I’m Scott Alexander and I wrote these songs. Well, except “Forever In Blue Jeans,” which was written by Neil Diamond and Richard Bennett and published by Sony/ATV. Everything was recorded by me, in my apartment. Well, actually, I recorded Jessica Teague singing “Penny Gumball” at her place and my friends John Brauer and Timothy Pattison of D&M recorded me slapping my blue jeans at Tim’s place. John and Tim also mixed the album and Rich Lamb did some more mixing and tweaking at his place. Rich’s friend A.T. Michael MacDonald at AlgoRhythms did some mastering too.
In addition to singing, you’ll hear me playing acoustic, electric, and baritone guitars, the bass I borrowed from John, some crystal I “borrowed” from my employer, clappin, slappin, a banjitar, and a bamboo saxophone I finally found a use for.
This album is the rivalrous sibling to Scott Alexander Makes a Big Deal Out of It, which cost a lot more money to make and involved a lot more collaboration. I had originally intended to do everything myself on this album, but that seemed stubborn and silly. Thanks to John, Tim, Rich, Michael, and Jessica, these songs are actually worth 7 or 8 dollars.
Let’s Go Shopping
I don’t think anyone would consider me a shopaholic, but I can certainly relate to the comforts of buying things. Luckily for me, I find purchasing mundane necessities like food and toilet paper just as satisfying as excess purchases. When I can’t seem to motivate myself to do anything else, I often find myself at the grocery store.
I used to love these gumball machines when I was a kid. I was always thrilled when my mother and father would give me a penny if one was around. I don’t see these machines very often anymore but I am convinced they still exist. If you buy in bulk, you can get gumballs for under 1 cent, so it's still profitable in theory. Most of the chrome machines that I refer to have been modified to use dimes, a 1000% price increase!
The fact that people bother to sell and buy gumballs for a penny, or even a dime, has been a great inspiration to me since I can remember. It has encouraged me to write things that may be short, and may only be worth a tiny bit, but still have value, and in the proper context can be greatly rewarding.
My friend Jessica Teague, who sings this song, is working on her PhD in jazz studies at Columbia University. As far as I know, she does not aspire to be a professional singer. Her beautiful yet modest voice was perfect for this song.
I’ve worked in upscale hospitality for many years. During this time my relationship with the super-wealthy has become more and more complicated. It has warped my sense of where the line is when it comes to excess. It is hard for me to remember how much less I have, and how lucky I am compared to most people.
I’m about 6’2 and not a skinny guy. I cannot afford to fly much, certainly not first class. But if I had the money, I don’t think I could resist. If they called it “luxury” or “deluxe” seating I would be a lot more comfortable. It’s not just semantics. I know they are not all snobs, but the airlines are encouraging them to be when they get to cut in line, and be called “first class.”
On this recording I play a bass that my friend John Brauer has left at my apartment for several years. He bought it when he was studying in China for a semester for about 30 bucks. I also play some crystal wine glasses and fine China that I “borrowed” from my current employer. I think the glasses would retail for $40-90 each. Silly.
I was staring at one of the $20 bills that some rich guy had tipped me and thinking that Andrew Jackson’s haircut looked a lot like Johnny Rotten. So I started to write a song about it. I only had two lines, so I started to do a little research on our 7th president. What a dick! I’m aware that many historians might argue the complexities and site the good he did for the country. Some acts cannot be excused by historical context, such as ignoring the Supreme Court and instigating the Trail of Tears. Oh, and then not only dueling (it was illegal even at the time) but also cheating, and murdering. There is a great article here.
When Jackson left office, his farewell speech made the case against creating a U.S. paper currency. I’d like to think his portrait on the $20 bill is more of an insult than an honor.
I’m nervous for my parents, grandparents, and in-laws to hear this song. It’s not about any of them in particular. I did think of my grampa Frank, and how when he was dying of cancer, I was told that my brother and I would be getting his 1987 Nissan Maxima. I was 15, and it was impossible for me not to be excited about this. Of course I felt awful. Frank was a very pleasant man. He made my grandma Stelle very happy. I miss that car, but I also miss Frank.
This is the first song in several years that I wrote and recorded on my Epiphone Sheriton It’s the first guitar I ever owned. My father bought when I was 14, around the time Frank was first diagnosed with cancer, at a store that used to be a bowling alley. Frank worked at that bowling alley.
Forever In Blue Jeans:
I absolutely wanted to be Neil Diamond when I was 5. At the time, I thought the song was “The Reverend Blue Jeans.” Maestro Diamond’s recording of this song sounds like it cost a lot of money to make. And how many poor people have fireplaces? I wish I had a fireplace. Especially for this song, I’m glad I had no recording budget.
Pennies Are Annoying
There is actually a heated debate over whether the U.S. mint should continue making pennies. Simply put, I find them annoying. But there is a case to be made for the millions of dollars in pennies people donate to charities each year. Then again, the folks at places like retirethepenny.org would argue against it. Meanwhile groups like pennies.org make a compelling rebuttal. . . But i'ts concerning that they are heavily funded by the zinc industry.
Pennies are annoying!
You Are Not a Market
This is the only song that is also on this album’s rivalrous sibling, Scott Alexander Makes a Big Deal Out of it. The other version has electric guitar, bass, banjo, several bassoons, and a cannon. This version is just me in my apartment. I really can’t say which version I feel is more effective. I didn’t do the research.
It’s very rare that I repeat something so much, but it’s important. I do hope you will enjoy my music and support my dreams. But, you are not a market
This album is availible only for download on Bandcamp
Or buy the physical CD version