when that went platinum. Those artist royalties just started an album later.

The funny thing was we knew that some of our friends saw Johnny and I as “lucky”. We kept the Virgin contract. But they didn’t understand we also got a big chunk of debt. Getting the contract, getting re-signed to Virgin was a mixed blessing.


So i took part of that 10k and bought 2 mics (shure 57s), 2 mic stands (atlas), 2 pre amps (alesis) , a stereo compressor (alesis) and a tascam 688 all in one mixer 8-track. This all cost a little under 3k.

We set up in Jackson and Bryan’s kitchen. The first day we recorded two pieces of music, and smoked a pack of cigarrettes. Clearly this collaboration was gonna work. When Bryan McPherson came home he said:

“Jesus, you should call this place Ashtray studios”.

This was a play on the name of Dennis Herrings basement studio that he called “dustbowl.” Curiously dustbowl was just one block up Camrose.

But we did it. First day we got two pieces of music worked out. One was the song Sunday Train. This was largely worked out in my head and was mostly written while taking trains and tube from Margate UK to Heathrow on a sunday. Very slow, long ride. This is the actual recording.

07 Sunday Train (Demo)

The second was Satisfy You. Ostensibly the song is about some high maintenance chick, a sort of mala mujer song. Cause when you frame anything this way it seems to work as a rock/blues/country/nortena song. But it was a barely veiled reference to the other guys in CVB and principally an examination of my own anger. An acknowledgement that i was pissed but was gonna get past it.

But what often crossed my mind over the next couple years was that we were singing about satisfying our Virgin debt. Even though that was in no way our intention. After we had the platinum record with Kerosene Hat I never really thought about this again (until now).

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Satisfy You

[F#m]-[E]-[A]-[D(-A-D embellishment)]
[E]-[A]-[E]-[D]-[A]-[D]-[A]-[F#m]-[E]-[D(-A-D embellishment)]

As far as I know, the world don’t spin
They carry you around in your bed
And rearrange the stars all night
to satisfy you
Satisfy you
Satisfy you
Satisfy you
Satisfy you

Could I redeem myself
If I was someone else
I’d walk on the water
In your dad’s swimming pool
Show you my bloody palms
If I thought that would satisfy you
Satisfy you
Satisfy you
Satisfy you
Satisfy you

Now I’m not wise, and I’m not old
So I’ll be bitter, and I’ll be cruel
I just did it less each and every day
Did I satisfy
Did I saaaaaaaatisfy-ha-ah-ah-ay ha-ah-ah you
Until satisfy-ha-ah-ah-ay ha-ah-ah you
Until satisfy (satisfy you, satisfy you)
Until satisfy (satisfy you, satisfy you)
Until satisfy (satisfy you, satisfy you)
Until satis–oh till I satisfy (satisfy you, satisfy you)
Until I satisfy

Sunday Train


You can place your faith
in God my friend,
but no one knows his plan.
You can place your faith
in your brother,
but he may fail you.

So I am waiting for
that Sunday Train.
Place my faith in
southern line.
She may not be on time
but she will come.

She once was a proud one.
Stretched from sea
to shining sea.
She may not take you everywhere you want to go.
But where you need to be she’ll agree.

So rest you’ll weary legs,
they carried you all this way.
And climb aboard that Sunday train
when she comes.

When god banished Lilith
from the garden,
he gave us Eve
he gave us steam.
So trains climb
up every mountain
but never have they
set me free.

So if your heart is weary
and soul is like mine.
Climb aboard that Sunday train
when she comes.

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