Inspired by our family and friends and our nights and times in Chicago's Norwood Park and Edison Park, William Howard Taft High School, and in Park Ridge, Illinois.
The statement above? That's what it says on the CD back. It is true!
This batch of tunes seems to be from one period now that I am looking back on it. I moved in to my first apartment with former Differents' bass player, Chris Meziere and his soon-to-be wife at the time, Traci. This was October 1998, and it was a blast! We lived above Don Juan's in Edison Park, and it was a very creative and fruitful time for all involved. The building actually had the name "Christley Block" etched into it. I like details, and I thought it was so cool the place had a name. It was my first time out there on my own, being responsible for my actions!
This time in my life is burned in my brain. I'll never forget it. We had people over all the time. Chris and I wrote a ton of songs there. We had drums, guitars, a bass, and a piano that we lugged up the stairs with a friend of Chris' and a valet from the restaurant!
As for the songs I came up with there, they seemed to be touching on things that were on my mind from the past. Good and bad. Sweet and regrettable. A clean slate does that for me still, I guess. Thinking about things too much and trying to put them in their place. With songwriting, though, you can move things around. You don't have to make it about you. You can bring other people in, or characters you're making up. A lot of the songs on "Christley Block" are the better ideas I had and finished.
Songs like "Small", "Nothing In Return," "What Is...," and "Rock Her!" (for lack of a better name) were really of the moment and what was going on around me in 1998. They were reflections of people I knew and seeing myself through them. Lyrically cutting and not so much macho, but finding one's true self confidence via earned arrogance. I found this to be another stepping stone in human evolvement. At some point, arrogance is a vehicle that takes you to the same brick wall. Humility gained through living, sitting there on the other side....if you want it!
The tunes that were referencing my high school days are here too. Back then, It was almost ten years since I had been out of Taft HS, and I was nostalgic for some reason. "Yer Prettiest Face" was the first of the songs to be a direct tribute to the people and the school itself. More the feeling of going there. I enjoyed it,...well, the last two years, at least. "Summer School" continues that theme.
"Cold Caring Man" was made up on the spot at Chris Lordots'; it was the guinea pig recording for his all-computer, no-more-tape, switch-over. A real segue from the old becoming the new. The song reflects that. The escape from an old time. An old ideal.
There's no escaping the amazing musicality of Dan Garrity's drums on this whole affair. Inspiring to say the least. James Wallace's bass playing was also limber and he played great support to the songs. Pete Pallasch, whom was our last bass player before our hiatus, was full of musical ideas and full of laughs. I can't say enough about his natural ability and his love for music...and shenanigans. He is loved and missed by many.
In closing, without a hint of exaggeration, this album saved some lives to be sure. In early 2000, there was a fire in the restaurant that was part of "Christley Block", the building. Some of us were up late listening to rough mixes of the songs. We had left Chris Lordots' studio and came back home to do so. A few hours in, slowly but surely, our apartment on the third floor became hazier and hazier. There was a kitchen fire below, and had any of us been asleep, like everyone else in the neighborhood, none of us would be here today. The smoke would have got us for sure, there's no doubt in my mind! We got everyone out of the building thankfully!
Talk about timing. I’m so thankful.
I love this little album of ours. It’s of a moment. Friendship and natural talent. May we continue forward and make something new!
released May 1, 2013
A song cycle staring: Chris Lordots (Recorded and Mixed by), Lou Hallwas (Vox, Guitars, Fender Rhodes, keyboard strings & some percussion), Dan Garrity (Drums and Percussion), James Wallace (Bass on 1-7), Frankie O’Malley (xylophone on #3 and #9, vocals and bass on #9) and Peter Pallasch (Bass on #10-13).