Grammas Back Door - Inside GBD

Inside Grammas Back Door

The Story of Grammas Back Door

Once upon a time, not so long ago, and not very far away, there was no Grammas Back Door. At that time, there was an evil sorceress who had captive under her spell a former frog prince named Bruce. (To be honest, she wasn't really evil, and in fact evil doesn't really exist, but `evil sorceress' sounds better than `a sorceress whose values and ethics differed significantly from those of our protagonists' does, and she wasn't really a sorceress either, but I think you get the point.) Bruce had a friend named John who was a wizard (similar disclaimers apply), but John knew that his magic was no match for the sorceress as long as Bruce was a willing victim of the Bad Marriage spell, so John had to go drinking and see live music without Bruce.

One day, coming out of a kind of fog, Bruce hit upon the solution to his problems, and, unbeknownst to John, escaped the spell. He called John:

B: Hey, how's it going? I was thinking we should go for drinks and check out some live music.
J (somewhat stunned): Uh, okay.
B: How about tonight?
J (still stunned): Uh, okay.
B: Great! I'll give you a call after work. Say, I should give you my new home phone number.
J (enlightenment dawning): Sure. Say, your wife's number hasn't changed, has it?
B: No! How'd you guess?
J: Well, you sound happy, for one...

Bruce leapt whole-heartedly into being single again, and spent money on toys he couldn't really afford but that suited his princely status, like a keyboard, and a 4-track recorder. He started recording cover tunes and some original noodling.

Again John knew nothing of this, putting his status as `Wizard' into some question, but one day as the two of them were heading north in Bruce's beloved chariot (the sorceress couldn't drive), Bruce put a tape in the tape deck. `Zounds!' said John, or perhaps it was something a bit more profane, `That's you!'

After Bruce explained, he also added that he had a lot of ideas for original material, but he'd tried his hand at writing lyrics and given up (something about yams with sunglasses dancing around a fire that is perhaps best left for another story). Now John, in addition to pretending to be a wizard, also privately pretended to be a poet (though he had admitted this to no one, and always washed his hands afterwards). Summoning what little courage he could, he told Bruce that he could perhaps write some lyrics.

And so the next time the chariot carried them north, to their wonderful retreats on the island called Rose, John put Bruce under a spell of Drunkenness, and showed him some lyrics. Under the spell, Bruce liked the lyrics, and declared, `We shall record some of these, the ones that don't suck too much, and we shall form a musical dynasty to rival Camelot, and it shall be called Grammas Back Door.'

And so Grammas Back Door was born (without an apostrophe, which may be the result of the spell of Drunkenness), and indeed, has produced more music tapes and CDs than ever came out of Camelot, though that Monty Python one is pretty good.

But into every Camelot a little Guinevere must fall, though it is perhaps especially fitting in the case of GBD.

How a Song is Born

Well, we can't speak for all songs, but with most of the Grammas Back Door songs, it happened something like this:

First, the lyricist had his heart stomped upon in some tragic relationship. This was usually John, but sometimes was Bruce. Sometimes `had his heart stomped upon' was preceded by `falls in love', which may or may not have inspired slightly more upbeat lyrics. And sometimes, when John hadn't had his heart stomped upon for some time, and Bruce complained about a shortage of lyrics (even though he had a fair backlog of ones he is too polite to say would not be made into songs because they sucked) John simply had a few drinks and cast himself back to some earlier time when his heart was stomped upon.

Regardless, out of this mess came some tortured piece of angst and/or bitter humour. This was then sent to Bruce (by fax in Olden Times, by email later), unless Bruce wrote it himself.

Bruce took the lyrics, and did something that is still mostly a mystery to the author of this text, but is known to have involved keyboards of some description, a drum machine, microphones, an assortment of guitars (and sometimes a banjo) and a 4-track tape recorder. At some point in this process, Bruce decided the song was suitable to demo for John.

Bruce called John, and began with the disclaimer, `I hope you are not upset with what I did to this.' He then played back John's angst-ridden words over some music that was often entirely unexpected to John, for example, a polka in the case of Emma.

This had a therapeutic effect on John, and he was finally able to laugh at what a ridiculous thing his angst was, and was able to quickly get over Emma without resorting to expensive therapy (though he'd still go for her in an instant if he ever had the chance, despite knowing what a stupid thing that would be to do).

And then the whole process started over again! Isn't that wonderful? It's kind of like that song from Walt Disney's The Lion King about the circle of life, don't you think? We would have been the lions, and the jackals would be...

No, never mind.