The short story of “Best Neighborhood Band” (in ten easy installments)

Installment IX


There’s no way around it.  Copacetic has many facets, many of which are seemingly incongruent.  There is wonder, confusion, effervescence, heaviness, joy, frustration, exuberance, sorrow, hope, resignation, etc.  Sometimes they seem to occur in tandem, at other times simultaneously.  I can only hope that it doesn’t come across as erratic or unfocused, but rather like life itself.

Copacetic was developed in many stages.  I had been eager to utilize some of the rhythmic concepts for a while. I had the Afro-Latin influenced build-up idea from the Luke Warm Quartet days.  The groove that followed, though it eventually came into its own, referenced such wide influences such as Tony Toni Tone’s “It Feel’s Good”, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam’s “I Wonder If I Take You Home”, Happy Mondays (many songs), War’s “Me and Baby Brother” as well as more contemporary influences such as Rod Lee’s “Dance My Pain Away” and Caribou’s “Odessa”. 

Coincidentally enough, about a week ago while performing a personal audit of sorts, I came across a rhythm map from 2010 when I was on the road with Free Moral Agents and Sage Francis that specified how the rhythm would unfold with regard to the aforementioned influences bar by bar.  At the demo stages I tried more meticulously to sample and meld these varying touchstones but opted for a more natural, less preconceived approach for the album version.

Work began demoing the rhythm tracks immediately when I arrived home from touring.  Honestly, I don’t remember much about the process or my state of mind other than it was a bit of a whirlwind and after working feverishly for a day or two, something rare happened: I felt pretty satisfied with and proud of what I created.

While working on the demo I didn’t know yet that an album was imminent.  This followed about a month later when I realized that circumstances had aligned to make this a possibility (namely subletting my apartment while I was on tour to someone who had the talent, expertise, and equipment to help me make a record on the cheap). 

Immediately it was apparent that copacetic shouldbe on the album. Not only was it, in my opinion, one of the best songs I’ve ever written, but was also by far the newest and freshest of the songs in consideration for the record.

The early success working on copacetic loomed large on me while making the album.  Aside from my personal attachment to it, I was also getting an unusual amount of good feedback from people who listened to the demo online, including strangers and acquaintances that had never before commented.  Another seemingly portentous incident occurred when one of the album’s collaborators, Darian Momanaee, at the end of our session tracking the trumpet parts remarked, “Whatever you do, just don’t mess up ‘copacetic’”.  Thanks for the added pressure, dude.

I tried to more or less preserve the heart of the song; though as per usual, the ideas and layers kept coming.  The most significant additions to the song came toward the albums completion where I developed the outro, which was initially conceived as little more than an epilogue but blossomed into its own emotionally wrought beast   (In spite of the sunny lyrics and playful rhythmic setting, I’m not sure what it is, but there is something in that outro that when it hits right puts me on the verge of tasting salty tears).

The lyrics in the verses describe candid realizations that an individual (we’ll just say ‘bobby’) is having.  The realization in the 1st verse is a jarring, unwelcome one.  In the second verse, the discovery is a welcome, even liberating one (and ironically may have stemmed from grappling with the first one).  The lyrics in the outro offer wisdom, or an approach rather, for dealing with either of these situations.

I guess at this point I should just get out of the way and let you be the judge on whether I have botched the song or not.  I will concede that it may not be as raw, direct, or buoyant; but hopefully there is redemption in this deeper, more expansive rendering.

Please join us next week for the final installment.


now everybody’s seen it

everyone but you

they been saying it for years

good god this can’t be true


now everybody’s seen it

everyone but you

now you’re holding up your hands

goddamn this can’t be true


now it’s all copacetic


feeling so elated

now that i see

i shouldn’t worry so much

it’s not about me


hang on to the thinnest thread of these fleeting feelings

how fast they pass

elation’s just a breath away

all you have to do is ask

now it’s all  copacetic


drumsRyan Reiff

percussionRobert Lopez

bassTravis Laws

trumpetDarian Momanaee

backing vocals, lead gtrRudy de Anda

lead gtr – Michael J Salter

rhythm gtr, keys, vocalsJesse Carzello

engineered by J.P. Bendzinski and Jeff Lewis

mixed by J.P. Bendzinski



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About the Author

Jesse Carzello

In 2006, Jesse Carzello (Free Moral Agents/Coaxial) began moonlighting as "bobby blunders" making 8-track home recordings of unpretentious pop songs with devotional leanings. Recently recruited musician friends Tiffany Davy, Ahmad Butler, Michael J Salter, and Jeff Lewis have come together to assist in finally performing this long-incubated material live. The first proper full-length "best neighborhood band" should be seeing the light of day sooner rather than later.

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