As you know, almost all of the songs we write tell stories. We want to share those stories with you. Just as we did for the songs on our first CD 13, we’ll post the story behind each song on our new CD Again here for you to read. The plan is to feature one song each week for the next 11 weeks.
Here is the story behind Remodee as related by Clark Hansbarger.
The song “Remodee”
Remodee is about the temporary cures a man might seek to ease what ails him—a stiff drink, a soft woman, a cheeseburger and fries, or any number of other palliatives, both legal and illegal. The song is meant to have a plaintive feel, with the narrator begging for the rescue just “one more time.” This, of course, is the classic sinner’s lament, implying that if the protagonist gets what he needs just one more time, then it’ll be the last time he asks. Promise.
As in most of my songs, the narrator is invented (though, in truth, I have been known to be a lay-about hedonist at times, just not as shifty and shiftless as this guy is).
Remodee is also an old song. One I wrote twenty-five years ago and recorded twice before with other bands.
In another time’s forgotten place—as Genghis Angus was beginning its rise up and out of Loudoun county to national prominence—I was in another Loudoun band called Hammer, with David Saunders, Mike Smedley, and a host of bass players, including Gary Smallwood and Kevin Whetsel. Like Genghis Angus, we wrote our own songs. Unlike those boys from Waterford, we never made it much past the county line. I wrote Remodee as an electric song. It was a slow, country number back then with a twangy Stratocaster lead.
I pulled the song out again with The Bastards of Twang and played it live with those fabulous Leesburg musicians about a thousand or so times. For our CD Jaywalking, we recorded a dirge-slow version featuring some incredible bottle slide and harmonica interplay between Rob Remington and Tim Rumfelt on top of a funky slow groove laid down by Jeff Ball on bass and Slinky Cobblestone on drums.
Anyway…the song is recycled, though The Bitter Liberals give it entirely new life on this CD. Remodee still has the swampy feel it’s always had, but now seems a bit livelier, even fun, where before it was always lowdown blues.
We put Remodee in the can at the end of a long day of recording. If my memory serves, we almost postponed recording it for another session because we were so tired. But Gary—with his usual bully-pulpit exuberance—said, “Back in the box!” and we did it, knocking the song out in one quick take. [A bit of Soviet revisionist history here, but the benevolent dictator and editor approves.] Every note you hear is what was played on that first run…and that is what I love so much about this band.
Remodee follows a pretty standard three-chord country blues progression until the verses, where it switches to a sort of New Orleans cakewalk, holding on tight to the Cmajor7. It’s a fun song to sing because the simplicity opens it up for some gospel harmonies and provides lots of opportunity to improvise. Playing it live, we can vamp it up or slow it down, change the rhythm some, and string it on out. Remodee is ready made for such variation.