Suite 100


Sometimes a new instrument can be tremendously inspirational in the "birthing" of an idea for a song. Years ago, I had a prized Rickenbacker 12-string guitar (a re-issue of the one George played in the film "A Hard Day's Night.") I loved that thing to death, but unfortunately, I lost it to a thief.

 Several years later, I was in a guitar shop and spotted a Danelectro 12-string. It played well and had a good sound, was relatively inexpensive, and was blue and sparkly. These factors translated, for me in that moment, into "I must buy this instrument immediately."
  I got it home and tuned it up, and the very first thing I played on it, seemingly by magic, was the arpeggio hook that became the second half of the verse, and the prechorus, of "Carved In Stone."
  It was one of those rare moments musicians wish for, when a song just "happens" and you happen to be lucky enough to be the one with your hands on the guitar neck.
  I knew I had to drop everything and begin the process of making a demo of it right away.
  The arpeggio hook seemed to imply some chords beyond what I was actually playing. I searched for them, and found a bass line which implied them, and undergirded the arpeggio hook. I was just looking for an accompaniment, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bass line sounded like a hook in its own right, and that's what ended up starting the song off.
  The bass line laid on some melody notes that weren't necessarily always the root of the chords, thereby creating a special type of chord known as an inversion.
   The chord that happens at the third measure of the verse is my pet favorite one. When I found that one, I had a feeling of recognition, i.e. "Yeah, that chord is me." It seemed to reveal something personal beyond any effect that I could have planned in advance.
  In any case, I was really stoked on the way the piece was shaping up, although in a weird way, I almost didn't feel like I could fully claim "authorship" of it. It felt more like discovering something than deliberately building something. 
    In its first demo incarnation, that pet chord of mine lingered a bit longer, because the music for the song was originally meant to be played at a much slower tempo. Matt and I had been having some discussions about how we tended to write a lot of songs with the same uptempo pace, and this one at first suggested a slower treatment. A midtempo lilt, almost a soft-rock feeling. I remember the Alan Parsons Project song "Eye In The Sky" being a reference point for me.
  But in early rehearsals, Matt kept saying "Why don't we try it a little faster?", and I kept resisting this suggestion. I felt some satisfaction over having a new piece that was at a different tempo from our usual, so I was stubborn about it for a little while.
  Matt ended up explaining that the slow tempo seemed to be fighting against the type of song that the riff "wanted to be."
  In retrospect, I absolutely agree, and it ended up as a fast power-pop barnstormer, complete with "dit dit dit ditty it" vocals and handclaps.
 It's been fun trying to encourage audiences to learn the handclap pattern and join in. Please study them, there will be a pop quiz.
  The middle eight of "Carved In Stone" was originally a piece at an even slower tempo, a full-on ballad, written during a break while recording "In The Night Kitchen." When the rest of this song came along, I knew it needed a bridge, and this piece fit perfectly, and was even in the right key.
  I was very honored one time when an audience member at an International Pop Overthrow appearance asked me about this song right after we had closed our set with it. He asked "That last song. Was that an original?" I confirmed that it was. He told me "That's one of the best pop bridges I've ever heard." Thank heaven for small mercies.
   I came up with the title "Carved In Stone" and knew where I wanted the phrase to fall in the chorus melody, but word-wise that was all I had. 
  Matt rose to the challenge with one of his finest lyrics, inspired by the story of Pygmalion and his fair lady, sprinkled with musings on impermanence.
   "For the where and the when, it's here and now. For the how and the why, it's you and I" is one of my favorite "Matt-isms."
  Steve has told me numerous times that the final prechorus of this song where these lines appear rates as his favorite of Matt's vocal moments on the album.
  I always enjoy looking over at Steve whenever we play this song at the moment when that first arpeggio hook starts. He always, without fail, breaks into a wide grin.