BETTY at the Stereo Society
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BETTY at the Stereo Society
BETTY: A Day At The Carnival
Genesis of a CD:
production proposal to Mike Thorne
from Alyson Palmer of BETTY
I propose that this upcoming recording uses our song Carnival as its theme. BETTY is in a transitional phase right now and that was the song that heralded our first metamorphosis in the early 80’s. That was when we segued from the crazed punk new wave all-girl recently imploded band “Quiver” into what was to become BETTY.
On the day that changed our lives, we met at Amy’s all-white apartment in Dupont Circle to talk about what each of us was going to do now that our band was broken. As we laughed, cried and drank wine, Amy took out a 30-key Casio keyboard and played the first verse of Carnival. Elizabeth sang harmony. I was blown away. It was that song that kept us together at the very moment that we were going to say goodbye. Now, on the eve of our 14th Anniversary, how glorious to honor each other with a salute to the Carnival we created!
For this recording, Carnival should weave in and out of other songs, pulling all the disparate parts together into one piece. The whole should be as twisted as a day at the carnival (and our career); some light moments, some dark, some heavy, some giddy. The pace shouldn’t let up until the very last note. We can keep the three pop songs together but everything else should be framed with the atmosphere of Mayhem on the Midway.
At some point, three little girls should sneak under the canvas of a Freak Show tent and be forever changed by what they discover inside. The three of us will be three freaks in that tent. That will be illustrated by three separate solo pieces – a song…spoken word…whatever each of us wants to do. There will be NO editing by OR compromise with OR answering to the other two on these pieces, unless so desired. These will be honest, completely free and totally solo moments from each of us. The only restriction is that the moment must deal with being a freak. Perhaps the three girls will be we as children meeting us as adults.
All the Carnival bits will be recorded on an Edison cylinder to give them the warped, nostalgic sound of a torn daguerreotype. All the sound effects of an amusement park will be used; rides, barkers, screams, laughter, crying, games and all kinds of calliope organs. The overall effect should alternately trigger joyful thrills and chilling shivers up and down the spine. It should be a wild rollercoaster ride, short and intense with a dizzying ending that makes you want to get back in line to take the trip again and again and again…
1. (Carnival sounds set the mood, ala Queen’s “Brighton Rock”. Out of the hubbub, we hear:)
“step right up!”
“woman copulates with bulldog! See the results in a jar!”
(The music begins in 3/4 time, a warped waltz feel. 4 bars intro, then:)
“here we are at the carnival
laughing and singing and shouting
lots to do at the carnival..”
(the music, vocals and carnival sounds fade quickly into silence.)
2. (The carnival sounds and 3/4 time music begin again.)
“Lots to do at the carnival
oh how I want to go home sweet home home just home
home home home home…”
(The music and lyrics and sounds fade.)
PINS AND NEEDLES
3. (Carnival sounds. The carnival music is in funky, uptempo 4/4:)
“popcorn cotton candy candy apple peanuts, popcorn cotton candy candy apple peanuts
popcorn cotton candy candy apple peanuts, popcorn cotton candy candy apple peanuts!
getting nauseous…feeling dizzy…maybe one more”
(The music and lyrics stop abruptly.)
4. (Carnival sounds and music. We hear three little girls walking up from far away and singing.)
The gist of what’s to be said: “Look! The Freak Show!” “I’m not going in there.” “We don’t have money.” “Let’s sneak in”. “No way!” “Well, I’m going.” “Okay, okay.” “Oh no…”
(There is the sound of a canvas tent being lifted. Inside the tent, the music is even farther away. It stops for the three solo “freak” sections. Each solo section is two minutes max.)
ELIZABETH SOLO PIECE – “One of Us” [a rocking chair squeaks on a porch on an oppressively hot summer day. A sample from the film “Freaks” is used, the carnies chanting “one of us”.]
AMY SOLO PIECE – “Silence” [a droning sound starts quietly but ends thunderingly loud.]
ALYSON SOLO PIECE – “Monster in the box” [a box slams open. At the end, the box slams shut and is hammered in place, then creaks open again. The hammering is a sample from “Jesus Christ Superstar” when Jesus (the ultimate freak) is crucified.
5. (3/4 time music up.)
“there we were at the carnival
life was so simple and gay
laughing and singing and shouting”
(music becomes more symphonic, same 3/4 tempo. It ends suspended and a bit discordant. emerging from the last chord, plaintive vocals sing the last line, ending in a’cappella harmony:) *note: on the recording, we three end pulsing a C chord, assuming that Mike will be doing something glorious over top. Over the top.
“mommy…where are you going?”
(At least two full minute of silence goes by, then there is uproarious belly laughter.)