Sunday, September 20

The Story Behind The Song. Track 6 - Failing To Play Nice

Boy! It'll be nice when I get through this patch of darker songs. :)

Failing To Play Nice. Let's see. I'd hope the subject matter is obvious. Honestly, I'd hope it's obvious in all my songs. But let's see what I can add that might be of note.

The story is half about me, half about somebody else. The first half, the half about somebody else, was inspired by a true story that involved a child saying, upon his return to his mother's house from staying with his father, that "daddy loves me some, but momma loves me all." That's all it took. I had to write the song. I think it's the first time I've ever written a song for/about a person that actually brought said person to tears the first time she heard it. I'd say that's kind of cool, but I sort of feel bad about it, too. I mean, is that a good thing? Hopefully it is. This is the weirdness of dark songs. Is it better to write them? Right now I think it is, though I've also decided that the next Sexy Accident record will be intensely danceable. At least once we're done with this first new one... In Heaven. Aw, hell. I can't predict what'll happen. But the SECOND new song, Now That She's Gone - that shit has a beat you can shake your booty by, no doubt. But now I'm foreshadowing.

My parents got divorced when I was about five, though it wasn't 1980. This is the strange thing about songs. The facts are slaves to the song, and even to the sound of the song - to the phrasings and rhymes. 1980 rolls off the tongue like it needs to. And the woman in the first half? She wasn't 21 when she got married, either. Does any of this matter? Does it matter, also, that my two real stepdads had neither money nor aplomb? One of them reminded me of shag carpet with cat puke on it, and the other had gone insane from too much exposure to xerox chemicals (my mother's theory.) He vehemently hated the smell of parmesan cheese and yelled at me for liking his basketball trophies.

Anywho. I sang this one in one take. You can probably tell. I'm glad we kept it, but it's hard for me to listen to. It's certainly not picture perfect. But I was upset as I sang it, and that's appropriate. I was upset partly because of the song itself - it's very naked and emotional - but also 'cuz I was generally stressing about the recording at the time and it was one of the first songs we tried to do. It's hard to sing a song like this with your back to a control room full of your band and a producer you've admired for a long time. Plus, Black Lodge is great and all, but that place is a little creepy. It's a former mausoleum, after all. We might have even had a tornado siren right before the take. I can't remember.

Rewinding a bit, arranging Failing To Play Nice was surprisingly hard. We tried a country version. It was a song that got kicked around a lot, for months. We played it during our acoustic shows, and it worked well in that format, but I wasn't sure it was a Sexy Accident song. It almost didn't make the album. We finally hit an arrangement that we liked (inspired by recollections of Steve's work with LOW on the Curtain Hits The Cast) about two weeks before we started tracking. I *still* wasn't sure it was a Sexy Accident song, but we went with it anyway, and I've had a surprising number of people say it's their favorite track on the record. Shows what I know!

Other interesting facts. This song features the only significant use of my blue Heritage 535 on the record, last used as my main guitar during the early Whitford days. Daniel Torrence manually manipulated a Ross Flanger and that Electroharmonix POG to get the crazy Star Trek IV slash whale-sounding guitar tone that you hear during the instrumental chorii. That's one of my favorite effects on the record. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, the verse drum part is a loop. SHH! See? We're as bad as Metallica.

Next up: A Merry Christmas To You

- Jesse Kates / Download our music for FREE