I think of this as my best overall record. It was a lot of fun to work as a "band" with Jim Ousley (Bass), Dan Drake (Keys), and Dave Knobel (Drums). I liked the collaboration and feel like each of those guys pushed me into directions I might not have gone without them. Directions that are still shaping what I'm doing as a writer today. This was great to do, and I think some of my better songs are on this record. It's the first one where I didn't regret or end up feeling like I half-assed it on anything I included. And it was fun. I listen to it a couple of times a year and I remain proud of it. I hope the other guys are, too. Song by song, we go...
Right out of the gate, I hit you with my mom's death. Cheery record. Mom died in 1994. It took me a long time before I felt like I could write about that. Mostly, I just kept thinking about the people that would hear it and knowing that it'd be weird or whatever... And it's sad. For several years, I just didn't write sad stuff, even though I was definitely writing about mortality. The "Things I Meant to Say" record opened the door for me to start writing darker stuff...and I took that ball and ran with it. "Good Things" is about losing Mom, and knowing that my own clock will run out someday. And being kind of okay with it...that's the way of the world...it's okay if something/someone good dies. Because the goodness was there. And that's what was important.
A real sad song that tries real hard to sound real happy. It's another song about death, and family members dying. I'd recently lost my grandma and was thinking about how sad it was to watch her memory go and then to have her die probably not remembering me very clearly. I don't know why it's in such a happy key...but it works.
IN MY HEART:
Kind of a kiss-off song. Upbeat and fun, but telling somebody that broke my heart where we stand. I'll carry the scar of that relationship forever...but I'm kind of done picking at it, if you follow me. I think I thought this one was inspired by the Pixies at the time...but I don't know that it comes through when you listen.
I've probably said a few things about this over time... I'm not sure what I've said in the past...but this is a song about addiction. If it's alcohol, drugs, sex, or whatever...at heart, every addict is saying, "Please love me" to somebody or something. And that's what this is about. Sort of Aimee Mann inspired, and I'm really happy with how the guitar parts came out.
It sounds absurd to say this since I wrote it... But I'm a big fan of this song. I especially like Dan's keyboard part. You can really hear the influence of the band Live on this one. That used to happen to me a lot more than it does now... People think it's a song about God, and that's fine. Other people think it's a song about women/sex and that's fine too. Those who think it's about both are probably the finest, though.
OUT FROM THE LIGHT:
I'll be honest with you... This is really only the title track because I wanted to have a title track. (It makes copyright stuff a lot easier/cheaper.) I had the album title for a long time, but not the song. Wrote it late in the process, but it turned out to be one of my favorites on the project, even though it was more or less written as a cheat. :) IT's a song of gratitude to my friends who're keeping me alive. They know who they are.
SEASON OF DISCONTENT:
Pretentious title aside, I really like this song. Although, for a while it was almost off the record. I'd grown a little tired of it when it came time to record and wasn't sure if I felt like it fit. Then Dan came in and played the keyboard part and kind of hit on a "Theme from House MD" vibe that I really dug, and it stayed. I'm glad it did. It's a break-up song. I do those pretty well.
I think you can hear a little bit of a Drive-By Truckers influence on this one. It wasn't intentional, but it's there. When I wrote it, I thought this would be one of the pivotal songs on the record. I'm not sure that it worked out that way...but it's still good. Wrote it about somebody I was in love with. It didn't work out, but it was a good experience. I don't mind that she made me think of an angel at that time. She still kind of does--but one who moved away then really got into wine.
BORN IN THIS TOWN:
The last couple of times that I've played this one, I've ended it by saying, "So basically, don't fall in love with a missionary, if you're not one." And that's pretty much it.
LONG, DARK NIGHT:
I forget about this song. Not because I don't like it...mostly because I think it scares me a little. It's from the heart and it represents feelings that I'm not fully comfortable about having. It's a song about depression and feeling trapped in it. I don't know if anyone realizes how autobiographical this one is for me...
It made sense for "Long, Dark Night" to lead into this one. This song's about a person I know who committed suicide. I've had to write a few more of those, since. If you need help, get help. The number for the National Suicide Helpline is 1-800-273-TALK. It's at least a place to start.
Not just one of the better Christian songs I've written...one of the better SONGS. I don't like Christian music much...so when I write a Christian song, I want to feel like it isn't forced or like I'm doing it out of obligation. It needs to feel like it's something coming from ME. A real expression of who I am, and not just a bunch of words that rhyme and include Jesus out of obligation to appease a segment of people who might buy it, or whatever. This is the first song where I really feel like I accomplished that. It's personal and feels relevant. And it keeps the pastors among my fan-base happy. Maybe. I don't really know what they want from me.