Unseen Tapes Vol. 2, 1996​-​1998 (Porch Songs)

by James Botha

  • Streaming + Download




The purpose of this website is to showcase a careful selection of the hundreds of songs I've written and recorded over the years that have yet to see the light of day.

I bought my first 4-track recorder in the early 90's and, with the help of my Tascam Portastudio and little more than a shure microphone, I would hole myself away in my bedroom or basement, recording any song idea or sound I could come up with. Thus began my life as a home recording enthusiast. I was inspired by all the low-fi releases popular at the time in the indie music circuit. I wrote many songs in those early years and I loved hearing them come to life, one overdub at a time, on the little blank cassette tapes I bought in bulk. Some of the recordings were demos for the bands I was in, but most of them were songs I'd write just to compile onto mix tapes in order to give away to friends. Now all those cassettes sit in storage, under my bed actually, collecting dust, half-forgotten.

I somewhat recently decided to blow the dust off of those old tapes and digitally archive the songs I felt were worth preserving. While doing these transfers I found some of them were actually pretty good and felt it a shame no one else has heard them, so I decided to make a compilation of the choicest recordings and post them online.

There was a lot of material to choose from, and it took me years to edit down the tracks to a manageable number and figure out a way to organize them. I've decided to group them into 4 separate collections, chronologically divided into the different places I've lived: Volume 1 is Washington DC, Vol. 2 is Philadelphia, Vol. 3 is Manhattan and Vol. 4 is Brooklyn. Each volume gets about 9 or 10 songs. Most of the songs are remixed and improved sonically from the original hissy and muffled mixes (although there's still plenty of hiss to be heard on the early recordings). Every one of them was originally recorded on cassette, using the portable 4-track and, by Vol 3, an 8-track.

I've mostly put this online collection together for myself, since I don't know too many people out there who would even be interested in this stuff. But I hope there are at least a few people who listen to and hopefully even enjoy the songs. They're really a part of me and a part of my life and I'm glad they're finally emerging from under my bed to see the light of day. Enjoy.

James Botha


released February 1, 2012



all rights reserved
Track Name: I Know It Now
Roll my head up in your arms
Will you tell me what you see?
With our love, you're separated from me
I wanna know the way you'll be
Without me, my head's on backwards

Tell me how you're going to fake it
Without all the things you've learned
In your mind, it's in your mind
You're just too far away
I know it now
How I'm going to face the strain
Without your sympathy
I know it now

I used to wake up in the morning
I could watch you on t.v.
I used to lay you in my bed
Put you right next to me
I know it now
That it's gonna get so hard after tomorrow
I know it now

I need the time with you in mind
A simple need I have to feed
I wanna go, I feel so low
With you tonight, it's out of sight
You're gonna stay too far away
Alone with you for one and two
So let it be a thousand times tonight

But I feel hopeful that we'll make it
Through the thick and through the thin
I know we'll do all right this time
We'll shoot it right down the line
I know it now
How we're going to face the strain
We'll do ok you will see
I know it now
Track Name: Winter Star
Winter star, always thought we'd go so far
I got no job and I got no car
Though I still feel the same
I know that you fade away into the day

Winter star, how did I push you so far
away from all the things I know?
I hope the night will fall and then
You'll shine brightly once again
And be my friend

But you know if you wait too long
You'll slip and fall into the dawn
And then you'll never shine again
Then you'll never shine again
Never see you, winter star
You never are my winter star
Track Name: South Philly Girl
South Philly girl you're making me so excited
And every kiss makes me delighted
Yeah you've got it made, born and raised in the city
You take me away 'cause you're so pretty
I thought I knew it's just a feeling
But you showed me how, my South Philly girl

On my way home I met you in the alley
Invited me out, I accepted gladly
We drank at the bar, your red dress was so revealing
And all of your words sounded so appealing

She drove me back to her apartment
Tony Ward calling on the phone
She said she's not home
And we made love until the dawn

South Philly girl you're crazy about Madonna
But I'm crazy about you (I'm so head-on(a))
You took me back home, I told you to come to the show
I'll play my guitar and sing hello
I thought I knew it's just a feeling
But you showed me how my South Philly girl
Track Name: Without You
I sit in my room living every single day without you
I wonder how I'll ever come to love the living day without you
I sit all alone in the dark
And I never turn the light on 'cause I know that it's art
And I think of the fun that I never used to miss without you

I dream that you never really left me and I think about you
I feel so empty when I try to make a day without you
I close my eyes and think of the time
When you told me that you'd always stick around and be mine
And I can't think of any other place I'd be around without you
Track Name: Nobody Understands Me
Life is so hard to live
When you're crazy in the head like me
Scared and tired of being alone
But I can't leave this prison cell
I'm frightened as a child
And nobody understands me (but me)

This solitude is breaking my will
I'm beating my own head with my guilt
'Cause every time I try to speak
I cannot form a single word
I've got no courage at all
And nobody understands me (but me)

I aint got no self esteem
I keep getting kicked to the ground
I got no money to pay my bills
This isolation's killing me
I've got to get away
'Cause nobody understands me (but me)
Track Name: Break My Back
I break my back with the weight of economy
I want to go back to the good life again
And I lost my love in the swell of a felony
Taking me back to the arms of a friend

Now I need a girl and I'm stating my case
But there is no girl in this pitiful place
And I need someone to help my economy
And stop me from breaking my heart

Well the loss of god isn't such a catastrophe
Compared to the absence of girls in this town
I just need to meet a single Delores
or Judy or Katie that's out of this world

But there aint nobody 'cause I checked all the listings
And I'm feeling kinda down 'cause something is missing
In my life I find I need someone close to me
to stop me from breaking my heart

Maybe if I start a fire, I might get the attention of you

I break my back with the weight of economy
I want to go back to the good life again
And I need someone to save me from misery
And stop me from breaking my heart
Track Name: Talking to Myself
Playing in the yard, 11 year old boy
And he dreams about the day he'll see his dad
Looks up at his mom, she says he'll be so strong
But he doesn't know the place where he belongs
And he can't believe that soon he will be gone
Dear mama...

"We're going 'cross the world, flying like a bird
to see all the places that you've only heard
Dad will be there too, waiting to see you
And he'll be so proud to see how much you've grown
And regret is something that is never shown
And we're leaving here tomorrow."

I just can't believe that I'll soon be gone
All this time....please, someone, someone!
Climbs up in the trees, look at what he sees
Must he leave this place where he longs to be?
Flying 'round the world, never see his friends
For they'll stay behind and now the day is done
Oh the place I'm going to it seems so cold
So I'll build a fortress that'll keep me warm
Once again....I want to go home

Talking to myself
Track Name: Cheap Drugs Saturday Night
Well I got my car and I got my girl
We're gonna take it on down for a nice big swirl
I got my cheap cocaine and my girlfriend too
We're gonna smoke up a doobie right here in the news
And I like this town inside out
And my mind's still slipping but that's ok
Because the drugs keep keeping on and on
I'm gonna feel right good and it's Saturday night

I said I don't want nothing that's gonna change my mind
Because when I feel like this, I feel like it's the end of time
That's right
Because I've got that girl right outta my head it's all right

Cheap drugs Saturday night
Yeah, Saturday night, yeah, all right
I said cheap drugs Saturday night

Because I got that girl right outta my head oh yeah
'Cause I love that woman and I love her so much
Hurts so bad, but that's ok
Because I like that girl right outta my head, it's all right

Cheap drugs Saturday night
Yeah, Saturday night, yeah
Cheap drugs Saturday night, it's all right

'Cause I like that style when I'm snorting it up
And I'm gonna toke it right down
I'm gonna smoke it, smoke some grass
I'm gonna shoot it up and out of my pants

'Cause I like that way you move tonight
Because I like that woman and I like her style
She's all right, she's all right!
Yeah, the girl's all right when she's out of my mind
It's all right
Track Name: Bigger
Went to the dance looking for romance
I saw Barbarella so I thought I'd take a chance on her
I took her hand and we danced all night
But when I held her close she got a big fright, oh no

I guess all that friction was too much to bear
The bulge in my pants made her look down and stare at me
What could I say? I was caught with a stiffy
I ran out of the room and sat down in a jiffy, oh yeah

I just got bigger, bigger, bigger, big-big-big!

So this song is dedicated to all of you guys
With those embarrassing moments you can sympathize with
Bigger is a statement with all of its treason
Wherever the place or whatever the reason