Grant Lee Phillips' comments on Mighty Joe Moon
"These songs just up and walked out of the woods. And I can't say whether they're vegetable or mineral, 'cause when you bite into one of these things, you might get a mouthful of bones or a mouthful of notes." Source: The Tech, November 1994
"By the time we got to Mighty Joe Moon we'd gotten over the fear that we wouldn't be getting a second shot at making a record and we'd also learned a lot from the first album. This time we wanted to be more focused and to zero in on a certain kind of material that resonated in a distinct way. The confidence and solidarity was at its strongest when we made 'Mighty Joe Moon,' and because of that it's our best effort." Source: EliotWilder.com, 2001
"There was a fella named Joe Moon who was this wild renegade truck driver who was hanging around the studio when we were recording in San Francisco Back in 1992, and he used to hang around and tell us stories. He would collect all of Paul's bass strings and all my guitar strings and then tell us what songs those strings were written on. He was very detail-oriented. A real character. So we sorta called him Mighty Joe Moon, 'cause his name was Joe Moon. He was a sorta product of the sixties when folks had such great names like Moon and Sun and Sunflower. And that's definitely where the name came from. The character is larger than that though. The character is mostly an embodiment of so much else and mostly a figment of my imagination." Source: Things Grant Always What They Seem, Rave Magazine, December 1994
"I think Mighty Joe Moon is a bit more of a cohesive album. It all sounds like one band playing, which is probably just the result of us playing on the road constantly between the two albums. This record is more extreme. This intimate songs are unnervingly intimate, and the aggressive ones are more explosive. We were also more loyal to our obsession with archaic instrumentation, like dobro, banjo, pump organ, and mandolin. But such folky textures collide violently with the Takamine's out-of-control feedback. I discovered that running the 12-string through the distortion box gave me this howling, horrible distortion that I'm still trying to control. It reacts differently to every room we play in, so I never know what it's going to do. It's like an arm-wrestling match between me and the guitar, but that's what makes it exciting." Source: Guitar Player Magazine, July 1995
we made Fuzzy, we were collecting a bunch of songs that were written over a
period of time, and each song had its own identity. Fuzzy wanted to be 11 different
albums. It was a blueprint for all the things we could become. I think we just
sort of got more hardheaded about our obsessions when it came to making Mighty
Joe Moon." Source: Moonstruck, Rolling Stone, January 1995
1. LONE STAR SONG
"For me Texas exists in in this sort of mythological way, and what I was writing about was largely Texas the myth, the Texas I've come to know through movies and recent events in history. I started writing that song focussing on the JFK assassination and all of the weird conspiracies that surround that assassination. All of it begins to sound very myth like. I started it from that point, and then maybe two or three weeks later this thing happened in Waco that I'm sure you're familiar with (the David Koresh-Branch Davidian-FBI holocaust) so the song sort of took a different direction at that point. I sorta wanted to talk about two stories within one song but all of it is a sort of a myth, or a collage of myths. It wasn't long after the Waco incident that I heard it emerged on television, that there was a sort of a television drama that came out, and soon the OJ Simpson story will be told - in many ways it's being told right now, but a dramatization will feature. I'm just perplexed by that. It's so important in America, America is such a dreamland." Source: Things Grant Always What They Seem, Rave Magazine, December 1994
"Referring to "Lonestar", it's "Reno" as in Janet. I mumbled it though because I was paranoid that Janet Reno would hear the song and hunt me down like a wild animal." Source: Buffalo Moon
"Lone Star Song is an interesting song because I can't actually state what the actual political bent is on that song. It's much more unconscious and spontaneous of a writing than it is a political tirade. More and more, I find the only way that I am able to achieve something effective is to work from a very personal feeling, in that way all politics have to begin in the heart, and those people who are effective in that way socially and politically, they have to have a great deal of conviction to begin with. You probably have it memorized, that old REM slogan, "Think Globally, Act Locally." Seems I have it memorized as well. I always liked that and I'm not sure it's something that any one of them came up with, but its something they seemed to have embraced, and that's a very respectable thing". Source: Grant Lee Phillips, Shaking Loose the Sadness, Murmurs.com, May 2002
current state of affairs has provided a handy bridge when it comes to singing
that song. Crawford, Texas is as much a hub of world events as anywhere else.
I have to say that, when I sing a song, I'm simultaneously where I was when
I wrote it and also conveying it in the moment, this moment, the present.
"Even if I name-check someone like Janet Reno, for instance, then it's still open to interpretation as to why she is in there. She merely makes a cameo. I was intending to juggle a few different stories, everything from the Kennedy conspiracy to Waco to the belief that Texas was a bizarre dust storm of potential events. Having said that, I love the food met great people and I've played great shows there. I hope they will have me back." Source: UGO.com, July 2002
Inga: What's Mockingbird inspired by?
GLBuffalo: Mockingbirds... the Charlie and Inez Fox song.
Gonzo: Does it have anything to do with Seals and Croft's "Hummingbird"?
GLBuffalo: Nope... more like arts and crafts.
Sundial: What is Mockingbirds about anyway? The lyrics to that have always fascinated me.
GLBuffalo: Star-crossed lovers... who collide at the corners of have and have not.
Source: SonicNet.com, Online Happening With Grant Lee Buffalo, 09-22-1995
"We sort of this whole song [Mockingbird by Inez and Charlie Fox] and cut it up and put it back together for Mockingbirds. I can do that because it's an old song and I'm an outsider. It's not part of my history. But it is darn eerie that it's playing now. We're plagued by the Supernatural. Maybe we should do an album cover with us standing in a triangular formation with the Bermuda triangle in the middle." Source: Moonstruck, Rolling Stone, January 1995
IT'S THE LIFE
"You know, there were songs that nearly wound up in the b-sides pile, but made the record at the last minute. It's The Life came about that close to becoming a b-side, because it had been around while. With us, if a song is written and doesn't make its way into the next record, there'' a chance it'll just get lost and fall into the cracks, simply because it's an "older song". You know, how we in America like to neglect our elderly? It's the same with songs." Source: Goldmine Magazine, 1997 (Interview: 11-03-1996)
"All boys wanted to be Evel Knievel. In fact, I dressed up as Evel Knievel one year for Halloween." Source: Moonstruck, Rolling Stone, January 1995
MIGHTY JOE MOON
"It has been sometime since I last played Atlanta. I hope that's comes through this next year. As to MJM and the Cumberland Gap, I got inspired by a Woody Guthrie tune that went, "18 miles to the Cumberland Gap". In his day, shopping at "The Gap" had nothing to do with vests." Source: Messages From Beyond
"That line 'Have you tasted the finest of trout' is my most exquisite to date. It's a line that I can sing, and it actually makes me laugh. It sort of jumps out of the song, but then it dives back to the sea. I think the longer we play together, the more we develop and depend on this language that exists between the three of us. And it's such an exclusive language that I don't know if anybody but the three of us would understand it. If we were to sit in with some other musicians, we would be considered freaks." Source: Moonstruck, Rolling Stone, January 1995
DEMON CALLED DECEPTION
"The song is about the man in black, Mr. Johnny Cash". Source: Buffalo Moon, 1995
LADY GODIVA AND ME
"What prompted me to write this song? Who knows in the end but I was reading a great deal of Barbara Walker's Encyclopedia of Women's Mysteries at the time and that stuff really sticks with you." Source: Messages From Beyond
HONEY DON'T THINK
"Occasionally, you have songs that might have been written at different times and in different locations, but, somehow, it all fits together. But if doesn't feel right, then we're very apt to leave it off the record. And that's when songs start finding themselves in that piles marked "b-sides". It doesn't mean the songs are any less viable; it just means they've been neglected.
Honey Don't Think was sort of written with that in mind. I said, "You know, we're gonna need some b-sides for the next record," not really stopping to consider that we hadn't yet accumulated enough songs to even make the record proper. (Laughter.) So I started thinking "What if I had to write a song for someone else to sing?" And that's how Honey Don't Think was done. It made it really easy to write actually.
I might have been influenced - in some ways - by the Paul Westerberg record, by its directness and his clever twist of words. But the song, for the most part, was just a really unconscious piece of writing that took all of five minutes to create. In hindsight, I wish I'd written another verse to it; it would've been more complete. I realize silly things like that, when it's too late. The song wasn't really finished, you know?" Source: Goldmine Magazine, 1997 (Interview: 11-03-1996)
"Well, the song is still pretty introspective on the album, but I've hit upon a new way of doing it live. Going back to your question about Mighty Joe Moon, some of these songs, I'm just beginning to appreciate and just beginning to enter into at this point. We hardly ever played "Happiness" when Grant Lee Buffalo was around and when we did we tried to pull it off like it was on the album. Which sort of distanced it in a way. So this is an opportunity to revisit those things and rediscover the meaning behind them." Source: UGO.com, July 2002
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