Release Date: 8/09
Album: GO WEST
Writer: TERESA COWLES, ADAM MARSLAND
Button up -- weatherman gave warning
Hurry back I'll have lots to tell
Then nestle in, you can stay 'til morning
Find a warm place to dwell
Maybe I'll miss the ground
Once these heady winds have shifted
When I'm taking the long way down
To where I was from where I've drifted
Lock the door, light the tree
Celebrate our bravery
And the presents yet to open
Draw close, find a kiss
Something good may come from this
Not to kill a metaphor
But it's December 24
Coffee shop down the street from my house
You saw the same shapes that I did
Spilling sugar on the table laughing
Is this what God forbid?
Maybe we'll miss the ground
Once these heady winds have shifted
When we're taking the long way down
To where we'll fall from where we're lifted
A new place...it made sense
The compass reorients
A truer north that lay within me
Don't lie, don't deny
If you want to so do I
There are new poles to explore
'Cause it's December 24
I don't want to leave this room
The daylight penetrates too soon
Dulling the edges of this moment
There may be penalties to pay
After the veils fall away
At the cheerful bright of day
Leave the wrappers where they lay –
What will they say?
Just words, sticks and stones
Embrace to face what was unknown
with all the courage you can muster
Come snow, come sun
I guess there's someone for everyone
Not to kill a metaphor..it's December 24
I hadn't attempted a songwriting collaboration since the Cockeyed Ghost days, partly because I feel like before I start writing with other people I need to get off my ass and finish up my own songs and when it comes to songwriting, I am lazy. It's hard work and there's just lots of other things I'd rather do with my day...one of the joys of the GO WEST experience was figuring out how to accelerate the songwriting process by basically setting up the vocal mic to do a vocal, pulling up a Word file on the computer, and forcing yourself to get on with it. However, once GO WEST went double, I'd already come up with about a dozen good new songs and so one of the ideas was to have Teresa, Evie and Kurt all submit their own songs. Teresa and Evie both came up with really good ideas. We only had time to do one of them and although both fit the theme of the album, Teresa's filled a gaping hole in the songwriting chain...we needed a song between "Learning The Ropes" and "1 in 4" that talked about your first serious relationship, and that's what she had brought in. It also offered an opportunity for us to collaborate (Evie's was pretty much finished, whereas Teresa's, while complete unto itself, had room for more work), which I thought would add an interesting dimension to the album.
We weren't able to really address this song until the rest of the album was basically finished, but since this track was the only one being worked on at the time (the rest of the album being basically done barring remix work), it enabled us to really focus on it. Songwriting wise, the original idea was Teresa's and the finished song is pretty much a 50/50 collaboration. The verses are basically hers, the choruses are basically mine and the bridge is half and half. I came up with the Christmas idea, appropriately enough, when I was out on a walk to buy Christmas presents, but deliberately did not tell Teresa until I could actually play the chorus for her because I knew she would shoot it down. In fact, when we did the basic track of the song, she recorded her section of the song, then I told her what to play on the chorus without letting her hear anything else. When she finally heard where the chorus of the song was going, she send me a text message that said something like "you bastard! You turned my song into a Christmas carol, and it's great, damn you." Getting the lyrics to both our satisfaction was a real challenge. There were probably six or seven drafts of the lyrics, mostly because I was a total prima donna about it, with my favorite lines in the finished song (the second verse) being Teresa's, who also forced me to take out one line that in retrospect was really dreadful. And that's the good thing about collaborating...there's someone to tell you you suck. It takes a lot of pressure off. But you do wind up irritating your songwriting partner a whole lot, it seems.
It hadn't originally been intended to come out this poppy, though I did want to do something that sounded a little like Lindsey Buckingham's work for Fleetwood Mac (which again put me back on the drums, since I knew what kind of feel I wanted but didn't know if I could explain it to anybody...it came out pretty close to what I wanted though I wish I'd had another day or two to practice), reflected in the close male-female vocals and some of the quirky keyboard touches. In fact, one of the other goals for this song was for it to cost absolutely nothing to record, and except for the drum track, I did all the recording and mixing on this song myself (with Teresa again appearing instrumentally on the bass), another experiment that worked out really cool.
My favorite thing about this track is the lead vocals. Unlike "Dance," Teresa and I did them separately, wanting to get a certain close-mic and close harmony intimacy to it. I did mine first, really working hard to get that breathy sound and the mic placement and pitch just right, and then Teresa did hers while I was at the gym. When I came back to edit the tracks, I was blown away by how great her performance was...her vocals were outstanding and I had many tracks to choose from. When she first joined the band, Teresa was an iffy vocalist, but she has grown to such a degree that she gets regular calls to do background vocal sessions. With this song, she also showed she could handle the lead vocal with great skill.
Incidentally, if you guessed from some of the lines in the song that the fears expressed in the lyrics weren't solely the fears associated with new love, and that despite it being a male-female duet the relationship being contemplated was not a traditional one...that would be a really good guess on your part. Another song, by the way, from a woman's point of view.
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