Caterpillar Centipede (9/7/18)
A centaur named David Bowie came to me in a dream. “I like the Werewolf Diskdrive record,” he said, “but the world isn’t quite ready for it.” He was talking about the experimental art project and sci-fi rap album that I’d introduced last year, following the retirement of Say Hi. The centaur looked and sounded like Bowie, so I was listening. “The thing is,” he continued, “the universe needs something different right now.” I could tell, before he even said it, that he was going to try to convince me to revive Say Hi. I stared pensively into the dream-state distance, contemplating the details necessary to make that revival happen. “You certain about this?” I finally asked. “Yep,” the magical creature declared, “just be sure you call the new record Caterpillar Centipede, because it needs to worm its way into their hearts in whatever way possible.”
This was an unexpected dream, for sure, and it was hard to tell if the visitor was an actual ghost or a subconscious manifestation of my deepest desires. Regardless, I thought about all of the emotional interactions I’d had with Say Hi fans since the announcement of retirement and a deep sense of nostalgia crept in. Perhaps centaur David Bowie was right, I thought. And while I was hesitant to backtrack on a decision I’d made with such finality, a fervent and weeklong pace around the living room, fueled by too many cups of black coffee, eventually resulted in my made-up mind.
As farfetched as all of this sounds, I felt a great sense of urgency now that my dream-self and I were on the same page. Granted, I had to scrap a notebook full of new Werewolf Diskdrive ideas, but everything felt right as soon as I strummed a few cowboy chords on my acoustic guitar. The gap between ‘feeling right’ and actually deciphering what the ghost had meant about the ‘universe’s needs’ was a big one, of course, but I knew I’d get there eventually. I was, at least, sure that it didn’t need a third concept album about vampires. Not yet anyway. And the same could probably be said about the lighthearted songs about robots, butts and hamburgers I always defer to when I first think about writing a record.
The centaur never came back, but my dreams after that were guided by friendly, almost cartoonish caterpillars and centipedes beckoning me through old, abandoned mansions or twilight-lit woods. “Here,” they would say, as we entered a hidden room or clearing in the trees, “remember this one?” An old film strip projector would be playing back a particularly poignant or manic memory from the last fifteen years of my life, memories I’d always wanted to turn into songs but never did, for fear that they were too personal.
In the end, I took the hint. Those memory projections paved the way for the ten songs that make up the album. I took care to make the arrangements, melodies and production as catchy and urgent-sounding as I could, keeping in mind that a return-to-form, classic sounding Say Hi record was my way of both quenching my inner monologue and giving back to all the loving people who had been so supportive when I thought Say Hi was done for good. It took me a while to get there but, I’m glad I did. Thank you very much for listening, I appreciate it.