This was largely written and recorded just after Chinese New Year, in Hanoi, but inspired by walking around Hong Kong and seeing dogs being treated like royalty. They were having a whale of a time. It was about to be their year.
The last Year of The Dog was 2006; the song is bluntly autobiographical. February 2006 was the last time I was unemployed, and I did spend a week doing a sudoku (which I did not complete), I also spent a week doing a crossword (which I did not complete), concluded I have limited problem-solving intelligence, and spent a week doing an EP called Tissue of Lies, my first solo recording. After that I worked in Westminster Council transcribing questionnaires from users of drug, alcohol and homeless services, worked for four years as a medical physicist, lasering and imaging various parts of the body (most of them not parts you would not have on display, even wearing a swimsuit), became a data visualisation lecturer, started several podcasts (in 2006 I had no idea what a podcast was), and here I was – 12 years on. Unemployed, on a sofa. In Vietnam. Not doing a sudoku.
I asked twitter for recommendations for the worst synth sounds in GarageBand, eventually finding some really terrible ones and layering over a vocal that sounds like I’m drunk even though I’m basically teetotal and a square. The first letters of each line form an acrostic for “The Year of The Dog”, and I had some idea of changing the lyric on each verse to reflect different takes on the same ideas, but in the end just gave up and stuck with the original weird direct “straight out of my brain” approach because it seemed more fun. And added some sentimental chat about dogs in the second chorus.
I’d previously not been a huge fan (of dogs), but then I’d met Inscrutable Rita (as mentioned in Rusty Horse Bones) and Reproachful Flower, a border collie we dogsitted in Los Angeles in December 2017, and who didn’t like to give affection and didn’t like going for walks, but nevertheless stayed calmed while I was freaking out when Elon Musk launched his rocket from Southern California and I saw it from the street in Los Angeles and thought it was a North Korean missile attack/chemical weapons/aliens. These dogs were a lot more like cats* and I am a cat person**. So I was pretty well-disposed to dogs by the time The Year of The Dog rolled around.
I am not a heat person; and I’d already spent several days in Vietnam in mid-30s*** heat with impressive humidity. By the time we got to Cambodia, which was even hotter and more humid, I needed a day hiding from the world in an air-conditioned room. So I took a Snow Day, the subject of next week’s song.
Pre order Year of The Bird, Volume 1 at https://palebird.bandcamp.com/album/year-of-the-bird-volume-1 this week and you’ll get the download of this track (and all previous tracks) right away, and the full album when it’s released on April 8th, 2019!
*weird and distant
**weird and distant
***Celsius – mid-90s F