This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 7/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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The best songwriters say their most difficult creative effort is to pen a humorous tune. Well, Eric Schwartz has literally burst out of the East Coast folk music scene with a release offering five witty cuts whose content meanders from subtle asides and ironies to biting but still laughable social commentaries. Rest assured, however, that this is not a comedy release. Schwartz' other elegant compositions traverse the serious scale from a depiction of his personal Shangri-la in "Only Be," to the heartfelt "Brother Mine," to a brief, doomed love affair in "My Lady of the Broken Glass."
Schwartz offers fresh, clever, remarkable songwriting nestled in various song styles and moods, in a delightfully-paced musical mix. He opens with "Hattie And Mattie." Spirited by light percussion and clarinet flourishes, he finally catches on that the two elderly women living downstairs from him are lesbians and comes to learn they first met in Paris, introduced by Gertrude Stein. He sings:
Yes, they're the founding mothers of the revolution
Of mating for a blatant disregard for evolution
Lesbians extraordinaire years before they cut their hair..."
Well, Mary, I hope you don't mind
I don't want to rule the world
I just want to spend some time
And maybe I'll even try to smile
The kind I really feel
That hasn't happened in a while
Carpe Diem is her motto
Tony Robbins is her guide
Bit I feel blessed when I'm blotto
Even better when I'm fried..."
The sweet "Only Be" offers Schwartz' Rx for relief from the madcap hustle and bustle of city life. His chorus prescribes:
So I (gratuitous sound of death)
And in a fit of guilt I screamed out
'I just killed Kafka
He was crawling across the floor
I didn't want to do it
But I knew he'd make more
So I showed him the solace of the soul of my shoe
And now he's nothing but steaming pile of goo'
And so I scraped up his remains
And I flushed him down the drain
A little bit of crunchy shit, a little bit of brain
Two parts broken heart, three parts pain
And add to it a healthy bit of scholarly disdain..."
Marilu likes a guy who's always trying to catch my eye
And I like to think it makes her burn
Would it be such a sin if I asked him to move in
So I could watch the tables turn
I know she might not be affected
But just to see some jealousy
Well I might feel less neglected
For whatever we may want
No one's quite that nonchalant
Concerning who is doing who
Excepting maybe the lovely Marilu...
...I know I should be stopping
"Cuz I'm not sure I can endure
Another year of futon-hopping
But for three the rent is low, and so rest will go
To pay a shrink to help me through
My days with Jenny and our lovely Marilu
So now Jenny's cousin's here, for a summer, it appears
And she's all of seventeen
And, yeah, she's kind cute
Well, for forbidden fruit
But we all suspect she's not so green
But scene to which we have alluded
Have done no good, tho' try we would
She said she could not be included
So tho' it hasn't happened yet
She will succumb before we're through
To me 'n' Jenny and the lovely Marilu."
Schwartz' observances of New York City's Washington Square populace is presented in the satirical and charming "Psycho Ballet." It goes:
"...We'll sit ourselves down on a nice afternoon
I'll point out performers and let you lampoon
There sure ain't no dearth of galutes on this earth
But there's some here that hail from the moon
Like the nuthouseketeers
And the brown-baggied-beers
Drunk by drunks that have drunk here
For twenty-five years
The comatose stone-boys and hip-hoppin' homeboys
With blasters abusin' our ears
There's a panhandling prophet
Who swears he's been off it
Since early last year or perchance yesterday
Yes, the bullshit will fly 'n' you'll laugh 'til you're cryin'
When spyin' the Psycho Ballet...
You've pot bell-bottomed beauties
In swell-bottomed splendor
And frat-boys who've blown it
For the rest of their gender
Ticker-tape traders who blew it on blow
And resemble Garcia, without all his dough
You got cam-cording tourists and Jesus-freak jurists
And pud-pounding purists on piss-house patrol
Mohawked marauders and brain-dead skateboarders
Who don't seem to mind running straight into poles
Well, there'll always be accolades
For spandex on rollerblades
And losers in Lennon-shades with nothing to say
No need to go formal, a tee-shirt is normal
When viewing the Psycho Ballet...
You've got guys who set fire to themselves for a quarter
And girls who unshod would be eight inches shorter
Bozos on benches who bobble their boners
And bimbo-bait bowsers who act like their owners
Egos who masturbate with their guitars
And seduce teenyboppers convinced that they're stars
But when the girlies are gone they are just as alone
And neurotic as they were before
To your surest chagrin
The asylum you're in's gonna start to make sense
In the scariest way
And when the bizarre'uns have ceased to seem foreign
You'll star in the Psycho Ballet..."
Familiarity with the denizens of Washington Square will enhance your enjoyment of this song but it isn't necessary in order to get a laugh, or recognize similar environs of your hometown and possibly a citizen or two of the same likeness.
Produced by Crit Harmon, the initial effort of this relative newcomer is absolutely rewarding. Climb on his burgeoning bandwagon while there's still seating.
Schwartz on acoustic guitar and vocals is backed by Greg Holt on bass and upright bass; Brad Hatfield on piano, organ, strings and synths; Eric Parker on drums and percussion; Alfredo Hidrovo on percussion; Steve Heck on piano and clavinet; Harry King on piano and B-3; Crit Harmon on electric guitar; Matt Leavenworth on violin; John Troy on bass; Billy Novick on clarinet; Derek Dyer on saxophone and Concetta Gordon, Patti Unitas, Ned Claflin, Andrew Cranin, Chuck Ross and Eric Aubin on backing vocals.
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