kickass

Release Date: 9/04, 3/08

Album: YOU DON'T KNOW ME and DAYLIGHT KISSING NIGHT

Writer: ADAM MARSLAND

Audio:

Video:

 

Lyrics:

When I was a young punk,

I said to my dad

"I want a life of adventure,

not one of indenture like most people have."

 

My dad shook his head,

he read me chapter and verse,

and said "May you have an interesting life...

that's a Chinese curse."

 

I moved to California,

and blew off dad's advice.

I was naive and broke

and the butt of a joke more than once or twice,

but there were beautiful

people and rough edges to smooth,

and for every slap upside the head,

it helped me find my groove

and I improved,

 

I had food on the table,

easy demons to fight.

I wanna thank You for my kickass life.

Like a bull to china,

and by my own petard,

I looked stupid in front of my heroes

and zeroed out my credit card.

Oblivious and cocky,

but I told the truth when it was hard,

and I saw the sun set over the Rockies,

and walked down Sunset Boulevard.

 

And if it ended tomorrow I couldn't complain,

I had my share of sex and glory,

had an open heart and a pretty good brain,

and there'd be some things that I never got to do,

yeah, but only a few, maybe one or two.

 

So yeah I'm grateful,

but if I'm gonna pray,

I pray for the others,

my sisters and brothers

awaiting less fateful days and may you have a kickass life.

Musicians:

Adam - vocals, lead guitar, bass, drums (2007 version: keyboards)
Evie Sands
- electric guitar (2007 version: vocals)
Teresa Cowles - vocals (2007 version)
Kurt Medlin - percussion (2007 version)

Adam sez:

Obviously autobiographical, and the subject of a first-ever (albeit amateurish) video, "My Kickass Life" is really about owning one's own mistakes. I'm an outgoing person but not always the most socially adept one, and the list of embarassments and misunderstandings in my life as I blundered along is probably longer than the average person's. A good example: the line about looking stupid in front of your heroes is (in part), about barging in on a conversation Vicki Peterson was having in a club to ask her what her favorite Beach Boys album was. Or how about when meeting Peter Case backstage when we were opening for the Plimsouls, asking him if he wrote "World Shut Your Mouth." (For those playing at home, it was Julian Cope) I mean, wtf? I don't like admitting I was that obnoxious/clueless guy, even though having been that guy contributes a lot to my understanding of humanity. But that's part of what made me me. I've been able to achieve much, much more than many people because I lost my fear of looking like an idiot, and so I developed a habit of acting when others held back. And your mistakes making you who you are is something that's true for everyone.

The original YOU DON'T KNOW ME recording only features Evie (on rhythm guitar) and me (on everything else). The day this song was recorded, there were six of us in the studio ready to go but Kurt's father was in the last stages of a terminal illness and Kurt had to bail on the session to go be with him. Perhaps it was karma given the lyrics about our fathers' influence on us. Since we couldn't record what we had originally planned, I dimissed the other musicians and dragged Evie into an alley next to the studio and taught her this song, basically writing the bridge on the spot (in fact, for years afterwards Evie kept having to remind me what peculiar chord the bridge started with). Then we went back in and cut the basic track with Evie on guitar and me on drums and of course, I hadn't played drums in about a year so it took forever, but it came out pretty well in the end.

I had originally thought of this as a single, and it probably would have been one had John Ashcroft via the FCC not been levying huge fines for obscenity at the time...the word "kickass" right at that moment just seemed risky. When it first came out, Evie had to really push me to do this song live, mostly because I was too lazy to dig out a capo (it's the only song I have ever written that uses one), but she was right -- it became a big audience favorite.

This was one of the last songs recorded on YOU DON'T KNOW ME and it wound up a bit underproduced, and even though it got one of the biggest live responses of any of my original songs, when it came time to consider tracks for the compilation album this was one of the ones where the recording was lacking something the others had, and so we all decided to take another crack at it, making it more band-inclusive in the process.

With the exception of the lead vocal, we didn't replace any of the original tracks, just added to them. My biggest regret on the original recording was that there wasn't any tambourine, so Kurt got to do the honors for that. Teresa bolstered and added new dimension to the shaky backing vocals in the bridge, and Evie added her response lines at the end that she's been doing live for several years. For my part, I got to add keyboards, acoustic guitar and most of all, a new and more lived-in lead vocal.

Recording vocals for the new tracks has been a thrill for me. Not only had I developed tremendously as a singer since the YDKM sessions from doing the soul and Beach Boys tributes (and from working with Evie Sands on a constant basis!), learning not just better pitch but tone and rhythm and articulation, but on top of that, the operations on my sinuses cleared out a bunch of crap that in my head and unexpectedly made my voice a lot clearer, and made singing much less of an effort than it had been. It's amazing to be able to open my mouth and, after 20 years of hard work to really get together a good singing voice, to sound the way I've always wanted to sound.

Except for the acoustic guitar and the remix, all the new recording was done in the garage, which made it easy, cheap, and fun.

As of 2015, this has become my signature song, and one I open most of my shows with.

Return to "Lyrics and Stories" Main Page

Return Home