Release Date: 9/97, 3/08
Albums: NEVEREST and DAYLIGHT KISSING NIGHT
Writer: ADAM MARSLAND
Since I saw you last
Before your rapid rise
You've become quite the iconoclast
Cuttin' yourself up to size
Now we see you at the club
Scrunched up into the wall
And no one is really sure
If you're there at all
Barbarians at the gate
And God forbid it makes you late for
The ego drive
On which you thrive
Are you, are you alive?
I can't isolate
A single character trait
But if there's one thing I really hate
when you remind me of me
when you alienate
I feel alienated too
And it reminds me of you
Did you get afraid
Of the name that you made?
And any emotions that you displayed
You went from minimum wage
Up to a gilded stage
From the ranks of the unemployed
To our own halo boy
And the challenge is gone
and the passions are spent
and what you wanted and what you got
are underneath the same tent
and you're wondering where the benefit of being you went
and your halo is bent
and your halo is bent
Halos are those pesky things
That you find around your neck
When they should be on your head
Halos with gossamer wings
But no angels will fly
If they don't know you're alive
Or if you're deadAdam sez:
A clear highlight of the hard rocking NEVEREST album (and the only song from that album that the Chaos Band still performed until just recently), "Halo Boy" is an example of my peculiar type of character assassination where you take the person apart brutally, then find compassion ("Imagine You're Dead" is like that too). It's always seemed a little unfair to just trash someone in a song, because unless they're a songwriter, they can't fight back. You have to write about what motivates and angers you, but if you can't look inward as well, then you're just a pussy. That might be why a lot of my songs like this have built-in rebuttals to them.
There's plenty of people who piss me off, but as it says in the second verse, often it's because you yourself are insecure. Likewise, the stuck-up newly-minted celebrity who's the song's protagonist is really acting like a prick -- but he's also scared and fearful of the newfound attention and invasion of his privacy.
(Yes, this song is inspired by someone specific. No, it's not about Rivers Cuomo, or anybody else obvious for that matter)
Right after this song was written Cockeyed Ghost toured with Shonen Knife for a month, which was an amazing experience for all of us. Shonen Knife were wonderful people, even going so far as to carry my gear for me when I showed up to the first gig in a leg brace from taking my knee out in an onstage fall. Anyway, they LOVED this song, and when we were up in Alberta (where the cover photo from NEVEREST was taken), we walked in on their soundcheck and they immediately started playing "Halo Boy!" That was a cool moment. Later that year when NEVEREST came out, Shonen Knife talked it up to the Japanese press a good bit, and it came out there a year after that.
Speaking of the cover photo, we were so proud of the fact that we shlepped our gear into Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies on a precious day off to take a picture of us playing below a snow-capped mountain. When the album came out, people would say to us "That picture looks so awesome! What Photoshop filter did you use to composite that?" And we were SO pissed!
The title of the second album was, like much else about it, a group decision and it took a long time. For awhile it was called FLANDERS (Rob's idea; for the street in Portland and Homer Simpson's neighbor). Then James came up with THIS ONE'S FOR MY DEAD HOMIES, which, like many ideas of James', was so brilliant that we didn't dare do it. (This was not long after Big Deal had to throw away hundreds of autographed Cockeyed Ghost posters because James had autographed them as "The Token Black Guy." I thought it was hysterical, but they didn't.)
Anyhow, NEVEREST had a couple of meanings; the band was on the road constantly at the time, so "never rest" was our motto, and it also referred to the magic mountain of music business success which we knew even then was something that you stared at from afar but never really got to.
But the title and the album cover primarily have roots in a bit of Beatles trivia...the original title for ABBEY ROAD was going to be EVEREST, and the idea was for the Beatles to fly to the Himalayas and have their picture taken playing in front of Mt. Everest. Eventually they just said screw it, we can't be bothered, and they went downstairs and crossed the street in front of the studio, and that's what became the cover for ABBEY ROAD. So we just tacked an "n" in front of the Beatles' title, and did what they were too lazy to do.
And that's why Cockeyed Ghost was better than the Beatles.
Performance-wise, the tongue twisting mantra on the outro has been passed around among just about everybody in the band, past and present. As of this writing, the baton has just been passed to Kurt, who is doing a pretty decent job with it.
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