Black Tape For A Blue Girl: The “Bike Shop” EP
A few days ago on a post at the Black Tape For A Blue Girl Patreon, I replied: In “Absolute zero” he knows its hopeless and yet he’s still hopeful. In “Cabin” he’s resigned. In “Vega” he’s resigned. And in “She’s Gone” he’s sort of reached the point of, “Oh fuck it! I’m just going to move on and try again…”
Kervin Brungardt commented: I heartily approve of the story arc and stages in attitude in Bike Shop. It happens that way so often and you have captured the emotional landscape so well. Trivia – Dennis Hopper grew up in Dodge City, KS 80 miles 18 years from where I grew up. Always proud of a fellow High Plains person.
And here’s my reply.
Hey Kervin… Dennis is is a home town boy. How cool! Here’s how the idea came to me to include him in the song.
Usually I spend time listening to the music track as I craft words into lyrics. But “The Cabin” and “Vega” were written a bit differently. I had the music recorded, and I wrote some words (first half of photo above) that I thought fit the mood. Nothing polished, just source material for the song. I brought that sheet into the studio and began recording guide melodies over the music. Shaping them into lines that fit the lengths of the lines.
That was verse one. Now what? When I look at that sheet of paper, I see I thought, “What happens next? Oh! Why doesn’t Dennis Hopper show up to give Mike’s character some dating advice!”
“Seems legit!” as my son would say. : )
But why Dennis Hopper?
I was listening to a lot of early Neil Young when writing the tracks for Bike Shop. In “Pocahontas” (from Rust Never Sleeps – 1979 – actually not so early of an album) Neil sings, “And maybe Marlon Brando will be there by the fire; We’ll sit and talk of Hollywood and the good things there for hire.” That line has been in my mind for over 35 years…. so heading into the 2nd verse, I blurted out (as you can see above), “and maybe a young dennis hopper would sit with us here by the fire, laughing and saying, “man, what are you talking about…” (if you’ve ever seen a Hopper interview on Letterman, you know how he loved to laugh and say “man”) and then I continued, “you’re not gonna deny her, your still caught up i desire…” I just started writing out a string of sentences that rhymed with “fire” to get to the joke at the end of the verse.
Later, I reread the words to “Pocahontas” and made a small change to the first line to make it more similar…
and maybe a young dennis hopper, would be there by the fire, sayin’, “man you can’t deny her, you’re still caught up in desire, get her on that ole’ telephone wire, and do what it takes. don’t let your love expire, you’ve gotta go out on the high wire, let your passion burn like fire.”
It’s a bunch of somewhat cliche advice that you might hear from a friend, as you’re thinking, “Naw. Nope. Not gonna happen. Way too late.”
Thus the song ends with:
dennis loved to speak in words that rhymed, but i can’t see that they apply to me
so i don’t think i’ll go back to that cabin anymore.
And yes, there is a cabin. And I’ve since visited again. I dusted myself off and tried again.