You are free to listen to these, download them, and share them, but to broadcast or to sell them requires Dr. Levitin’s permission first. All songs are copyright circle-c and circle-p 1985 – 2005 by Daniel Levitin.
(Written by D. Rancid, B. Wilder, F. J. Lennon and D. Bach; Produced and Engineered by Daniel Levitin, 1984). Performed by The Afflicted
I didn’t write this one, but I wish I had! This is a demo tape that I produced for The Afflicted, a skate-punk San Francisco band, and it was included on a punk compilation called “Live Peace.” On the strength of this demo, we were signed to record an entire album, including a remake of this song (which I’ll post here sometime soon). The two released versions of “Here Come The Cops” (this one and the album version) became instant radio classics on punk radio shows throughout the world, and I still get emails about them 20 years later. GQ Magazine named the Afflicted’s album one of the top 10 of the year (1985), and the band became regular characters in a comic book. The band were a fixture at San Francisco’s premier punk club, The Mabuhay Gardens, and they packed the place whenever they played. Fans who crammed themselves into the small club for their shows included Paul Kantner (of the Jefferson Airplane), Neil Young (who was very into punk at the time), Howie Klein (later to become President of Reprise Records), Sandy Pearlman (Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult), and a then-entirely-unknown Tori Amos.
(Performed by Daniel Levitin, 1985/2005)
I wrote this as a tribute to the band Blue Oyster Cult, and their producer Sandy Pearlman, but somehow the original recording got lost. (Yes, there’s also a BOC I, but the recording isn’t very good.) When Sandy was visiting me in Montreal in June 2005, I played him BOC I and he liked it, and I told him about BOC II. A week later I went into my studio and tried to recreate the original song – 20 years later – from memory. I recorded drum machine first (the Linn Drum machine that I got from Carlos Santana), then electric bass, then three electric guitar parts. I think the whole thing took about 4 hours.
(Daniel Levitin, 2002). Performed by Daniel Levitin.
I wrote this in November, the day my wife moved out of the house, and the same day my 12-year old dog, Isabella died. The melody is melancholy, but the vibrophone signals hope for the future. I recorded it on my Yamaha Disclavier piano, with me playing all the parts.
(Duke Ellington & Bob Russell). Performed by The Blue Monkey Project.
This was recorded live at a performance of a jazz combo I play with, The Blue Monkey Project, during summer 2002 for the “off” jazz festival. I’m playing tenor saxophone, Ernst Meyer from the MNI is on piano, and two talented students, Pat Bermudez and David Gold are on bass.
(Daniel Levitin, 1998). Performed by Daniel Levitin.
I wrote this after visiting a small village in Belgium of this name. Mark Goldstein is playing the clavés and wind-chimes. I’m playing guitars and vibraphone. I’ve been playing around for a long time with this “Chet Atkins”-style alternating thumb bass line thing on the guitar, but I’m not a good enough guitarist to do it any better than this. Maybe in another life.
(Daniel Levitin, 1996). Performed by Daniel Levitin.
Les Paul not only invented the electric guitar, but essentially invented multi-track recording. When the Grammy Organization asked me to nominate someone for their Lifetime Achievement Award, it was obvious that it should be Les. He won that year, and I wrote this song as a tribute to him the afternoon of the awards, which happened to be Valentine’s Day. I recorded it by plugging my electric guitar and Carlos Satana’s Linn Drum machine directly into the back of my MacIntosh Quadra, with no pre-amplifiers or anything, and used SoundEdit for the effects, doubling, delays, and the backwards section.
(Bart Moore/Daniel Levitin, 1985). Performed by Slings & Arrows.
I co-wrote this song, produced and engineered it as a demo. An all-digital recording, I’m very happy with the sound and a VP at Warner Brothers Records told me it was one of the cleanest sounding recordings he had ever heard. I still was never able to get the band a recording contract. I joined the band around the time of this demo and played bass with them for four of my happiest years in the business. I’m playing bass on this recording and singing background vocals, and Danny Wheetman (from John Denver’s band) is playing the mandolin.
(Daniel Levitin, 1997). Performed by Jonathan Rundman
I wrote this as a guitar song in 1997, the day my then-girlfriend went to Europe for two months. My friend Jonathan Rundman liked the song, and recorded and arranged it as a sort of Aimee Mann style pop song using his new Wurlizer electric piano. He’s playing all the instruments.
(Clement/Miller, 1981). Performed by Judy Garland.
I was the bass player for a prominent San Francisco punk band in the early 80s, first named The Mortals and later Judy Garland. We liked the idea of the incongruity of naming a punk band after the little girl in the Wizard of Oz. We played with a lot of the big bands of the day, including Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, MDC, TSOL, Flipper, and The Looters. We counted among our fans Paul Kantner (of the Jefferson Airplane), and musicians who eventually became Primus and Metallica. This is the first studio recording I ever was involved in, it was nominally produced by me, and engineered by Mark Needham, who several years later went on to engineer a bunch of Chris Isaak albums (and by coincidence, I ended up doing some production work for Chris later as well).
Judy Garland was a really great band. The guitarist, Alan Clement,was the best I’ve ever played with, and he had a fine gift for melody. This song, like all of ours, had lyrics that told a story, often about city life or the soft white underbelly of society. “Rats on High” is about a druggie who lives in a basement and is plagued by rats crawling around the rafters, the floor, his bed, and his body. Internal friction broke us apart, but if we had stayed together I think we could have been as big as, say, The Smithereens.
“Rats stopped crawling years ago, here they come again, here they come again Pleasant little teeth rip shoe apart, pleasant little teeth chomping down Don’t run away, don’t run away it feels so good wish they’d stay don’t run away, don’t run away – feels so good, wish they’d stay But rats stopped their crawling, years ago . . . “
(Daniel Levitin, 1985). Performed by Daniel Levitin
It was the very beginning of the personal computer revolution and I wrote this song about one of the dominant modem protocols of the time. “X-On” or “X-Off” was a parameter setting. I’m playing Carlos Santana’s Linn drum machine and playing all the other instruments, and trying to sing. I’m told I’m not a singer, but I *like* singing, and it’s the only way I know of (for now) to get my songs across so there it is. This was recorded on a Tascam 34 4-track reel-to-reel machine in San Francisco.
(Daniel Levitin, 2003). A sound collage by Daniel Levitin
This piece was commissioned for a CD curated by Nicolas Collins and the Art Institute of Chicago, “A Call To Silence.” Click here to purchase.
In my own experience as a performer and as a record producer, the most anxiety-filled moments in any musical performance are those few seconds before any notes are played. Someone — the conductor, the producer, the drummer — is counting off the tempo, and the musicians have have only a few brief seconds to be brilliant, artistic, and in touch with their inner muse. Everyone’s head is racing with thoughts: will this be any good? Will I be any good? Will I make it through that technically difficult part? Will so-and-so mess up their part again? “Anticipation” is a collection of these moments: count-offs in recording studios and live performance, vocalists taking a breath before a take starts, producers and engineers announcing that the tape is rolling. The piece ends with a famous bandleader exhorting an engineer “let’s go!” and with this, the listener is left with that sense of expectation for the beginning of a piece.