Monday, October 29, 2007

Squeeze MachineSecrets: 'Heads and Horns'

It's been said that some songs just about write themselves, but in this case it was even simpler. My relocation to the Great Northwest has introduced me to many cultural wonders, such as single-wides, double-wides, guns going full auto in the night and good old-fashioned game hunting. I'm not much of a hunter, but an ad in the local paper caught my eye and inspired me to begin a month-long research project into the world of "Heads and Horns." That was the title of the ad and it was an invitation for all hunters to bring their trophies to a convention in Tacoma, Wash., for judging and award presentations. Here are the lines that stuck out:

"Heads and Horns"
"Do you have a trophy in hiding?"
"Boone and Crockett rules apply"
"Typical, Non-typical"
"Horns must be attached to the skull"

How could you not write a song after being given these lines?

"Typical, non-typical"? Whatever could that mean? I had no idea, but I immediately started walking around the house singing it. Turns out it means if the animal's horns are unblemished, they are "typical." If they are broken from fighting or some other mishap, they are "Non-typical."

Then I began my research to find out what the Boone and Crockett rules were. (Yes, it's Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, who set the judging criteria for heads and horns way back in the 1800s). Finally, it was time to compile a list of every type of game that hunters stalk and put them in an order that was the most singable. This proved to be a real challenge for me and I still have trouble singing this tune without getting a little tongue-tied. I went into my studio and did a demo with a guitar and I got carried away and recorded a couple more tunes while I was at it.

I put them up on MySpace for kicks under the name The Grunts. I never intended for TDA to do the tune, but the band heard it and decided we should give it a go. After we had a track for the tune, I sent an e=mail to my pal Norton Buffalo and asked him to put a few harmonica tracks on top. He was in Idaho recording with Steve Miller, so I sent him an MP3. The next morning I had 2 AIFF files waiting in my in-box. Ah, the wonders of modern recording.

Susie suggested we get her friend Evan Price to add some fiddle and he did an outstanding job. I have to say the whole thing ended up sounding pretty dang authentic. My only regret is that the knee-slaps and hand-claps in the chorus got lost somehow. If we ever get a chance to remix, that will be one of the first things I fix!

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