Michael Zapruder

Michael Zapruder

BandAlternativeSinger/Songwriter

Said the Gramophone quote: "Every sound and word is thoughtfully placed, every dynamic shift is carried out with precision, every sentence (both verbal and musical) is phrased significantly... Michael Zapruder is working firmly embedded in the auteurial model of composition and arrangement..."

Biography

When you're asleep, you're you. When you wake up, you are, as well. But how that works, how we can be as ethereal as vapor at night, and then feel so solid during the day, is more than a little strange. That mysterious, single, connecting thing that persists through all of our states of mind is elusive, and worth seeking.

In Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope, the new record by Michael Zapruder, we just might hear that thing speak. Dragon is a record of contrasts and oddities that moves with easy dreamlike logic from the everyday to the everynight, presenting opposites without attempting to resolve them. In the process, it offers a glimpse of wildness at the core of humanism.

Zapruder and Scott Solter (Spoon, Mountain Goats, Two Gallants, John Vanderslice) recorded and mixed the record in a two-week session at San Francisco's Tiny Telephone Studio. Somewhere in that undertaking, like fishermen dangling a net deep into the darkest waters of the Pacific, they ensnared something loose, weird, old, formless, and potent.

Zapruder brought a two-part mission statement with him. First was the idea of negative capability, the ability to be "in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason". The second was a line from a poem by contemporary poet Joshua Beckman: "This party is fucked without the karate chop of love".

With these in mind, Zapruder set about making something that would reside squarely where discontinuity and faith meet. Twenty-five songs went in and eleven came out, the survivors supported by the contributions of Zapruder's Rain of Frogs, a loose cadre of musicians and friends that now number in the thirties, and which sometimes includes members of the Decemberists and Tom Waits' bands (see www.michaelzapruder.com/rof.htm).

Minimal and tricky, Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope presents a world of large spaces and tiny details. It dwells in contrast and juxtaposition. Whatever intuition made Zapruder set the two-week limit on this record, it was a good one, because the recording lacks oversight and planning and thereby exposes common threads in songs that might have initially seemed too dissimilar to belong together. What results is a larger world that feels strangely effortless and surprisingly unified. And thanks to Scott Solter, on Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope for the first time, the quality of the recorded document equals the quality of Zapruder's songs. This is the best record that Zapruder has yet made.

Not long after Dragon was completed, Long Beach based Sidecho Records was one of a few labels to receive an advance copy in the mail. Owner James Cho and Zapruder struck up a correspondence, and through a kind of mutual getting-to-know-each-other process, came to feel that Sidecho would be a great platform for this piece of music.

Ultimately, a record either means something to you or it doesn't, and so now we come to the all-important bit. However it is that music feels soulful or meaningful without overdoing it, and without over-dramatizing things that ultimately turn out to be mundane; however it is that a record makes you want to listen to it over and over; that power comes from the feeling that there is something embedded in the record. It comes from the sense that the people making the record are striving for something special and are getting it right somehow.

Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope is full of that mysterious thing that is so hard to name. For now, let's just call it the karate chop of love.

Lyrics

Happy New Year

Written By: Michael Zapruder

happy new year the vinyl sign said
at the corner of the chinese church
I was standing on the springs of a broken bed
doing light historical research

it was raining the highway's sweat
and the overpass was muscular and gay
I felt like a small mistreated pet
trying to find the spca

there was an error and the chinese new year
ended up colliding with the west's
it was sad to see the paper dragon's wounded ear
and the lo mein on the policemen's vests

when the reporter that the newspaper sent
wrote about the story the next day
I was quoted and referred to as a dissident
so I put that on my resume

I was standing on the edge of a broken year
measuring its shallowness and gripes
I was torturing my sinuses to squeeze out another tear
I was beating myself up with pipes

now I'm howling at a wet firework in the sky
throwing a cigar at its heart
billions of people know the word why
none of them could take it apart

but once I knew an usher in a concert hall
who fetishized his flashlight glass
it was sad cause we knew his name was paul
and he called himself the cowboy of ass

happy new year the vinyl sign said
at the corner of the chinese church
I was standing on the springs of a broken bed
doing light historical research

lucy's handmade paper

Written By: Michael Zapruder

I like night time better than the day
let's drink green tea
and fall for things in the worst way
let's stay up all night

meet me in the shop
we can write it down
on a piece of lucy's handmade paper
we'll be writing your name and mine your name and mine

let's go out into the yard
and drink red wine
and do things you do when you know you're gonna live a while
let's put on slim slow slider and tennessee

meet me in the shop
we can write it down
on a piece of lucy's handmade paper
we'll be writing your name and mine your name and mine

someday soon we'll have a better view
late at night we'll see a tree or two
oh remember new year's last year there's not much more to lose
oh look ahead my love it's gold not black and blue

meet me in the shop we can write it down
on a piece of lucy's handmade paper
by the tribune lights and the howden too
and the white from all the nearby windows
the bellevue-staten stands by the lake
waits by the lake
tomorrow tomorrow
tomorrow
when there is a sky
not to visit you
not to visit me
we'll be writing your name and mine your name and mine

Ads for Feelings

Written By: Michael Zapruder

I couldn't sleep I was watching the night
it was throwing little pebbles at the the back of my head
I was building a city for one
sawing legs off my childhood bed


I was thinking I should be more concrete
like the offices of d-list whores
don't waste time with the panty-waist types
and the losers of the wars


my ears were ringing from your victory screech
they were echoing your deafening credo
like a terrorist's victim in europe
I staggered out in a horrible speedo


someone was blamed for all the hot sandals
and the ones that filled up with sand
you should be sued for that horrible cell phone
you should have to lose a foot or a hand


I know a man who has a ready opinion
and it's a truly insufferable thing
when the wholesome has married the loathsome
can you tell me what gift I should bring?


I can't escape from his eager McFace
his tawdry crush on Mayor McCheese
is it better to blow civilization
than it is to force it down on its knees


live with the people of the shared silver tongue
it's just one tongue I don't know how they clean it
I think they sleep in a hydrogen bath
and what they say they seem to mean it


we play traditional western strip volleyball
and the loser gets set free
I think they must have hydrogen eyes
they say it's hard for them to see

can't we bring you home

Written By: Michael Zapruder

mill creek chesapeake muddy lane in the rain
rusted chain in the shell-crusted maryland mud
the land is only bowls and swales
the rolling of a god who drinks and holds a reel and rod

midday by the bay harbor pier whiskey and beer
people dance where a second floor
rainproofs a hangout in the middle of the downpour

can't we bring you home
can't we bring you home
we've got whiskey we've got rain as well

the place is just the way it was
the last day that you came
I swear it's just about the same

morning's quiet things early grace saves a place
you should be moving in that waving green
sometimes you are but other times you're nowhere to be seen

can't we bring you home
can't we bring you home
we've got whiskey we've got rain as well

Black Wine

Written By: Michael Zapruder

black wine black wine
that black black wine
from the bottle to the belly of the child
she's fine black wine
there are other things that shine
and you lose when you smile


I wouldn't call it the warmest greeting but
it's true that nothing breakable got thrown
we felt like spies at a secret meeting
like spiders in an ice cream cone
and I wouldn't call it gracious how everyone sat
and barely gave a sideways glance
we tried to let you know we left our baseball bat
with those friends we made in france


black wine black wine
that black black wine
from the bottle to the belly of the child
she's fine black wine
there are other things that shine
and you lose when you smile


half-eaten meat on a piece of purple cloth
and a mean hound warily surveys
us digging up the bones of your favorite visigoth
and displaying all the findings on trays
someone opened up the mouth and a stone fell out
and it rolled beneath the flower-patterned couch
we were fabricating tombstones from bowling balls and grout
when we heard the dirty jawbone saying "ouch"


black wine black wine
that black black wine
from the bottle to the belly of the child
she's fine black wine
there are other things that shine
and you lose when you smile

there were halfhearted gestures like really weak tea
and they intensified the chips and the dip
we picked up the message that you don't get it for free
it's more like you earn it with a whip
there was all this white mist and the big picture view
was looping a defective cliche
saying love is a horse that will someday turn to glue
and lovers are pieces of hay


black wine black wine
that black black wine
from the bottle to the belly of the child
she's fine black wine
there are other things that shine
and you lose when you smile


when you took us on the road to the overseer's house
we were slipping on the cold hard-packed ground
you were gnawing on the neck bone of a ring-necked grouse and you were
hoping that he wouldn't be around
you were tearing down the trees with your big fat hands just as
idly as a baby throws a book
you were dreaming of a trial where there is no witness stand and
the jurors have all promised not to look


black wine black wine that
black black wine
from the bottle to the belly of the child
she's fine black wine there are
other things that shine
and you lose if you smile

when we finally had our dinner in the dining room I was
glad you left the football game on
it was pork on pork on pork on pork
it was yet another spiritual dawn
no one said anything remotely close
to certain things that people could have said
it was a dangerous reckless super-dose
of the savior's tasteless bread


black wine black wine that
black black wine
from the bottle to the belly of the child
she's fine black wine there are
other things that shine
and you lose when you smile


there were many miles to go in that dead-grey place
where you figured you would take us just for kicks
so you had us carve pictures of your horrible face
with our fingertips bleeding on the bricks
you were laughing at a thought so hollow and dull when you
idly swung your club around your knees
you killed one of your kids with a stove-in skull
so you had us all throw her in the trees


black wine black wine that
black black wine
from the bottle to the belly of the child
she's fine black wine there are
other things that shine
and you lose when you smile


I was eating and drinking to keep from speaking
and solving any problems of the day
like a backwards boat the house was leaking
there were tables and there were chairs in the bay
I thought I heard the window start to chuckle
I believe that I heard it say
everything is wild it's a dream it's a name
it's a mind it's a bone on a tray


black wine black wine that
black black wine
from the bottle to the belly of the child
she's fine black wine there are
other things that shine
and you lose when you smile

Harbor Saints

Written By: Michael Zapruder

In the morning when you wake up
may you find you're not alone
may the tangle of your footsteps
leave you where you feel at home

may the white misty beauty
of a summer morning by the sea
find the angels are all sleeping
cause there's nowhere that they have to be

harbor saints wont you come
recognize me and what I demand
that a man can have a purpose
that no angel would ever understand

understand and walk with me
and feel this knife blade that's pressed inside my sleeve
and say a man can have a purpose
that would make every angel grieve

in the morning when I wake up
may I find I'm not alone
may the tangle of my footsteps
leave me where I feel at home

may the white misty beauty
of a summer morning by the sea
fnd the angels are all sleeping
cause there's nowhere that they have to be

South Kenosha

Written By: Michael Zapruder

let's paint a vietnam on a wall in a room where they build a bomb
we'll know that it's carrying when it falls down upon some nation
endless couples marrying in a second summer of love

then when the troops come we'll go along in the flash of the beating drum
wearing masks and showering happy symbolic friendly paper
hopeful people flowering in a sunshine daydream

on a lawn in south kenosha
you were lisa and I was dave
or were you ruth and was I moshe
living in a cave

I don't know where I am
someone call the gendarmes
all I see are farms
where are the buildings all the tanks the missiles
are those soldiers falling

on a lawn in south kenosha
you were lisa and I was dave
or were you ruth and was I moshe
trying to choose which kid to save
on a lawn in south michigan
or wisconsin I don't know which
you were lisa and I was dave
living in a cave

Bang On A Drum

Written By: Michael Zapruder

it's a night time thing getting people in the ring
fool em once and shame on them but fool em twice
fool em twice and that is just not nice
it's hard to make paradise
killing people is good business
it's just a drag
the flag you're waving is all faded out
it's pink tan and grey
it's over
bang on a drum

where the people get wild buck wild getting angry at a chocolate child
fool em once and shame on them but fool em twice
fool em twice and that is just not nice
it's hard to make paradise
killing people is good business
it's just a drag
the flag you're waving is all faded out
it's pink tan and grey
it's over
bang on a drum

it's a drag
the flag you're waving is all faded out
it's pink tan and grey
it's over
it's a drag
the flag you're waving is all faded out
it's pink tan and grey
it's over
bang on a drum

White Raven

Written By: Michael Zapruder

hard branches and faces in the diamonds
faces in the crescents too
new mothers bringing hardly more than islands
out into this world of blue

who loves them and who loves them not
white raven sails over a parking lot

more footsteps on the walk, then the doorbell
more coats on the rack
good people making heaven out of hell
fifty voices beat it back

who loved him or who loved him not
white raven sails over a parking lot

and it's shuddering and juddering in the winter wind
high up in those northern wilds
where the people give a name give a name
where the old timers shake their heads
where the people walking way down in the southern sun
have a mirror in the northern lights
where the high school kids are used to the darkness
cause the sun don't come around till noon
where the wings are muffled by the snow
and the people know the quiet well
where the cold is like a god's strong finger
and they call him white wings

who loved him or who loved him not
white raven sails over a parking lot

who loved him or who loved him not
white raven sails over a parking lot

Second Sunday In Ordinary Time

Written By: Michael Zapruder

second sunday in ordinary time
with the hot suits and the fashion crimes
it's you and me somehow walking now
can you tell me how
I could be here walking and I could be hanging with that ceremonial chime
in the beams of second sunday in ordinary time

second sunday in ordinary time
and the bride's a little past her prime
it's you and me somehow walking now
with my aching brow
burn in every line
where the praying mothers know it only costs a dime
for a wish on second sunday in ordinary time

and I don't mind that we're moving up
that's all right, but it's the damn golden cup that stays half empty
in the hands of second sunday in ordinary time

it's you and me somehow walking now
where the crowds allow
and when they leave we shine all the golden things
that were covered up with grime
from the gears of second sunday in ordinary time

second sunday in ordinary time
with the hot suits and the fashion crimes

Discography

Michael Zapruder - Dragon Chinese Cocktail Horoscope (Upcoming Release)

Michael Zapruder's Rain of Frogs - New Ways of Letting Go (Howells Transmitter 2006)

Michael Zapruder - This is a Beautiful Town (Ex/Or 2002)

Michael Zapruder - 52 Songs (52 Songs, 1999)

Set List

Happy New Year
Butterfield's & Baker's
Elm Yellows
Shepherd's Purse
Lucy's Handmade Paper
The Alchemist
Ads For Feelings
Hawthorne Sound
Harbor Saints