Chapter 10: I Write the Songs (And Then People Wonder What the Hell I Was Thinking)

My lifetime total of songs written stands, at press time, at one. It would probably be at zero, except for one fateful assignment: to demonstrate how easy it was for anybody to use ProTools software, Rolling Stone sent me to Los Angeles to record a song in the home studio of Butch Vig (drummer for Garbage and producer of Nirvana’s Nevermind). The fact that I am almost completely devoid of musical talent was regarded as a feature, not a bug.

A decade of reading reader-submitted misheard lyrics for my ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy books and page-a-day calendars had taught me that most misheard lyrics were about either sex or food. Makes sense: they’re both primal motivators. But while the pop charts are full of songs about sex and lust, tunes about food are few and far between. I decided to fill the gap and provide the public with what they wanted to hear about, so I called my song “I’m Hungry.” The lyrics, mostly written while I was stuck in traffic on the 405 on the way to my hotel, featured lines such as “You want to love me, I don’t care / I just want clam sauce on angel hair” and “Grill the vegetables, indirect heat / Set the table, it’s time to eat!” After an evening at the house of Butch Vig (who, I should emphasize, exercised superhuman patience with my rank-amateur self) I had decided that writing a song was not, in fact, that hard, and that recording the music was downright easy, especially if you had the assistance of a first-class producer. But singing it? For years, I had mocked Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, a California boy through and through, for singing with a British accent. To my horror, I found that I did the same thing myself.