So I was talking about this last time- writing psychedelic music. I’m actually a bit conflicted on this song- it’s not actually one of my personal favorites of the ones I’ve written, but somehow we’ve had this one professionally recorded twice. It’s funny, sometimes I know I’m writing a song people will like and then I play it and people like it. Other times I write a song with some ideas that I like in it, but I don’t get the feeling that it’s going to be an instant hit with people… but then people like it. And we end up playing it for several years.
This one has grown on me. Even since we recorded it, I’ve had some time to rethink how I sing it and I think I sing it much better live than I’ve ever managed to do on a recording.
But as far as creating the song, I started with a hook. I then decided to write something psychedelic. The lyrics aren’t great. They’re OK in places, kind of odd in others. I’m just sharing my thought process here.
I was holding hands with mom and dad, walking up a mountain to a house at the peak
Path was paved with stones of red and blue, and shaded with broken trees
There was a woman one hundred years old because a hundred years old is how she looked to me
There were birds all burnt to the sky and a man, drinking seaweed tea
This part was based on what was either a recurring dream I had when I was very young, or an actual memory that became a recurring dream. Some visit to an old lady’s house. I don’t remember who. I couldn’t even guarantee it actually happened or if I dreamt it. Or if I even actually dreamt it.
There was, however, no man drinking seaweed tea in my memory/dream. I’ve taken a lot of shit about that line over the years, but I’ve been too lazy to change it. Seaweed tea is an actual thing and I like drinking it. That’s why I put it in the song, no reason or meaning beyond that.
This is the original hook that popped in to my head that caused me to write the song:
Let me make myself at home
And I could be your western son
This was just because I am from the American West and also, The West, when I was living in Japan. But I guess the tune was what I had in my head before I actually put words to it. The next lines were very much about my being in Japan and not being there:
cause I’m gone, like I never was here
And I’m gone, like the past is gone
This isn’t great poetry or anything, but I thought those lines basically expressed something I was trying to say, which is that when we visit somewhere it’s almost the same as never having been there, at least where everyone else is concerned. If that makes sense. Being a tourist leaves a very light mark, both on the people who actually live there and on yourself. Plus you can live somewhere for years, leave and then it all feels like a dream.
The next verse I was suffering from word fatigue and was just trying to get it over with. If you’ve ever listened to a pop song and thought that the singer was just phoning it in between choruses, I admit it, that’s what I was doing here.
Reached out to knock on the door but first, I pushed the screen door aside
Suddenly there was cold rushing wind and the world, was black and white
At the end of the hall there were stairs and I knew, to where that stairway lead
To an unfinished room with a light at the top, that was all that was left
I don’t know what I was trying to say here. In my head I had this weird episode from my very short career as a door-to-door salesman where I knocked on the door and this elderly, fully nude and apparently blind lady opened the door holding a baby. Like some bizarre nativity scene. But that was so strange I figured that if I wrote that into a song people wouldn’t believe it happened and would accuse me of having a very questionable imagination so I wrote the above instead. I was self-censoring I guess.
Anyway, that’s the song. Which, incidentally was named after a shitty dive bar we used to practice next to- the name doesn’t have any particular meaning either. Maybe it’s not that psychedelic. I could have written that there was purple butterflies in the air and that the trees were made of chocolate or something. I took no drugs to create this song is all I’m trying to say. Just some ideas in my head.