FREE DOWNLOAD: "THE BIG GAME" by Stew aka The Negro Problem
CONTACT STEW to order a custom-written song for your loved one
Stew, who sometimes records as The Negro Problem, is one of the finest professional pop songwriters working today. That was my critical judgment based on classics such as "Bleed" and "Re-hab."
Thus I was intrigued by his offer to write a custom commissioned "song portrait." What he actually produced for me only further exalts him. I think it's the finest new song of 2006- though I am admittedly a bit prejudiced.
After negotiating price and payment, I wrote Stew a long heartfelt letter about my godson's Mama, whom I sometimes refer to on the net as "Annie Oakley" on account of she's a lifelong hunter and professional conservationist. I attached a few pictures of my beloved and her two year old thug. Add water, let Stew for 6 to 8 weeks, and I got the best present I've ever been able to give anyone. A diamond necklace costing 10x more wouldn't have made her as happy.
Broadly, Stew's an LA singer-songwriter. Despite the "ironic" (his word) group name, his music would actually be closer to Brian Wilson or Jackson Browne. I'm not saying he's quite up there with Brian Frickin' Wilson, but he's pretty good. I'd definitely take him over Jackson Browne, this song aside even.
What Stew conjured up for me then might be described as arty funk pop. He built the song on a hunting metaphor, with Annie Oakley teaching the thug to hunt. Thus the slippery, loping funk element- sneaking up on the big game.
Some of these words should make pretty good sense to anyone, at least enough to get the gist of the story. It is built, however, with a lot of personal details which might seem cryptic to strangers.
Here's a hint though: There are a number of references in the lyric to various art artifacts that ol' girl is known to obsess over. Look for the Jerry Lee Lewis reference, for one. Specifically, my favorite bit of lyric references an incident some ten years ago when I attended a Frank Sinatra concert with her- and watched her offer the woman who beat her to the stage $200+ (i.e. all the money she had on her) for the butt of the cigarette we'd watched him smoke during the show. In her defense though, I'll note that my Annie was not the nutsiest chick there- the woman turned down hundreds of dollars for a cigarette butt.
I urged Stew repeatedly and in varied words to go for his artiest precinct, rather than a simple Valentine. Now this is also the guy who wrote a very nice simple song last year about a runaway cat for Spongebob, but like Brian Wilson he can go all artsy. That's what I asked for, and I'm highly pleased that that's what I got.
Best thing I can say about "The Big Game": I've never heard anything else like it. It's not the Beach Boys, nor Love- to whom he's often compared. It's kinda funky, but it's certainly not George Clinton. It's got a memorable, winding tune that sounds better and better on repeat listenings. I couldn't have asked for better.
Re: Rights to the song I specifically commissioned this as a public tribute to my godson's Mama. So do feel free to pass this around amongst your buddies with my blessings. However, Stew retains publishing. Thus, if you get any ideas involving commercial exploitation of this track, you'll need to take it up with Stew, cause I'm sure he'll want a cut. Or commission your own song from Stew, and negotiate such things in advance.
Anyway, without further ado, the song is available for free download as an mp3. Obviously, I'd love to hear any feedback about this song, as I'm super-stoked on it. Share it with friends. Spread the love.
"The Big Game" by Stew
It's got skyscrapers and squirrels, taxicabs and farm girls,
tunes, bassoons and bells and empty shotgun shells.
It's got loneliness and guts
and Frank Sinatra's cigarette butts.
and the riddle of the drinks – it's perfumed and it stinks.
It's got parishes and pubs,
seven sins and 4-H clubs
It's got darkness after light and dawn to mark the night.
It's got those who let you down
and bring you up and stick around.
Those who watch you sleeping as they cry
or wake you up to say goodbye.
It's got rivers running through it --
some run from, others to it.
Once you think it's in your sights,
it changes shape and reads you right
It's got daddy's girls and mother's pearls
and put-down strays and wicked ways.
It's got snake-oil salesman cures
and glossy-ass brochures.
It's swings and then it shoots straight.
It's a Manchurian Candidate that knows he's hypnotized --
It's hated and it's prized.
It's got uptown it's got downtown
It's doctor's, dukes and countdowns
It's country, it's a mess.
It's a release to the press
It's a list you leave unmade.
It's a cold baroque arcade.
Annie Oakley and her Thug go hunting hand in hand
Sneakin' up on somethin' they think they understand
It's a mystery never unfurled
no matter what some claim.
Still she's teaching him the rules to the Big Game
She's teaching him the rules to the Big Game
POST SCRIPT: In April 2006, I went south to see the thug and present this song to his Ma. They weren't home when I got there, so I went to cue up the CD in her DVD player. But first I had to take out a Bob the Builder video called... The Big Game.
Stew-The Negro Problem Incarnate
Music Sustains the Soul
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