Ever Unpredictable

January/February 1988, Volume 1, Number 4
© 1987 Notebored Publications
Pages 10-11
Thanks to Scott Welshans

by George Metzler

Attention! - Amusing Anecdote

What follows is a story about a song recorded on the new Steve Taylor album I Predict 1990. This story will allow you to impress your friends and distant relatives with inside information available to everyone about an obscure fiddle part on the track "Since I Gave Up Hope I feel a lot Better."

Here is Steve himself to give you the inside scoop.

"The most fun I've ever had in one day was when we brought in Papa John Creach of Jefferson Airplane to play on a song called "Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel a lot Better". He's somewhat feeble looking, kind of bent over, he bounces when he walks and he is very friendly. Dave (Perkins) had played in his band for about a year, a few years back and always kept a real good relationship with him. We brought him into the studio to do this song. It would have taken hours to teach him all the changes on the chords, because the song is fairly complex. Instead we just put the phones on him and did a combination of a pick-up on his fiddle and a room mike. He just started playing as he heard things. The cool thing was he'd play along he would hit a note and yell along with his playing. It was a real interesting texture that we got because it wasn't just his fiddle its his voice as well. Watching him play was just the most fun I've ever had in the studio."

[Photo and caption: Steve Taylor explaining himself to an amused youth pastor.]

For months on end, the rumors swirled. Steve Taylor is switching record companies. He is leaving Christian music. The supposedly new album that Taylor was going to release really didn't exist and was just a dirty underhanded trick by evil record company managers to keep selling old Steve Taylor merchandise.

But light appears at the end of the tunnel. Advertisements appear for a new album in a high respected publication, CCM. NOTEBORED reached the very tall Steve Taylor at his home in Southern California via AT&T. We didn't waste any time getting down to the important issues at hand. Rumors had been circulating that Taylor would leave music for professional wrestling. Under intense questioning, Taylor allowed that "times are hard these days. So I always let that open as an option." This titillating tidbit aside we could precede to matters far less serious.

A quick look at the album doesn't turn up a lot of "God words." Steve must have been living under a rock. Almost everybody in CCM that tried to crossover (that's a bad word now) is now having contests to see how many times you can mention Jesus or God or the Holy Spirit in one song. Taylor remains unimpressed by the new shift for Christian artists to, as he puts it, "to wear it (Christianity) on their sleeves." Taylor doesn't respect people who would allow their spirituality to move according to the marketplace.

Taylor started writing I Predict 1990, his new album, about a year and a half ago. Since then, Christian artists have tried to cross over, and by in large, have been unsuccessful. Taylor claims that in that year and a half, he "pretty much stayed the course." And in regards this new spirituality he said, "I have never been overly concerned with being commercial in the Christian marketplace. It's not something I would like to start now."

In fact, Taylor considered helping out those that would judge his new album by appearance. "I almost made a little count of the 'God words' and put that on the lyric sleeve so that people wouldn't wear themselves out trying to make the connection."

Since the new album was definitely not inspired by Taylor's mainstream colleagues, what was behind his creation of it? Taylor sees I Predict 1990 as a logical progression from the last record. He claims to have added a few more songs that are positive but he says, "It is not a dramatic move toward more uplifting songs in general." Again, Taylor plays the observer. "What is the Measure of Your Success?" is a typical track that features his biting satire. In this time of the shallowness which seems to be the yuppies' lifeblood, Taylor doesn't seem comfortable writing highly personal songs. "A Principled Man" is the close as he comes on the new album to really talking about himself.

Taylor, at times, has expanded on other's ideas. He explains how he came up with one of his songs this way. "The song 'Harder to Believe Than not To' is actually based on a quote from Flannery O'Connor in one of her letters. It's to a friend who's got all these literary friends in New York who loved her writing and thought she was wonderful. But they couldn't imagine that she would buy into something as unfashionable as Christianity. She wrote in this letter how the cost involved in Christianity is harder to believe than not to, because of the demands placed on her."

Musically, his influences were much broader. Growing up, he really wasn't into music that was on the radio--disco didn't even do it. But when punk and new wave come over from the British shores, it "tripped something off inside me." At the time, "I just liked the passion... I liked the idea that here were four guys getting together in a lot of bands who couldn't play their instruments." Taylor identified with that and still makes light of the fact he has never mastered an instrument. He was and still is motivated by The Clash, Squeeze and Elvis Costello.

In fact, Taylor wonders out loud if that will the last great surge in rock `n' roll. He says, "We've all been coasting since then." He relates some ideas shared with I Predict 1990 producer Dave Perkins. "I asked him, 'Is this the death of rock `n' roll? Is it all gonna come to an end or is something new was gonna come along and just blow this thing open?"

Perkins and Taylor attempted to make the vocals an integral part of the music. Instead of recording the instrumental tracks first and then slapping the vocals on top, they mixed the tracks with the attitude that the vocals were just another instrument.

And so the rumors came to an end. Steve Taylor is playing music and not wrestling professionally. He hasn't given up satire and he has yet to do a duet with Sandi Patti.