I have lost my original Matt Wilson/Planetmaker demo, but I fortunately have a photocopy of the cover. Interestingly, the demo is titled “Descender.” I had forgotten that. Here are the songs, in order:
1. Raking Service
3. Queen of Tomorrow
Another thing I had forgotten. “Descender” is written by Matt AND someone called “David Z.” Somebody fill me in on this David Z.
Robbie, good memory. The liner notes indicate that Mid America is the booking agent.
I also found another copy of the demo I have. It also includes the Semisonic demo that was released at about the same time. I never caught the Semisonic bug, so I haven’t listened to this thing for at least 10 years. You probably all know that Semisonic was called “Pleasure” at that point in time. The tracks on the Pleasure demo are:
2. I Wouldn’t Want to Leave you Behind
4. Kneel Down
All undeniably good pop songs. I just wasn’t able to connect with them on a deep or personal level. Sadly, I didn’t copy the liner notes, so I can’t provide any more info on the Pleasure demo.
Robbie, your note about John switching personas reminds me of a fascinating experience I had. I am a big Tom Waits fan and I got tickets to see him at Town Hall when my wife and I lived in Manhattan. It was a phenomenal show, and the theatrical details on the stage were truly remarkable. In any case, my wife is one of the best givers of gifts I know, and as a surprise she somehow got me front and center tickets to the Letterman show the next day—feautured guest, none other than Tom Waits. Waits was his same brilliant shambolic self on camera and hilariously promoted his record and tried to hawk chocolate Jesus mints and told Dave that he had named his black Suburban his “bourbon,” etc. But, what was most fascinating was that during commercial breaks, he’d snap out of his slouch, drop the gravelly mumble, and speak with Dave about being the father of a teenager and reminisce with Dave, who had a new child, about parenting infants. It was remarkable to see those two converse like normal, middle aged men. We all know that, to one degree or another, stage personas are just that, fictional characters. But, to see how complete Waits’s fabrication was and how facile he was at shifting from one persona to another was just stupifying. After a moment of shock and disappointment, I was in awe, and I have been ever since. It makes me respect him all that much more.
To bring this all back to what is most important, I’m pretty sure that the first time I ever heard Waits was thanks to Matt Wilson, himself. It was either Black Rider or Bone Machine that he was playing before one of his solo shows as the stage was set up. I just remember being drawn to that dark, clangy swirl around brilliant and often hilarious lyrics. Captain Beefheart was probably the only thing I’d ever heard that was even remotely like it. It seemed totally out of character, but also perfectly in keeping with what one would expect Matt to draw on for ideas or inspiration. I was sheepish as I asked him what it was. He told me, “Tom Waits” without a hint of condescenscion at my having been such a musical naif.