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Track By Track: Of Everything and Nothing by scott crow Anarchy, organization and civil disobedience, Scott Crow talks us through his career highlights

Track By Track: Of Everything and Nothing by scott crow

Anarchy, organization and civil disobedience, Scott Crow talks us through his career highlights

by Lee Paul,
first published: April, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

"Humans think we're so important and can't imagine life on earth without us on it. The concrete age is a sliver of the whole Anthropocene epoch we are living in now." Concrete Age, Scott Crow

Scott Crow is an author, activist and electronica composer. He founded the influential anarchist mutual aid organization, Common Ground Collective in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His first book, Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy and the Common Ground Collective, was released to critical acclaim in 2011. His subsequent books have been acclaimed for refreshing the discourse on American life and have been commercial successes. He has featured in the New York Times, NPR, Der Spiegel, CNN and many more besides. Described by the New York Times as "an anarchist, veteran organizer and an aficionado of civil disobedience." Crow, the Austin American Statesman says, "is part of Austin’s activists that devote much of their lives working to find grassroots solutions to community problems." Of Everything and Nothing is Scott's 2023 retrospective of Scott's musical achievements to date. Scott talks us through it, track by track. 

Stardust Supernova (Energy Fools Mix) - Energy Fools, scott crow
This song was born out of an unused verse in an early Energy Fools version of the song concrete age.  The lyrical theme is to take out our self importance and reminder of where we all come from. And how after it’s all said and done we will be a very thin sliver in the geologic timescale. 

Strip Mall (Vocal) (Televangel Ethereal Dreams Remix) - Televangel, scott crow
This was an instrumental track Televangel had already written and titled , so I took the title and used it as a jumping off to compare strip malls, economics and organized religion commonalities and fallacies. Building themes from just titles is a writing endeavor I appreciate in the creative process. Basically making up stories - without input - from the titles. And hell- it’s fun. 

Crown (Grey Into Black 2.0) - Lesson Seven, scott crow
Energy Fools, which is Wynne Martin (ex-Lesson Seven), took our old Lesson Seven track and completely made it into an ethereal gothic ballad dirge for the 21sr Century.  Absolutely love it. 

I’m Still Here (Memorium) - Televangel, scott crow (feat. Dissonance
The song’s lyrics are some of the most personal I’ve ever written. The themes in I’m Still Here are about living long enough to see many people die around you, the ongoing transitions of life and a sort of grieving for the losses.

There have been a few very different versions created over the years with various collaborators. With each evoking very different approaches to the feelings.  I feel like this version with Televangel is the one I was striving emotionally for in my vision of this anthemic song.  Cat Hall of the band DISSONANCE  brings so much warmth and power to her verse, and the repeating chorus.  I still cry when I hear it.

Artist/producer Televangel really brings depth and ‘feelings’ to his work. He’s a pleasure to work with and the layers he adds are so nuanced and textured. This version has echoes of early 4AD releases to me like This Mortal Coil or early Cocteau Twins.

In 2023 we released a prisoner benefit version featuring a new spoken word intro from myself; a new verse from rapper Chris ‘Time’ Steele, and a second verse by longtime U.S. political prisoner Herman Wallace (of the ‘Angola 3’ RIP) recorded illegally while he was in solitary prison lockdown in Angola prison in Louisiana almost 15 years ago.  

Birdsung - birthCenter, scott crow 
This started as an instrumental track with a title by birthCenter that I just freestyled some lines around using his title again as a theme jumping off point. 

Falling Into Sleep (R34L Mix) - R34L, scott crow
This came from a piece of an unfinished vocal demo I found on an unmarked cassette from Energy Fools and Kerri Atwood (both whom I still work with) from 1986.  I just fell in love with the haunting vocals and the low tech recording directly into the machine  so I decided to reuse them in a new Lesson Seven song in 2020.  David May and I reworked them into a new song. I added new vocals to her original ones. Unfortunately it was never finished at that time. Later I sent the new demo to Sarah Hartman of this wonderful band R34L to do a remix in 2021. She also fell in love with the song and re-arranged it and re-recorded the vocals. 

This ‘scott crow’ version is mostly hers with my guest vocals - and differs from the ‘Lesson Seven’ versions. She really added a frenetic energy while keeping it simple and beautiful.  

Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes (feat. Thor Harris, Kerri Atwood) - Televangel, scott crow
Ian (Televangel) had wanted to cover this track from Silver Mt Zion for a while. And it’s one of my favorite all time tracks from them.

When we started to work together he sent me this detuned piano riff and I enlisted a few friends to add parts including multi-instrumentalist Thor Harris (Swans, Thor & Friends), Travis Retina on guitar and Kerri Atwood on vocals.

I played with the vocal arrangement and highlighted elements I really loved in the original including a single line that I used repeatedly for the ending refrain.  

The first version was this loose acoustical ambient mix.  It has this aching quality to it. Even though I didn’t write it, the themes have always resonated with the tensions between my political and personal life. 

Concrete Age (Energy Fools Upright Mix) - Energy Fools, scott crow
This was the second, and anthemic/epic version of this song. It contains samples from the original with new bells from Thor Harris and an ad libbed vocal ending that mashes up lyrics from this and the song that became stardust supernova.

Hostage Crisis (feat. scott crow)- sole, DJ Pain1, Chris Hannah
This is a hard hitting political rap by rapper Sole (Tim Holland) and platinum producer DJ Pain 1 which featured Chris Hannah of Propagandhi and myself. 

This was my first guest spot, and first new ‘music’ project I had been part of since I left the industry in 1992. 

Sole was one of the people who encouraged me to get back into making music.  My naive self thought I was gonna fly somewhere to go in a studio and do my spoken word verse - boy was I wrong. Haha. Tim said just record it in your phone and we will drop it in. So I did. First new verse recorded in 20 years straight to phone. Times had changed. Today I call that regular. 

Seconds (11-22-63 Mix) - David May, scott crow
An updated post punk meets electronic cover that’s a fairly straight version of this Human League track.  I’m from Dallas and although I was  born after US president Kennedy's assassination it was an event that loomed over the city for decades.  I called that place ‘the city that killed the president’ all through my teenage years. There was even a cool record store called ‘Direct Hit’ that captured the essence of that defining moment.  This song has layered meanings to me because of that. 

800 Star Constellation (feat Kerri Atwood) (Winter of 63 Mix) - Televangel, scott crow
Another track I built themes on from the title - not knowing what it meant.  The lyrics could be from a small child’s view of leaving home for a wider world or from a whole population on another planet doing the same. It’s ambiguous wordplay. Kerri Atwood again guested on vocals. 

concrete age - birthCenter, scott crow
This is the original version of this song. It was done in one take with 2 tracks live.  It contains themes I’ve carried over in many of my recent lyrical meanderings. The themes of the ‘concrete age’ are from words my wife once offhandedly said.  I developed a whole conceptual idea around it which is basically: 

Humans think we’re so important and can’t imagine life on earth without us on it.  The concrete age is a sliver of the whole Anthropocene epoch we are living in now.  We have so much influence over the rest of the natural world and have reshaped the earth - but once it’s all gone (and it ALWAYS ends) the only thing that will be left in the geologic timescale is a thin, and barely perceptible, sliver of concrete and plastic that will have defined our ‘important’ place here.  

Time - no eulogy - scott crow, Dead Voices On Air
My first collaboration with Dead Voices on Air and rapper Chris ‘Time’ Steele. The song is a mashup of hip hop and ambient electro-acoustic soundscapes.  Mark Spybey of DVOA has a great approaches to his soundscapes. The themes are mourning for the dead and the dying natural  world - that we are killing and worth grieving for.  

Emergency Heart (featuring scott crow) - Televangel
This is an abstracted version using vocals taken from my talks on the ideas and themes of our emergency hearts and the power they have to drive our empathy , creativity and action. 

wakinglife (chaos Mix) - birthCenter, scott crow
4 track demo - recorded live in one take in 2019.  Excellent video for this is by Lisa Rogers from the eMERGENCY heARTS office. 

I’m Still Here (Acoustic Systems Mix) - David May, scott crow
It was originally borne from an instrumental acoustic piece by my longtime friend and label partner David May (who died tragically in 2020). Before his death we released some stripped down electro-acoustic versions of it.  Later Televangel and I re-did the track with a heavy ambient- orchestral  tone and added wonderful vocals from Cat Hall (of the band Dissonance).

Strip Mall (Vocal) - Televangel, scott crow
This track covers the themes between blind corporate beliefs and how they are similar to following organized religion with ‘prophets’ and ‘captains of industry’.  

And how those irrational beliefs lead us towards dead strip malls and churches to express our beliefs. 

I’m Still Here (Alternative Vocal) Demo  - David May, scott crow
This is the demo I originally recorded from a YouTube video David May had made of this repeating acoustic guitar piece.  It was something he’d written and  forgotten about.  It was 10 minutes of acoustic guitar!!  I found it and just started playing with the themes while recovering from near death experiences at the hands of the police. 

anarchy is how I see the world (Joel Williamson Mix) - Televangel, scott crow
This track was built from Televangels music and words taken from my various talks over about a 10 year period on the ideas of anarchy.

Joel Williamson lovingly took hours of talks and put the clips thematically together. 

This track was the beginning of a series of these we’ve done combining Televangels music with myself and other writers talks into songs around the themes of anarchy.


Essential Information
www.scottcrow.org
www.emergencyhearts.com
emergencyhearts.bandcamp.com

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