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Alt-adeNa II 
cover stories

Aloha friends…..

First, if you are reading this, you are MY kind of listener. You’ll delight in knowing that every tiny decision (there were millions of them) made in the production choices that went into making this record was done for people like YOU.  I listen to music the way most people watch TV – staring straight ahead, silent (often alone) on the couch, and occasionally referencing the liner notes I always keep at hand, especially on the first listen. I did everything within my ability to make this as audiophile-grade as possible. In fact – if you have the option – I have included uncompressed 24-bit 96kHz wav files if you really want to go REALLY high fidelity. Resolution is king when you are staying in the digital realm.  But yeah, if you are reading this, we park our cars in the same garage, my friend.

Mixtapes are a holy art. It’s the most passionate way to communicate with a special someone. I can't think of anything more beautiful and intimate than spending a few hours hand-selecting and arranging a body of songs meant just for one other person. If you do it right, the whole thing will be shot through with little hints and barely hidden messages. Things that say what you want to say, but better, or at least without being so brave. I've made and gotten a bunch of mixtapes over the years, and all were special. It was a mixtape that closed the deal with the person I am currently married to, and we now have a 12-year-old kid now that’s my everything. It’s possible he never even exists if I didn’t make that mix tape. That’s how powerful they can be.

As an artist, I am a huge fan of artificial constraints, as I find there is no better abolition of the often paralyzing slavery of choice that comes at the beginning of the creative process. In this case – the constraint is every song on this album is me covering a song I either put on a mixtape for someone over the years, or someone put it on a mix for me.

Every year or so, Hunter Thompson used to retype the entire text of The Great Gatsby word for word, cover to cover to teach his fingers what it felt like to write a perfect novel. It's an incredible exercise as an artist to get under the hood of the material that turns you on, reverse engineer it, and see what makes it tick. This is why I always include at least one cover on every one of my full-length records. In times when I’m not writing much, I’ll record a cover simply to give me something to work on. As a result, I have a folder on a hard drive filling up with them that I’ve been telling myself would eventually become an album of their own.

Some of these songs appeared on my other records, in those cases, I went back into the sessions, remixed, and remastered them, and occasionally re-recorded new parts, which are labeled accordingly.

Finally – this product you are holding is designed to be upcycled. You can pull all my content off the drive, wipe it, and then put your own MP3s on it to make a new mixtape to give to your special friend. I have even included a template on the drive so you can make your own new sticker and J-card (assuming you have some level of graphic design skills. Making the cover was always half the fun for me.) if Photoshop isn’t your bag – cutting things out of magazines and collaging them is awesome. That’s how I used to do it back in the day before digital design was readily available.

Alright – enough yapping – let’s put on some music and stare into the middle distance while gently nodding our heads, like the proper, civilized music geeks we are…..



Woody Guthrie


It’s impossible to be in the business of making radical leftist agitprop and not be a student of Woody Guthrie. Woody is the beginning of a thread of a long line of my heroes, all given to holding America to its original radical ideas. I have a little shrine to him and Pete Seeger on the stack of guitar amps in the corner of the studio. If you are going to be a Real American radical – Woody is your North Star. Without Woody, there’s no Clash. There’s no Rage Against the Machine. There probably isn’t even Springsteen, and I’d likely be writing about much different things. The recording you hear at the beginning is the oldest known recording of John Brown’s Body sung by J.W. Meyers and recorded in 1901, making it one of the oldest music recordings in existence. If you don’t know the story of the abolitionist John Brown – look him up. His son Owen Brown was one of the only ones to escape their raid on Harper’s Ferry, and he lived in hiding in what’s now my neighborhood of Altadena, California. Altadena is a town created by abolitionists and former Union soldiers just after the Civil War, and Owen was an honored member of our early community. Altadena has a proud anti-racist history and is one of the only towns in America never to have had a red-lining policy. Owen’s body is buried on a hilltop just up from my house and is pictured on the cover of this recording.

Written by Woody Guthrie
©℗ Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. (BMI)





When this came out in 2007, I was going through a divorce and just generally very much not in a good place. I was lucky enough to have a couple of friends who were as equally dysfunctional as I was, and we went on a nine-month bender together that frightened all our friends, but inside, we had created a little alcoholic cocoon where we propped each other up. I put this song on a mixtape we played pretty much every night for those nine months while we were trying to numb ourselves against our individual pains. To the outside, it probably didn't look healthy, but it was sweet on the inside, and I will owe them both my life forever. 

Written by MGMT (Andrew Vanwyngarden & Ben Goldwasser)

©℗ BMG Rights Management



Neutral Milk Hotel


I have a nasty habit of resisting anything new that comes out that all the hipsters lose their shit over. It’s probably because I’m mad that they aren’t doing it for my stuff, which I realize is a garbage attitude. Jealousy is one of the poisons you can only give yourself. I can think of at least three bands (Weezer, LCD Soundsystem, and Neutral Milk Hotel) that I refused to listen to when they came out just because of who was making a big deal about them, only to find out much later that I was denying myself things that turned out I actually love. In an Aeroplane Over the Sea didn’t take root with me the first time I heard it, and I couldn’t understand what the fuss was. Later on, for whatever reason, something clicked, and I could see what the big deal was. This is another one of those perfect simple songs. I initially recorded this about a year ago, thinking I was going to start this project then, and never followed through, so it just languished on a hard drive until I returned to it in the last couple of weeks and got it up to snuff. There are some songs I wish I had written. Some songs I wish someone had written for me. This is one of the latter. 

Written by Neutral Milk Hotel (Jeffery Mangum)
©℗ Universal Music Careers (BMI)





I find Jeff Tweedy to be an incredibly relatable artist for me. Maybe because we are roughly the same size, age, and weight. (There is an unspoken age and weight limit for lead singers in popular music that is seldom allowed to be surpassed) This is one of those songs I have always been insanely jealous that I didn’t write. It's flawless. I’d easily place this in my top five or so favorite songs of all time. I put this on the mixtape that I gave to the lady who would ultimately become my wife and the mother of my only son – which shows you how much you can get from one well-done mixtape. My dear friend Danny Graziani performed the outstanding violin here in between running errands around town and generally being awesome. He is a Maestro in every sense of the word, and it's always a treat when I can lure him onto a recording. 

Written by Wilco (Jeff Tweedy & Jay Bennett)
©℗ Words Ampersand Music (BMI) & You Want a Piece of This Music (ASCAP)



Tom Petty


If you were to have a magic wand and told me I could have anyone’s career and body of work, I’d go with Petty without hesitation. The course of popular music changed around Tom Petty probably five times over the 40 years of his career, and yet he charted at least one hit off of almost every single record, and those songs just sounded like Tom Petty songs. He stuck to his guns and played the fundamentals perfectly, and the Heartbreakers were an example of a rock n roll band stripped to irreducible complexity. When I am mentoring younger musicians, I often recommend finding any Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers live performance on YouTube, finding the guy on stage that plays your instrument, and playing like that guy. This is another example of someone I could do an entire record of covers of just his music. I covered his initially on The Great Quarantino and this is the only preexisting song I didn’t go back in and replay a bunch of new parts on. It did get a new master, which really punched up the tune, though. Tom Petty was my Elvis. 

Written by Tom Petty
©℗ Gone Gator Music / Wixen Music Publishing



John Lennon


Although I have come around to Paul, John was always my favorite Beatle. He was only half the musician Paul is; there was a sense of fire and earnestness that followed John's music, especially post-Beatles. John was the first one to teach me that music was political power and that it was at least theoretically possible to change the world with just a song. It was John who recruited me to become a Revolutionary, that would one day go on to be a proud enlisted soldier in Joe Strummer’s army.. While I had recorded a single of Gimme Some Truth under advisement from the short period I had a manager, I just had to do another John song. The Plastic Ono Band is one of my Desert Island records, and most days I will go to bat for it as the best of the post-Beatles solo records (ie: the days I’m not planting the flag on McCarthy’s Ram). This didn’t initially set out to be such an Ennio Morricone reading of the song, but that’s where it landed. You can probably blame the band Sheverb for that. 

Written by John Lennon
©℗ Lenono Music





This is one of those songs that people like to shit on until the second it comes on – and then, assuming you have it at the right volume – will absolutely take a room over. You’ve never been to a world-class karaoke night where someone doesn’t kill with this song. This was a fascinating piece of music to take apart, and it’s a spectacular bit of arrangement. I’m a sucker for every band’s overblown opus – and Come Sail Away is the template most are built from. This is also a song I got to put two of my great teachers on. That giant rock n roll voice you hear once the guitars start ripping is none other than the great Corn Mo – and if you don’t know who that is, google him. He is an absolute prince of a man, and music loves being around him. This is also one of the rare instances of my songs featuring my cousin and regular collaborator Roothub (again – google him, who’s helping out with some of the low harmonies you hear. 

Written by Styx / Dennis DeYoung
©℗ Alamo Music Corp. (ASCAP) Stygian Songs (ASCAP)



Leonard Cohen


There were at least 10 Cohen songs I would have done for this mix—one of the greatest songwriters the English language has ever produced. Leonard is always a fun cover because the production on so much of his earlier work was well beneath the quality of the song (often by quite a bit) that it's easy to compete with. If you want to hear how most of that stuff is supposed to sound – get your hands on a copy of Live in London, which was at his peak in 2012 or so with one of the most disciplined bands I have ever witnessed. I initially did this song as a freestanding single as part of the Get Out the Vote effort in the 2020 election. This also features Mollie Jane Greenspan on backup vocals (who listeners of mine will remember from her extensive work on The Great Quarantino record), along with my nephew and padawan Eli Pafumi, who burned that really nice Brian May-style harmonized guitar solo. Additionally, the violins you hear on there are from one of my all-time favorite players, Jonathan Segel, from the legendary Camper Van Beethoven.  This is one of two songs on this record he plays, and it's always an incredible kick for me, as I was (and still am) an enormous CVB fan. It also doesn't hurt that Jon’s a stand-up dude incredibly generous with his time and talent. Familiarize yourself with the Camper catalog (start with Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart) and then start diving into his solo work (search for him on Bandcamp). The album Superfluity is an excellent jumping-off point for his solo work. 

Written by Leonard Cohen
©℗ Sony / ATV Music Publishing



Tom Waits


Just like Cohen,I could have just as easily made this entire record Tom Waits covers (and I wouldn’t even be the first person to do that). The first time I heard Tom Waits was from renting the movie “Down by Law” in the early 90s from this great little arthouse cinema and indie movie rental spot back in Norfolk called “The Naro”. The movie opens with that wonderful tracking shot of spots around New Orleans while Jockey Full of Bourbon plays, which led me to jump out of my chair, stop the movie, grab a tape recorder, set it on the TV, and rewind to the beginning to capture the song. (It was the 90s. Shazam wouldn’t exist for another 12 years). I had never heard anything sound like that and I was hooked through the gills. I went out and bought every Waits record I could find. No one else can make that sound, and it’s a sound I feel in the marrow of my bones. Much of how I produce records is modeled off that open studio, early reflection, and live sound that has defined his work's last 30 or so years. I originally covered this on my first solo record All the Way Down, and this was the first time I got to work with Jonathan Segel from Camper Van Beethoven, who’s playing the violin and lap steel guitar on this. This version features an all-new vocal take and a new acoustic guitar take and is a real improvement on my original swing at it. 

Written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan 
©℗ Jamla Music (ASCAP)



The Kinks


This was on one of the first mixtapes my Aunt Dot and I made together when I was probably about 11 or so. She was the one who taught me the art, and it was those mixtapes that made me who I am today. At 11 years old, at the dawn of the 1980s, Lola was my first introduction to Transgender and Drag. Much like when I explained it to my kid when he was even younger, it’s a straightforward concept to wrap your head around when someone hasn’t already pounded their prejudices in it. This song and Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side glamorized Trans characters to me as a kid, and I am so glad that was how I was introduced to the concept rather than through some Bible-thumping condemnation. In fact – it was those songs that made me realize that the people who were attacking trans and generally queer people were the ones who were wrong. I will always be indebted to Ray Davies, Lou Reed, and David Bowie for raising me right. 

Written by The Kinks (Ray Davies, Dan Hougesen, Tom Linby, Bo Christensen & Tommy Christensen
©℗ Davray Nusic Limited



Joe Strummer


I had to have at least one work by the Holy Ascended Master. Joe Strummer is my hero and the guy I want to be like when I grow up. This was an obscure little number buried on the final Mescaleros record, and it’s all about that last line for me, which is why all I did was the last verse of the song. I couldn’t think of a better way to end this record. 

Written by Joe Strummer & Gregory Hormel
©℗ BMG Rights Management / Warner Chappell Music, Inc.





YOU. Thank you for taking the time to listen to and hopefully enjoy this work. I put a remarkable amount of effort into this, and I only keep doing it because I have gotten tidal waves of support from you all. Penn Jillette once said, “The only secret of magic is that I’m willing to work harder on it than you think it’s worth.” I don’t need everybody to get what I’m doing here, but the handful of you that do make it worth doing. I will always be deeply grateful for that.

ALSO BIG THANKS TO: Sue and Milo for being the center of my universe, Jere and Eli for being great students and even better teachers, Roothub, CornMo, Eli Pafumi, Danny Graziani, Jonathan Segel and Mollie Jane Greenspan for loaning their prodigious talents to these recordings, Jerry Bizon at S.I.S. in Arcadia, for keeping my instruments working despite my attempts to do it myself,  Lindey Fralin and everyone at Fralin Pickups, the nice folks at Peterson Strobe Tuners for their fantastic human support, everyone from Rosin Coven, Sheverb, Steers and Queers, and Rita Rita,  Michael In/Sane for being one of my most reliable supporters, and anyone who ever took the time to repost any of my work somewhere. I am positive that there are scores of other people who richly deserve to be credited here, and if you are one of those people – my deepest apologies. It isn’t easy doing every single task it takes to make a record, and I’ll be the first to admit sometimes big things fall through the cracks. Ping me – the good news about these credits living online is that they can be constantly updated.


As part of his ongoing commitment to supporting local artisans and craftspeople, Buck Down exclusively uses guitar and bass strings hand-made by Gabriel Tenorio at The Gabriel Tenorio String Workshop in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.


All sounds Performed, Arranged, Produced, and Mastered by 

BUCK AE DOWN (except where noted above)

all songs source material © & ℗ by the original artists (listed above)
This recording © & ℗ 2023 All the Way Down Music (ASCAP)

Recorded and Mastered at
Kuleana Soundworks (Altadena, California) & Lanai Soundworks (Pasadena, California)


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