Nerd So Low

by Bedford Level Experiment

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A solo album by Robin, written in mid-November 2016, and recorded entirely during US Thanksgiving weekend. A less polished, but heartfelt offering that picks up from our debut "Place Without A Computer". Lo-fi basement nerdrock.

With themes of loneliness, bullying, and anxiety, along with some funny moments, these songs are written from the perspective of a young computer nerd growing up in the 1980s.

Written for National Solo Album Month:

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released November 30, 2016

Entirely written in the last 2 weeks of November 2016, and recorded during US Thanksgiving weekend, by Robin. Nerd solo!

Album cover: Young Sad Robin portrayed by Ben.

Thanks to Ben and Peter for helping me clean their room enough to take the cover album photo. Also thanks to MJ Hibbett for his various inspirational solo albums through the years: A Million Ukuleles, All Around My House, Wonderful Wednesday, and maybe more.



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Bedford Level Experiment Thunder Bay, Ontario

Bedford Level Experiment makes sincere nerdrock, ranging from folk-rock to post-punk to shoegaze. We focus on creating concept albums around geek themes - procedurally generated Shakespeare lyrics, the sci-fi musings of John Wyndham, or growing up in the '80s as a computer nerd without a computer, for example. ... more

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Track Name: Morning TV
Every weekday morning I would wake up
Turn on the black & white tv in my room
Watch Battle of the Planets at 7:30
Then Inspector Gadget at 8:00
Then Astro Boy at 8:30...

But school started at 9:00 am
So I'd watch Astro to the very last second
Right before the ads & credits rolled
And run as fast as I could to school

No desire to get to school early
Would rather watch cartoons
Escape into those other worlds
In the safety of my bedroom

A couple times I got to school late
Just a minute or two, but that was enough
Teacher was phoning my parents
And I was no longer allowed to watch Astro

So I started to go to school early
Then discovered I had a couple friends
We could wander the schoolyard together
Talk about Astro Boy and G-Force

And that wasn't so bad...
Track Name: Switchbox
My Commodore 64 came with a switchbox
A small metal box with a switch
Rabbit ears attached at one end, and
At the other the Commodore 64 plugged in

The switchbox had two leads,
They attached to the back of the TV
To the VHF terminals, tighten the screws
Then between the C64 and TV I could choose

What bliss to have this in my room
Computer and cartoons
If I just had my own fridge full of food
And my own bathroom, I could stay in forever
Track Name: Nap the Sap
We bought Ultima IV at Zellers
One of the greatest games of all
Paid half price each and made copies
To play on our own Commodore 64s

It took 3 months to beat it
Though I played it every day
Searching for that Candle of Love
On every single tile

But we wanted to play other games,
And didn't have the money for more
We'd look longingly at the games
Arranged on the shelves at the Zeller's store

Then we found out about a guy down the street
A weird grown-up with a respectable job
Who had amassed a collection of thousands
of copied games, down in his basement

So we bundled up, it was 35 below
Stuck our floppy discs inside our jackets
Walked through the howling wind chill
And knocked on the door at the side of his house

He let us in, and asked "What do you boys have for me?"
And we produced Ultima IV.
4 disk sides, he copied them one by one
With two disk sides and Fast Hack'em.

When we asked him what we got in return,
He said we could choose one game
This seemed like a rip-off, but those were his rules
So we chose Mobius, which in hindsight wasn't great.
Track Name: Computer Camp
I got sent to computer camp
Every day I'd walk to the college
We'd go to program on the terminals
learning BASIC or FORTRAN

It was pretty fun, I learned a thing or two
It lasted a week, during summer holidays

Next time they offered computer camp
They changed it to computer and *sport* camp
So we'd program in the morning but then
Play sports all afternoon
Somebody thought computer nerds needed exercise
Or sports jocks needed computer skills
But it meant that some stupid jocks were there
And for this computer nerd, it was no longer safe

The bully threatened me, I don't know why
All week he told me he'd beat me up
On the last day I was supposed to meet him
Out by the rink boards for a fight

Instead I snuck out the building, through a different door
I ran home, ran all the way home
I just ran home
Track Name: Summer Rain
It was a sunny summer day
In northern Ontario
I was playing with my C64
At my desk in my room
With the window open
Feel the summer breeze

My parents said it was time
To go to the kite festival
So I turned off the computer
And grabbed my kite and off we went

Down to the marina, the kites were flying
My kite joined the colourful crowd
We laughed and saw the sites
And then a rain storm suddenly moved in

Everyone scrambled and we started to drive home
Then the sun came back out again
I went up to my room and found my
Commodore 64 sitting in a puddle of rain

The wind must have blown it through the window
There was a pool of water in the keyboard
I had the sense to unplug it, and took a screwdriver
And took it apart, and towelled it out and left it to dry
Propped up like a pyramid
A computer pyramid

I left it for a full day, a full day without my computer
Not even knowing if it would still work
Trying to imagine how I could earn enough money to buy another

I put it back together and turned it on... and the blue screen came on
It still worked, it still worked, it still worked.
Track Name: Uncle
I wish I had known my uncle better
I didn't learn bass until after he died
Looking at old pictures of him
playing that blue Rickenbacker 4003

Sometimes I'll play a gig and older guys
Will hear our shared last name
They'll find me after and say
"You must be Phil's brother!"

"You look so much like him, and
you play a lot like him too."
I tell them I'm his nephew, and we chat a while
Like they're seeing a long-lost friend

I wish he were around to show me some licks
Tell stories about his trips to Nashville
When they recorded that 45
But the addictions and disappointments
All added up
He didn't make it out of all that alive
Track Name: Game Boy Colour
The Game Boy Color was the last of the 8-bits
Just 32K of RAM and a Z80-like CPU
Still being made in the early 2000s
It seemed like it was my last chance to become a game developer

I got a flash cart and made a playable demo
Moving a sprite around with the d-pad
Got flown down to Toronto for a GBC job interview
Got offered the job but I really didn't want to move

And then the Game Boy Advance came along and I hated it
Hadn't even played it, I just knew it was a 32-bit ARM
And figured I'd never be able to get a job doing that
32-bit was so far from what I'd always done

But then I heard about Car Battler Joe
It sounded like my dream game, the game I wanted to make
And it was an exclusive for Game Boy Advance
Had to drop my prejudice and get one

And it turned out to be one of my favourite games ever
And it turned out to be on one of my favourite platforms ever
And by 2006 I had a job programming a GBA game
It's funny how things can change
Track Name: Robin's or Tim's
Being named after a bird, after Batman's sidekick
When I was a kid I often didn't like my name
It was more ammunition than the other kids needed
Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg...

It didn't help that the local coffee chain
Was called Robin's Donuts
Nowadays, one of my best coffee partners is named Tim
And our national coffee shop chain is Tim Horton's.

Robin's, or Tim's? A common question around here.
In certain circles.

Then I realized that one of my favourite bands
Has had two bassists... one named Robin.
And the other one named Tim.
I like Tim better.
Track Name: Surrender
One Friday he showed up at our house
With an Atari 2600 and Pitfall! on cartridge
Mom didn't know if he stole it, or borrowed it, or owed it for a bet
He wouldn't answer her when she asked where he got it

I played Pitfall! all weekend and got over 20,000 points
We took a photo to send in for the badge
But it didn't turn out
And he came and took the system back

Later he showed up with dozens of packs of
Empire Strikes Back trading cards and gave them to me
Mom didn't know if they were stolen or what
There were so many cards I almost got the whole series
Track Name: Anxiety
At school I hated having to go in front of the class
To give a speech or presentation
I hated being the focus, having all eyes on me
Nothing worse than being the center of attention

I'd lay awake at night, fearful of the future
Imagining high school graduation, walking across the stage
To receive my diploma, or even further ahead, getting married,
Walking the aisle, saying my vows... never wanted to reach that age

I hated sports, especially team sports
Like basketball or volleyball
That required me to catch or bump the ball - I'd screw up
And ruin the play, it was all my fault

But then I got a bass guitar and started to play in my room
Then the bluegrass lady asked me to play along at church
I was really nervous, but it felt safe enough,
On bass, even when I was up front, I could be in the back

Then I started a band with some friends,
We got a few gigs, starting small, then bigger crowds
It still makes me nervous, but I can handle it now
Just need to take it easy after, find space to cool down