With “Positivism“, I’m attempting a musical-theatre number, with lyrics in the Cole Porter vein (minus the cleverness). In my maudlin imaginary musical, the romantic lead, a drunk and sad-sack loser, is trying to come to grips with whether he’ll ever know anything for sure. The song’s title comes from the philosophy of logical positivism, which is defined on m-w.com as the theory “that all meaningful statements are conclusively verifiable”.

But positivism doesn’t make sense to our hero. It’s about three quarters through the play, and he’s just fallen in love. He doesn’t know what hit him… he just got struck by Cupid’s arrow, pure and simple. And if his new status of the heart isn’t “conclusively verifiable”, then what else might not be? The next time he sends back a bottle of wine at a restaurant, is the wine really bad, or is he just guessing? Do cops always act like cops? Do dentists always act like dentists? The world is suddenly shrouded in mystery… all on account of a dame!

I took a couple of personal liberties here. First, I chose guitar as the lead instrument, even though it is “conclusively verifiable” that I can hardly play the thing. To make it even more interesting, I recorded the lead vocal at the same time, which meant I couldn’t really sing into the mic because I was always looking down at my hands. So the effect (I hope) is kind of Neil-Young-circa-“Tonight’s-the-Night”, in which the wildly varying level of the lead vocal lends the proceedings a certain “verité”.

And finally, the song opens with a rewrite of an opening line from a Dire Straits song called “Heavy Fuel”, off of their rancid 1991 comeback album, “On Every Street”. My dad and I used to listen to it together. “Last time I was sober / man I felt bad / Worst hangover that I ever had.” That lyric is so corny that it just always stayed with me, and starting off with a version of it here gave me license to roam. So thanks Dad!

10 Responses to “Positivism”
  1. Jim C. says:

    OK, folks, “Positivism” has been posted. We’re still getting some quality control issues nailed down here at Baby Teeth Blog Central, so please bear with us and try to think “positive.”

  2. Lara says:

    I like your experimentation with characters. It’s revealing new layers of Baby Teeth. As if you’re undressing and growing larger, but in a good way. This song, itself, sounds drunk! I like it!

  3. Abraham says:

    I have been noticing over the past few months whenever I undress, I seem a little larger. time to switch to lite beer?

  4. this is great abraham! i love the backstory and the how the music (and production) really fits the character in question. a real story piece on all counts. nice work!

  5. Abraham says:

    thanks so much jon…. I actually was moved to work more on it last night after listening to the songs on your blog…. you are raising the bar, my friend.

  6. Abe, shirt on or off, I still think you’re smokin’ hot.

    Really like both the new songs, particularly this one.

    Hey, how ’bout some album art for the “52 Teeth” collection for those of us “collecting ’em all!” onto our iPods?


  7. Abraham says:

    thanks a lot jonnie!

    I’m thinking that album art is a swell idea. I still have a “vintage” ipod that doesn’t display images at all, but you kids with your newfangled devices….

    anyone wanna take the plunge and design something? I welcome all submissions with great cordiality!!!

  8. Cort says:

    I’m getting more imagery on this track than the predecessors… not sure if that’s on me or you. But, I will say the bath tub is no place for an electric guitar. (Cryptic)

  9. Cort says:

    Second listen… This song is so FRENCH. Yep, happier and happier images are floating through my nostrils and I am closed-eye, suspended in mid air following the vapor trail though Marseilles, that is this song… I end up in a gourmet patisserie and lo and behold…

  10. Abraham says:

    ah cort you really made me guffaw with these comments. but guffaw in a french way: “honh honh honh”. like in the song “les poissons” from the little mermaid. what do you find inside the gourmet patisserie? you’re such a tease!

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