Song Profiles

Song title: Back to the Start
From the album: A Broke Machine

What would it be like to be driving away from something, but without a sense of loss or abandonment? I imagine the simple feeling of being all right with where I come from and where I'm going and the peaceful balance between past and future which rests without regret, sorrow, or anger in a perfect present moment.

It's a perfectly lovely subject, unfortunately yielding music that was too pleasant for me to initially want to include on an album. After several years (it was written in 2003) I shelved the song and only brought it out to perform for Katie, who happened to love it. She would call it my "hermeneutic" song (because she couldn't remember the title). Why hermeneutic? Apparently, the verse where I sing, "the saddest song I ever heard is playing on the radio / though I sing along word for word, there is no sadness here" stirred something in her that she best identified as having a hermeneutic quality. Between you and me, I had to pull out the dictionary to understand what she was talking about. Only then, did I realize what a compliment she was giving.

Eventually, I decided to record a demo of Back to the Start, just to prove to myself that it couldn't be recorded with any edge. I threw some programmed drums on it and they seemed to help uplift the flow of the song. Surprisingly encouraged, I sent the track to John, my drummer who unfortunately lives 2000 miles away in Iowa. We discussed if he heard any potential in the song and thankfully he did. Once he came back with some drums for me to hear, I was able to change the arrangement in order to fit the production into a more cohesive sound. Nobody was more surprised than me when I made the firm decision to feature it as the first song on A Broke Machine.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is a bittersweet song, otherwise it loses me in something saccharine and complicated. Getting down to it, it's probably the happiest song I've ever written. How strange.

April 2008