This is a very deep song about the existential angst and dread one feels as one wakes up in the morning and ponders one's purpose in life, getting over that, and just putting some fuckin' pants on. It's the little things, you know.
BORN: free, as free as the wind blows
RESIDES: Albuquerque, NM
PLAYING SINCE: they told us to stop
folk. indie. fun. Sing them songs!
Sage and Jared’s Happy Gland Band is a band of whimsy and unbridled glandulosity. It’s a band that will make you reconsider how grossed out you are about the endocrine system. Sage plays ukulele. Jared plays upright bass. Their glistening songs of mundanity, desecration, celebration, and perspiration appear on their CD, Flooded Away, which the lovely Mel Minter reviewed for its Oct 2013 release:
The premiere release from Sage and Jared’s Happy Gland Band, Flooded Away, may be the most charmingly peculiar—or maybe that’s peculiarly charming—album I’ve heard since Jared Putnam’s Brontosaurus on Pluto nearly three years ago. It’s certainly the most seriously silly and whimsical.
Sage is folkgrass singer/songwriter Sage Harrington, and Jared is, as you’ve probably guessed, the aforementioned Putnam, best known as the bassist and sometime vocalist/songwriter in the astonishing gypsy jazz band Le Chat Lunatique. (How it is that Le Chat is not yet a household name from coast to coast, at least, remains one of the mysteries and inequities of the music business.)
SAJHGB describe themselves as “a band of unbridled glandulosity. It’s a band that will make you reconsider how grossed out you are about the endocrine system.” They want to make your glands happy, and they are pretty good at it. Harrington plays ukulele, Putnam plays bass, both of them sing, sometimes extravagantly. Percussion, kazoo, whistling, and clarinet also make appearances, and without the liner notes at hand—Jared, you silly man, you never got back to me, and God knows I tried—I’m not sure who should get credit for those. The only evidence I’ve turned up is a You Tube video that shows Putnam simultaneously playing bass and percussion, scratching a drummer’s brush on a board mounted on the face of his standup bass. Pretty imaginative.
In fact, the whole enterprise is pretty imaginative, starting with the hand-made masthead on the website, where, by the way, you can learn or probably mislearn that “the ancient Sumerians were the first to wash their dogs.” Then, there are the literate, clever, wacky lyrics (“prehensile tales of vestigial whales” on “Boiling Black Oceans,” a phantasmagoric recounting of evolutionary developments), and perfectly odd rhymes that require a very special poetic license, available only from a secret corner of a parallel universe (quandary/laundry and dishes/kis(h)ses on “I Want You All the Time,” a title that accurately describes the song’s feverishly PG content).
The songs cover a lot of territory. There’s the Western swing of “DIE! DIE! DIE!” which is simultaneously gross and cute as only Putnam could manage. Without credits—really, Jared, pick up the phone—I’m only guessing here, but I’d bet a bundle that he gets the major credit for that one. We’ve got the folksy “Soap Floats,” and given that Harrington invites you to “revel in the mundane” with her solo release, Maybe, I’ve got to believe this one’s hers. Then, there’s “ZANZIBAR!” which belongs in a bizarro version of a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby road flick (“she took all my cash and left me with a rash in Zanzibar”)—Putnam again, I’m educationally guessing. “Stroke My Ego”—my bet: another Putnam special—is in the mold of the ’30s American songbook, wrapping an upbeat form around an ironic glimpse into darkish corners of the psyche.
Harrington’s wordless and theatrical vocal on that one is truly inspired, taking the song into an eerie neighborhood. Speaking of Harrington’s voice, this lady’s got quite the range, a solid midrange, and a spooky falsetto. She can inject a ’20s quality into her vocalizing at will. I think she might have yodeled at birth. (Come to think of it, Putnam has the same antiquing talent.) Harrington occasionally overloads the mic, and there are other imperfections on the album that might keep it from a Grammy nomination, but perfection isn’t the point. Fun is the point.
There are a couple of short, sweet ukulele instrumentals honoring the Harrington/Putnam doggies: “Daphne’s Dance” and “George Michael’s Dream.” I’ll give the provisional writing credit to Harrington on those two.
Back to lyrics, and in “Walking,” we’ve got this perfectly icky silliness:
“I’m a littleshy and spittlealways seems tofly from my mouth.
“I’m a littleshy and spittlealways seems tomake things go south.”
“While the Wind Blows” is a singularly tender and whimsical love song. Harrington’s, I think.
If the album’s songs and the online videos are any indication, Harrington and Putnam inhabit a childlike bubble of boundless make-believe. Like children playing at fantastic worlds of their own imagining, they display a single-minded commitment uncontaminated by self- consciousness, and they appear to be having a hell of a time doing it.
Me, I like silly, and when it’s combined with clever, my hormones find just the right, sunny balance. My glands are much better. Thanks for asking.
UPDATE: The devilishly busy Jared Putnam finally found an unclaimed moment in his overstuffed calendar and got back to me regarding the album credits, so let me make a few corrections and additions.
Let me correct the mistakes and fill in the holes on the writing credits: “Daphne’s Dance” and “George Michael’s Dream” are Putnam confections, not Harrington sweets. Harrington penned “Walking.” “Boiling Black Oceans” comes from Putnam’s fevered imagination, and “I Want You All the Time” could only have come from Harrington’s tender heart.
Instrumentally, here is the lineup:
Harrington sings and whistles and plays soprano ukulele, concert ukulele, tenor ukulele, banjolele, kazoo, and fiddle.
Putnam sings and whistles and plays bass, resonator guitar, clarinet, ukulele (on the two ukulele instrumentals), and glockenspiel.
This one of Jared's Putnam's signature sweet and tender love songs. Doesn't get any sweeter or tenderer than this.
This song is called "While the Wind Blows." It's about the wind blowing.
Wouldn't it be funny if I introduced every song that way?
No interviews found for this artist.
1: What artist would you most love to work with?
Sage: Meredith Wilder from Widlewood! Oh, wait! That's actually happening! Jared: Hot Club of Cowtown
2: What instrument brings you the most joy?
Sage: The sheng. Jared: Electric guitar, of course.
3: What was the worst advice?
No answer provided.
4: What was your first concert?
Sage: James Taylor! I was a wee babe at my mother's breast who cooed and got us kicked out into the lobby. Jared: Michael Jackson's 1984 Victory Tour
5: What/where is the best road food?
Sage: Well, I'm always up for some good roadkill. I'd scrape up a nice racoon from the pavement if it's a freshie. Deer's the best. But you know what's also nice? A nice fat greasy vulture. Jared: Road food, Sage, food. That place in Hatch. With the burge
6: What’s the best music advice you ever got?
Sage: To stop looking at the sheet music. Jared: To say "thank you" when someone pays you a compliment.
7: Who is your most surprising inspiration?
Jared: George Michael. Sage: Do you mean my chihuahua or the pop icon or the Arrested Development character?