Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Half Japanese -- "The House I Live In" (1990)

I'm living a secret life
That no one understands
But me

True dat, boys and girls.  (Actually, I would revise those lines slightly:  "I'm living a secret life that no one understands . . . including me.")

I am more transparent than most people, I think.  I write three posts a week every week of the year, plus I'm a narcissist -- so I reveal a lot about myself.

But you best believe I still have plenty of secrets.  I plan on taking quite a few of them to my grave.  (I think that will be best for all concerned.)

Daniel Handler, a/k/a/ Lemony Snicket
What's my secret when it comes to keeping secrets?

Lemony Snicket once said that the best way to keep a secret is to "[t]ell it to everyone you know, but pretend you are kidding."  I follow that advice.

There are a lot of good quotes about secrets.  For example, Benjamin Franklin said this about secrets:  "Three may keep a secret . . . if two of them are dead."

Want to know a secret about Franklin?  He stole that quote from a medieval poem titled "The Ten Commandments of Love" -- attributed by some to Chaucer -- that has this line: "For thee may keep a counsel, if twain be awaie."  (Busted!) 

I could have kept Half Japanese a secret from the readers of 2 or 3 lines, but that just wouldn't have been right.

Jad and David Fair
I only recently became aware of this very odd punk band, which was formed by brothers Jad and David Fair in a small town in Michigan (or perhaps in a small town in Maryland) in 1975 or thereabouts.  

Jad Fair is known for playing an untuned guitar.  But since he doesn't know any chords, playing an untuned guitar doesn't necessarily make any difference. 

Here's how the Trouser Press website describes Half Japanese's "technique":

Rock'n'roll started as a medium in which the three-chord song reigned supreme — until, of course, some wise guys got the idea that four chords, then five (and so on) would make it even better. It took years of such high-falutin' thought before a pair of Maryland-via-Michigan brothers emerged with just the opposite notion, paring rock'n'roll down to no chords . . . .

In the decades since Half Japanese took shape, it's still not entirely clear that "real" chords have ever really entered the picture.  

Many of Half Japanese's songs are quite short.  For example, our featured song is only 1:03 long.

But the Fairs make up for that by issuing albums that are chock-full of songs.  Half Japanese's debut album was a three-LP set with 68 tracks.  Their Greatest Hits album has 69 tracks, none of which were actually hits -- at least not for Half Japanese.  (The Fairs are fond of covering other people's hits, although many of those covers are sort of unrecognizable.)

Here's "The House I Live In," from Half Japanese's 1990 album, We Are They Who Ache With Amorous Love:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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