This picture pretty much says everything I want to say in this road journal. It’s Seth, our tour manager, looking sheepish and vulnerable, right before singing “One Man Wrecking Machine” at our favorite karaoke bar in Minneapolis (and the world), “U Otter Stop Inn.” Seth got to be the guy to sing it by virtue of having to use the bathroom while we were there, giving us just enough time to write his name and the song’s code number on a piece of paper, and to turn it in to the karaoke-lady without him noticing.
I thought the best part of this would be getting to appreciate the nuances that went into the song’s instrumental reconstruction. And they were all there. Every drum fill, performed identically to the Guster recording (except maybe the hired studio drummer had a better pocket)… the background counterpoint vocal, sung and mixed in just right, even Joe’s guitar overdub in the outro (not the slide guitar but the other picky part with the rotary sound) was covered competently. Amazing to think that those guys cut that song and probably five other songs “Hey Ya!” in an hour. But the most amazing part of it turned out to be Seth, who sings worse than I do. Who knew? It was ugly. Uglier than when I sang Charlene’s “I’ve Never Been To Me” a half hour later without any clue how the verse melodies went. Or the chorus melodies.
I don’t expect One Man Wrecking Machine to show up on too many karaoke lists across the country, but I was excited to see that they used the album version’s lyrics, with the thing about the pants and the line about the joint, rather than the Bible Belt Remix, which saw a little daylight on radio, and replaced “passing round a skinny joint” with “hanging out at Skinny’s Joint” — of course I shouldn’t make it sound like *they* replaced it. We had the alternate version in our back pocket, we just delivered it only to the stations that kicked up a fuss about our edgy lyrical content. So I guess that makes us the sell-outs.
In other Guster Sells Out news, we got our t-shirt in one of those Marc Horowitz Is Stuck In A Nissan Centra For An Entire Week ads, but as far as I know they didn’t pay us.