The title Fourteen Friends was based upon a litmus print that my cousin Daniel had shown me the eve before I flew home out of Paris, in which fourteen shadowy green shapes gave me the idea. This became the working title for the song, at a time when obscure New Order-ish titles which had no direct lyrical reference to their respective songs began to crop up regularly in my work.
It became one of the three songs which I recorded in my second session at Trax, during the second and third weeks of March ’88. The other two were What You Want and Once Is Not Enough. I figured I had several markets covered with these three, and had a better chance when I hit both local radio as well as John Guarnieri at EMI/America. Once again, I did virtually everything myself, except for a hihat overdub by John Matthew, and backgrounds by Chris and a girl named Anne, who was the bride-to-be of one of my coworkers at Eddie Bauer.
I think it features some of my best guitar and keyboard arrangements ever. It also gave me my second-ever airplay on KLOS’s Local Licks, May 17, 1988.
I had considered sending this song in because it was the only one from the three I had just done in-studio without such a strong emphasis on keyboards. I felt intimidated slightly by the redneck attitude of stations like KLOS which felt that music had to be about rock and roll, and that rock and roll was only what was easily recognizable as such. Still, I did not want to take too many risks, I just wanted airplay.
What I had not realized when I submitted my tape was that there was no clear limit as to how much they would play on that show. By sending in only that one song, mine got played towards the end of the show after three metal bands, all with names taken after extant medieval plagues and diseases; I felt slightly embarrassed to have the only decently produced and melodic tune on the show, and be shoved away into this corner slot with it.
It felt weird, hearing myself come on right after these metal-heads, who were undoubtedly all tuned in with their blonde Spandex-wearing girl–friends who were probably blowing them during the show, listening to an hour-and-a-half of them thrashing about, to then be followed by this guy with a regular name “Eric Scott’s Rhythm Factory” (which, in that context, sounded as unconvincing as “The Mickey Mouse Factory”), and who sang like some depressed English pop star like Morrissey or something.
I had prepared this extremely vague biography to send in with the tape, and during the show, it was certainly amusing to hear Joe Benson read out all sorts of impressive fibs about me to the people of L.A.:
Joe Benson: … Up next we have the Eric Scott Rhythm Factory. Eric actually has, uh, three or four guys behind him here, out of Los Angeles, been playing here for almost two years. This song is called “Stop the Tears.” This is Eric Scott Rhythm Factory on KLOS.
(cues “Stop The Tears”)
95.5 KLOS Los Angeles. On the Local Licks Program, that’s Eric Scott’s Rhythm Factory… “Stop the Tears” is the name of the song; Eric does the vocals, uh, (squinting at sheet) plays guitar, keyboards and bass, uh, John Stewart is the drummer on this, and he had backing vocals from Ann Coatney and Chris Shaw. He’s currently auditioning members for the band. Ahh, (making things up) been recording with uh, John and Ann and Chris, for about 18 months… a little over 18 months, now; (totally off the deep end) They’ve recorded a number of things… this is the most recent one… and we’re looking forward to seeing what happens for Eric and the band… That takes care of Local Licks tonight…
Afterwards, I called all the friends who had listened, and apologized.
Dark songs. Some immediate comparisons were made to Julian Cope, New Order…and John Cale! I thought my vocals really worked at the time…now I think quite differently. I once said I would never write anything so insipid as a love ballad. This is the one album that contains a stab at that type of songwriting. I played all the instruments and sang most of the parts. This was my first collection of 10 songs of love, lust and disappointment. All were penned in varying states of romantic despair.”