Hollywood Hills (2017)

I wrote the song “Hollywood Hills” after after watching a Big Star documentary, in the summer of 2015. “Hollywood Hills” combines the feeling of the life of Chris Bell as told by that documentary with various scenes from my own life in the late 90s. I pretty much had the whole thing down within a few minutes. The main story centers around an ambiguous “they”, which I hope comes across as a couple. Initially it was all first person, but it felt too much like I was telling somebody else’s story.

I knew from the start how this how song would sound. For a short period in 2016, I was in a band to whom I presented this song. It went through some drastic changes that I never felt comfortable with and I brought it back to this original vision after the band ended.

Of all of my songs as Trip Gunn, this is the most guitar-oriented. The song reminds me of stuff I was doing around 2000. The track features six acoustic guitars and four electric guitars. These layers of guitar presented some new challenges to me in the mixing process, but I hope that everything worked out in the end. It was certainly fun to create.

Hollywood Hills

They can’t take the trip to the Hollywood Hills
Those celluloid sights fill broken dreams
Like ice hangs from the tailpipes of cars
In the lost memories of a winter

With hands frozen drying eyes on shirt sleeves
The sky high grey and sighing
Through the outline of leaves forever falling
It never ends but the hope is always there

I’m pulling away my cart
Covered in parts of coffins
Through remains of destruction
Places we’ll find your heart
Under the wheels of construction
Your Hollywood Hills

Mixing headaches with heartaches in the morning
They take walks down forgotten paths
And return home with a box of regrets
It’s a dance to hide it under their floorboards

Write a letter home
But you don’t know what to say
Just talk about the new sidewalk
And your broken telephone
And the grey sky raining down on
Your Hollywood Hills

Did you ever do that dance?
Did you ever do that dance?
Did you ever do that dance?
Did you ever do that dance?

Abandoned Cars

This song’s music originated with the band I was in a couple of years ago. I played the bassline on my keyboard and the drummer Bowman Kelley and guitarist Ryan Connor starting jamming over top of it. It was pretty rocking. I sang ad-lib lines about a runaway; I went home and wrote full lyrics based on a couple of lines from a song I’d written a year previous. This driving little number makes me proud and I hope you like it too.

Lyrics

Sleeping in abandoned cars
Count my change, count the stars
Horizon’s fading out, nobody there at all
In abandoned cars

She said we’re going to fall
Took the keys from the table
Ran out the front door in the afternoon
In abandoned cars

I ran a thousand miles
With the photos of our smiles
Paper corners torn, sun faded memories
In the passenger seat

What I saw, what she saw
All the things nobody saw
Sorry I fell down, sorry I fell apart
In abandoned cars

Through the wire of the telephone
I heard her heart was breaking
A plastic metronome thrown down the stairs
We’re abandoned cars.

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The Deadliest Summer (2017)

Album Cover for The Deadliest Summer single

I present a new single release of Trip Gunn music: “The Deadliest Summer” with b-side “Dial Tone”, with a cover featuring artwork by 19th century French painter Eugène Boudin. It wasn’t intentional, but perhaps the September equinox is an appropriate time to share “The Deadliest Summer”.

I wrote this song as “Orange Velvet Crush” in the fall of 2015. The final version differs little from that first draft. Most revisions to lyrics were just a matter of word-choice and rhythm, but the first two lines of the chorus were completely replaced. Originally they were “Times passes slowly, but it goes so fast; I held on to the trees and celebrities.” I disliked them when I wrote them, but I believe it’s better to write anything now and revise later than to wait for good stuff. The inspiration for the new lines came from a line of Henry Darger‘s book Crazy House; The book begins as a reality-based autobiography, but with the line “Oh yeah, there’s one thing I forgot to mention…”, Darger goes from reality to tales in his fantasy world instead. I appreciate that within the context of Henry Darger, but it also fit beautifully with the subject of this song.

This is one of only three songs that I worked on with a band in 2016. We only had a few practice sessions before dealing with typical but annoying difficulties, including practice space issues and scheduling conflicts. At any rate, we played around with the chorus chord progression a bit, but I ended up going with the way I had written it. Either I didn’t heed good advice or it worked out in the end. Still, I finally got to use my Danelectro guitar on this one.

Lyrics

When you walk through the October moonlight
With the smell of streetlights reflected in the rain
Drinking grape soda from glass bottle stars
Where autumn leaves danced between cars

The clouds harbor August memories dark
Windows reflecting legends in dusty panes
Where every portrait is felt by your green
Hoodie and orange velvet crush dreams

It’s the longest winter, the deadliest summer
There’s something I forgot to mention
Ghosts and mirrors, smoke and fog
Too many to count and I forgot them all

When I walk through the November twilight
And the dusty streets of nostalgia
Drinking gun-powder tea from looking glass
Revery’s loose leaves dance past.

It’s the longest winter, the deadliest summer
There’s something I forgot to mention
Ghosts and mirrors, smoke and fog
Too many to count and I forgot them all

It’s time to deny it all
The heart that sighs in December
It’s time to deny it all
The heart that dies in the summer
The deadliest summer.

Dial Tone

For a b-side, I chose the song “Dial Tone”. While “The Deadliest Summer” is revisiting a time associated with a space, “Dial Tone” is caught in a specific time and place. I started with the chorus and took some time to get the verses. Then inspiration came from the line “in my bedroom in those ugly new houses” in The Smith’s song “Paint A Vulgar Picture“; Viewing the chorus through that line, I saw the whole scene. I spent time as a teenager at a brick house on second street in Athens OH. The song has nothing to do with my friends that lived there, but that house serves beautifully as the setting. Regardless, the song is certainly about a very teenage experience.

I knew from the start how the melody for the chorus, but not the rest. So, I chose the key and based some of the chord progression on the dial tone for landline phones. Two sine waves combine to create the tone, one at middle-A and the other is very close to an F below the A. I avoided too obvious a use of a dial tone sound, but played with hints of it throughout.

Lyrics

In a tired brick house on second street
Sitting on a bed corner dying
I held on the telephone a lifetime
And crumpled slowly burning

Listen to the dial tone
Wonder if you’re even home
Would you even answer the phone
I’ll never ever know

Could we shine like the darkest night
Cradles stars in its belly?
Would we fill a shoebox capsule
A heartache waiting to be unburied?

Listen to the dial tone
Wonder if you’re even home
Would you even answer the phone
I’ll never ever know

Tremble so silently
Scribble a diary faintly
In the vacuum of the afternoon
Quietly waiting

A mediocre ineffectual fool
A mediocre ineffectual fool

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