Cliff Hillis

'Love Not War Stories' SONG SIX

SONG SIX- "Mayor Of Midnight"

Me, myself and I and Brad...

Continuing with the theme of "songs that were inspired by weekly songwriting groups", this one also started out in such a way. I believe the lyric of the week was "decoder ring" and I started writing a song about a guy who lived in his own little fantasy world where he was kind of like a grown up kid pretending to be a spy.

As fate would have it, while I was writing the song Beth Lennon was in her Retro Roadmap HQ room down the hall and could hear what I was coming up with. She mentioned that it sounded kinda like The Knobs, a truly awesome Delaware band that had a storied life span which was tragically cut short. I decided to morph the song into a sort of an ode to Phil Healy, the main writer and voice for The Knobs who died tragically in 2004, but that's a whole different story.

I recalled that Phil used the moniker "the Mayor of Midnight" when he wrote for one of the coolest entertainment papers to come out of Delaware- "The Bystander", run by Rob Waters & Erin Tanner. I immediately had a title for the song & wrote some verses that I thought described Phil, and then the first verse seemed to make sense with the rest once I looked at it as a whole. I played my demo of the song for Phil Young, a long time member of The Knobs who is a damn fine songwriter in his own right and he approved!

The demo I made to hand in for my weekly group was a loose & jangly track, mostly one take performances which featured distorted baritone guitar and wispy vocals cut to a drum loop. Like many of my weekly songs, if it was due on Sunday at midnight, I'd be quietly singing & playing in the studio on headphones at about 11:30pm trying to get it done in time, also trying not to wake up my wife who was asleep in the next room.

I decided to turn that demo into a full fledged recording for the EP, and went about cutting some drums myself, being that I had accomplished a (hopefully) listenable performance on "A Boy Downtown" thanks to lots of editing. After a bunch of drum takes I felt like it was turning into something cool. I re-sang some vocals and was set to have two songs on the EP that I wrote & played start to finish all by my lonesome, but the song needed a solo & I wasn't sure what to do there.

Just as I was finishing up the EP, the Fwd Thinkers did a rehearsal and learned the song for a gig, and Brad Newsom came up with a really cool atmospheric slide solo. Brad had actually done a lot of recording with & for The Knobs and was a member of the band in the later line-up, so it made perfect sense to get him on there. Brad cut some takes of his slide solo through a Leslie at his place and sent them to me just as I was finishing mixing the song. The solo rocked, and I also took one of the passes, chopped it up and flipped it backwards to throw some more sonic weirdness throughout the song. Mixed, mastered & "The Mayor Of Midnight" was done!