WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN,ANDY PRIEBOY!? 

 

 

I have been off-line and laying low for a year.Here is why:

A year ago, life sucked.  

April 17, 2017, I was in a Gary, Indiana diner with my mother, my twin brother, Joe and my beloved Merrill Markoe.  

 My rapidly declining mom was treating us to a birthday lunch.Facing both cancer and the early stages of dementia, she was nonetheless still assertive, charming and domineering. She vigorously and vociferously insisted we do this.

During the meal, mom asked Merrill what kind of sandwich she ordered... five times

Later,  mom debated the date of my twin brother's birthday. I  insisted that we were born on the same day, thus The Twins, remember? She disagreed: Joe's birthday was sometime in November.

At the meal's conclusion, she wanted to pay the bill with a check and leave a tip. Simple enough, right? Nope. The bill, the check and, the tip ran through an intersection inside of mom's skull and had a huge smashup. 

It appeared that she wanted to put the cash tip into the check she was writing. She couldn't remember how you do that. She got frustrated. Frantic. Joe gently explained the right way to pay and leave a tip.She didn't get it. Joe explained again.Always stubborn and resentful of assistance, the more Joe tried to help, the angrier she grew. She thought he was talking down to her.

And when mom feels humiliated, mom gets mean. Real mean. 

Pushed to the limit, Joe put his foot down and spelled it out for her. Loudly,firmly:'YOU-LEAVE-THE-TIP-ON-THE-TABLE!

So, this year, what did I do for my birthday?

I celebrated not being in that fucking Indiana restaurant!

More to come

HEAVEN OR ANAHEIM -or- Have You Ever Written a Happy Song? 

                                                 
                       
 Heaven or Anaheim
                               
-or-

"HAVE YOU EVER WRITTEN A HAPPY SONG?" 

Recently, my beloved, Merrill asked me if I had ever written a happy song. 

I responded, "If the question is 'Have you ever written a song about being happy?" , the answer would be  "once."
However, if you are inquiring whether I have ever composed music while being happy, that is another issue entirely.

I am like a character in a musical. When I am feeling happy,  I break into song.  I can not contain myself. All too often my joy spontaneously combusts into songs about my dogs and, in the past, kitties.  Inspired by their mindless goodwill and undimmable enthusiasm,  I am overtaken by a love expressed through silliness and play. What the Greeks called Ludis. Thus, my dog and cat songs are complex, melodic, multi-versed, often complete with a bridge and coda.They are very stupid and very fun to sing. 

                                                                  Andy sings Hooray for Lamby Gum, a dog treat distribution song- illustration by Merrill Markoe

 

So, have I written happy songs? Yes, and they are about Dinky, Puppyboy, Wally, Jimmy,  GinnyPins, Beany and Kittymouse. 

  
They can also be about pie.  Sometimes an odd phrase will ignite my asinine glee. While on a road trip, for example, Merrill and I saw a local restaurant touting its specialty: Pickle Pinto Bean Pie.
  

For the next three hundred miles, I fiddled with the phrase until I felt it scanned. I then improvised a hearty Civil War era marching song about that legendary delicacy.I imagined the Irish Brigade singing it as they made their way up Marye's  Heights at Fredericksburg  

Oh, I had a great time! 

Listen to Pinto Pickle Pie!

                                                                                              


But a happy song about a lover? 

Once .Just once. 

HEAVEN OR ANAHEIM 
                                                                                                                 Heaven or Anaheim -illustration by Andy Prieboy
Listen to Heaven or Anaheim

Coincidentally, my friend  Simon Walkden had just written and asked about a song of mine that has been floating for free around the internet since God created  Earthlink in 7 days.  It's called Heaven or Anaheim. It was never on a record. What's the story?

  I made demos of this song in 1993 and 1997. Someone entrusted with a copy traded it on-line and it's been downloadable ever since. Picking a phrase from the song, it was christened , vox populi,  Heaven or Anaheim. A much better title.

Originally it was called  Lincoln Mk V. 

Here is why:

CRUISING ON COCAINE:  

At the time, I owned an Arctic white 1977 Lincoln MkV. It was a massive Carter era creampuff almost 20 feet long with a soft white leather interior and 3-inch white walls.  These were one of the last, wasteful, unapologetic American luxury cars. And it did indeed have a Cartier clock inside.

A homeless man once looked at it, smiled, and said 'White body! White leather! White walls! That car look like cocaine!"
 I am not one to give my car an adorable nickname, but Cocaine stuck. 


SO...ANYWAY... 

I had fallen in love. We'd get in Cocaine and drive all over LA from midnight until dawn. Needing very little, pleased with each other's company, every mile was an adventure, every topic mesmerizing. We talked and talked and talked. We laughed a lot. 

One night on my way to pick her up, I just couldn't contain myself.  That scene from a musical struck.My heart blossomed and out flourished this delighted, innocent song. To answer the original question, yes, I did write a happy song and did so while being so.

DESTINY WAS UNKIND:

Oddly enough, eventually the car and the girl met the same fate: rear-ended by a drunken simpleton.
​​​​​

So, I let this tune wither and die.

I don't know about you, but for me, happy memories hurt way worse than the bad ones.

So, for now, it's back to writing lamentations, threnodies, and an occasional Lacrimosa or two.

And Dog Songs. 

  

It's way safer.


==========================================================================================================================
Timeline:

Haven or Anaheim was written in 1993. A very rough rendition with piano,vocal, and melodica was made on a Tascam four track at my home. It was titled 'We Can Drive" or 'Lincoln Mk V.

 In 1997 , I was brought to EMI Studios by my friend Desi Benjamin .We did a day's worth of live recording. This song was done along with many others. I believe the 1997 version  is the one most are familiar with.

Although it appears on a bootleg with other pilfered Voodoo demos, it was not a Wall of Voodoo song.

THE BLACKBOARD SKY STORY 

Recently, my friend JtL from WallofVoodoo.com wrote and asked for the lyrics of Blackboard Sky. I am including them here with a little backstory.Thanks, JtL!

I am also offering a  solo piano version of the song, gratis!

Download Blackboard Sky free here! 

THE BLACKBOARD SKY STORY 

So, December 1983. About 9:30 pm.  

A young man stops at the junction of Melrose and Cole. He waits to cross. He is tall, thin, and if you even noticed him you'd think"another trendy art- twat who works retail ..."  

If you looked real close, you might  also opine "that idiot  dyed his hair so much, all the ends are all breaking off on top..." 

What you can't possibly know, is that under all that hair dye and  proto-Gothic fashion broods a heartbroken young man who, for the first time in his life, has had a love affair die on him  

Poor soul.He is already struggling with a stalled music career. He has no band and no prospects. He is still new in town and is working retail for minimum wage. And to think, only a year ago, he signed a production deal and moved to LA. She came here with him to partake in that glorious future when (and if) he became a major label recording artist.  

And it all went up in smoke... 

No! Don't think of it! Don't think of it! Don't think of it! 

There is nothing now but the endless jog between regret and recrimination. A never ending battle of protecting his fragile sense of self from the dragon of truth. 

So, on the corner, he stops. He looks up at the dull night sky and thinks it looks like a dirty blackboard at the end of a long school day.  

And then something comes over him.  He lets it all go. To that ashen sky, he says, in effect, you take her. I can't carry this anymore.  

He imagines drawing her face on that immense dirty blackboard.  

Suddenly- in his mind, in his heart, he feels a little relief.  The leaden skies clear, and he sees her differently: majestic as a cloud bank, distant as the full moon. She is too far away now to hurt him anymore.  

Later that evening, he applies that moment to a song he'd already been working on.  

 'I draw your face on the blackboard sky" fits perfectly. 

Now if he only had a band he could show it to.  

1985  

'Oh, that's a very nice little Beatle song, Andy..." chided Chas.
"I think it's real pretty," Marc said ."Let's fuck it up."  

And so they did. And it ended up on Seven Days in Sammystown.  

 

And that young man, no longer young but still dying his hair,  plays it to this day. 

WALL OF VOODOO 1985 : ADAM ANT, AQUA NET, AND THE BUBBLE HOLE. 

Lesley Morrall,  Adam Ant's Wardrobe Supervisor, thoughtfully sent me these wonderful photos from the 1985 Adam Ant/Wall of Voodoo tour. 
 

1985-A Little Back Story:

Our manager, Miles Copeland, had taken on Adam Ant as a client. With a new Ant album, Vive le Rock, Miles reasoned teaming Wall of Voodoo up as support would be an excellent way to debut  Seven Days in Sammystown as well.  The tour took us from Chicago to the East Coast, with Radio City Music Hall being the high point. From there, we worked our way south, concluding in  Ft.Lauderdale, Fla. 

I am deeply indebted to Lesley for sharing these photos.  Brilliant, kindly, and incredibly gifted, she was a true pleasure to hang with. We Voodoos would often stop in the wardrobe room to chat with her before going on, or while Adam was on stage. 

                                                                                                           Nov,27th,1985 Constitution Hall, Washington, DC.

                                                                   Lesley shot this from behind the monitor board. I love the glowing meters!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Andy and Ned with Lesley, backstage somewhere, waiting to go on.


                                                                                                              Bruce in Ft.Lauderdale.
 

                                                                                                   Chas T.Gray, Marc Moreland, and  Andy Prieboy.  

                                                                                                             Note the Ole' and Rollo keyboards.

                                                                                         A beautiful shot of Marc. God rest his soul.

       I believe he is holding his phone list on top of the cigarette pack. Marc always carried an ever growing, constantly updated, weathered list of phone numbers in his wallet. 

                                                                                                               Aqua Net Poster Boy.

                                                                                      Chas T.Gray would often refer to me as Beauty Queen.
                                                                                                           


                                                                    Ned, Chas, Marc, and our good friend and road crew member, Dave "Kiwi" Burlace.
                                                                         I love this photo:  End of the Tour.Cleaning out the tour bus.Heading home.

I know these facial expressions far too well: Marc is walking towards Lesley, who is taking the photo. He is about to do something extremely funny. Ned, Chas, and Dave anticipate what is coming.


 Marc had a deadly sense of humor and an innate gift for physical comedy. Although demure, soft spoken, and often shy,   when Marc saw the funny he became confident,  sure of himself and quick. He'd pounce. His  suppressed smile seen here often proceeded his comedic assaults

                                                                       Chas and Marc: always with the schtick. A very deep friendship.



By the way, that mobile home was our tour bus, It was called D'Bubba Ho.

All Voodoo tour conveyances were called D'Bubba Ho.

Why?
 

The name came from a conversation Chas and Ned had with a man on a Florida beach about crabs. "You can try and catch that crab," the man said " but he goes down into the sand and gets away. Next thing you know, he's way over there, waving to you from the bubble hole." His southern patois had him pronounce "the bubble hole" as D' Bubba Ho. 

Thus, every tin can with wheels, choked with Voodoo smoke, smut, and stale boozy sweat was our nasty little bubble hole/bubba ho.

                                                                                       Marc and Lesley...and all the flotsam and jetsam from the bus.

                                                                        Marc is happy. I recall that pleasant, relaxed smile when he was at peace.

                                                                                                             If I may ne'er behold again 
                                                                                                            That form and face so dear to me, 
                                                                                                            Nor hear thy voice, still, would I fain 
                                                                                                            Preserve, for aye, their memory. 



I know I speak on behalf of all the members of Wall of Voodoo and our many fans: bless you, Lesley, once more, for sharing these moments with us.

 

WHEN IT RAINS IN LA 




Listen to When It Rains in LA

During the current California rainstorms, I revived this old, old song. 

The Short Story:

The sequel to Noah and The Flood in modern Los Angeles.

The Long Story:

1987

While gathering songs for the follow-up to Sammystown, I wrote a basic version of When It Rains in LA.  The lyrics were a simple-minded ode to love accented by a rare Los Angeles rain. Though I made a fully orchestrated model,  I never showed it to Voodoo.  It was just too common a chord progression and too romantic a theme. 

 

I never developed it further than a first draft and so, the song went into hibernation.

1990

By the time I was working on my first solo album in 1990, I became friends with Carlos, an El Salvadorian custodian at MCA Universal where I recorded. As I was there five nights a week, 8 pm until 3 am,  we'd often hang and shoot the shit on our breaks.

During a rainstorm,  I returned to the song with a new story: God,  in true Hollywood fashion, decides to make a sequel to The Flood. Sticking to the terms of His contract, He spares the world and just drowns  LA. However, our merciful God spares the outcasts in that city of dreams.  

I pictured Carlos, the humble, hard-working immigrant, in the role of Noah.

 

I envisioned long, detailed, sadistic narrative of a deluged Hollywood.
The first two verses and chorus were as far as I got.

And the song, once again, hibernated.

2013
At the piano one evening, I happened upon When it Rains in LA and decided to finish it. To hell with the long narrative. Noah gathers the losers and now what? Does he build an Ark? Oh, God, everybody does that. No. Too boring.

 

 I got it: God instructs Noah to hi-jack the Queen Mary. Fill it full of the unknown and unwanted.

Perfect.

Very Voodoo.


Done.

Well, almost. Sort of. There needed to be a coda or something. There needs be a little wasabi and pickled ginger at the end of the chorus. Some kind of chord change.

And nothing came.

And the song hibernates again.

February 2017.

It begins to rain. I sing the song. I figure out the end of the chorus. A little coda. A chord change.


Done:


And to paraphrase The Book of Genisis "...In the thirtieth year, on the twentieth day of the second month since it's  inception, the song came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat. "




 

Upon My Wicked Son Photoshoot :The Backstory 

                                                                                                                                                                          Photo by Reggie Ige 1990
I happened upon this old test Polaroid from the photoshoot of  Upon My Wicked Son .

There Is A Story Behind This Picture.
Of course there is.
But , long story short?   I can't tell it here .

Sorry.
Well,okay.  I'll tell you a little bit... 

In the photo, I am standing in my home.I am in the dining room.
It's winter, about 8 pm on a small, dimly lit  dead-end street in Echo Park. . 

What You Don't Know:

A thick, sharp, long knife sits on the lamp table in front of me.

I  had the knife  just in case the crazy  people came back with their gun.

It had been that kind of day.


 

The Night Before:

 Let me simply say The LAPD left the house at about 8:30 AM .   There was fingerprint powder everywhere.
The day went by in a fog of fitful  naps and phone calls. Crazy phone calls. Stalker-y phone calls .Spooky hang up phone calls.

When the photographer, Reggie Ige, showed up for the shoot, I was shot...metaphorically speaking.
 

The photo below?  Another test Polaroid, probably the first of the session  .

I used it for  my Virtue Triumphs album cover  recently.  What looks  like a nice sensitive rock boy photo is , in fact, a perfect capture  of a man who is  shocked,dismayed, exhausted and heartsick.  

Worried, too .

What if the crazy people  with guns come back? 



So next time you happen upon that old album...

Remember I am packing a chef's knife, guarding against gun toting  maniacs  while  posing for my first solo album .

Say cheese!
 

On a Brighter Note:
Here is where the photoshoot took place.


A I stood in the dining room. Reggie Ige took  this picture with his back to the piano ) which was near the  front door** .

) My home where the photo was taken ..

By the way, in my late 30s, I had just learned to drive. That is my first car, a 1968 Thunderbird:V-8 Wonder of the Western World.

 

The photos of the house were taken about 1990. Echo Park at the time was a seedy, gang-y ,forgotten district of LA  . It was funky n' forlorn then.  It is ritzy n' white-sy  now. 

I shared this house with an extremely  gifted woman,  Gretchen Victor . We were strictly brother -and-sister best- friends. She had a fantastic  eye for decoration and collecting .  So much so, in fact,  that I credited her on the album . If you look closely, you will see that she  had hung a  portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe next to the front door. Many times I would leave the house and find  the local gangsters  hanging out , looking up meekly  at The Virgin  Talking quietly . Discussing Her


It was a very happy, productive time for me. When  Wall of Voodoo sank and the tormenting Eighties were over,  this is the shore I swam to . For the first time in ages, I found a degree of peace ,prosperity, and  sanity.

Give or take a few rough nights...or weeks...or months now and then.


**(Piano photo by Kim Bacus)

 

A Lot More Love. A free download for you.  


Happy new year. A gift for you.

Why this song? 

I could have used a lot more love- The idea behind the lyric  seems  simple. At first listen,
it appears it is a lament where I wish I had been loved better and more often throughout my
life.
  
That is not the case.   

What moved me to write this song was realizing  that I could have loved better. I could have loved more
So many times, I should  have used love first.   

I believe  it a  proper sentiment for the year we are  facing.  I offer it here to you . A small gesture of my
gratitude to you all. 

I wish you the strength to love in the year to come. May  tolerance and empathy always be your preemptive move.

Gratefully.

Andy Prieboy

A Lot More Love 

I've been walking all night 
I've been walking 'till dawn 
I've been a fool all my life 
I never fooled anyone 
And my summers have gone 
And my winter has come 
And the one thing that I'm thinking of: 
I could have used a lot more love. 

Right to the heart 
And a left to the jaw 
Bright were the stars 
They were the last thing I saw 
And I tried to be strong 
And I tried to be tough 
But I'm never ever tough enough 
I could have used a lot more love 

And when the moon comes up 
In a pool of blood 
I could have used a lot more love

 

THE LOST WALL OF VOODOO ALBUM COVER 

Mount Schtick-More by Drew Friedman. 


1985: 
 Lords of the New Church front man, label mate, and friend Stiv Bators tells me the following: 

"If IRS Records ever suggests you guys do a live record, your days are numbered.  They'll say  a live album will spark some interest. Don't trust them. It's just a  way for them to squeeze a few bucks  off your name before they ax you. It's what they did to us." 

1987: 
My second album with Wall of Voodoo,  Happy Planet, was failing  to chart . Our tours were sold out and the shows were good but there was little airplay and thus low sales.  So it goes.   

A few weeks before we left for a tour of Australia, the CEO of our label called us in for a meeting. " Boys! " he crowed merrily, "We wanna do a live record! "  

We said no. We said fuck no. Stupid idea. Recording live, in the middle of the Happy Planet Tour meant that 80% of the live record would be Happy Planet songs. No one wanted Happy Planet.  Why, we reasoned, re-record a rejected record ?  

The CEO said a live record would 'spark some interest.' 

The live recording crew were booked and would be there waiting for us in Melbourne, like it or not.  ***

 

LATER: DREW VOODOO CALLS DREW FRIEDMAN  

With a heavy heart, I saw the writing on the wall: We were an LA band  now teetering on the edge of oblivion. Just as Stiv had forewarned, our rinky-dink label was grabbing a few pennies before flushing us down the shit hole.  

I knew there was only one person who could capture this pathetic state of affairs: Drew Friedman. I had spent many hours transfixed by his gritty-yet-hilarious-yet-heartbreaking drawings. If you live in Hollywood long enough, life begins to looks like Drew is the art director.  

I  contacted him and, after discussing  ideas , commissioned him  to do the  album cover: a Mount Rushmore of sleazy, schamltz-y, Los  Vegas-y  entertainers: Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis, Fat Elvis, and Bob Hope. The Ugly Americans.  

In two weeks  Drew's Mount Schtick-More arrived.  

I howled!  
I guffawed!  
I laughed my fucking head off!  

I showed it to Wall of Voodoo.  
They howled!  
Guffawed!  
They laughed their fucking heads off!  

I showed it to the execs at IRS Records.  

They paled.   
They blanched.   
They wet their slacks.  

NO.FUCKING.WAY!  

"Why!?" I asked. "Why not?"  

"We'd  get  sued!" they said.  

"By who?"  

"Jerry Lewis for one"   

 "Wall of Voodoo vs The Nutty Professor!?"  I said.  "That would be so fucking cool!  "

 " ...And sued by Sammy Davis!" they continued " And by Bob Hope! And the estate of Elvis fucking Presley!" 

I said a lawsuit like that would certainly "spark some interest."  

  

IN THE END  

The Drew Friedman's Mount Schtick-More was rejected .There wasn't even a mock-up made. Begrudgingly, it was used as a header for the WoV  press release.It was also used inside the cd booklet. They felt the images falsely inferred Elvis,Bob, Sammy, and Jerry were touring with Wall of Voodoo-( If they were, I doubt even they could have sold any more Happy Planet records than we had.)**

 IRS also made a few shoddy T-shirts,hoping to make their money back . My buddy in the IRS art department slipped me Drew's work when they were done with it. I have  kept it safe since.

TODAY: 
A few years ago, Drew invited me and my beloved Merrill to a swanky party full of swanky Hollywood writers who were celebrating the release of Drew's latest book at that time: Heroes of the Comics.  I showed up like a pathetic 60 year old fan boy, carrying my Wall of Voodoo album art under my arm. He graciously signed it.  
Framed, it now dwells on the wall of my studio.

(**Thanks to Todd Longwell for reminding me of the booklet.)

***There was a loophole in the contract that allowed IRS  to do this after record #2. 

CORRECTIONS:
Geir Age Lia  of Norway points out that Drew's work was used as the cover of a WoV giveaway  promotion.

A Story Told In Two Photos. Wall of Voodoo 1984 to 1986 



 
Wall of Voodoo 1984
London
Uncredited 

Just off the plane from LA. ,we are about to start  The Lords of the New Church /Wall of Voodoo Tour. We had spent the year carving a new band from the old  .  In this photo,  we are untested. Still somewhat strangers.  We are without a  record deal .  Sammystown was a long, frustrating year away. 

We are   dark horses. Extremely dark. Audaciously , we book a tour of the UK, where the original Voodoo was beloved .


Although Marc seems proud , parental, and protective ,   I am hidden. Vulnerable . Vigilant. I subconsciously do the nose-tap-Charades gesture  for you-guessed right : Me. Andy Prieboy.  I am the new singer.  

I knew it would be  tough  : the hour of battle  was now upon me. 

After this shoot, Chas and Marc would go off to be interviewed. The old Wall of Voodoo introducing  the new. You can see from this photo that they are guiding this ship. 


During this time, I would listen to Bruce,Marc and Chas  tell old stories  and /or gripe about the previous  band.  Their early days. The old struggles. The  success.  The fall. They were seasoned pros who had  seen and done and accomplished so much.

 I wondered if one day we would ever reminisce like that.
 

Sitting there on an apple crate,  I couldn't imagine it.



Wall of Voodoo 1986
Australia.
Uncredited 


Two  and half years later. Taken, I believe, in Australia just before we went on stage.
 

It would be a  painful,hilarious, slanderous, X-rated  autobio if I ever wrote what transpired between the first photo and this one.

 Promoting Seven Days in Sammystown , we had crossed The States,Europe,Scandinavia, and, flying through  the Chernobyl cloud ,  came at last to Australia. 

Our song, Far Side of Crazy, was in the Australian Top Ten.  We had been on the road seemingly for ever , playing every night.Traveling thousands and thousands of miles. Thus, this is a portrait of a band that had faced down a great deal of opposition and doubt. A band that had done an enormous amount of work, and did so fully committed to one another. A portrait of five guys who  are exhausted, in some cases  ill. A perfect  moment to take a picture :on the other side of that  wall ,an expectant audience waited . There is a show to do   and we face it relaxed , controlled and  confident. 

We had survived . In many ways  succeeded in spite of those who said we couldn't, wouldn't and shouldn't. 

We were now more than a band. We were a brotherhood .A bond that lasts to this day. I had come along way from that first timid photo in London . There would be another five years of this madness.

So, yes, even at this point , were were quite able to  reminisce .

 

WHEN THE HEART AWAKES - About that Choir... 



When the Heart Awakes 



Listen to When the Heart Awakes

The first song I wrote from this collection, When the Heart Awakes is a mother's lament. It's a portrait of a troubled woman who gave up custody of her daughter, as she ponders what her child will think the day she  grows up and looks back.  

This arrangement hinges on the performance of Cassie Webb, an exceptional singer, a friend and sister-songwriter at MCA Music Publishing where this was cut.   I had tried a few previous versions , but felt they were not telling the story clearly . I asked  Cassie  if she could create a choir behind my vocal  .She said it be no problem, requesting only that she be allowed to arrange  it according to her aesthetic , as she saw fit.  Sure thing!  So, one evening, she, Scott Thunes and I recorded the song a few times live . I picked the best take and then turned it over to her. 

 For the next two days, Cassie weaved a choir track by track. We sat transfixed . Hour by hour the tracks were laid and  the choir grew .  She kept detailed  notes of each take, marking their notation and nuance.Her partner, writer/producer David Skeet, sat at the mixing consul and assisted her in keeping track of all the subtly different  layers . I would suggest  the kind listener pay close attention to Cassie's sense of dynamics : her choir has a full understanding and intimacy with the lyrics.


It was a remarkable two days . I was a little sad when she said her part was done. I wanted to sit there forever watching Cassie work , listening to her magnificent voice.