#43 Teen Angst-Why The Third Verse Always Tells The Truth. Dive Bars on Hollywood Blvd. Pissing on Bob Hopes Star

Teen Angst (What the world needs now) video.

01 Teen Angst

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I don’t know if it was something that Johnny and I made up. But for a long time we had a saying. ”What’s the third verse” or “What’s his/her third verse”. What we meant by this was:

what are you really upset about, not what are you pretending to be upset about

Or alternately third person:

What do you think he/she is really upset about…

We took this concept from a certain style of storytelling usually found in (but not limited) to country music. You are intentionally misdirected until you get to the third verse or sometime later in the song. Classic example is He Stopped Loving Her Today. The truth starts coming out in the chorus before the third verse:

He Stopped Loving Her Today:


Written by R. V. Braddock and C. Putman, Jr.

He said I’ll love you ’til I die
She told him you’ll forget in time
As the years went slowly by
She still preyed upon his mind

He kept her picture on his wall
Went half crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all
Hoping she’d come back again

Kept some letters by his bed
Dated 1962
He had underlined in red
Every single I love you

I went to see him just today
Oh but I didn’t see no tears
All dressed up to go away
First time I’d seen him smile in years

(Chorus)
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today

(Spoken)
You know she came to see him one last time
Oh and we all wondered if she would
And it kept running through my mind
This time he’s over her for good

(Repeat Chorus)

I’m mean it’s not really a big surprise, it’s not like it’s the end of The Sixth Sense or something. But you get the idea.


George Jones? See Johnny and I were from the Inland Empire. And it is truly culturally distinct from LA. Out there many of us were just as versed in George Jones as we were with the Minutemen catalogue. When I lived in Redlands in the early 1980′s we would drive this big ass Buick that belonged to Johnny’s ex-wife to LA to see punk rock shows. On the way there it was all Fear, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys. Amped up. On the way back it was usually something like George Jones, Lefty Frizzell or Hank Williams.

Picture it.

a

The Hickman Buick. As shown in the America’s Most Wanted Re-enactment

3:00 am and the younger kids usually all asleep in the back seat. I think we would put 6 or 7 of us in that thing. A back window was blown out so there was usually plastic flapping in the wind. This required us to crank the stereo. Old school country all the way back down I-10 til we could smell the orange blossoms. Then we knew we were close to home. This was no exaggeration. The smell came flooding in the window. You could have your eyes closed and you knew you were home.

I remember one night this low rider pulled right along side of us as we crossed into colton. I had the window down waiting on the orange blossoms. The stereo was blasting something kind of spooky like Rambling Man, something with Don Helms mournful steel guitar prominent in the mix. The vato driving had his arm in a stylized crook out the window. He stared long and hard at us. He then gave us the highest of compliments from low rider culture: the chin nod, a barely perceptible lift of the chin towards us. He then fell back behind* us. I realized he’d pulled alongside us to listen.

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Habitat of Christoper Cross

Johnny and I had been grinding away in Ashtray studios for a couple of weeks. It was now July 2010. We felt like we’d got some pretty good songs going, Satisfy You, Can I take my Gun up to heaven, St Cajetan. Especially St. Cajetan. That one was killing people. Even with just the little alesis HR 16 drum machine.

But there was this one song that seemed like it had potential but wasn’t really there yet. I had a chorus, ”What the world needs now is another folk singer like i need a whole in my head”. Also judging by the recording I heard of us playing it at Calebs Guitar in Redlands Ca that summer it was pretty mellow and Johnny did not have his signature riff yet. (Anyone have this recording? post here).

After a long hard day of smoking packs of cigarettes and recording Johnny and I would always try to get someone to go with us to Gorky’s the Russian cafeteria in Hollywood (not the downtown one). It was the cheapest place to eat per calorie. This was always the prelude to hitting the string of dive bars on the way back to the apartment on Camrose. Boardner’s (before it was a hipster joint), Musso and Franks – not technically a dive bar. 1 beer just to see who was there. Who? As in low-grade celebrity. It was usually Christopher Cross. Finally to conserve dollars the Power Station on highland. 1990 Hollywood Blvd was pretty seedy then. The Red Line wasn’t there yet and they hadn’t redone the area around Mann’s Chinese. It was so seedy that one night when Mary Jean from The Holy Sisters Of The Gaga Dada (who had a pathological hatred of Bob Hope) stopped squatted and pissed on his star no one did anything. Not even the cops driving by. They just pointed out the window and laughed. Even they didn’t give a shit. Wild west in those days.

The Lemon Drop Kid. Sorry i couldn’t resist.

It’s weird thinking how much of the first Cracker Album was written and recorded in the underbelly of Hollywood. It’s such an Americana record! No wonder me and Johnny ended up with the Midnight Cowboy fixation. But as usual I digress.

One night we took CVB and Golden Age producer Dennis Herring along. He dug in his heels at Gorky’s. Dennis had come with us to some dive bar one night when a seemingly harmless old drunk head butted the bartender and knocked him out cold. He wasn’t going with us anywhere other than semi yuppie confines of Gorky’s. We had played him a few songs. The topic turned to what was then called “folk singer”.

“Yeah i dont’ get that, why you wasting a song on not liking tracy chapman”

“dude that’s not what it’s about”

“what is it about?”

I got it then. I had to make the words less subtle. It was never about not liking folk singers. It was about wanting to rock, and wanting to rock for the sole purpose of getting a girls attention. Or even better to get her in bed. I unwound the song into three neat little verses. Two misdirects about cars and drinking. Finally in the third verse we get the truth.

Also I just found in an old notebook with recording notes and lyrics from the first couple years. It says that Johnny and I finalized the guitar parts for Teen Angst in a hotel room in Gallup NM. This was in August of 1990 as we moved our meager possessions from LA to Richmond VA. Interesting. I’ll dig into this later.

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Historically incorrect. Should have no Tattoos. Seriously. That came much later.

*in those days low rider culture was all about driving slow, a strange machismo that required the projection of fearlessness and comfort with ones surroundings. you rolled down the street slowly to own every inch of the neighborhood, but you didn’t project agression. In hip hop videos now they always show this act with Agression projected. This is not what i grew up with. It was an utterly self-confident manoever. Why act like a dick?

For that same reason if you came up on someone and moved up to check them out. you wouldn’t then dart off ahead of them. That did not project confidence it projected recklessness or worse fear. Instead you just dropped back behind them. ”Play it cool. You own the joint. Get it güero? Pronounced “where-o”. Non offensive slang for white boy. Notice the German spelling of this mexican slang word? Another echo of the German/Mexican cultural mashup?

Also any good Soldier, Marine, Commanche or Yaqui will tell you: you want to be on the potential enemies flank. You don’t want them on your flank.

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Teen Angst.

[Dm]-[G7]-[C]-[G]-[D]
[D]-[G7]-[C]-[G]-[D]

I don’t know what the world may need,
but I’m sure as hell that is starts with me.
And that’s a wisdom,
I’ve laughed at.

I don’t know what the world may want,
but a good stiff drink it surely don’t.
So I think I’ll go and fix myself a tall one.

Cause, what the world needs now
is a new kind of tension.
Cause the old one just bores me to death.
Cause, what the world needs now
is another folk singer
like I need a hole in my head.

I don’t know what the world may need,
but a V8 engine is a good start for me.
Think I’ll drive to find a place,
to be surly.
I don’t know what the world may want,
but some words of wisdom could comfort us.
Think I’ll leave that up to someone wiser.

Cause, what the world needs now
are some true words of wisdom
like La La La La La
Cause, what the world needs now
is another folk singer
like I need a hole in my head.

I don’t know what the world may need,
and I never grasped your complexities.
I’d be happy just to get your attention.
And, I don’t know what the world may want,
but your long, sweet body lying next
to mine could certainly raise my spirits.

Cause what the world needs now
is a new Frank Sinatra
so I can get you in bed.
Cause what the world needs now
is another folk singer
like I need a hole in my head.



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