When the bombs began to fall on Iraq in January 1991 at the start of Gulf War I, I went to the Milwaukee Public Library and checked out lp’s of Iraqi music as an antidote to the anti-Iraqi propaganda broadcast everywhere. You can hear the influence of this music on the opening track, "Welcome."
I was also listening a lot to the transcendent Milwaukee band Die Kruezen at this time. You can hear their influence on the songs "You Don't Even Know" and "Orange Sun or Gatorade" in the phrasing of the melody, the rhythmic pulse and in the ringing open guitar chords.
Also evident – in the plucked triad-based guitar accompaniments to the rhythm guitar parts – is the influence of West African & South African guitar playing. Two treasured albums I listened to feverishly in the late 80s, studying their radiating and shimmering guitar lines, were the compilations “Viva Zimbabwe” & “Zulu Jive.” Like a buried mirror (to use Carlos Fuentes’ phrase) one hears in this approach to playing the guitar, the echoes of marimba and kalimba phrases, among other reflections glimpsed.
I composed most of the music in Milwaukee in 1991 in 1992. An exception is the song “Jay’s Backyard.” This song I wrote at the house of Jay Moores in Berkeley, California in the early summer of 1992. I was in the midst of a breakdown at the time, following the deaths of my two beloved Maine friends Tucker and Derby. The peace and sunshine of Jay’s backyard granted me some solace, I recall.
These songs were recorded on a Fostex 4-track in 1992 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I played a 1932 steel string Gibson guitar, which I bought for $135 from a man named Grey, with whom my brother worked construction. Grey originally bought the guitar out of an old guy’s barn off the side of the road in central Wisconsin. I also played a 12-string Fender acoustic guitar and a nylon string guitar that ended up in my possession via means I do not recall.
I have always been fond of the surprising sounds that are easily encountered when one records outside of the studio. In my bedroom, it was only natural to pursue the percussion of hands slapping denim clad thighs and the chirping of the birds who lived in the tree behind my room -- a tree I used to climb as a boy and where I spent much time lounging in the branches.
Though my 1985-1990 sojourn in Maine ended with tragedy, I was fortunate to have encountered so many searching minds and kind hearts there. I landed in my hometown of Milwaukee and continued to be blessed by friendships and collaborations with extraordinary people, good people. You can hear their presence in these songs. Also present in the music is the large, blue beauty that is Lake Michigan -- a great, shimmering entity that may bring violent crashing waves or glass-still waters and that lies just across the street and down the bluffs from my childhood home. The album’s title is by my old friend Allen Frost, a Seattle-based poet & writer of fiction whom I met in Maine.
To my Maine and Milwaukee friends of that time, to Lake Michigan, to my mother and my father, who cared for me, and to the people who cared for a 1932 Gibson guitar for 60 years until it reached my hands – I dedicate this album: Rebicycle.
released November 17, 2014
Dan Hanrahan – six and 12-string guitars, vocals, knee percussion
Musician and writer Dan Hanrahan has a long history in out-there folk circles. He specializes in surrealist ballads laced
with glam and Brecht. Hanrahan has shared the stage with Gordon Gano and received plaudits from Eugene Chadbourne and Shimmy Disc’s Kramer and has opened shows for They Might Be Giants and Throwing Muses....more