NOTES on Gasoline © The Utility Project 2007



1. "Wankel"

The rotary engine is pretty interesting, but it never really caught on. Even though it has fewer moving parts and is nicely contained, it hasn't been able to get very good gas mileage. The industry is piston-engine oriented and will stay that way (for a while anyway) Mazda uses a wankel in its RX-7 and now in its RX-8. That's about it. Seems that the clock is ticking for the rotary engine.

The letters FELIX and WANKEL are paired with chords to spell out Wankels name in song. As mentioned in 'About Gasoline' this human information song gets its rhythm from Wankel's birthdate and birthplace.

2. "La Rueda"

This song uses my daughter Violet's anecdote about one night with her grandparents. She was only two at the time but she still remembers the time a wheel flew off grandpa's car. Everyone was fine, but it made an impression.

This oil company song spells out EXXON after converting to chord code. See About Gasoline for the method on determining time signature, rhythm, tempo, and structure. Exxon was the most profitable oil company on the list of ten used for this project, so the anecdote of a 5-10 year old was used.

3. "Getty Van Gogh" J Paul Getty is spelled out through the code. But it is Getty's grandson, J Paul Getty III that provides the anecdote for the song. The Gettys, of course, were big oil people.

4. "(Don't Blow Up) Traverse City"

This oil company song represents Shell (#2 on the list). It called for an anecdote from a 10-15 year old. My nephew Tyler was on vacation in Traverse City and saw a man filling up an inordinate number of gas cans in the back of his pickup truck. He convinced his mother (or aunt) to inquire. She did and all were relieved. Traverse City would not be doused in gasoline and set on fire.

5. "Henry Ford"

Henry's name is spelled out via code and rhythms etc. according to human information song requirements. I grew up in Dearborn Michigan so Henry Ford's name was on everything. Many people believe that he invented the car, and that he invented the assembly line. Neither are true. But he was obsessed with Edison and did believe in reincarnation, thinking that most recently he had been a soldier at Gettysburg. I wonder who he is now? Another intreresting tidbit (that didn't make the song): Ford helped invent charcoal briquettes for grilling and sold the patent to Kingsford.

6. "Intrepid"

This song spells out BP (#3 on the list). My friend Brittany provides the anecdote. She and some girlfriends went to Indianapolis to see the band Incubus, had a strange experience at a gas station and later were hit by a semi trying to pass them on the shoulder of the interstate.

7. "Rudolf Diesel"

This guy's name is at almost every gas station in the world. Most people don't know his story. He died under very suspicious circumstances. Some think suicide, some think his rivals in the very young auto industry offed him, others perhaps that the Nazis feared he would share his secrets with the British and killed him. At any rate, he was found in a river after falling or being pushed off a boat. I tried to imagine what Diesel would think of our present day cumundrum. Cars get shamefully low gas mileage, we're getting low on fossil fuel, and the environment is undoubtedly being affected by emissions. Diesel was an early proponent of bio-fuels and (it seems that) only now are bio-fuels gaining popularity.

8. "Poseyville"

The oil company used to create this song was Chevron. Curiously though, the song only spells out Chevro. Oops. I owe somebody an 'n' at some point. The anecdote was from a friend, Erika, who told me a story about an insanely loud oil derrick in the back yard of the house she was renting in Poseyville. She has since moved, but I don't think it was really the well that made her do it.

9. "Bertas erster Gang"

Karl Benz is spelled out in song. This one tells the story (in German) of Karl's wife Berta Benz, who took the first lengthy car trip along with her two sons to visit her mother. She had to stop at phramacies along the way to get gasoline. Gasoline was used then as a remedy for lice. Upon her return she suggested to her husband that he create a low gear for his car as she found it difficult climbing hills. Now every year there is a road rally to commemorate the trip from Phorzheim to Mannheim on August 5th.

10. "John's Garage"

This song spells out the oil company name ENI, translated to code to (C, D7, G). It called for an anecdote from a 30-40 year old, so this one is mine. My friend John Yanchula and I were hanging out at John's house one day when his dad assigned us the task of ridding the garage ogf maggots. We did what any self respecting 13 year olds would do. We found the gasoline and the matches.

11. "Rockefeler"

I was surprised to find such a contradiction present in this man's life. He was king of the world briefly with his command over every aspect of the oil supply chain and was a ruthless businessman. But he also established charitable organizations that, among other things, eradicated yellow fever and hookworm. Translating the code, the verse spells out 'J,' the bridge 'D,' and the chorus 'Rockefeller.'

12. "Gas Can"

Total was used for this song. It translates (via oil company code) to (G7, C7, G7, F, E7). The anecdote was provided by my friend Mark who grew up down the street from a kid who did this. He dropped a match in a can of gas and it blew up in his face. When Mark asked him what happened the kid said that he ate too many mashed potatoes.

13 "Boneshaker"

The song spells out the name and tells the story of Gottlieb Daimler. The motorbike in question was actually the first gasoline propelled motorbike and it's quite a sight. Technically speaking, I don't think this particular model was referred to as a 'boneshaker' but I saw the name in a book about motorbikes that I was reading to my son and knew I had my song.

14. "Gasoline Dreams"

The oil company ELF was used for this song. It required an anecdote from a 50-60 year old. I was pleased to have the poet Matthew Graham write and then read his piece.

15. "Otto"

It's curious that, in 2007, the basic design of the four stroke engine that is in almost every car has not changed significantly since Nicolaus Otto patented it in the late 19th century. There is some controversy surrounding the 'fatherhood' of the engine, but most settle on Otto as the originator.

16. "Leg Burn Bob"

Using the statistics of the oil company Texaco, this tune recounts a story that my wife's Uncle Bob told me about his experience with gasoline and fire. He was clearing brush at his cottage and when setting the stuff on fire he was severely burned on his calves and shins. He fortunately got help in time and has made a full recovery. You'd never suspect that he was part pig skin.

17. "The First Marcus Car was a Motorized Hand Cart"

The song was created using the human information of Siegfried Marcus. An amazing inventor it was his 'Second Marcus Car' that may have preceded Otto. The song seemed to work as an instrumental so I left it alone.

18. "Midnight Ethyl"

The oil company Arco provided the information needed to create this tune. My neighbor Tom Straw had heard that I was looking for oil anecdotes and stopped me one day. "You've heard about midnight ethyl I guess," he said. I hadn't. He told me a story about a friend who was pulled over one day by a cop as he was filling his tank with milk jugs full of the stuff in his trunk. The cop was so amazed that he let him go.

19. "Lukasievich"

Ignacy Lukasievich was from what is modern day Poland and is said to be the first to distill kerosene from seep oil. Recently, though, I saw a claim that it was an American who did this around the same time. This was long before automobiles, of course, but this gave way to the process that would be replicated when it was time to fill cars with gasoline. Lukasievich did a lot of good for his fellow citizens and was instrumental in a (failed) attempt to regain Polish soveriegnty.

20. "The Illinois Oil Basin"

The oil company Repsol was used for this one. My friend Julius, who is in his 90's, recalled working on oil prospects in southern Illinois during World War II. I was amazed to learn about the technology and the physics of oil drilling and exploration. I hope I got it right. Incidentally, that is a real cicada sound in the middle of the song, slowed down dramatically.

21. "Drillin' Drake"

Edwin Drake is widely credited with being the first to strike oil in the United States. He did this under very primitive circumstances and was very inventive during the process. His failure to patent the process, among other things, led to his rapid decline and he died a poor man.

Tracks 22-24 were not created using human information or oil company codes.

22. "At Your Service Station"

Kenton McDonald puts five dollars worth of 87 octane into his Mitsubishi Eclipse. We were at The Old Mill Mart in New Harmony. It was a sunny and hot day in August. Winds out of the Northeast at about 5-10 mph.

23. "Jellies"

Levitt sent the music via mp3 and I added monkeyed around with it a little and added lyrics. I had been wanting to paint a broader picture of our dependence on fossil fuel and I thought of those shoes called Jellies. I've never worn a pair, but they sure look fancy. I wonder if they're good to dance in.

24. "Gasoline"

Once again Ralph Lictensteiger obliged me with some sound collage. I added a few layers of gas station sounds and other things.

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