The Dwindling Road is for those who’ve come to the startling realization that they’re actually on it. I’ve had to cobble the album together out of necessity. Some years ago, a key member of the No Tone Ditties, Russ Omens, began coming over to my basement in Chicago’s Albany Park to lay down lead guitar, bass, and occasionally backup vocals to a bunch of my songs just for the hell of it. My setup was by no means Abbey Road Studios—just a Yamaha 16-track and a couple of mics—but it was high enough quality for us because, Burnham be damned, we had no great plans other than to make the best recordings we could in the pinched time we had.
To make a long story short, years passed, songs accumulated, and eventually circumstances allowed me to think of making albums out of them. By this time, Russ had moved to the Sunshine State with his wife and three oversized dogs while the other key member of the No Tone Ditties, David Kossy, formerly of Zendik, had begun adding his own distinctive chops to the material, only now my Yamaha had been replaced by Pro Tools & Logic Pro. Unfortunately, in late 2017, Russ, a Freudian psychologist by trade, died at just sixty-six of complications from Crohn’s. There could be no do-overs of his parts. We had to work with what we had, and so that’s what we’ve done, aided and abetted by an assortment of musicians and the engineering talents of Lou Carlozo, who also played on some tracks.
No Tone Ditties alludes to Keat’s line “Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone” from “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” in which upon gazing at pipers forever frozen on the side of the urn, the poet declares, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.” We figured our songs are probably sweeter in the mind than in the ear, too, but our hope is that some still manage to find a way to the spirit nonetheless.