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31 Years in 31 Songs – Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018)

bob & mato
Bob Smith & Mato D'Ambrosio in the studio, circa 2000

On January 1, 2019 I debuted The Static Dive with the 5-song EP Built for Better Days. Since then my life has changed in countless ways. I started this website, launched a record label with my buddy Kilo House, and have met friends and collaborators around the world. But that’s just the last five years in a story that spans decades.

Those who know me well, know that I have a tremendously bad memory. Despite that fact, I’ve never kept a journal and I don’t have scrapbooks. My music is my memory, and the songs I’ve written and recorded are the documentation.

My friends and I began making our own original music when we were still in high school.  However, it wasn’t until after our graduation in 1988 that we would produce anything listenable. Over the course of the subsequent 30 years we would track hundreds of songs. 

I‘ve published and released about 200 tunes in that time. There are many times that number collecting dust on my computer’s hard drive. I have tried dozens of times to compile some sort of “Best Of” compilation. It is impossible. 

So instead, I created this compendium playlist. I have chosen one song from each of the thirty years that preceded the debut of The Static Dive. I have included color commentary for each track in the liner notes, to help the narrative along. It is by no means the whole story. Each of these songs represents dozens more. And since launching The House of Static, Kilo House and I have tread entirely new musical territory. This collection gives a peek into the life that got me here.

Enjoy!

Bob

The Music

Liner Notes

1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

Two Grapes (1988)

the flying none - two grapes
click to listen

This is a groovy little experiment from my first official release, a self-titled 11-song cassette by my one-man-band The Flying None. The tape dropped the year I graduated high school. I was active in the zine scene at the time and did a pretty good job of promoting it within the DIY community around the US. It’s a quirky little record by a smart but insecure 18 year-old with more talent than skill.

“Two Grapes” came about after my buddy Todd left his bass at my house one day. I did not have a bass of my own at the time so I took full advantage of the opportunity and wrote a song with 5 harmonized bass lines. This was 4 years after Spinal Tap came out, so I’m sure that “Big Bottom” was an influence.

It’s a cool little tune. On the mic I’m reading some stream-of-consciousness poetry. It’s a writing technique I still use… writing and rhyming non-stop, logic and storyline be damned. In 2022 I remixed this one from the original 4-track tape and released it as The Flying None.

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photo: 1988 Queensbury High School Graduation

Artist: The Flying None
Album: The Flying None (1988)
Lyrics : Michael Smith & Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, bass, vocals, drum programming)
Recorded on a Yamaha MT100 4-track

My Time Slips Away (1989)

the reebs
click to listen

I was a bit adrift after graduating high school. I took classes at the local community college, worked at a record store, and played parties for free beer with my band. Our name changed frequently, but its members did not; my best friends Todd Haviland on bass, Matt “Mato” D’Ambrosio on drums, and me on guitar. We weren’t exactly taking the world by storm, but we took full advantage of the free beer. This would become a recurring theme in the ensuing years. One of our band names was The Reebs. Reeb is beer spelled backwards.

Though I may have lacked focus in my professional and scholastic endeavors, I was quickly becoming a viable songwriter and guitarist. This track is one of the best early examples of both. The lyrics express my lack of direction at the time. Musically it is heavily influenced by late 80s alternative. I hear The Police, The Replacements, Echo and the Bunnymen, and even a little Billy Idol. Mato is on the drums, I’m playing everything else.

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photo: Bob in his bedroom circa 1989, Fender Lead I in hand.

Artist: The Reebs
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, bass, vocals), Matt D’Ambrosio (drums)
Recorded on a Yamaha MT100 4-track

How Long to Heaven (1990)

the distractions - how long to heaven
click to listen

1990 was a time of transition for all three of us. Mato and I both attended SUNY Morrisville, and subsequently dropped out. Todd had followed the same trajectory as a student of Castleton State University in Vermont. We were all back at home in Queensbury. So, we started recording.

We settled on The Distractions as our band name. We wrote and recorded a ton of music during this time. Mato’s basement bedroom had been converted to our studio. We used to drop weird mix tapes on all our friends, with hopes that they would take them back to college and make us keg-party famous.

This track was recorded in one of the earlier sessions that would lead to our definitive 4-track opus ‘Days Tied in Knots’. It’s a beautiful little instrumental. I’m playing the guitar melody using only harmonics (guitar players will know what that means). On the left is a drum machine and on the right Mato is also playing live drums. I’m on bass. I think it is a fretless, and it was recorded with a nice chorus-effect. For some reason the song never made it on the album. That was a mistake.

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photo: inner sleeve of The Distractions 'Days Tied in Knots'

Artist: The Distractions
Album: N/A
Lyrics : N/A
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, bass, vocals, drum programming), Matt D’Ambrosio (drums)
Recorded on a Yamaha MT100 4-track

My Ocean (1991)

the distractions
click to listen

“My Ocean” was the second song on our first really quality piece of work. Our album Days Tied in Knots was pretty cutting-edge for an indie band with no money in 1991. It was a concept album of sorts, with the serious songs on the A side of the cassette (the “Near Side”), and the oddities on the B side (the “Far Side”). It had some great tunes, and was recorded far better than can be logically explained. 

We were in a basement with a 4-track, and we made a solid record. The tape was featured in East Coast Rocker magazine, a popular zine at the time. That led to some legitimate major label attention. MCA records asked us for a demo. Jennifer Jay (the MCA A&R rep) sent a lovely rejection letter which I kept around for years. I don’t know why. I hated that letter.

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Listen to Days Tied in Knots

photo: cover of The Distractions 'Days Tied in Knots'

Artist: The Distractions
Album: Days Tied in Knots
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Todd Haviland (bass), Matt D’Ambrosio (drums)
Recorded on a Yamaha MT100 4-track

Our Moon (1992)

our moon
click to listen

In November of 1991, Mato and I moved to Winter Park, Florida. We worked at Disney, drank like fish, and learned how to survive 1500 miles away from home on very little money. I could write a book about all of things I’ve forgotten about Florida. Eventually Mato’s wealthy parents intervened and enrolled him in recording school (the reason we moved there to begin with). After about a year it became clear that I would never have the funds to attend the school, so I returned home.

However, while living in the Sunshine State, Mato and I recorded constantly. There was a lot of crazy experimental stuff, and constant drunken late night jams. We had more fun than should be allowed. None of the stuff was ever publicly released. This is one of my favorites from that time. Mato is on the drums, I’m playing everything else. The song is a dreamy torch song for a girl back home in NY, sung in a sort of Mick Jagger-style falsetto.

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photo: Mato, with beer in the early 90s

Artist: The Distractions
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, bass, vocals), Matt D’Ambrosio (drums)
Recorded on a Yamaha MT100 4-track

Kid (1993)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 1
click to listen

I returned to NY in late 1992 and got down to the business of starting a band with Todd. Mato eventually graduated from Full Sail and moved back to NY. However, he was living a couple of hours away in Highland, NY working as an intern at John Storyk’s studio. He is architect who built Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios. Anyway, at Mato’s suggestion we called local whiz-kid drummer Eric D. Hamell. He connected us with some like-minded hippies, and Shu was born. 

The Shu story is an epic tale all its own, and is still being written. We toured all over the northeast college circuit throughout the 1990s. Since then we have played regionally a few times per year. We are better than ever, and just released a new album on our 30th anniversary in 2023. Shu has born marriages, divorces, multiple children, and a community of friends for which I will be forever grateful. The members of Shu are as close to me as family.

“Kid” is a one-chord riff I wrote whilst trying to be Prince. This is the first known recording of the song with a full band. It has become a Shu standard, and is never played the same twice. Mato recorded this demo for us when he was home for a visit.

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photo: Mato executing his artistry in the early 90s

Artist: Shu
Album: (demo)
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Shu
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Todd Haviland (bass), Eric D. Hamell (drums), Chris Webster (guitar)
Recorded on a Yamaha MT100 4-track

Tea and Sympathy (1994)

the distractions - windowsills and thermostats
click to listen

The Distractions reunited for one weekend of writing, recording, and drinking in 1994. The result was a great little 8-song cassette called Windowsills and Thermostats. The recording is raw, live, and acoustic. The songs are some of my best ever. At the time I was taking a poetry class in college. I think it helped. 

“Tea and Sympathy” is another tune that keeps popping up. I’ve recorded this track at least a dozen times over the years. But this is the original. It is an autobiographical tale of a night out with an ex-girlfriend. It is possibly the best pop song I have ever written.

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photo: inner sleeve of The Distractions 'Windowsills and Thermostats'.

Artist: The Distractions
Album: Days Tied in Knots
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Todd Haviland (bass), Matt D’Ambrosio (drums)
Recorded on a Yamaha MT100 4-track

Carried Away With You (1995)

bob smith guitar
click to listen

For me, the 1990s were a constant clash between my obsessions with music, alcohol, and women. In 1995 I was playing and drinking constantly, and cluelessly wondering why both my job and girlfriend had kicked me to the curb. In my defense, I was a 25 year-old American male, possibly the dimmest of all God’s creatures.

“Carried Away With You” wouldn’t get a proper recording until it showed up on my 2006 LP The Reason for Swimming. But this is the original demo. In hindsight, I like this one a lot better. It’s just me and a guitar, with heartfelt lyrics about all of those aforementioned obsessions. It’s a nice performance, and I like the little vocal timestamp in the beginning. 🙂

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photo: the hippie at work, 1995-ish

Artist: Bob Smith 
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals)
Recorded on a cheap tape recorder

Bored Young Guys (1996)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 2
click to listen

By the mid-1990s, Shu had become a well known college band, touring throughout the Northeast. So, we headed to a real studio for the first time. With our friends Doug Ford and Mac Fuller behind the board, we recorded our album Fanagalo album, which perfectly captured that moment in our history. The record continues to be one of the bedrocks upon which our aging band of hippies has laid our foundation.

“Bored Young Guys” is still one of my favorite Shu songs. I think it showed some real growth in our songwriting at the time, both musically and lyrically. I like the key change in the chorus. And the line “I’m as tough as nails, but she breaks those all the time” is still one of my best lyrics ever. I have an early solo demo recording of this tune, but it lacks that magical Shu spark. The band is something special. My brother Matty Carl (sax, keys, vocals) wrote and sang the wonderfully insane bridge.

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photo: cover of the Shu album 'Fanagalo'

Artist: Shu
Album: Fanagalo
Lyrics : Bob Smith, Matty Carl
Music: Shu
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals),
Todd Haviland (bass), Eric D. Hamell (drums),
Matty Carl (sax, vocals), Bryan Mull (guitar)
Producer: Doug Ford
Assistant Engineer: Marc Fuller
Recorded at Sweetfish Studios, Argyle, NY

Calling Mato (1997)

cool canine
click to listen

1997 was a turbulent and fateful year, both for me personally and for Shu as a group. We spent most of the year on the road. However, Todd and Bryan had both quit the band. So, things were strained. At home, I began dating Courtney. We were married by the end of the year, and the band was officially on hiatus. Further detail on all of that is best left to history.

This is a groovy little tune I recorded while on a break from that hectic schedule. I stopped by Mato’s apartment for a prearranged recording session, but he was nowhere to be found. His soon-to-be wife Kemm let me in. I wrote and recorded this tune in Mato’s studio as I tried to reach him on the phone. It has some cool vocal harmonies and backward guitar tracks (a favorite trick of time).

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photo: Mato's 'Cool Canine Recording' logo

Artist: Bob Smith 
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals)
Recorded and produced by Bob Smith at Cool Canine Studios

Mean Old Me (1998)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 3
click to listen

I was off the road, sobering up, climbing the corporate ladder, and trying to figure out how to be married. None of it came easy for a weird kid with a drinking problem and a string of undiagnosed mental health issues.

“Mean Old Me” was my autobiographical snapshot of that life, recorded during one wonderful weekend in which Marc Fuller and I locked ourselves in Sweetfish Studios and tracked the bulk of my first solo album. This song is one in a short list of tunes in my catalog which could have been hits in an alternate universe. 

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photo: Bob & Misty, 1998

Artist: Bob Smith 
Album: Solo
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, bass, vocals), Marc Fuller (drums, theremin)
Producer: Marc Fuller, Bob Smith
Recorded at Sweetfish Studios, Argyle, NY

Downtown – live at Luna’s (1999)

Angus Wilson
click to listen

1999 was all business for me and I did very little recording. For many months I worked as an IT guy, preparing clients for Y2k. Later in the year I launched Promosquad (later changed to HitPredictor) with Doug Ford and Rick Bisceglia. So, there was not a lot of studio time. However, I found this little gem. This is The Distractions playing a Shu song, recorded live for a local TV show called Live at Luna’s.

Luna’s Underground was a cool basement bar and recording studio in our hometown (Glens Falls, NY), owned by our dear friend, the late great Angus Wilson (pictured above). He was a tremendously talented artist, a remarkable friend, and a wonderful lunatic. We miss you, brother.

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photo: the legendary Angus Wilson

Artist: The Distractions
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Todd Haviland (bass, vocals), Mato D’Ambrosio (drums)
Recorded live at Luna’s Underground, Glens Falls, NY

I haven’t yet found the video of The Distractions’ performance. However, here is video of Shu on the show a year later. This is some fun local music history right here.

The Boat Tune – live at Stemstock (2000)

stemstock
click to listen

It was a new millennium, and Shu was back! It would still be another 5 years before we were fully intact, with Matty Carl amongst our ranks. However, the quartet of Eric, Bry, Todd, and Bob were playing together and even writing songs. It would be another year before we recorded an album.

“The Boat Tune” is an Eric D original instrumental. The studio version appears on our 2001 self-titled comeback album. It is an epic journey, and a fan favorite. The gig was the 2000 edition of the regionally legendary Stemstock concert, hosted by local band STEM. We were the last act, and just like Jimi at Woodstock, we played to a field full of sleeping and hungover hippies. This was my first time back with the band as a sober person. To commemorate the occasion, we all got really high before we went on. Our buddy Chris Friday recorded the show.

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photo: These people were hungover and asleep during our set

Artist: Shu
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Shu
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Todd Haviland (bass), Eric D. Hamell (drums), Bryan Mull (guitar)
Recorded live at Stemstock by Chris Friday

When I Sleep (2001)

shu
click to listen

This was the first tune Shu wrote after reuniting. It’s the first song on our self-titled comeback LP, and still one of my favorites. Based on the song’s lyrical narrative, one could say that I appear to be teetering on the edge propriety and debauchery, ever wary of leaning too far to either side. One would be correct. Musically the band hints at a jazzier sound, one which we would all gradually adopt over the years.

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photo: cover of Shu's self-titled 2001 comeback LP

Artist: Shu
Album: Shu
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Shu
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Todd Haviland (bass), Eric D. Hamell (drums), Bryan Mull (guitar)
Recorded at Trees Lounge Studio by Marc Fuller

Enough For Me (2002)

bob smith piano
click to listen

There is a cool old clothing factory in our hometown that has been converted into a groovy/artsy marketplace and creative incubator. We got in there when they were first getting started. Marc Fuller built a recording studio, I paid the rent with gig money. The Brick Shirthouse was born. We started tracking.  

We recorded a lot of stuff back then, all landing on different projects. This ended up on my second solo album. “Enough For Me” is a trippy little tune. Mato is playing bass, that’s fun. The lyrics are a bit less angsty than my earlier songs. I’m slowly sorting out how to find peace for a chaotic mind in a troubled world, hinting at the Zen of my future work.

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photo: Bob recording piano at The Brick Shirthouse

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: Data in Dream Life
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Mato D’Ambrosio (drums, bass)
Recorded at the Brick Shirthouse by Marc Fuller

More Better (2003)

bob smith - data in dream life
click to listen

This is the best song on my second solo album Data in Dream Life. The album title was inspired by a quote from Marshall McLuhan. He was a Canadian philosopher and futurist whom I admire. in 2019 his work would again inspire me on The Static Dive track “Retribalize“. The track was written the same day it was recorded at Edie Road Studios (formerly Sweetfish). 

I always liked this album cover. Obviously I was mimicking Andy Warhol. Musically, “More Better” is a rocker. I love this tune. It really reflects the Stones/Replacements sort of jangly guitar that I love so much.  Cool solo too. Lyrically the song once again weighs the virtues of sobriety. I’d eventually fall off the wagon in 2006. I quit drinking for good in 2016. 

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photo: cover of 'Data in Dream Life'

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: Data in Dream Life
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Mato D’Ambrosio (drums), Todd Havland (bass)
Recorded at  by Marc Fuller

Blip to the Blop (2004)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 4
click to listen

By the early 2000s I was getting deep into digital recording. I tried every Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) available at the time, although I don’t know if we called them that back then. Cakewalk, Acid, CoolEdit Pro, Reason, anything that would sequence and/or record sounds on a computer. Also, I was a new dad! So, working on music quietly alone at home made a lot of sense. 

“Blip to the Blop” was composed entirely in Fruity Loops (now called FL Studio). I’ve always been proud of this one. Twenty years later, it still sounds ahead of its time. I ended up releasing it eight years after recording it, on my 2012 LP No Mas Palabras. But it never changed. This original version is the same one that appeared on the album.

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photo: Lela in 2004

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: No Mas Palabras
Lyrics : N/A
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith

Turn Around (2005)

Turn Around
click to listen

By 2005 I had settled into my new house (the same house in which I still reside). I had not yet decided on a location for the studio. In fact, it has continued to move around the house through the years. I’ve currently laid claim to Lela’s old room.

The first iteration of the studio was in a small room which I built in the basement, where I recorded what eventually became my third solo album The Reason for Swimming. This song is a groovy, weird, and catchy little nugget that slipped through the cracks. It never ended up on any releases… and I can see why.  I mean it’s fun, but what the heck is it?

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photo: the studio in transition, 2005

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

You Need Time (2006)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 5
click to listen

If I were still inclined to make this style of music, I’d probably revisit some of the songs on my third solo album The Reason for Swimming. There are some things I would change, of course. And the subject matter can be tough to listen to. It was the first of three LPs which chronicled the gradual decay of my marriage. But it’s a great record. 

Lyrically, “You Need Time” hits all the relationship talking points.  Musically the tune is a cool bit of Americana psychedelic. It has always been a favorite of mine.

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photo: cover of 'The Reason for Swimming'

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: The Reason for Swimming
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith

Rock on the Hill (2007)

the mustache petes
click to listen

My buddy Auggie Ruggiero is a biologist from Ohio, but he moved the family to Queensbury for a few years. We became fast friends when he responded to my add for an acoustic duo partner. We bonded over our similar musical & personal histories, as well as a general penchant for consuming and creating Gen-X weirdness. 

He eventually moved back home to Ohio, and I missed my friend. So, somewhere around 2007 we started sending tracks back and forth over the internet. A wonderfully weird 4-song EP called Ugly Things by The Mustache Petes was the result. “Rock on the Hill” is the first song from that record, and probably my favorite. It is about marriage, Alice in Wonderland, and some other weird shit in Auggie’s head. 

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photo: cover of The Mustache Petes 'Ugly Things'

Artist: The Mustache Petes
Album: Ugly Things
Lyrics : Auggie Ruggiero
Music: Bob Smith, Auggie Ruggiero
Musicians: Bob Smith, Auggie Ruggiero
Producer: Bob Smith, Auggie Ruggiero

Something Good (2008)

the distractions - something good
click to listen

By 2008 I had moved my home studio into a garage at the back of the property. That was significant because it meant I was able to stay up late every and make noise without bothering anyone. I recorded constantly. Once I had a handful of decent tracks, I got The Distractions back together and I booked studio time with my buddy Marc Fuller at Edie Road Studios to record our first album in 14 years. 

“Something Good” is the title track. I don’t know if it is the best song on the album, but I love it. It’s raw, fun, and has a great riff. This Something Good album is definitely The Distractions finest work, and probably the best singer-songwriter alt-rock I have recorded.

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photo: cover of The Distractions 'Something Good'

Artist: The Distractions
Album: Something Good
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith (guitar, vocals), Todd Haviland (bass), Mato D’Ambrosio (drums)
Producer: Marc Fuller, Bob Smith
Recorded at Edie Road Studios by Marc Fuller, and GFR Studios by Bob Smith

The Painter (2009)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 6
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The ‘garage studio’ period lasted for a couple of years. I recorded two albums and dozens of throwaway tunes. This is one from the latter category. This track never really reached its full potential. It is a diamond in the rough, I think.  Maybe worth another look.

My father was a great painter. This song is not about him. It was inspired by a bad painting I purchased on the night I started drinking again. I would quit for the last time almost exactly 10 years later. The photo is of my own studio (current day). Though I did not paint when I wrote the song, like the artist who inspired the tune, I too am now a bad painter.  

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photo: Bob's studio (current day)

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

Wakin’ in Vegas (2010)

bob was here
click to listen

In 2010 I dropped my most rocking album. Bob Was Here is just a fantastic, weird, and noisy record. This album put an end to any ‘woe-is-me’ songwriting for me. The record was an exclamation point at the end of a personally turbulent decade. It would still be another couple of years before I got my personal life sorted out.

 “Wakin’ in Vegas” is a semi-autobiographical guitar-fueled romp through Sin City. Much of my early adult life was defined by the clash between two personas; my warped wanna-be rock-star ideal of selfish excess, and my actual nerdy, pacifist, philosophy-reading self. This song is an ode to the former. These days, I live firmly in the latter.  

As you can likely imagine, after writing and recording the track I was dismayed to learn that Katy Perry had released a song with a remarkably similar title. I like mine better.

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photo: cover of 'Bob Was Here' (a photo of the garage studio wall)

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: Bob Was Here
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith, Mato D’Ambrosio (drums)
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

I’m a Light (2011)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 7
click to listen

After Bob Was Here I went through a slow transformation as an artist and as a man. Over the next two years I would get divorced, I’d meet and begin dating Sarah (the love of my life), and I would embark on a long period of musical experimentation and personal growth which continues today. I released very little music during this time, but I was writing constantly. 

Stylistically, I was all over the place. Although my music was gradually trending away from the singer/songwriter formula, once in a while I’d go through coffeehouse phases. This song is an example. Lyrically it is light-years away from the dark introspection of my younger, drunker, earlier work.

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photo: Sunnyside East, circa 2011

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

Numura (2012)

no mas palabras
click to listen

In keeping with the schizophrenia, this is “Numura”. In my search for a new sound, I made a lot of them. I’m not sure if anyone but me will ever actually enjoy listening to this bit of acid-rock sawtooth psychedelia.  But I dig it. This was on my 2012 album of instrumental oddities, No Mas Palabras.

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photo: cover of 'No Mas Palabras'

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: No Mas Palabras
Lyrics : N/A
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

Again (2013)

sandy's clam bar
click to listen

This is one of my earliest trip-hop tracks. I have tried to finish this song a hundred times. I love it, but it needs something. This is an early and obviously unfinished version of the tune. My friend Corinne Morehouse was kind enough to lend her voice to the track. Although it remains incomplete, the song was a big step toward The Static Dive sound.

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photo: Bob on stage at Sandy's Clam Bar in 2013

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith, Corrine Morehouse
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

Rizz (2014)

bob smith
click to listen

Throughout this period I was very experimental. I’d write a folk song one day, and avant-garde electronic music the next. I’m not sure what genre you would call this one. It is sort of an exercise in unnecessary complexity. But I dig it, and it is another important step that helped shape my sound today. Kilo eventually used part of the MIDI from this song in his tune “Breathe”

In the photo above, I am performing live at ‘The Bigfoot Festival’ (a real thing) in Whitehall, NY on July 12, 2014.

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photo: Bob at the Bigfoot Festival, Whitehall 2014

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

Good Shoes (2015)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 8
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I’ve always been a big hip-hop fan, and this unfinished groove started with that genre in mind. However I am a middle aged white man, so it became something else. This tune really hints at the early Static Dive  stuff, like “Holy Ghost” and “Retribalize”.

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photo: Bob's feet at any point between 1984 and 2024

Artist: Bob Smith
Album: N/A
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

Vodka Tonic (2016)

vodka tonic
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I quit drinking for good in 2016. This song tells the mostly true story of my last night on the town. The town in question was New Orleans, and the night ended in the drunk tank. It is not a story I like telling. Hence the sobriety. On the upside, it led to a pretty cool tune and a much better life. I first released this track as a single in late 2016 as The Voodoo Council. I eventually ditched the band name and pulled the song. It later appeared on The Static Dive’s debut 2019 EP Built for Better Days (available only on Bandcamp).

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photo: the original cover of The Voodoo Council 'Supersonic Vodka Tonic'

Artist: The Voodoo Council
Album: single
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

Saturday Afternoon (2017)

31 Years in 31 Songs - Bob Smith & Friends (1988-2018) 9
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I wrote this song a few hours before my father died. I did not know at the time that he was going to die that day. It just happened that way. There is a line in the song about him, “I’ll sing that song of mine, for you”. 

My dad bought me my first guitar. Afterwards, whenever he saw me with it he would say, “play me something!” I always did. I wanted to play this song for him once it was finished. I miss him very much.

“Saturday Afternoon” is significant for another reason, it is the first time I played a piano track live all the way through a recording. That may not sound like much, but I was a pretty shitty piano player in 2017. I’m no Liberace now, but I got better. I eventually released the song as a single by The Distractions in 2021.

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photo: Bob chilling at Perkin's Cover, ME. circa 2017

Artist: The Distractions
Album: single
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith

Bit by Bit (2018)

built for better days
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This is a breezy little love song I wrote about my relationship with Sarah, which is pretty great. The song is the last track on The Static Dive’s debut EP Built for Better DaysLela drew the cover art. That launched a fantastic collaboration which continues today. Working with my kid has been one of the best parts of this entire ride. 

After this record, everything changed. I found my groove.

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photo: cover of 'Built for Better Days'. Artwork by Lela Smith

Artist: The Static Dive
Album: Built for Better Days
Lyrics : Bob Smith
Music: Bob Smith
Musicians: Bob Smith
Producer: Bob Smith 
Cover Art: Lela Smith
Recorded at GFR Studios by Bob Smith