Released in 1995 on the City Slang label, How I Quit Smoking is Lambchop's second album, a heavily country influenced record in contrast to their more famous Nixon.

Their debut album, a year previously, was I Hope You're Sitting Down (aka Jack's Tulips). Long, lo-fi, rambling and esoteric, the record had laid the foundations for Lambchop's early country-miserabilist style, and provided one of their best songs in the suicidal "Soaky in the Pooper". With How I Quit Smoking, the essence of their first album was sharpened in focus and cut down to a more manageable 50 minutes. It was also sweetened by a rich - almost glossy - 1970s-esque production by John Mock. The result is a captivating array of deceptively low-key stories of everyday life, joy and sadness.

The opener, "For Which We Are Truly Thankful", is a good an example as any of the record's style. Over a backdrop of acoustic guitars and elegant string arrangements, the band's protagonist Kurt Wagner tells of the "race for a place at the bottom of the pile" which characterises human behaviour. Elsewhere on the album he covers human malice ("To whom can I speak today? / The brothers they are evil" from "The Man Who Loved Beer") and hopelessness ("All the rest is done / All you really can do is just sit up and start a brand new day" from "Life's Little Tragedy").

Things get more upbeat with the near-epic "We Never Argue" and the quiet glow of "All Smiles and Mariachi", but throughout there is a sense of self-doubt and quiet melancholy, accentuated by Wagner's distinctive brand of sing-speak ("I don't speak well, I mumble / To Life's Little Tragedy"). Despite the rustic choice of instruments, and general country theme, the record has an air of modernity in its self-concious approach that suggests an influence from indie-rock. (In fact the song "Garf" is a humorous criticism of Garth Brooks.)

And the whole thing comes to an end with the astonishingly intimate love song "Theöne" ("the one") and its heartbreaking instrumental reprise "Again".

The tracklisting is as follows (total run-time 52:53 mins):

  1. For Which We Are Truly Thankful (2:58)
  2. The Man Who Loved Beer (2:47)
  3. The Militant (3:34)
  4. We Never Argue (4:15)
  5. Life's Little Tragedy (4:16)
  6. Suzieju (4:24)
  7. All Smiles and Mariachi (3:30)
  8. The Scary Caroler (4:44)
  9. Smuckers (4:33)
  10. The Militant (2:56)
  11. Garf (4:30)
  12. Your Life as a Sequel (4:18)
  13. Theöne (4:53)
  14. Again (1:10)
Thirteen members of the band appear on the record, including John Mock, who provided the string arrangement (itself performed by five further musicians), and a man named C. Scott Chase, the musical lynchpin of the band with his performance on "open-end wrenches, lacquer thinner can".

Having perfected country-miserabilism, Lambchop were now headed for other pastures. Their next album, Thriller (1997), was an unconvincing venture into post-rock to which they didn't return. The subsequent two, particularly Nixon (2000), incorporated a heavy soul element into their sound, as well as upping the mood, and How I Quit Smoking is the last Lambchop record which could justifiably be called country.

This is not a guide on how to quit smoking.
This is how I quit smoking.

Why should you listen to this guy you ask? Well, if this guy with an addictive personality can quit, so can you!
Not meaning to sound condescending, I really do hope that this may help someone

My tobacco smoking credentials are as follows:

  • I can't remember how old I was when I had my first cigarette
  • I did start smoking on and off when I was 11 years old
  • I 'quit' at tender age of 12 and besides a few puffs here and there lasted until 14
  • After 14, I was a casual smoker until 17 years of age
  • From then on I was a pack a day smoker until I was 30

I have quit for a few days/weeks or even months at a time, but was always back on the cancer sticks.

I looked with distaste at casual smokers who would use their index finger and thumb to smoke a cigarette, holding the cigarette too close to their fingertips, or too far from them. I would silently shake my head at people not being able to light their cigarettes in a light breeze; but these were the people I turned to when I ran out of the joy cylinders.

I was a smoker, hoping to die early, hoping I wouldn't spend my dying months struggling for breath.

One Sunday afternoon, I was watching a Bruce Lee documentary, I have always admired him and was always impressed by his dedication. I have had a creative week that week, so by the end of the documentary I was thinking to myself.. "I have an exceptional brain, if I put my mind to something, I could do great things".

I couldn't think of any great things to do with my brain, and, as my attempts at creating a hypothetical utopian society haven't been working out, I thought to myself "I guess I could just quit smoking".

So I did.

I didn't *try* to quit smoking, I *decided* to quit smoking, I wasn't going to give myself any leeway or an out, I wouldn't be a failure if I didn't quit, because I quit.

It took a few hours of planning;

Firstly, I thought back to my previous failures and realised that the breaking point came when I start thinking about smoking and all I am thinking is "cigarette, cigarette, need a cigarette, haven't had a cigarette, if I had a cigarette everything will be jolly". I decided that as soon as I start thinking that, I will think of a green apple, break the brain cycle and give myself a chance to gather strength - this is probably THE best idea I've had regarding this topic.

"Cigarette, cig.. Green apple, fresh green apple, cigarette, no, Green apple, juicy green apple, now back to work"

I imagined myself being in all possible situations that I could think of, where I would be smoking and visualised myself NOT smoking. I thought of what I would say to people, I thought of asshole people who would offer me cigarettes and what my comeback would be, I would tell everyone I would quit and that's it, I thought of what I would do instead of smoking, I visualised myself without a cigarette, I thought of what I would be thinking in different situations and come up with a rebuttal to my future arguments - I prepared myself mentally.

I used all the negatives I could think of, I used all the positives that I could think of. I used my strengths and my weaknesses and got them to work for me. Greed? Vanity? Gluttony? Pride? Great!

Yellow teeth, money, coughing, ashtray kisses, control, happiness, peace.

All my previous attempts were hard, I would be angry and displaying all the withdrawal symptoms you could think of.

This time was easy.

I wasn't angry, because I wasn't fighting myself and wasn't feeling the mental strain because green apple.

After 4 hours of sleep, by Monday morning, I was no longer a smoker.

I believe that it was a combination of factors and that original decision to quit, is what made me successful this time, but never-the-less, I hope this may help someone some day.

It's been over 7 years and many very drunk nights, but no cigarettes

Tem42 says re How I Quit Smoking: The green apple idea is a form of thought stopping. It works miracles for some people, and is completely useless for others.

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