So, the story goes like this:
I used to sit in my room and write all the time. I wrote in class. I wrote at lunch. In my spare time I wrote for the school paper. Sometimes I would recite poetry on top of tables in the courtyard, to groans and eye-rolls and thrown microwave burritos.. At some point I decided it would be easier to get people to listen if there was music involved. So I started turning my poems into songs. By the time I graduated Pinole Valley High School, I had quite a lot of songs, some of them even good. I never counted them up; they were scattered through a bunch of old notebooks and I didn’t figure anyone would ever hear them, other than the four or five people I’d played them for here and there. They were just my weird little angst- and drug-induced diary entries, set to music.
One day in my senior year, one of these friends called me up.
“Dan, you’re gonna come over to my house and record every song you’ve ever written.”
I had nothing else to do, so I slung my guitar over my back and walked the roughly 2 and 1/2 miles to my friend’s house in El Sobrante, where he had a microphone and recorder set up. I stacked my notebooks next to me in roughly chronological order and started to go through them. When I was done, there were nearly a hundred songs. A hundred. And I’d weeded out a few truly shitty songs, or stuff where I couldn’t read my own writing. I was a little flabbergasted. I hadn’t really thought of myself as a songwriter up until that point, but faced with the evidence before me, I was forced to admit the possibility that I was a songwriter. “All it takes is one hit,” my uncle used to tell me, and of course the fact that Green Day, guys who’d gone to the same high school and been stifled by the same conditions, were all over MTV, did nothing to dissuade me from writing more songs. Maybe there was a way out of this place.
The Dan Abbott Anthology filled up three CDs, at least, in 1995. I assume CDs hold more than they did then. I am really the wrong person to ask about that sort of thing. My friend made a few copies, and some of his friends burned copies for themselves. Other people made tape copies of the CDs. The “Danthology”, as it came to be called spread around the little community of weirdos in Pinole and El Sobrante, and occasionally I would be getting a ride home from some stranger or loose acquaintance, and they would have a copy in their car. Even so, I can’t imagine more than 50 people ever heard those songs.
Later that summer, I found myself in a band called Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits, which put my life on a path of adventure from which there was no going back. More about those adventures some other time. But suffice it to say, a few songs from the Danthology eventually became early Bobby Joe Ebola songs, so fans of that band may hear some familiar tunes.
Anyway, in the intervening years, I lost track of the Danthology. Eventually I lost the only copies I had. earlier this year, on a whim, I emailed the guy who’d originally recorded them, and asked if he had the old songs. He didn’t, he admitted, but another friend of ours might. Which, it turned out, he did.
So all of a sudden, I found myself in possession of the first hundred songs I’d written, at just about the 20th anniversary of their recording. As loathe as I am to lean on the past for comfort, this seemed as good a time as any for reflection.
So I figured I would just start releasing the songs on bandcamp. I’ll start with five and then do at least one a week. At this rate, it’ll give me something to say once a week for the next year and a half. Here you go:
I’ve typed up the lyrics and at some point, should there be any interest, I’ll write down the chords for these songs in case anyone else might want to play them. Pay what you will, share them around, that’s fine. Mostly this is for me, though I’m certainly interested to know what people think about 15-year-old Dan’s poetry and songsmithing. I’m hoping that the process of reflection over time will provide me some useful insight into my development as an artist, and as a person. I don’t really know, I’m winging it here.
Let me know what you think!