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Chris Crabtree | Counterfeit Heart

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Rock: Folk Rock Folk: Folk-Rock Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Counterfeit Heart

by Chris Crabtree

Concept album that is the soundtrack for the singer-songwriter's novel, Zen and the Art of Killing Your Self, with powerful melodies and lyrics, in a unique blend of Americana, rock, and ambient styles.
Genre: Rock: Folk Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Electric Blue Disguise
4:54 $0.99
2. Counterfeit Love
3:56 $0.99
3. Don't Give Me That
4:01 $0.99
4. One Step Closer
4:04 $0.99
5. Hey Sweetheart
4:24 $0.99
6. At the Time of My Passing
5:52 $0.99
7. All My Tears
4:35 album only
8. Bus Stop
3:47 $0.99
9. Heat (I Got Some)
3:47 $0.99
10. Welcome Back
4:26 $0.99
11. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
3:58 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Liner Notes

Electric Blue Disguise

Welcome inside the minds of our two characters, Zen and Ellie. Each has a verse to the other. Maybe I should have made this a duet. As Ellie would say, “Hmm…” Which verse is from which character’s perspective? That would be telling! You’ll have to read the book to discover the answer to that. I will give you a hint: one of the characters has electric blue eyes. The other feels he or she may be a sleeper-agent angel.

Counterfeit Love

“I’m tired of the way I’m living…” Is there anything more lonely than feeling alone within a relationship? “I’m tired of trying…” Especially when all you receive from your partner is apathy. “And I know you expect me to say ‘I feel like I’m dying.’” That actually is how I felt, despite my protest to the contrary on the next line. Didn’t want anyone to think I was suicidal—I wasn’t.

This is one of the first songs I wrote for this project. In my mind, it is the beginning of the thought-road that lead to the novel and the rest of the album. I wrote it just after returning from Japan in March of 2011. I was in Tokyo on 3/11 when the largest earthquake ever recorded rocked the island, producing a tsunami that killed thousands and caused a devastating nuclear disaster that remains unresolved today.

It was a lonely time and, although I’d gone through it with my family, I didn’t feel like I had anyone I could really connect with and talk to about it. So, I let it all out into a song, but obfuscated it in the way only a lyric can.

Don’t Give Me That

Okay, so I admit, I didn’t write this song for “Zen.” I wrote it for my daughters. Why include it here? Because I wrote “Zen” for them! The lyric does tie into Ellie’s story. There’s a story she tells about her and her dad that resonates with the lyric here.

Sonically, this is a very different version than what I play live. It’s in a different key. There are huge, spacey guitars, there’s this fantastic drum loop. When I play it live, the chords are different, the rhythm is different, it’s a whole-step higher, the lyric is slightly changed. I considered adding the acoustic guitar/vocal version as a bonus track but ultimately opted against it. You’ll just have to come see a show!

One Step Closer

There are these characters in the Bible, James and John, who Jesus called “The Sons of Thunder.” They were so-named because they wanted to know which of the disciples would be the greatest in Heaven. I imagine they had big ideas of all the things they could accomplish, considering they were hanging out every day with the guy who spoke and nothing became everything. It strikes me that Zen and his friend Scooter share similarities with the Sons of Thunder. Each of them has grand notions of the nature of reality, God, the afterlife. Each of them may be completely wrong. And, each of them is willing to follow his notion to the very end.

Fast-forward two-thousand years and it looks to me like it’s hard enough for Jesus’s message to get any traction at all. How then could any of his followers to be the greatest in Heaven? How can you become the greatest at anything if no one is paying attention to you anymore? “You once were closer to the shore before they showed you to the door” refers to the miraculous story of jumping out of the boat and walking on the water contrasted to how Jesus’s message is treated by even those who claim to follow it today.

I recorded several versions of this song. This was the only one on which I played an arpeggiated acoustic guitar. I recorded this during the writing of it. In fact, I hadn’t locked the lyric yet so some of them are ad-libbed in the moment as I was singing. I’ve since changed them slightly, but this performance remains my favorite. You can never really beat the immediacy of a raw performance of a song just after (or during) it’s writing!

Hey Sweetheart

The name “Sweetheart” has a different meaning in “Zen.” Here, it refers to a waitress Zen and Ellie meet along their journey. It’s written from the perspective of someone who’s just passing through this small town and becomes enamored with the waitress to the point of questioning the point of his wandering.

I recorded several versions of this song as well, including one with some terrific playing from John Gentile and Salar Rajabnik. Ultimately, though, that version remains unfinished and this one (which features a whole different chord structure—as all three or four versions do!) is my favorite. You’ll notice the official lyric printed here differs slightly from what I sing. What can I say? I’m always refining.

At the Time of My Passing

This is the song that started the novel. It informed the story and drove the plot. I imagined these two characters way down at the end of their lives and a deathbed conversation they might have. At the time of its writing, though, there was no Zen or Ellie. They developed as I began writing. The story of the novel doesn’t take us to this scene in their lives. I’m keen to know if they end up like this or not. We’ll have to see…

All My Tears

Emmylou Harris defined this song. Who could ever hope to come close to her version of anything? Her version is so singular that if you listened to hers and then mine, you would swear they were two completely different songs. Why take it on to include here? I’ve always loved this song. It fits so well with the theme of the book and album. How could I not include it? My favorite part of this recording is the giant spacey guitars that came out of this tiny 1974 Fender Champ amp.

Bus Stop

Spoiler alert: This song is the story of the Bus Stop chapter in Zen. If you haven’t read it, my advice is don’t listen to this song! It’s too late, isn’t it? The only reason you came here to read this is because you liked the song so much. I’m sorry that I spoiled what little plot there was with this song that features both the F and Fm chords so prominently. This is the last song I wrote for the album. In reality, though, it’s the first song I wrote for the followup album I hope to release next year. It’s as much about myself as it is about Zen and Ellie.

Heat (I Got Some)

This is an experimental piece more in keeping with my Tacit Blue project. This recorded started with the guitar part. I played it “wild,” meaning no click track or other rhythmic element to follow. I just got into this space and played. Later, I went back and added in the drum loops and bass. It oddly seems to follow as if it was all intended to be at that tempo! I’d originally thought to sing something against the track. As per the rules of the experiment, I opened the mic and ad-libbed. I was surprised by what came out. Still not sure what it all means, but there is an unnamed character in Zen to which this mental vignette may apply.

Welcome Back

Spoiler alert: Welcome Back tells the whole story of “Zen” in three short verses. Why, then did I need to write the novel? The short answer is that I could never hope to explain the intricacies of shrinking jeans to fit properly in the course of any song. The long story is that you need to read the book! The song almost didn’t make it onto the album at all. I had no idea how to pull it off musically. I knew it needed to be big, needed to build to what I hoped would be a soaring conclusion but I was going to need help to realize that vision. Enter two of the most tasteful players I’ve ever met. John Gentile can do it all. On this song, he played the drums. His playing is so restrained and so dynamic. Salar Rajabnik is a fantastic artist in his own right. I was so lucky to enlist his bass playing on this song. It’s one of my favorite to play live. I love singing the big notes at the end. It takes everything I’ve got and I love to give it.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Featuring James Preston on the first verse, me on the second, and Salar Rajabnik on the third, we recorded this track over the course of two days, with guitars, bass, and lead vocals on the first and vocal stacking on the second. Everything sounds so oozy-good that, even though it’s a Christmas song, I can listen to it any time of year.



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