My son, Emanuel, loves the trippy 1980s vibe of this tune. And indeed, when I recorded it back in 1988, that’s what I was going for. Well, not so much the 1980s part as the trippy part. I do love creating the illusion that I was taking LSD, but no, I never did. Music-induced trippiness is safer and more interesting—at least musically. Though there have been cases of drug-induced musical trippiness that worked quite well: Hector Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique and the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields come immediately to mind.
I’m not sure, however, how much of the composing of these and other drug-induced masterpieces took place under the influence as opposed to being written while remembering the experience.
As for me, I’ll continue to emulate the drug-induced trippiness sans the drugs. I just don’t trust pharmaceuticals. (Maybe I need a drug for my paranoia about drugs.)
The Art and Science of Musical Trippiness
What goes into creating musical trippiness, you ask? I’d say it involves a certain randomness—the ability and willingness to throw things against the wall, and see not so much if they stick, but how they’ll fall. Now there’s a lyric that should have appeared in this tune:
I throw things against the wall
Not to see how they’ll stick
But to see how they’ll fall.
So you see what just did right there?
A perfect representation of 2020 randomness that translates into a nice trippy 1980’s vibe!
As for the techniques involved in the trippy 1980s vibe of this particular track, I’ll just tell you about one: the very beginning. I was producing, Benj Kanters was engineering over at his Studio Media in Evanston. Fred Simon was playing keyboards, specifically the classic Roland D50. I told Fred to call up an organ patch and had him play the opening chord progression BEFORE the tape started. (Yes it was tape in those days.) I then told Benj to hit record while Fred was in the middle of playing the first chord. I wanted the sound of the tape starting at the beginning. And that’s what you hear.
Old school, pre-digital trippy production. Yes!
About the Track:
Little World originally appeared on my album Songs From Two States (1988, independent.) It was released on vinyl and cassette. It is currently available on Bandcamp as a part of Uncollected Pop (Volume 1: 1988-91.)
In addition to songs from the original, there are also several previously unreleased tracks. The original album title, by the way, had a double meaning. I wrote many of the songs while living in NYC, but the entire album was recorded in Chicago. And, yeah, the other meaning of “two states” should be clear from the post.