Notes From a Basement

By Doug Hubley: Sounds and reflections of a musical life

Steve Chapman: Thoughts on ‘Sporting Life’ and ‘Blunt Cut’

Bassist Steve Chapman listens to a playback during the Fashion Jungle's January 1984 recording sessions at the Outlook. Gretchen Schaefer photo.

Bassist Steve Chapman listens to a playback during the Fashion Jungle’s January 1984 recording sessions at the Outlook. Gretchen Schaefer photo.

From an email on March 19, 2013:

Sporting Life” was one of bassist Steve Chapman’s early contributions to the Fashion Jungle repertoire, but it took a year or two for us to settle into an arrangement. The best version was a mid-tempo ska from late 1984, during multi-instrumentalist Jim Sullivan’s brief return to the band. Here’s Steve:

My main recollection of the early “Sporting Life” was the “ba ba bap ba ba’s,” which I knew were necessary but didn’t know why and what the point of them was. I was sort of embarrassed by them but insisted that they stand. After Jim Sullivan filled them in with saxophone, with Doug’s arrangement suggestions, if I remember correctly, it kind of clicked.

Blunt Cut” was a fortuitous marriage of parts that were lying around, a lyric by Doug Hubley and a melody by Steve:

Blunt Cut” was a writer’s block that has come up over and over again for me. I find it relatively easy to write music but then most often cannot finish it off lyrically. Being neither an intellectual nor a poet — not to imply that they’re mutually exclusive — I struggle with that part of it.

“Blunt Cut” was a great collaboration. Too bad there weren’t more, but our styles were different and that was actually a strong point of the band.

The songs kind of outlive their circumstances and become entities unto themselves. I’ve always been fascinated by that and think it significant, even if only in a local context. Count Basie neither wrote nor performed these songs and they will fade from the collective memory much sooner than most others, but they live at least for now.

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