"Front Row at the Fashion Show" featured on the Paste Magazine CD Sampler in the Dec 07 / Jan 08 issue

I'm very pleased to announce that my song "Front Row at the Fashion Show" is included on the CD Sampler in the current issue of Paste Magazine! Paste is an excellent publication, and I'm proud to have been covered by them ever since they first hit newsstands back in 2002...they've said nice things about my Sound Theology and Public Library albums, as well as featuring my video "You Don't Speak For Me" as their online Video-of-the-Day. Now, in support of my new Best of the 20th Century album, they selected "...Fashion Show" for the Dec 07 / Jan 08 CD sampler, along with songs by other artists like Jens Lekman, Ingrid Michaelson, Liam Finn, and Jars of Clay. Thanks to the folks at Paste for the support, and thanks to you folks who've been emailing me about the sampler ever since this new issue landed in your mailbox.

A few words about the song "Front Row at the Fashion Show:"

It's kinda weird, I guess, that this was the song that the Paste editors chose for inclusion. I assumed they'd pick an up-tempo pop song like "Tape" or "Ask Me in Nebraska," but hey, it's their sampler and they can put whatever they want on it. The song originally appeared on my 1997 album Recital, but the version on the Paste Sampler has never been heard before: it's a "radio edit," which I'm excited about. When I assembled the songs for the new Best of CD, I took the original "...Fashion Show" tracks from the Recital album and had them expertly remixed by my engineering pal John Simshauser. When the Paste editors came knocking, and requested "...Fashion Show" for their sampler, I was a bit hesitant to submit it "as is," because the album version features about 20 seconds of quiet banjo picking at the beginning of the song, before any singing begins. That's a real attention-span killer, and I had visions of tens of thousands of Paste subscribers reaching for the "skip" button on their CD players. SO, I went back to engineer John, and we chopped out most of the meandering banjo introduction, creating what the folks in showbiz call a "radio edit." So, THAT'S what you hear on the Paste sampler...a quick banjo progression, and BAM, the vocals. It's the teen-pop song-presentation philosophy: "Don't bore us, get to the chorus."

Some recording details: I wrote the song in my car (a 1991 Mazda Protege, at the time), pulled over on the side of I-90 in Southern Minnesota, on my way to Okoboji, IA for the Recital recording session. It was January 19, 1997. It was, obviously, the last song written for the Recital album. My pal Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan engineered the recording, and I played the song using my Grandpa's 1920s-era banjo-ukulele, my Dad's 1950s-era copper-bell trombone, and my Guild jumbo acoustic guitar. Rather than a normal drum set, I used some found items from around Richard's basement:
suitcase = bass drum
plastic garbage can = snare drum
cardboard box = floor tom
screwdriver and plastic spoon = drumsticks
oh yeah, and a tambourine
The no-drums drum set idea was inspired by Walter Salas-Humara's use of drum cases and boxes (rather than normal drums) on the album by The Setters, and I'm paying homage to the great Vulgar Boatmen song "Mary Jane" by occasionally hitting the snare/can on the and-of-4, rather than right on the beat. And if you understand this reference, you're even a bigger nerd than me. The lead vocal was a first take, and we recorded the song the day after I wrote it.

In retrospect, the lyrics of that entire Recital album were about fame/celebrity/performing, and "...Fashion Show" is obviously about supermodels and VIP seating and dreams of success. Of course, it's all wrapped in the format of a love song for Dawn, and an anthem for road-tripping (my two most common themes). Little did I know when I wrote/recorded it that ten years later it would resurface in a magazine like this! Here's the lyrics, so sing along to the new Paste sampler:

it's a long drive to NYC
it's a lot closer than gay paree
we got a mazda with a sunroof and me and you
we got the best of the eurythmics to listen to
this is our shot baby, let's go
front row at the fashion show

the light from the flashbulbs never never ends
and we can talk about color and fabric and trends
and everyone there is so good looking
and everyone's rich and everyone's smoking
this is our chance baby, let's go
front row at the fashion show

maybe someday i'll have my own collection
maybe someday i'll design all our clothes
maybe someday we can fly off to paris
i guess we'll wait and see how it goes
they're saving our seats baby, let's go
front row at the fashion show


Front Row is one of my all-time favorite songs! Great to see it get some more exposure!
Bridget Delaney said…
I don't understand the reference, but I do understand what you mean.

Why, yes, I may not be great at playing instruments, but I'm also a music nerd (learned tons of the stuff playing handbells.)

Oh, and look at that. I now have a blog here, too.

I think I'll post more churchy stuff here, probably. LiveJournal has been my main blog for a long time. I'll keep it that way. (Plus, I can post fun polls there with the plus account!)
Rimbo said…
Oh, yeah. Super-cool. It's funny: I got the new issue, briefly glanced at the sampler, thought, "Eh," and set it aside. I didn't even notice your name on there! It would have been surreal.

I'm not surprised they picked that one -- you should know that "FRATFS" (which looks like Fuller Still started a fraternity) is one of my favorites. Remember when I made you play it for a room full of High Schoolers at a YE event back in '01? I think it's brilliant.

Funny -- I was talking with Micah about this -- I never noticed how much it reminds me of a Sufjan Stevens song. Mellow, whispery, banjo, horns. That's a good thing for me.
Winnifred from Amsterdam said…
Great song! it always makes me very cheerful. Thanks for the lyrics!
Anonymous said…
this song is so good! thanks for the lyrics. now i will sing along =)

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