Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TMFW 73- The Silent Album That Paid for a Tour

Spotify is an online service that offers "all you can eat" steaming music.  Users can listen for free (with ads and other limitations) or they can buy a "premium" subscription for $10/month.  As of January 2015, Spotify boasts 60 million users and 15 million subscribers.  Basic math suggests that means revenue of over $1.5 billion per year.  That's a lot of money. 
Spotify says that it pays about 70% of its revenue in royalties to rightsholders; they paid about $1 billion in royalties last year and $2 billion since their inception in 2006.  But with over 30 million songs in their catalog, and over 7 billion hours (!) of music streamed in 2014, the rates get stretched pretty thin.  How the pie gets divvied up is complicated, but the average royalty is around .6 and .8 cents per stream.  For shorter songs (less than a minute or so), it is about half that.  And that royalty is not the artist's alone: in fact, the majority of it goes to recording and publishing rights holders and the artist takes only a fraction.  
At less than a penny per stream, it is clear that very few artists are getting rich from their Spotify stats.  But as the service has grown, some clever bands have found ways to increase their numbers and improve the size of their royalty checks.  For example, last February in TMFW 24, I wrote about Matt Farley, a guy who flooded Spotify with 15,000 songs by over 50 different "bands".  That strategy earned him almost $25,000 in one year.
Last March, a Michigan band came up with an idea even more clever than Farley's: they sold silence.  The funk band Vulfpeck, hoping to put together a tour consisting only of free shows but without sufficient capital to do so, hatched a brilliant plan.  They "recorded" the album Sleepify, which consisted of 10 songs of silence, each lasting either 31 or 32 seconds.  Track 1 is titled "z," 2 is "zz," 3 is "zzz," and so on.  The band self-released the album to Spotify, and put out a delightfully chilled-out YouTube plea for fans to listen to the record on repeat while they slept at night.  The band guessed that in an average night each listener would drop about $4 into their tour piggy bank, and promised to use the royalty to put on free shows based on wherever the album got the most streams.  
Due to the brilliance of the plan, the fun YouTube plea, and the power of social media, Sleepify took off.  Rolling Stone wrote it up a few weeks into its run, and momentum only grew stronger from there.  By the time Spotify pulled the record seven weeks later - for violating unspecified policies - the royalty tally stood at $19,655.55.  The "policy violation" was a necessary invention; when Sleepify was pulled several copycats had already sprouted up hoping to exploit the loophole.
While Spotify acknowledged Vulfpeck's "clever stunt," it was unclear whether they would actually come through with a check.  To their credit, they paid up, and the band toured as promised.  They played six dates across four states, all courtesy of a 6 minute silent gag.  Much respect to Vulfpeck.    
BONUS FACT:  Lots and lots and lots of Canadians pre-ordered Taylor Swift's latest album 1989 on iTunes, and a feature of pre-ordering is that album tracks are automatically downloaded when they are released.  So it was a matter of some silliness late last year when Swift's label released 8 seconds of white noise to iTunes that was accidentally tagged as track 3 for her as-yet-unreleased record.  The "song" was auto-downloaded in droves, and so 8 seconds of noise reached #1 on the Canadian iTunes chart within minutes.  There's a joke about the modern state of the music industry somewhere in there.  
BONUS FACT 2:  As one more example that there is nothing new under the sun, experimental composer John Cage beat Vulfpeck to the idea of silence as art by 60 years.  In 1952, he published "4'33"" (pronounced "four minutes thirty-three seconds" or just "four thirty three"), which Wikipedia notes is "a three movement composition...[written] for any instrument or combination of instruments, and the score instructs the performer(s) not to play their instrument(s) during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements."  YouTube features many versions of 4'33" being "performed," often to an appreciative audience.  Here it is for piano and here it is for a full orchestra.  My favorite, I think, is this "death metal" cover performed on drums.  The guy sped it up quite a bit, but I appreciate when musicians add their own interpretation.  Be sure to stick around 'til the end to see his various "failures."  
BONUS FACT 2.5:  As it happens, Cage wasn't even the first guy to think of "don't play anything and call it a composition."  The "Precursors" section to the Wikipedia page notes SIX different works that came before.  Of note, Erwin Schulhoff's 1919 piece "In Futurum" is just several staffs of ornately notated rests.  The dude was a genius.
BONUS FACT 3:  TMFW-favorite Todd Snider has a terrific and fun song called "Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues" about a grunge band that employs the gimmick of refusing to play a note.  It's worth a listen (really, all of Todd Snider's stuff is worth a listen.)
BONUS FACT 4:  Many many artists - Thom Yorke, Taylor Swift, The Black Keys, and David Byrne among them - do not like Spotify, as they contend that it does not fairly compensate musicians for their work.  Ironically, in the Rolling Stone interview linked above Vulfpeck identifies the inspiration for their stunt: a record producer who boasted that the giant 2001 remake of "Lady Marmalade" was available only by buying the entire soundtrack for the movie Moulin Rouge!.  That crass exploitation of the record buying public is a good example of why music consumers have little sympathy for major artists and labels, and it got the band thinking about how they could deploy music business economics in a friendlier way.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TMFW 72 - The Basement Recording That Sold 25 Million Copies

[NOTE: This week's TMFW is admittedly a bit dry, but I love the album and think it's a cool story.] 
"Rock and Roll Band," the 4th track from Boston's all-time great debut album, tells in detail the story of the group's rise from scrappy working band to Big Label act.  In the first verse, they are "just another band out of Boston / on the road to try to make ends meet / playing all the bars, sleeping in [their] cars, and [practicing] right out in the street."  In the second, they are playing in Hyannis, refining their act, and enjoying larger and more enthusiastic crowds.  Finally, by the third verse they are approached on stage by a man who "smoked a big cigar [and] drove a Cadillac car."  He praises their act, signs them to the Big Label, and off they go.  All of their hard work - all of the blood, sweat, and tears - pays off in the end.
The song is catchy, and as a former garage band member who dreamed of stardom I am fond of the storytelling.  As it turns out, though, the song bears no resemblance whatsoever to Boston's actual history.  It is almost a complete fiction. 
Boston's real story starts with Tom Scholz, who was born in Toledo, Ohio and raised in a suburb of that city (yes, Toledo has suburbs.)  After high school, Scholz went to MIT, where in 1969 he earned an undergrad degree and in 1970 he earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering.  While at MIT, Scholz played in a band called "Freehold," but the group was by all accounts unremarkable.
Being a double MIT grad, Scholz was obviously a smart dude, and he went to work after college as a product designer with Polaroid.  While there, Scholz still wanted to make music, and he used much of his take-home pay to build out a home recording studio in his basement.  After an initial set of demos (made with the musicians that comprised Freehold) failed to gain any interest, Scholz continued to work on recording music but he did it mostly alone. 
By 1975, Scholz had created a new batch of demos.  With the exceptions of drums and vocals, he did everything himself.  He played all of the other instruments (lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards, bass) himself; he mixed and overdubbed and layered the tracks himself; he even designed and built some of the pedals and electronics that he needed to get the sound that he desired. It's fair to say that, in that second round of demos, there was no "band" to speak of behind the songs.  It was Scholz, with targeted help from a drummer and a vocalist.  (A supremely talented vocalist in Brad Delp, but still.)
The new round of demos included "More Than a Feeling," "Peace of Mind," and "Hitch a Ride."  Those songs got the attention of Epic Records, who wanted to sign the band but wanted to see a live performance first.  Uh-oh.  Faced with his Big Break but without any musicians to play his songs, Scholz teamed up with Delp and they (like Dave Grohl in TMFW 50) set out to find a group of musicians who could play the songs that they had already recorded.  The newly-assembled group learned the "band's" songs and for their first ever show together they played the Epic Records audition.  Remarkably, they passed the audition and signed a record deal.
That whole saga is a pretty cool True Music Fact: Boston was born from one MIT-grad genius making demos in his basement, and he had to put together an actual band when the songs were discovered.  But what inspired today's entry was what came next. 
After signing their record deal, the label insisted that the band should re-record the demos in California with a professional producer.  But Scholz was a perfectionist when it came to his recordings - the demos had taken more than a year for him to make - and he bristled at the idea of ceding control to someone else.  The solution that the band found was an elegant ruse.  While Scholz and his drummer stayed on the east coast and recorded in his basement, the rest of the band went to California and hung out with a producer named John Boylan.  Boylan was a friend of the band's new management, and he recognized Scholz's technical skill. So he agreed to stay out of the way and acted mostly as a sounding board and a record-company liaison.  In exchange, Scholz agreed to share producing credit with him on the final product.  (The band did record one song with Boylan in California that made it on to the album: "Let Me Take You Home Tonight." It appeared as the final track.)  
Working at home day and night, Scholz essentially cloned his demos, and after only a few weeks he was ready to join the band in California, where Delp would add his vocals and they would deliver the album to the label.  Recognizing that the ruse would be in jeopardy if he brought his basement tapes to the professional studio, Scholz needed to find a way to make the tapes appear more fancy than they were.  So he hired a remote truck (essentially a studio-on-wheels) to park outside of his house, he ran a cable through the basement window from his tape machine out to the truck, and he transferred his basement tapes to professional 24-track studio tapes.  Those tapes became the final record.
So that's your true True Music Fact for today: but for vocals and the final track on the album, the large majority of Boston's first "studio" record was done in in a do-it-yourself basement studio.  The recording was simply dressed up in prettier clothes to satisfy the label that it had been "professionally" done.  
When Boston was released, it was an instant worldwide hit.  The record spent 132 weeks on the charts, and it has sold 17 million copies in the US and another 8 million worldwide  For more than a decade, it held the title of "best-selling debut album," until it was eclipsed in 1989 by Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction.  The record has held up remarkably well; all 8 tracks are still classic rock radio mainstays. 

BONUS FACT:  In addition to recognizing Scholz's technical talent and letting him stay in the basement, John Boylan gave a big gift to the band by suggesting "Boston" as the group's name.  Though Scholz was from Toledo, and though the band worried that Boston may be too derivative in light of the success of the band Chicago, they went with it.  It's hard to imagine them differently.

BONUS FACT 2:  Not knowing how the record would be received by the public, Scholz briefly kept his day job at Polaroid even after Boston was released by Epic.  By his own admission, the song "Peace of Mind" (with anti-corporate verses and a blunt refrain: "I understand about indecision / but I don't care if I get behind / people living in competition / all I want is to have my peace of mind") was about his experience working there.  When the album hit, it was no doubt some awkward times around the office.

BONUS FACT 3:  As noted above, Scholz was a perfectionist when it came to recording.  Here's a fun 1978 Rolling Stone article by Cameron Crowe that highlights the two-year process of making the band's second record.  (That's a pretty standard timeframe these days but back then it was a looooong time, especially given the giant success of the debut record.)

BONUS FACT 4: A throwaway plot on one episode of TMFW-favorite Scrubs features Dr. Turk joining an air band called The Cool Cats with Ted, Janitor, and Lloyd the delivery guy.  Their big finale is a performance of "More Than a Feeling."
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Details for today's entry were largely drawn from these two posts - an article from Goldmine magazine by Chuck Miller and the band's history page on their website.  Both are good reads if you are interested in learning more.  The Chuck Miller article in particular features a number of quotes from the band and is written with great respect for the production aspects of the record. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

TMFW 71 - Creed (Not THAT Creed) Made Good Music

Sometimes when I have an idea for a TMFW subject, I will bounce it off my wife to test whether it is as interesting as I think it is or to see if it is something everybody already knows.  When I mentioned today's subject, I said "what if I wrote about Creed's history in rock music?"  She answered "Creed? Those guys suck."  
My wife is right.  Creed - the "Arms Wide Open," (Can You Take Me) "Higher" guys - does suck.  But today's TMFW is about a different Creed. 
"Creed Bratton" was a character on the American version of The Office, which ran for 9 seasons on NBC.  As this incredibly detailed timeline of the character describes, Creed "is a mysterious figure who is prone to saying bizarre or confusing statements on a regular basis."  The show's ongoing gag with Creed was that he is unknowable and chaotic: his past is shadowy, details about his life outside of the workplace are ridiculous and strange, and nobody (including him) seems to understand what his job at the company even is.  YouTube features two good "Best of Creed" fan compilations - one, two - which illustrate these traits nicely. 
As the show wended (and wended and wended) its way through nine seasons, Creed's biography emerged to include the following:
**  He was left on a doorstep as a baby, and adopted by a Chinese family.  They bound his feet as a child and it caused him to lose a toe.  He now has only four toes on each foot (various episodes feature Creed offering to show this off).
**  He spent some time in an iron lung as a teenager (for unknown reasons).
**  He toured with the band The Grass Roots in the 1960s as their guitar player.
**  He was a radio DJ in the 1970s who went by the moniker "Wacky Weed Creed."
**  He has been a member of a number of cults, both as leader and follower.  (He notes that he prefers to be a follower but the pay is better as a leader.)
**  He lives in Toronto three days a week to take advantage of the Canadian welfare system.
**  He faked his own death and pretended to be his own widow to collect life insurance.
In real life, "Creed Bratton" was played by an actor named, well, Creed Bratton.  While most of the character Creed's backstory was (obviously) fabricated, the show had some fun with the "Creed Bratton plays Creed Bratton" idea by including one big real-life fact from his history.  As it turns out, Bratton really was a member of The Grass Roots.  
Bratton was a founding member of the group - well, sort of: see Bonus Fact 1 on the interesting origin of the band - and played guitar from 1967 to 1969.  That window covers the two biggest hits of the band's career: "Let's Live For Today," which peaked at #8 in the summer of 1967 and "Midnight Confessions," which reached #5 in 1968.  While a part of the group, Bratton played on bills with The Doors and The Beach Boys, and the group was a part of the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival during the "Summer of Love" in 1967.  
Bratton would perhaps have been around longer, but tension started to develop between him and the band's management.  Bratton was unhappy because the band had little control over the music that they recorded and played (and in fact much of the studio work was done by session musicians rather than the band members themselves).  Management was unhappy because Bratton was occasionally difficult to control.  In a 2011 interview with Goldmine magazine, Bratton recalls an early 1969 gig at San Fransisco's famous venue the Fillmore West, where he dropped acid and ended up pantsless on stage:  
Somebody gave me some acid and I tried it. I didn’t think it was going to be much stronger than pot. Boy, was I wrong. We were onstage and it just hit me. So I played a chord and I saw these color vortexes in the palms of my hands throbbing. And I hit another chord and looked over to the speakers. Out of the speakers in my mind’s eye comes musical staff paper with the notes written on it. The notes fall off the lines and break on the floor. My bandmates told me I walked over and was trying to pick up the notes on the floor and put them back in my hands...That’s how far out I was, I was just gone!...I had a Nehru Chinese shirt on and dropped my pants - I never wore underwear - and I let that pony dance out in the breeze.
Shortly after that "performance" at the Fillmore, Bratton and the band parted ways. 
So the next time you hear "Live for Today" or "Midnight Confessions," marvel that the weird old guy from The Office toured behind those songs almost 50 years ago (and imagine him, tripping and pantsless, on stage at the Fillmore West).
BONUS FACT:  The origin story of The Grass Roots is a fascinating reminder of how the pop music industry used to work.  The name "The Grass Roots" was first chosen by producers for Dunhill Records in 1965.  The producers had no band but were for some reason convinced that the name was a winner.  So they made a demo of the song "Where Were You When I Needed You" with a group of session musicians, put the name "The Grass Roots" on it, and sent it around to several San Francisco radio stations.  When the demo attracted some interest, the producers found an existing San Francisco band called The Bedouins and renamed them to The Grass Roots.  That band recut the demo and recorded a Bob Dylan cover at the producers' direction.  Both of those songs (billed as "The Grass Roots") got airplay, but the band demanded to record their own stuff rather than play other peoples' songs.  In response, the producers fired them and required that they cease using the name "The Grass Roots."  Hoping to keep some momentum behind "The Grass Roots," the producers offered the name and a record contract to a Wisconsin band called The Robbs, but that group turned them down.  Finally, the producers offered the name and a record contract to Bratton's group, which was then called The 13th Floor.  They agreed, and became the third completely-new incarnation of The Grass Roots in three years.  That's how they did it in those days.
BONUS FACT 1.5:  "Where Were You When I Needed You" appears on The Grass Roots' greatest hits album, even though it was recorded and released by a completely different set of musicians than the band eventually became.
BONUS FACT 2:  At 0:30 in the first "best of Creed on The Office" links above, Creed boasts of transferring his debt to "William Charles Schneider" and flashes a (ostensibly forged) passport.  But William Charles Schneider is in fact Creed's real name, and the passport reflects his actual picture, birthdate, and place of birth.  Bratton (the actor) used his real live passport for that gag.  That's a fun little easter egg.  
BONUS FACT 3:  So how did William Charles Schneider become known as Creed Bratton, you ask?  Bratton tells the strange, amusing story in a 2009 interview with
That's a very good story. My father died when I was two in World War II. After that, this guy adopted me -- actually he didn't, I thought he did; he didn't really adopt me -- when he married my mom. [H]is last name was Ertmoed. I found out when I went to Europe after college that I wasn't actually legally adopted -- but I was this Ertmoed, Chuck Ertmoed, horrible name. I mean, it was the worst. It's probably one of the reasons I have a great sense of humor because I had to learn to deal with that horrible negative. People made fun of me, they'd put their finger down my throat and say, "Hey, it's ErtMOAD ErtMOAD." No joking, that's truly what they did. Guys are cruel, you know?
So, I'm in Europe. I've been there about a year and a half; traveled all over North Africa and the Middle East. I just had an affair with this director's daughter -- in a movie I did in Israel -- and we went to the Greek Islands. She took off to go back to the United States and I'm by myself in Athens.
I meet this couple from Oregon, English teachers -- they were going to Crete to teach English to the Cretans. So we are sitting there and I always had this image of me being very successful in my mind's eye, as an actor and as a musician. So I said that I was going to go back and I'm going to make it as a musician and, eventually, acting. They said, "What's your name?" I said, "Chuck Ertmoad." And they said, "That's an unfortunate name." I said, "You know, it's not even my real name. It's William Charles Schneider" -- which they said, "That's not that great either. You need a rock star name!"
Cut to a night of drinking ouzo. The next morning I wake up and it looked like a bomb went off in the place and my tongue is bigger than my head. I look over and on the floor next to my [ruck] sack is a table cloth that I obviously took from the place we were drinking at. All these names are on there and they're all crossed out except one name is circled... it's Creed Bratton. I thought, "Oh, that's obviously an omen."
I get back to L.A. ... The Grass Roots are just starting and I was just going to sign my name to the contract. I was going through the closet and saw my [ruck] sack. I pulled it out and the table cloth comes out and I see the name. I go to sign the contract and signed it Creed Bratton. Our manager said, "You're Chuck Ertmoad, Chuck, what's going on?" and I said, "Well, that's my new name, now."

The dude can spin a yarn.
BONUS FACT 4:  The history of The Grass Roots' first big hit "Let's Live for Today" is even crazier than the history of the band's name.  The song started in 1966 as an Italian pop song called "Piangi Con Me" (that means "Cry With Me;" the link is a cover of the song), which was written and recorded by a British band called The Rokes and was a hit in Italy.  Later that year, a Dutch band called Skope recorded a version of the song, with lyrics they composed in English, called "Be Mine Again."  Meanwhile, The Rokes decided to create their own English lyrics version of the song - totally separate from "Be Mine Again" - called "Let's Live for Today".  
After The Rokes wrote the song but before they could release it, a different English band called Living Daylights covered "Let's Live for Today".  Undeterred, The Rokes put out their own version shortly thereafter.  Neither release made the UK charts, but a copy of one of the records made it to Dunhill Records and to The Grass Roots producers.  They urged the band to record it, and within a month of its release their version had sold over a million records and was in the top 10.  Amazingly, The Grass Roots' version of the song was the third version of that precise song to be released that year, and it was the fifth recording with that melody and structure in only 2 years.  That's how they did it in those days.
BONUS FACT 5: This fact was already a bonus fact all the way back in TMFW 28, but in the wake of "Midnight Confessions," Jimmy "The Mouth of the South" Hart's band The Gentrys released "Why Should I Cry" in 1969.  The two songs are so close in sound as to be almost interchangeable.
BONUS FACT 6:  The other Creed (the band, not the guy) was definitely a product of its time: that late 90s, early aughts  period of "post-grunge" where a vaguely Vedderesque rasp and some distorted-but-simultaneously-polished power chords put you in the top-10.  But holy crap: they have sold 25 million records!  Each of their first three records were at least 6x platinum; their biggest was 11x.  Their two biggest records were number 1 in the US and top-5 in four countries (US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand).  That blew my mind.  (Begrudging) respect to Creed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

TMFW 70 - Dottie: Half Man (and More)

[NOTE - I went back and forth on today's entry, thinking perhaps that I would skip it because it is pointless and trivial.  But then I remembered - TMFW was created to be pointless and trivial.  You get what you pay for, here.]
Just about every kid who grew up in the age of cable TV and VCRs has a selection of movies that, after having watched them over and over again in their youth, they can quote almost verbatim.  Near the top of my list - somewhere in the area of The Goonies and Rocky IV - is Tim Burton's feature-length directorial debut: Pee-wee's Big Adventure.  I loved all things Pee-wee when I was a kid, and other than the fast-forward-through-them dream sequences, the movie holds up quite nicely.
Since Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Pee-wee's own career arc is well-known.  He hosted 5 seasons of a Saturday morning TV show, starred in a movie sequel, got busted in Sarasota at an XXX theater, made his triumphant return at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, and most recently took his act to Broadway (and then to an accompanying HBO special).
But what about Dottie?  You remember her as the Chuck's Bike-o-Rama employee, lover of drive-ins, caretaker of Pee-wee's dog Speck, and person who Pee-wee warns about "getting mixed up with a guy like [him]."  Where has she been? 
As it turns out, she's been all over the place.  You just haven't seen her.  Shortly after starring as Dottie, Elizabeth "EG" Daily started a successful career in voice acting.  She has over 100 credits as a voice actor, including most famously Tommy Pickles (the star of Rugrats), Buttercup from The PowerPuff Girls, and Babe the pig in her (?) second film Babe: Pig in the City.  
Her voice acting career leads us to today's TMFW: Daily did the singing for the "half man" in the Two and a Half Men theme song.  (Warning: that song has a tendency to bounce around your head for awhile.)  I have seen that intro a number of times and assumed it was actually the kid singing, so credit to Dottie for fooling me.  
The next time you are bouncing around basic cable and encounter the show, take pride in knowing this bit of indispensable knowledge.
BONUS FACT:  Though less exotic than singing a young boy's part in a TV theme song, E.G. Daily's music business experience is actually quite a bit deeper than her Two and a Half Men credit.  In 1986, shortly after playing Dottie, she signed with A&M Records. While with A&M, she released two albums.  Wild Child featured the Tiffany/Debbie Gibsonesque pop synth song  "Say It, Say It," which hit number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the dance chart.  Her follow-up Lace Around the World featured "Some People," which made number 33 on the dance chart.
BONUS FACT 1.5:  In 2013, long after she'd made her success with Rugrats and The PowerPuff Girls, and more than 25 years after her major label debut, Daily was a contestant on the fifth season of NBC's singing contest The Voice.  She made Blake Shelton's team but didn't reach the finals.
BONUS FACT 2:  Today's fact was inspired by the death last month of Christine Cavanaugh, who voiced Babe the Pig in the first Babe movie, Chuckie Finster on Rugrats, Dexter on Dexter's Laboratory, and a wide variety of other characters.  She was 51.
BONUS FACT 3:  Pre- Pee-wee, Paul Reubens was a two-time contestant on TMFW-favorite The Gong Show.  First, in 1977 he was part of a wonderfully-odd-but-delightful duo called "Betty and Eddie's Sensational Sound Effects" (straight 10s from the judges!).  In 1979, he was part of a duo called "Suave and Debonair" (another perfect 30!).  
BONUS FACT 3.5:  Reubens' partner in "Suave and Debonair" was John Paragon, who later worked with Pee-wee as Jambi the Genie on Pee-wee's Playhouse.  You can watch the entirety of Pee-wee's Playhouse on Netflix; it is just great.  Mecca lecca hi, mecca hiney ho.
BONUS FACT 4: Most workdays, I ride a Divvy bikeshare bike across the Chicago Loop between my office and the train station.  When I am in a hurry and pedaling the heavy bike through traffic like a maniac, I often do it with Danny Elfman's excellent "Breakfast Machine" song from Pee-wee's Big Adventure going through my head.