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LINER NOTES, explaining the lyrics of BipTunia’s song “To Keep Yourself From Falling”

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LYRICS:

Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my…

Tiffany take my thoughts on up to heaven
show my songs and all my wrongs to God
Tiffany take my words with you to heaven
I’ll just lie here riding out the harm

CHORUS:
Close your eyes
to catch yourself from fallin’
close your eyes
to keep your skin from crawlin’

 

Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my

I’m not your mother.
I’m not your priest.
I’m not your hippie daddy spreading disease

Born in the Summer of Love,
now you’re dying in the Haight.

(CHORUS)

Life’s more fun than a barrel full of strippers
Life is more than blood-saint sinners
When I was five I stole my mother’s wedding ring for you
now when you’re talking to your clock I’ll know just what to do.

I’ll jump on to the second hand
and ride it to you in the promised land.

I’ll jump on to the second hand
and ride it to you in the promised land.

In a sense my innocence has always been there waiting
always been there waiting

CHORUS: (4x)

Falling…..


LINER NOTES, EXPLAINING THE SONG

When I was mixing this song I was thinking about the liner notes and realized they might end up being longer and more complex than the lyrics.

After finishing these notes, I realized they are. lol. There’s a lot to unpack here…..

I’m going to go through it part by part;


Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my
Tiffany take my…


My first great love was named Tiffany. She’s mentioned in another BipTunia song, the woman who later “married a cop and moved to Toledo for the good life.” lol.

But this song isn’t actually about a Tiffany. It’s about a Stefanie; Stefanie Sergeant, who went by the nickname “Friday.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stefanie_Sargent

Friday was my friend in the late 80s / early 90s in San Francisco. We also worked together when I was doing fliers and odd jobs for the punk club “The CW Saloon.” (A former country-western bar, thus the name. Later called The Covered Wagon.) I hung out there a lot on my off nights too, except when GG Allin was playing. He played there several times. It was that kind of bar.

Stefanie and I were good friends, and hung out. I had a huge crush on her, but she never got with me….Probably because I was dating around 7 other women at once on and off most of that time. No wants to be a number, especially a number 8.

Speaking of numbers, she left San Francisco and moved to Seattle and played guitar in the band Seven-Year Bitch. They were pretty well known and toured a lot. I remember playing a few shows with them, at least one in Seattle, one in San Fran, and one on tour at the famed Outhouse club in Kansas.

She later died of choking on her own vomit while on heroin and alcohol.

It was one of the first, if not THE first high-profile drug death in the Seattle punk / grunge scene. She did it way before it was cool. Chris Cornell gets all the credit, but Friday was the pioneer. (I joke because it’s a way of dealing with death. No disrespect is meant. They say “all comedy is laughing at death.)

Her death had a deep effect on a lot of people, including me.

I wrote these lyrics for her a few years later. When I started writing music for it and getting it ready for the public, I changed “Stefanie” to “Tiffany” because I felt it was “too soon.” lol. I wouldn’t bother with those worries today. The older you get, if you’re smart, the less you care what other people think.

Also, “Tiffany” sounds better than “Stefanie” when sung loud, because of the sibilance on the S at the start of “Stefanie.”

Sam McBride (singer in the band Fang) adds:
“She jumped in the Fang van in Seattle and that’s how she ended up living in SF. I gave her the nickname Friday. I’m glad you wrote a song about her. She was really rad and I was so bummed when I heard she had died.”

Tom Flynn (original guitar player of the band Fang. Tom also runs Boner Records, the first label to sign my band Bomb, in 1987): adds
“Yeah I liked Stefanie a lot, we had a lot of fun in those Covered Wagon days. She was the one who hooked me up with the Melvins, badgering me about how I should put a record out with them. I’m glad I was paying attention.”
—–

(If you don’t know the band Fang, you should. They were a punk band that started in 1980, and they basically invented grunge. They were my label mates on Boner records, and they were (and still are) friends. Listen to their 1982 album Landshark, particularly their hit “The Money Will Roll Right In.” (Listen here.)

You’ll probably think it sounds like Nirvana…..except in reality, Nirvana sounds like Fang. Nirvana started in 1987. Nirvana even paid tribute by covering “The Money Will Roll Right in.” (listen here.)

The fact that Fang invented grunge, and got little credit, can’t be said often enough. In a just world Fang would be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame by Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.


Tiffany take my thoughts on up to heaven
show my songs and all my wrongs to God
Tiffany take my words with you to heaven


We all want a connection to the infinite.

While I now broadcast my talking on commercial radio into space hoping intelligent life will hear it, back then I thought maybe dead people could sing my songs to God. Not really, or not really for sure, but I loved the imagery.

I was surrounded by death back then. Was largely the company I kept.

I also kept a list of people I knew who died, on my first website starting in 1996. Called it “The Dean’s List.”

When it hit 76 people (around 1999), I deleted it and quit counting. It was overwhelming.

Now I don’t’ know any people who die of drugs, alcohol, suicide and car crashes. My older friends and heroes are starting to die of old age. lol.

But Friday’s death hit me hard. I was trying to make sense of it. So the God thing fit.

I’m more or less deist / agnostic now, but I was in recent recovery from heroin in 1994, and trying to form “a higher power of my own understanding.” I still love the lyrics, and still love to sing them and hear them. I make the music I want to hear.


I’ll just lie here riding out the harm.


This is about kicking heroin, and also dealing with the breakup of the last of the 7 girls. (They left me one by one as my addiction got worse. When the last one left, I got sober not long after.)

Kicking junk, I wasn’t able to sleep right for weeks, it felt like time had stopped.

I would listen to “Leonard Cohen’s Greatest Hits” on repeat in the dark by candlelight in a near empty room (I’d sold most of my possessions and burned through all my friends.)

I would finally sleep an hour or two, wake up twitching and sweating.

My wind-up alarm clock sort of became my friend.


CHORUS:
Close your eyes
to catch yourself from fallin’
close your eyes
to keep your skin from crawlin’


This is about the time when I was 8 years old that I was molested by my babysitter’s brother, Victor Torres. He was 16.

It’s also about kicking dope, and dealing with the loss of the girl, and having way too many dead friends for someone who was 30 at the time.


I’m not your mother.
I’m not your priest.


After I got sober, I was in a 12-step program and was the sponsor to a bunch of guys. I’d basically sponsor the un-sponsorable. The repeat relapsing guys that other sponsors had given up on.

I had a good track record helping them learn to stay clean. But a couple of them looked at me to solve all their problems. I tried to teach them to solve their own problems. While I’d listen to their problems and offer my own “experience, strength, and hope”, some of them became kind of codependent with me. Called me like 10 times a day.

I’d tell them “I’m not your mother, I’m not your priest.” That made it simple to them to understand.


I’m not your hippie daddy spreading disease.


Was about one of the 7 girlfriends, one who had been molested by her creepy father.


Born in the Summer of Love,
now you’re dying in the Haight.


This line is about Stefanie Sergeant. I knew she was about 3 years younger than me. So I always assumed she was born in 1967 (summer of love”). According to the image above she was born in 1968. Though she was conceived in 1967. lol.

“The Haight” is San Francisco slang for the Haight-Ashbury district. It was hippie central in 1967, where everyone in the world wanted to move. Now, and when I wrote this song in the early 90s, and even by 1968 from what I’ve read, it’s an open sewer for drug-damaged panhandling homeless people covered in sores who used to be “the beautiful people” decades earlier.

Friday shared an apartment with some people near there at one time, before she moved to Seattle. She was still in pretty good shape when she left there, but I liked the imagery.

Some have asked me, in a kinda snitty way, “Why did you put lines about being molested in a song about a woman who died?” Well, when I got sober, a lot of feelings I was dealing with all came up at the same time and hit me hard. I was dealing with both topics at the same time: Dead friends, and bad things from my childhood. And also, the hell of kicking dope was a very real very recent memory….I began processing a huge back log of bad and sad feelings.

Be being molested as a kid wasn’t a “recovered memory”, I’d always known it happened. But I’d really pushed it down with drugs and alcohol. When I got sober, I started dealing with things I’d never dealt with before.


Life’s more fun than a barrel full of strippers
Life is more than blood-saint sinners


Just fun words. I like it. Second line is addressing catholic guilt that was heavy in one of the 7 girlfriends. Also, three of them were strippers. I’ve never paid for sex and never paid to go to a strip club. I never would.


When I was 5 I stole my mother’s wedding ring for you


I DID steal my mother’s diamond wedding ring when I was in Kindergarten and give it to a girl I had a crush on, Wendy.

The teacher asked Wendy where she got a gold ring with a diamond, and a phone call was placed to my mother.

I learned not to steal from that.

My mother willed me that ring, because I was the only one of her 4 children who’d never been married. She left a note that said “for your future wife.”

My wife has that ring now and never takes it off.

My mother got it from her grandmother. Which means that the ring is over 100 years old. It’s a small diamond, but quite beautiful.


Now when you’re talking to your clock I’ll know just what to do.


Again, this is about kicking heroin, dealing with friends’ deaths, and the last girlfriend from “the magnificent 7” dumping me. Also the “I’ll know just what to do” is about my belief that you can’t really understand a heroin addict and say “I feel your pain”, both about a life on junk, and about kicking, unless you’ve done it. And how people who’ve done it and kicked can help an addict far more than someone with a PhD in addictionology who’s never been an addict.


I’ll jump on to the second hand
and ride it to you in the promised land.


More reflection on watching the clock for days while kicking heroin, dealing with many friends’ deaths, and the last girlfriend dumping me.

Also goes full circle back to the “bring my words to heaven” thing.

Also implies that things might be better tomorrow.


In a sense my innocence has always been there waiting
always been there waiting


Is about dealing with / coming to grips with / recovering from
having been molested as a kid.

Being molested happened right around the time my parents got divorced. And in my 8-year-old brain, I mixed it all up in my head and felt guilty for that happening.

I’m better now.


Falling…..


An early version of this song ended with the word “crawling”, not “falling.” But I wanted it to leave you feeling ethereal, not creeped out, so I changed it.

ABOUT THE MUSIC
This song is a helluva ear worm. Listen to it once and you’ll be humming it for a week. I like that. The melody is strong in this one….

The verse is creepy and dark and a little funny, the chorus is beautiful and pop and dark but musically uplifting.

The singing is a little syncopated, to keep it swingin’, maaan.

I intentionally made it creepy & dark but also hopeful & uplifting, because, as Huber Selby Jr said, “Sometimes life can be both.”

I played all the instruments on this and did all the singing. It’s all done on keyboard.

The first note is supposed to be reminiscent of early Police. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” Which is an uplifting melody with creepy lyrics. Also starts with a foreboding sustained Taurus bass pedal synth.

There are a couple out of place drum hits (a drum and a closed hi-hat and a share. Also a bass guitar plays the riff for a second.) This is to make the song sound like a band on stage. Warming up a little before going into it. I also mixed all the drums without a lot of compression to the song sound more live.

The Leslie minor organ chord that follows conjures Pink Floyd.

For the melody after that, but before the singing, starting at 45 seconds, I picked a synth sound that reminded me of Gary Numann.

As you can see, this song wears my influences on its sleeve.

The song has the classic “quiet verse / loud chorus” that people associate with Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. Though I was doing it in my band Bomb before I ever heard Nirvana.

And everyone in Nirvana was/is a fan of Bomb. And I quite like Nirvana too. But I wasn’t influenced by them. Bomb started in 1986, a year before Nirvana.

I learned this technique from Pink Floyd, especially from the album “The Final Cut.”

I did record a version of this song in 1996 with my short lived band Slish. That band had Michael Urbano on drums (he was in Cracker and Smashmouth), and had David Immergluck (now in Counting Crows) on guitar.

Despite such stellar hit-making players, that version isn’t as good as this. Largely because we were going into recording studios that cost money. This version was done in my bedroom, for free, so I could take as much time as I want. Even so, I did it in a few days time. The Slish version was recorded and mixed in two hours.

Also, I used to scream-sing, and I’ve now learned to sing in my lower register. I learned to scream/sing/strain in my higher register, because I was playing live, mostly through crappy PA systems, with overly-loud bands. Like louder than a lot of loud bands. I had to sing high and scream to be heard.

Now that I don’t tour, and only record, I am loving exploring my lower signing register.

Most of the BipTunia songs these days are kinda improvised around Phil Wormuth’s poems. While still having a lot of structure (how could they not with me making them?), they aren’t classic pop structured “songs.”

This song has a classic pop structure. I try to do one or two on each BipTunia album. You know, “the radio hit.”

…..Although this song does not have a middle 8. It’s just verse/chorus though the whole thing.

Though some of the instrumental parts, or the “Tiffany take my” or the bass drum breakdowns could be considered a middle-8. But they all follow the verse or chorus in harmonic form.

The things that work as middle-8s come early in the song. In most pop songs, they come late. Before the last chorus, to provide a reprieve from the repetition. I did mine early, and the end of the song is intentionally repetitive (but with some vocal harmony for variations), because it takes you to a nice place then keeps you there for a minute or so.

The bass drum breakdowns are a nod to early New Order (particularly “Blue Monday” which doesn’t even have a chorus, the chorus is the same as the verse harmonically), and other post-punk dance bands that incorporated electronic elements even before MIDI existed.

I call that kind of music “Euro-homo Nazi disco.”

I define this as early 80s (or early 80s feel) electronic dance music with a heavy disco-derived beat, a little bit of a punk edge, an incessant “boots marching” ryhthm, and dark imagery, and/or dark humor.

I love Euro-homo Nazi disco, and sometimes create it.

I’d also put Kraftwerk (whom I love) in the “Euro-homo Nazi disco” category, even though they are very different from New Order.

The sub-octave bass in the repeating choruses at the end are supposed to be reminiscent of church. More specifically the pipe organ at a beautiful funeral.

I do consider “To Catch Yourself From Falling” a dance song, but not sure where people will dance to it. lol. If you dance to it in your living room or anywhere, upload to YouTube, feel free to use the music, with credit, and send me a link please.

Worms. (that’s how David Immergluck taught me to say “word”, i.e. “I agree” or “it is the truth.”

–Michael W. Dean
March 2018, Wyoming.


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