grateful

Release Date: 8/09

Album: GO WEST

Writer: ADAM MARSLAND

Video:

 

Lyrics:

I learned the word goodbye today
It hovered in the air before I could tear away
At first you don’t secede
But I made my way unaccompanied
Living and walking through a dream
As far from space and time
As anyone can be
That’s all I knew of you
And I had no clue
It too might be true of me

Unbroken were my thoughts
Until the water split my face
Then I gathered in the darkness
And found a new place

And I have waited all my life
To feel the way I do tonight
Whatever else may come to light
I’m grateful for the rain

I was dead to the world then
I kissed a misty breeze and I was born again
Guilt walled us in
Now I don’t know where to go
But I know where to begin

Shadowy figures
Were the people I called friends
More present to me now
Then they ever were then

And I have waited all my life
To feel the way I do tonight
Whatever else may come to light
I’m grateful for the rain

Darker hours may come
But our day is done
Open up to the rain
And step into the sun

Musicians:

Adam - vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, percussion
Tommy Rickard - drums
Rich McCulley - slide guitar
Evie Sands, Teresa Cowles, Adam - backing vocals
Kurt Medlin - percussion

Adam sez:

Oh. My. God. What to say about this song.

Well, we were in the last stages of the writing and recording of GO WEST, and disc two still needed something...it needed a little more rock, and it needed something a little more obviously accessible. And we needed to carry through the bad relationship theme started on "Fade Away" to the dark downward spiral that ends the album.

So I took a break from recording and took a walk down to Reseda Park, and as I was walking, the most sickening, disgusting, saccharine, most undeniably hit song chorus that has ever popped into my head, popped into my head. It was remarkably like getting socked with a hammer, in that it has quite an impact but you're not quite sure it was a good thing overall. I'm definitely a pop guy, but there's pop, and there's pop, and this was...well this was really pop.

As soon as I got home I sang the song into the microphone so I wouldn't forget it, and then spent the next day or so wondering what to do about it. Did I dare make a song out of it and put it on the album? Would people just laugh at it? Or was this, at long last, God's way of sending me a paycheck? Or was it a test to see if I had any taste at all? Finally it came down to this: it might not be the kind of song I would set out to write, but if I heard it on the radio sung by someone else, I would like it. And that's really the bottom line.

My other reaction was to immediately write "This Is Hard" as a musical and lyrical response to the song. All the songs on GO WEST more or less answer the prior one, sometimes more deliberately and directly sometimes by implication and happy accident, but this was completely by design...and the two songs, improbably enough, went together perfectly.

I started grudgingly working on the lyrics, mining the theme of liberation and release, and just as grudgingly started working on a track for it. I did a 6-string, a 12-string, and a piano track. And of course, it came out perfectly in no time at all, in a totally poppy, cheesy way, and demanded to be finished.

I had been doing some session work for Rich McCulley and session drummer Tommy Rickard, and they both owed me some time, so I took this track and "This Is Hard" outside the band to work on (some of this was also due to time constraints...dividing the labor and involving the Chaos Band more on some tracks than others allowed things to get recorded a lot quicker). I actually apologized to Rich and Tommy in advance for the song, but after they had played on it (Tommy nailing it in three takes and Rich adding some superb, and genre-appropriate, slide guitar hooks), both talked about how much they liked it. Once those guys were on the track and I had added the power chord guitars, it started to grow on me, and I started to think of it as a lost Badfinger track, hardly a bad thing. I also had a good time triple tracking all the vocals on the choruses -- I don't do that kind of thing very much -- and was also pleased with the organ track.

The band did wind up performing on the song, though: Kurt adds quirky percussion to the bridge, Teresa played the bass line, and Evie and Teresa both sing counterpoint at the end in unbashedly cheesy pop fashion (Steve Refling said it reminded him of "The Greatest American Hero"). My favorite part of the song are the vocals in the bridge, which were done in a great rush in the studio at Steve's while Steve was in the other room mixing. In fact, my little "bum-bum-bum" riff in the bridge was recorded in a "hang on, just one more second!" spurt of two minutes as Steve was standing over me, arms folded, demanding me to hand over the song so he could mix it.

Probably the most unabashedly poppy and hit-sounding song I've ever done, I decided to get out of the way and just to let the song be what it was, which is an amalgam of a whole slew of '70s and '80s pop hits, though it most rips off one of my own songs, "Binghamton," from NEVEREST. And in the end, there is nothing wrong with a pop song people can sing along to. The song's sunshiney nature hides a dark germ in the lyrics, though-- the singer is singing, with great celebration, about walking out on his wife. The idea of the song is that with a brave change, your whole life changes and an uplifting new world of freedom and self-realization dawns...but one again, life isn't that simple, and "This Is Hard" immediately follows with the album's most painful reality check yet. Those two tracks were the last to be mixed in the original sessions, and this one in particular came out crisp and crystal clear. Once these two songs were in place, disc two of GO WEST had a strength and flow that to our ears was just incredible, and sent us back to the remixing board with disc one to try to equal it, an ultimately successful process that nevertheless consumed four months, delaying the release.

When GO WEST was rereleased on its 5th anniversary, I made a video for this song while I was on vacation in the Philippines. A parody of Tom Hanks' Cast Away, I had my shirt off for a lot of it. I'd earlier tried to do one in the Mojave Desert where I ran around nude in a cactus garden. I don't know what it is about this song and nudity but anyway, I had fun making a video in such an exotic and beautiful location.

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