Current mood:excitedHey, how's it going? Been a busy night but I thought I'd try to write the rest tonight.
So basically the musical arrangement for this song was sorted for quite a while before we could put words to it. It sat on the hard drive for almost two months before inspiration took hold. When it happened though, it happened very quickly.
Isabelle still owned The Block clothing store back then. She was out on a Friday night after work as she would do and I was home alone with a few glasses of wine messing around with the songs. I'd been recording guitars or vocals on other songs and then brought up "Ballerina" (still the working title). I played it through and was about to quit it again in frustration when I had a good idea. We'd begun another song called "Take my Hand" the summer before, wrote that one on the same day as the London Underground bombings by no coincidence. I had written this incredibly complex and ridiculous lyric about that event, with a motion picture for a story background and tons of characters, perspectives, time shifts, it was a bloody musical! And a crappy idea it turned out. However, in a moment of "ah what the hell," I opened my book where I'd written down all those absurb lyric ideas and perused through them. It then slapped me in the head that I'd got the idea all out of perspective. Nobody would want to listen to a song about fucking Scotland Yard, Interpol, Terrorist cells, Commuters etc. But what if I made the song solely around a single bomber. What if the lyric just related his day before the bombing? Of course I have no inside information here, I only know a minuscule amount from what I read in papers or have heard on the news, but a bit of speculation can be rather fruitful at these times.
So now I wrote about the bomber's train ride down from Leeds to London. The first voice you hear is supposed to be the voice of an old man that's sitting across from him that's making small talk about the weather. I envisioned the younger man sitting with his hood up and drawn tight around his face in order to separate himself from the friendly banter. So when you hear:
Hey You, thought I lost you there,
Looks as if you've been caught dreaming
It's the old guy awakening the younger man from his dosing and trying to connect with him. When he has his attention, he goes on to say:
Well then, as I over heard
This weather is most likely leaving
(I get so much crap about these words from people that don't know the meaning of the song, it's amazing. They may seem trite but that was the entire point, thus I explain.)
Next Isabelle starts singing. I was being a bit cinematic here and taking some pretty massive liberties, because I actually envisioned her sitting next to the bomber as a ghost, singing her lines:
"But I wish he hadn't said
Only the things that you'd love to ignore because I,
I would have loved to've
Been looking in your eyes when you made
I figured with all her positive outlook maybe she could have prevented this dude from killing all those people. Perhaps I'm was being a bit idealistic? Ah well, it's only a song right?
The tempo shifts and we are in the transition section. This is another high concept part. "We'll never let you go" sung repeatedly. I was trying to signify how a person can be so indoctrinated into a belief system that he'd kill his fellow countrymen. So the singing starts off softly and sweetly: like a nice friend helping you out, giving you a home, giving you brotherhood. Then it grows, becoming louder and more forceful: here's the deal kid, you're part of us now and we've got important things for you to do. Finally, right before the cymbal swell the singing is downright mean spirited and demanding: "the boys at the rec hall are pretty damn serious about this bombing thing and they fully expect you to go through with it!"
Switch to scene three: the morning of. The lyric says, "Morning came too soon," and here I was seeing the bomber sitting on the bus or the train as it crosses London, surrounded by morning commuters. He's sitting on his bench and looking around him at all the people that he's about to murder.
Morning came too soon
(morning came too soon)
Morning came too soon for you 'cause
You got something to
(You've got something to)
There is something for you to do
On your way to work
On their way to work
On the way to work you see them
Almost like it is for the first time.
So the full realization of what he's about to do hits him and he's got to summon his resolve and make the bomb ready to go off.
The next section I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Barry Flynn. I told you he and Ingrid had a further part to play in this story. They finally got back to me and said they really liked the song. However at this point I had it finished, lyrics included. He suggested that he thought it could be longer and wanted to write another verse. I explained the concept of the lyric and the two of them then wrote a really cool second verse. It was their concept to break it down from the middle loud part with a stop and fade out before the 3/4 time came back. The words were amazing: about cell phones going to voice mail because the person on the other end was gone! I struggled with the dilemma whether to keep it as it was or accept their new idea. In the end I preferred the shorter arrangement but I LOVED the way Baz had created the transition from middle section back down to the 3/4 verse. The instruments faded out to nothing, like a cloud. So I borrowed his idea and used it in ours. Initially there wasn't a breakdown before Isabelle's part came in, it was full bore all the way with only a subtle change in the drums and bass only. Not enough seperation though because I wanted to have the music represent the explosion and the quiet in its aftermath! So at the point where the lyric says "Almost like it is for the first time" all the instruments fade away until we only here the droning octave piano part and Isabelle's voice singing, "Take My Hand I'm leaving." That's the piano we recorded at Mushroom, such a cool sound to have the peddle down for an entire song and only play octaves. After a while they start cancelling out and create an almost electronic vibe. Very techno without the techno.
Anyway, I gotta stop right now though because it's now 4:12 in the AM and we want to go to the beach tomorrow morning!
Finish tomorrow. Sleep well.