trains

Release Date: 8/09

Album: GO WEST

Writer: ADAM MARSLAND

Audio:

Lyrics:

I never had time for fate
Things happened for me
But they happened to late
So many plans were laid
But my execution was too long delayed

Here we stand, hand in hand
Terrified to lose the grip
On either side, we got trains to ride
Parallel lines of steel
That never meet, they just grab the wheel

Now I know everything fits
It'll all work out if I let it
Close your eyes and jump ship
I never believed it but now I get it

I had a long, long list
Of desire and ambitions that dissolved in my fist
With never a moment to waste to succumb to temptations so close I could taste them
And I was alone, longing for home
But I was confused
On either side, we got trains to ride
Parallel lines of steel
That never meet, they just grab the wheel

Now I know everything fits
It'll all work out if we let it
Close your eyes and jump ship
I never believed it but now I get it

And all the things you're scared to lose
Relationships you're loath to choose
Offers you could not refuse
Let them go

The lies you told to keep the peace
The fires you couldn't quench nor cease
The going west and facing east
Let them go

The ties that hold you to this earth
The death and work and school and birth
The points you proved, for all they're worth
Let them go

The goalposts moving down the road
The building 'til you explode
The debts you paid and those you owed
Let them go
Let them go.

Musicians:

Adam - all vocals and instruments

Adam sez:

For both GO WEST and LUDLOW 6:18 I was in a period of my life where I was alone a lot more than I wanted to be, and I was very close to the ideas of loss, isolation and wondering where life was going to take you. This does not make for a very happy time, and I didn't enjoy my life much during either of those periods, but I don't think it's any coincidence that those are my two best albums. It's just easier to reach deeper inside when the things that drive you and scare you are closer to the surface.

"Trains" was a development of a song idea that was originally supposed to close LUDLOW 6:18 called "Let It Go." In its new form it touches on a lot of stuff. It's a song basically about the fear of loss being as bad as loss itself, and about the only real answer in life is to be able to let go and move on. It isn't what you'd call a big uplifting finale, but GO WEST is an album about hard decisions with no right answer and any happy ending tied up in a bow would have undercut the whole thing, and given that the last half of disc two is a steady downward spiral, this is about the best you can expect. At the end of the day, there's no guarantee of a happy ending for anybody (we're all going to die, after all), but you do have control over how you deal with what live hands you, and you have a choice to hang on to your grievances until they cripple you ("My Pain"), or decide to put it aside for the hope of something better in the future. In that sense, "Trains" echoes the sentiments of "Go West." You can't ever escape pain and suffering, but you can decide to distance yourself from it by pushing forward. Like "Go West" it's a piano ballad where I wrote the lyrics first, and then the music.

The song quotes "Burn Down The World" at the end and it also may be the final parting of the two people on the westbound road trip in that song that starts the CD who have had different journeys throughout the album. Since the songs have their own personal meaning to me and also their place in an overall loose narrative, I tried not to get caught up in plot details. It's not supposed to be a specific person's life, but more a lot of peoples' lives, including mine, in a mosaic that together forms the outlines of an overall life story. But when I was writing the album I did in the back of my mind think of two people, a guy and a girl, starting their journey together, separating and having parallel experiences as they got older (e.g. the girl blowing off the guy in the bar on "Dance" followed by the guy being blown off in "Ropes"; likewise the girl finding love in an unconventional relationship in "December 24" followed by the guy dealing with the aftermath of abuse in his first relationship in "1 in 4," then followed by the girl's backstory in "Go West," etc.), and then coming together at the very end on "Trains." Or it could be the final goodbye for the starcrossed married couple in "Fade Away" after the post-depression breakup expressed in "No Return" and "Despair." For the purposes of me connecting with the song when I sang it, it was about my own relationship. The point of GO WEST was for the songs to reinforce each other in a lot of different ways, and for people to take whatever interpretation of it that they related to the most. All the songs had their own meaning to me independent of whatever overall theme they connected to. Basically, whatever scenario works for you is fine for me.

As a recording, "Trains" is as raw and as dry as a bone. I recorded the original track as a demo at 3 a.m. in the garage. I was stone drunk when I recorded it and very far from a happy place (you can hear me slurring words in spots, and you can occasionally also hear the chirping of a cricket that lives in the rafters and disrupted many early vocal sessions for the album, before we moved everything into my house). I had trouble with getting the vocal to record right and did not think the demo would be usable, and I wasn't sure the song was any good, either, so after about an hour I just went inside and slept it off. A few months later, when the album began to lengthen, I finally went back and listened to the recording with fresh ears and was very moved by its honestly, and that the technical problems with the track could be easily overcome. I realized it was the perfect capper for the album and once it was in place the album made sense as a whole for the first time. Wanting to keep the song's stark tone, I overdubbed very minimal drums and organ. I also added melodic counterpoint on the bass, a part I'm particularly proud of, channeling Dee Murray a little bit. Overdubbing to the track was tricky because there was no click, but I didn't worry too much about the subtleties, since the whole thing was about feel. I also made sure that, in the final mix, the vocal was front and center with no processing other than compression.

I knew GO WEST was something special while I was working on it, but it didn't really hit me until Teresa and I listened to the whole thing front to back for the first time. When the final note of "Trains" hit I was in the car with Teresa and we both got tears. There was a pause and then I was like, "it's really good, isn't it?" I know I'm talking about my own work, and I'm not objective, but it's hard to make me cry, especially when you know the ending before you get to it. I was so busy living the album I hadn't really realized how much emotion I had put into it until I heard the whole thing for the first time. I hope it has the same effect on other people, but if it doesn't, I satisfied myself with it.

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