In 2002, I was about to self-publish the first version of A Common Pornography. It was a slim 60-page book with footnotes by Mike Daily and collages by Melody Owen, The print run was about 600 copies. It looked like this:
But first I needed to make a bit of moolah to pay for it. So I threw a benefit at Disjecta with some readings and music. Melody introduced me to Michael Johnson and told me his band, Reclinerland, would like to be on the bill. They played along with Mykle Hansen’s Bad Mintons, Giant Bug Village (the Guided By Voices cover band), and Crack City Rockers.
I remembered having a nice conversation with Mr. Johnson after the show. Not only did his band play for free but he also gave me some free CDs. A few weeks later, the book was out and I was driving around dropping off free copies to the folks who helped with the benefit. By that time, I had already played the Reclinerland CDs to death and was head over heels for Johnson’s smooth voice (great for make out music, by the way) and literary-minded pop stylings.
We became fast friends and I even wrote about my man-crush for the Mercury.
A couple of months later, Michael asked me to write fictional liner notes for the Reclinerland album, The Ideal Home Music Library: Volume 1. That came out in 2003.
Soon after that, to my surprise, Michael told me that he really liked the stories in A Common Pornography and that he was writing songs based on them. Some of the songs were nearly word-for-word musical versions of the stories themselves while a few were turning out a little looser in their translation. In 2007, he played some for the first time at a show at the Someday Lounge. It was pretty surreal and spectacular. And for the past couple of years, he has been crafting a whole CD of these songs–twenty of them based on chapters from the original–now rare–version of ACP.
Now it’s finally here! You can download the whole album on the Reclinerland website or listen to parts of songs on iTunes or Amazon. I think it’s a pretty fun creation and I’m flattered that Michael took so many hours (weeks! months!) to create it. And while you’re at it, check out his other fine work. I especially love the orange, green, and blue albums.
Michael Johnson: I heart you!