A much-bandied analogy, and one I subscribe to, is that arrangements of songs are the clothes in which you send them out into the world, from the solo-acoustic fig leaf to a fully orchestrated ball-gown ensemble (complete with horn-section clutch, back-up singer brooch and other accessories). But the skeletal structures of songs can also be used to support the expression of more immediate Devastationalist abstractions, right there on the spot. Which is to say, bands are not machines for playing songs or executing arrangements — they are organic entities who make music, hopefully.
With the All-Girl Band, we left a lot of trap-doors throughout our songs, places where we could “play on” if inspiration, mood or the situation called for it. Or sometimes just out of pure contrariness. 7-minute versions of “Margaret Smith” or “Post-Mortem Bar” were not unheard of. This version of “Maggie” is particularly mean & noisy and the introduction includes an impromptu spelling lesson and an audience re-enactment of a car commercial that was on TV at the time.
Margaret Smith (Live)
Philip Shelley and his Amazing All-Girl Band