Disco, Twice Removed
The perks of working as a receptionist are vast. Unlimited coffee, (2nd Thing Here), & control over the airwaves. I was late to the internet radio game, but when I became a front desk worker in 2013, streaming and I became fast friends (apologies to my future self).
Setting the vibe for the office was a task I didn’t take lightly. Most days my choices were on point. Start with something snappy, mix in an oldie or two, take a quick trip to the 90’s, and never, ever, keep the door closed if a TRL classic is knocking. Other days, however, it was made clear my ears were a bit too somber for the high speed, go getters surrounding me.
I get it. Perhaps it’s a bit cliche to have The Smiths playing while the sky is overcast, but darn it, the heart wants what it wants. Plus, The Smiths Pandora station was filled with bopping good times from Moz and the Salford Lads, as well as other groups like The Cure (despite Morrissey’s best wishes, I’m sure) and Camera Obscura.
I hadn’t heard much of the Scottish group Camera Obscura before dabbling with online streaming. There was something Smiths-esque to their sound. Not a dead ringer by any means, but somewhere in the reverbs, jangles, and wrist-y rhythms, was a Johnny Marr fan. There had to be, or at least that’s what I told myself.
While letting that stew somewhere in the back of my mind, I’d bought a cheap knockoff of a 1960’s Vox Phantom guitar. To most, the melted jelly bean guitar body is an eyesore, but I’d always been drawn to it. Perhaps it’s because I’d always been drawn towards jelly beans? My knockoff had the look, but it did not have the touch. If there wasn’t a capo on the 1st fret the guitar was unplayable. Sure, I’d bought the guitar because of the visual, but I’d hoped I could use it.
Sitting slumped on the couch with the guitar in my lap dejected, I started to think about Camera Obscura. How did they write songs? I imagined them thinking, “What Would Johnny Marr Do?” and while that’s probably not their process, it gave me an idea. What if I tried to write a song like someone trying to write a song like Johnny Marr? Songwriting twice removed, I guess you could call it.
I sat upright, and almost immediately jangly chords and wrist-y rhythms just happened. Because I wasn’t trying to write what I’d consider an Oklahoma-type song, I let myself roll with reckless abandon. As quickly as I’d played it, I had written the chorus for Disco. The chords and structure are the same to this day, but the Marr-by-way-of-Obscura vibe has all but disappeared.
Like I’d mentioned in the last entry, this song has had a strange journey. This was just the beginning. Below is a sample of the original chorus vibe and an instrumental version of it's Fever Dream form.