Sex-n-Energy Knee-Steering Cinematic Swan Song Rockin’-Double-Z Romp! buzzed the phantasmagorical neon hanging outside the recording studio door as the producers and I kicked this project into gear. It wasn’t long, however, before we found ourselves buried axle-deep and spinning our wheels in the mire of that longstanding dictum, “Dying is easy. Comedy is difficult.” Our initial quest to incite knee-slapping hilarity out of the hard-assed funny bone transitioned—like hubris to humility—into a quest to invite, instead, grin-fueled musings out of the soft sinew of the heart.
Thus, we deliver here 34 genre-less, smoldering-cauldron-concoctions that we believe make leaps of artistic reckless-abandon faith into creativity’s infinities. No Speed Limits! No Road Signs or Star Charts! No Rules! No fences, boundaries, borders or sustained "concept album” thematics! No music or poetry purity! We’re talking fountain-of-hormone-overdosed-youth, visceral Risk-Taking! Solely, and soulfully, for the simple fun and adrenaline-rush of it all—words, chords, locutions, grooves, rhythms, riffs steering with THEIR knees!
As in, “Look, Cosmos—NO HANDS!” As in, hang-gliding Bagdad (Arizona) through a haboob, “lava-boarding" the Mauna Loa volcano flow, bodysurfing the Farallon Islands during great white shark half-price-appetizer happy hour.
All by way of posing the infernal eternal question to both young and old, to both the wild and the wary, “If The Extreme Creativist comes a-knockin’, are you game enough to invite IT in? Are you? Even while knowing full well that it was ITS guardian angel who posed for Edvard Munch’s “The Scream?” (Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.)
Steering With My (Our!) Knees pushes, via sonic novelties, the poetic metaphor for Fearlessly, yet tenderly, living and dying on planet earth. To all of you kindred-spirited knee-steerers, here’s to embracing the life-buoy Virtue of Defiance—here’s to going "Full-Throttle-Aristotle!", to punching it, Galileo-TKO!, out into the cosmic Cluster-Ruckus of it all!
Squeegee the windshield crystal-ball clear
And ball-peen-hammer the rear-view mirror!
In my early 60s, while pondering my poetic swan song, I realized what a major role my love for the writing of comedic poetry, as well as for delivering it from the stage, had played in my career—especially during my magical tenure as a cowboy poet performer. The label, “Zarzyski Lite,” popped into my noggin one morning while walking with our fun-loving Aussie dog, Zeke, and I pitched the concept to publisher Allen Jones of Bangtail Press. He saluted the idea, and by December of 2013, Steering With My Knees: Zarzyski Lite, a compilation of 40-plus years of my lighter-hearted work, came into print.
Within weeks of The Book’s debut, a dear friend and fan and patron of my work suggested a Steering With My Knees recording as a complement to the publication. While still catching my breath from the year-long shift of arduous writing and editing, I contacted my maestro brethren, Gordon Stevens, Scott Sorkin, and Lee Ray, who, with well over 100 years of virtuosity between them, had produced our 2005 recordings, Rock-n-Rowel and Collisions of Reckless Love. Soon thereafter, we found ourselves brainstorming in a Genoa, Nevada motel room (long story) where we acknowledged candidly that “the book,” in general, was not alone on life support in ICU, but was sharing its room with “the CD,” in general. And yet our sentimental consensus, trumping all logic, roaring above the negative din, suggested that we just might get lucky enough to pull one last nearly extinct word-music critter out of the Ol’ Cowpoke Cosmos’s magic-act thousand-gallon hat.
What surfaces now, 18 months later, in the aftermath of—as it did in the forefront of and midst of—our double-disc recordings is the constant reminder that this journey all began on the written page. Invariably, as I revisit any given moment in the studio, there shine several smudged, dog-eared copies of Steering With My Knees, The Book—Larry Pirnie’s electrifying bucking-horse-twister cover painting, “Road To Hell,” like a fluorescent, spark-flailing billboard along some starless, gravel, jackrabbit thoroughfare to Who-Knows-Where. Thank goodness, and the goddesses, for those trustworthy printed words that gave us hope, faith, trust—for The Book, beaming alongside the soundboard, or from the piano stool or music stand, or from atop a guitar case or, damn-it, yes, even an accordion or banjo case. Thank goodness for The Stalwart Book, in its cinematic role as wise old sage, wizard, shaman, whom, when all else failed us, we returned to, at the top of the mountain, to learn the creative way forward.
Which, in closing, brings us—The Book willing—to the third dimension of this journey’s triptych, “the poetry video.” Yes, film. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, we invite you to enjoy not only the “sound track,” but the “screen play,” as well.