The StoryIn short, "The Hillbilly Soliloquy" is the song that birthed Standard Deviation. That's why Fred and Frank chose it to be the opening song on Abnormally Normal or Normally Abnormal?
Fred had written all of the verse and chorus music for "The Hillbilly Soliloquy" (all of the music up to the drum fill before the line "So I'm sitting in Denny's") in 1994 before moving to Hollywood to attend Musicians Institute. However, he had not been able to come up with any lyrics for it. So, after he started classes at MI and began jamming with his fellow students, he played the chords for various guitarists while they improvised lead lines. To a person, they played rock solos and filled the chord breaks with impressive flurries of sixteenth notes. Then, one day, after a country guitar class, Fred found himself jamming with Frank. He played the chord progression, and Frank rocked along as the other guitar players had. However, when Fred reached the first chord break, Frank played a doublestop country guitar lick. At that moment, Fred knew he had found a like-minded guitar player -- a player who was willing to approach music without regard for artificial stylistic boundaries.
Despite Fred's growing excitement about the song, he was still having trouble coming up with lyrics for it. He couldn't seem to get a handle on what the song was about. That changed one night, though, when he attended a show at The Troubadour. A girl he knew from school literally bumped into him while dancing to the band, and, suddenly, the line, "I saw Sally the go-go dancer at a club the other night," popped into his head (incidentally, the girl's name was not Sally, and she was not a go-go dancer). That line quickly blossomed into a fictional Hollywood underworld scene, and the song suddenly had a lyrical focus. The only small item of concern left to resolve was how to reconcile the Hollywood story line with Frank's country guitar lick.
At school a few days later, Fred and Frank arrived early for their music theory class. They found a Blues Listening class concluding in the room they were about to enter, and they heard the teacher playing an old blues album as the students departed. Fred and Frank heard the artist on the record sing, "I ain't superstitious, but a black cat crossed my path," and Frank, in a moment of silliness, parroted the line to Fred in an exaggerated country accent. In a flash, Fred knew the line belonged in the unfinished song. However, while it fit in well with Frank's guitar lick, it was worlds away from the sordid Hollywood story that opened the song.
Fred finally devised a way to merge the country and Hollywood elements into a cohesive tale when he remembered something he had witnessed while eating at Denny's on the Sunset Strip on a Sunday morning. The restaurant had been filled with people from all walks of life -- families dressed for church, people heading to work, tourists, people who had been out partying all night, punks with multicolored hair -- and everyone had been eating and talking when a woman strode past the front of the restaurant clothed solely in a tee shirt. As she had passed, it had seemed that everyone in the restaurant had noticed her and stopped what they were doing to watch her stroll by. That incident, coupled with the variety of people patronizing Denny's that morning, provided Fred with the raw material he needed to connect his disparate lyrical threads.
Fred finished composing the remaining music for the song and wrote the lyrics for the final verse (about the pan handlers, street preachers, addicts, and mentally ill people who roam Hollywood Boulevard). At the same time, he charged Frank with writing the lyrics to the part of the song Frank was going to sing -- the actual hillbilly soliloquy. When both musicians completed their tasks, the song was finished, and Standard Deviation had emerged as a functioning entity.
The Hillbilly Soliloquy
I saw Sally the go-go dancer
At a club the other night
She was grooving on the dance floor
Her funky clothes were shrink-wrap tight
When a voice from way in back called,
“Hey there, ho!
Get your ass out on the boulevard
And make me some dough!”
Then the punches flew and a bottle, too
I heard, “Get your hands off my crack!”
A guy hit the floor right in front of me
I’m pretty sure they broke his back
As I shot out the door
This old star was wheeling in
Down to check the scene
In his limousine
Get me out!
Get me out!
So I’m sitting in Denny’s
Watching neon hair
And a girl in a tee shirt
And I’m wondering, Why God
Have I wound up here
Next to this militant Christian
And this pageanteer?
When a guy with a toothpick
And a John Deere hat
Starts a strange soliloquy
About a nine-life cat
“Well, I ain’t superstitious
But a black cat crossed my path
So I walked up to this pussycat
And I kicked him in the ’nads
Well, up and up and up he flew
Gave a high, piercing holler
Got stuck in a tree for all to see
By his Sergeant’s flea collar
Well, I looked at him and I thought to myself
Now, why’s he still alive?
Well, I’m telling you it’s got something to do
With those dagburn nine lives
So I yanked him down, hit the road
Took him home to my commode
And with a flush and a grin and a mighty
There was nothing left of him but
One black paw!”
Won’t you cry for me?
I’m stuck in California
With a guitar on my knee
Well, Crazy Jane and Wacky Jack
Are preaching to passing cars
While Planet Bob is seeing snakes
And talking to folks on Mars
They all hold out their hands
As I go strolling by
Ever full of hope
I’ll buy them dope
Get me out!
Get me out!
1997 Mighty Tasty Music (ASCAP)/Esquery Songs (ASCAP)