“Dog Leg,” from New England Music (1996)
There is a batch of Thunderegg songs with titles drawn directly from the scorecard of a putt-putt course that used to be on the Boston Post Road in Westbrook, Connecticut, a beautiful postwar throwback with leisurely miniature fairways, the long holes sprawling over vast acreage ultimately far too valuable for the meager returns of $5 a putter. During the spring of my senior year of college I played there, soundly defeating my best friend and my girlfriend both—just recalling this in passing—on assignment for the New Haven Advocate. That’s right: “girlfriend.” “On assignment.” Look at this guy and how much he’d arrived. This was really the only kind of assignment I tended to draw. One time I was supposed to cover a press conference involving the mayor of Stamford and I was too scared to get out of my car.
On the scorecard the holes were neatly divided into a front nine and a back nine, looking every bit like a mix tape with two sides, nine songs each. I accepted the challenge and got cracking with “Dog Leg,” then later “Billiard,” “Lighthouse,” “Double Reverse,” “Windmill,” “Flower Hole,” “Treehouse.” But some of them (man, “Mole Hill”) were bad and I lost interest and never even got around to writing “Sea Gull,” “Double Trouble,” “Covered Bridge,” “School House,” “Looptie Loop,” “Seal,” “Under Hurdle,” “Sea World,” or “Red Barn.”
I was proud of “Dog Leg” at the time. It was one of the last songs I recorded in New Haven before abandoning the haunted house and moving to the city. I thought it had a good bridge. Also, I’d read somewhere that somebody famous used to record vocals in the bathroom, you know, for the reverb, and so that’s what I did, burgeoning pro that I was. I’d just been fired from the coffee shop for being an all-around bad employee: frequently late, sarcastic, and also not very good at making coffee-based beverages. The incident that galvanized my dismissal was getting caught selling a very old, fizzy-tasting mozzarella-and-tomato salad to a friend for less than I should have. On my way out the door, my boss, whom I decided to call Dog Leg here, told me I seemed like somebody she’d like to hang out with, just not have as an employee. I was like, Yeah, right, like I’ll hang out with you now.