Photo by Austin Young. Styling by Squeaky Blonde. Make-up by MAC
This is a guest post from Ann Magnuson.
Initially, “Open Letter to an Open Letter” was written as a Facebook post, a goofy riff on the somewhat futile nature of ranting on the Internet. I wrote it after reading Sinead O’Connor’s “Open Letter to Miley Cyrus” where the former was chastising the latter for slutty twerking on the 2013 Grammys. I thought well, she makes some valid points but is this really helping anything? Then I thought, you know the real culprit is the Beast that feeds on all our infighting; the clickbait monster that every media site has turned into which has transformed the whole system into “a vortex that can never be filled”!
When I started recording my recent album Dream Girl I decided to include “Open Letter,” but then it didn’t really fit on the finished product so I decided to release it later as a separate track. I wanted to bring the “Open Letter” words to musical life and create an epic track that was in the spirit of “Folk Song” (initially written for one of my one-woman shows, and then ended up on the Bongwater album The Power of Pussy).
For the recording, I was partly inspired by Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” as well as by Ken Nordine and a host of other spoken word pieces from the psychedelic past. I recorded the whole thing in one take and then added embellishments later, mostly with my engineer Mark Wheaton at the Echo Park studio CATASONIC. My drummer Joe Berardi provided percussion and various sound effects and The Millionaire (Michael Cudahy) from Combustible Edison did the orchestrations and guitar work.
In the three years since the piece was written the mad chatter on the Internet has become so voluminous, so unhinged, so ugly and combative that there can be no doubt that we really are in the midst of a Civil War. And that battlefield is getting really bloody. The longer it goes on and the crazier it gets the vast void everyone is screaming into feels vaster than ever. While there are so many great things about the Internet (baby goat videos for example) it’s brought out the worst aspects of humanity. So much so that we’ve elected an Internet troll as our President!
Every time I look at the news I start singing the “Open Letter” chorus: “Seriously WTF?!” Has that become the new E Pluribus Unum? #sad
I just may have to agree with blogger Mark Manson who says, “Everything is Fucked and I’m Pretty Sure It’s the Internet’s Fault”
I do think the Internet has changed our brain chemistry and not for the best. There is no denying the Internet has changed the zeitgeist. It IS the zeitgeist.
The way “Folk Song” (and a lot of the Bongwater stuff) riffed on the zeitgeist of the Reagan/Bush years, “Open Letter” riffs on today. Particularly as it relates to women - though the current madness is gender-neutral, and bi-partisan to boot!
If there is one thing that everyone can agree on it’s “SERIOUSLY WTF?!”
PS: By the way I will be performing “Open Letter” live for the first time in my politically-themed show “Seriously, WTF?! –Dream Girl Reacts To The National Nightmare” at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles on March 18th (this will be my last show at this landmark theater as the building has been sold and developers are demolishing to build yet more luxury condos! This truly is the end of old Silver Lake!)
I will also be doing at a lot more Bongwater – since the songs from the Reagan/Bush era are more relevant than ever! We’re doing the song “The Living End” (from Too Much Sleep) since these days really do feel like we’re livin’ in the end time) and “Lesbians of Russia” (like the ones Trump hired to pee on that Russian bed!). Also “Chicken Pussy” (from The Power of Pussy album) because…well, why not?
This has been a guest post from Ann Magnuson.