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Friday, January 14, 2005
For a long time, I have wanted to produce a Tori Amos album, largely to correct the problems that seem to have cropped up in her body of work since she started producing herself. (The first self-produced album, Boys For Pele, notwithstanding, although that has its problems too.) Lately I've been thinking about it more specifically, and as such, have come up with a set of ground rules that I would lay down were I to produce a Tori Amos album. So, without further ado...

1. There will be exactly 12 songs on the album. Not 11, not 13, and definitely not goddamn 19. If there are more than 12 songs produced, the extras will be b-sides, or leaked tracks, or a whole separate album. But this album will have exactly 12 songs.

2. At least 10 of those 12 tracks will have drums. And not those pussy-ass "trip-hop" drums you keep using. If I wanted a track to sound like that stupid "Sunscreen" song, I'd put on a pair of khakis, cut a hole in them, and fuck myself with an LL Bean catalog.

3. If Steve Caton tries to enter the studio, I will punch him in the face. This will probably result in me getting beaten up, because it looks like Steve could take me, but nevertheless, that wanker needs to be kept away from a guitar, for the love of all that is holy.

4. Songs about babies = bad. Songs about getting really drunk and you and your best friend beating the crap out of each other until you collapse on the street and have to be taken to the hospital and wake up the next morning not remembering any of it: good.

5. You will not use any of the following words in your lyrics: butterfly, Jesus, sweet, ahAHow, boy, c'mon, he, you, light, honey, heaven, Tuesday (or any other day of the week), man, coffee, ghost, dove (or any bird name), champagne, learn, snowflake, hand, neil (OK YOU KNOW NEIL GAIMAN WE GET IT), religion, girl, bed, athena (or any other name of a pantheistic god), woman, body, tree. A special exemption is granted for "blood" and "song" but don't abuse it. In general, if you write a line that would get a freshman women's studies major excited, delete it.

6. There will be no A/C ballad on the album. The closest we will get to an A/C ballad is something that sounds like Avril's "My Happy Ending." In fact, why don't we just cover that? It would make things easier. Plus, hey: good song!

7. The first single will be the harshest song on the album. This song may or may not feature the sound of Flava Flav tearing the shit out of a small stuffed animal and screaming after we've locked him in a lightless room with no food for a few days.

8. Pre-recording regimen: one week of nothing but ABBA, one week of Britney/Xtina/Pink/Beyonce. And have you heard the Scissor Sisters, Tori? I mean jesus christ.

9. If a song is about someone, it will have consistent, named characters. Furthermore, you may no longer use the "one specific thing and three highly unspecific things" rule. Now it's more like "three specific things for one vague thing, except you really have to justify the vague thing." Also, 3/4 of songs should have a coherant narrative line.

10. In 4 of the songs, you will only be able to use 8 notes on the piano. In 4 of the songs, you will not be allowed to improvise. In 4 of the songs we will sample small piano riffs and construct the song from that as well as outside instruments. Any individual song may incorporate any or all of these restrictions, but all of them must be satisfied in the 12 songs that end up on the final album.

ADDENDUM: Matthew gives his version of these ground rules for an R.E.M. album in the comments to a DYFL post.