Lost Songs Preservation Project: Honest Dog
Sipping will not make you thinner
Some songs really stick. I started doing this project, this Lost Songs Preservation Project, around the time the Decemberists were on a hiatus and I was writing the Wildwood books. I was straying so far from my songwriting journals back then, I think there was some concern that these songs that had never got their due would just evaporate into the ether. Lots of songs, inbetween songs, half-written songs, songs with bad memories attached to them — all songs that were sung and written down and then promptly abandoned.
Some of them, I go back and look at the page and I can barely remember the chorus hook, a line of the verse melody. Some of them have turned to dust that way. But often, I find, those were the ones that didn’t spark at all, even when I was writing them. Easily forgotten when they were written, the don’t stand a chance in the ever-darkening archive of memory. But some refuse to leave, like over-friendly party guests.
This is one of those party guests, “Honest Dog.” Or “Such an Honest Dog.” I dunno; I didn’t title it in my notebook. I did date the day and month, though, which was something I was doing back then: March 25th. This would’ve been in 1996. I was, what, 22. This was pre-Tarkio, then. Or *just* pre-. I probably was playing open mics around Missoula, MT, when this was written. I actually like this song better, now, then a lot of the things I was writing around that time. And that might explain why it never, even then, made the cut for introducing to a band. I remember thinking it was a tad on the strange side, but that it felt like I was trying something out of my comfort zone a bit. You might not hear it in that, but it’s stuck in my craw all these years for that reason.
The other day, then, I was doing the dishes or some innocuous thing and the melody for this song leapt into my mind. I remember writing it, I remember reviewing if after writing it, assaying it for its qualities. I’m not sure why it remained accessible in my head after nearly thirty years, but it has. I sat down with a guitar and reacquainted myself with it and it came back pretty quick. Memory! What a thing.
Anyway, I’ve already gone on too long about a nonsense song that doesn’t really demand dissection, so here it is:
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