Song Profiles

Song title: Falling
From the album: To the Bone
Requested by: Alli

Oh! There's something glorious about dancing with a song for years on end, coaxing it out of hiding, charming it to trust me, plucking the exact right words and chord structure out of the ether to adorn its frame, wiring it all around my pinky finger, and finally taking it on the dance floor, waiting for applause. General rule: the shier the song, the more I'll like it. It makes me think, "I made that," even though I don't think I really ever make a song.

Music is like a river. Writing music is like fishing in that river. Just because I catch a fish doesn't mean I made the fish, and I certainly didn't make the river. Even if I name the fish Terami, Jr. and put a little brunette wig on its head and teach it play piano, I still didn't make the fish. I just made the fish into a freakshow. But I'll probably love that fish a little more than all the other fish I caught and threw back, or the fish who were too easily caught.

As an extension of this idea, I've always believed that the most important part of writing music was the process involved in each song's creation. Until recently, I held this thought very close to my heart. Spontaneously, I changed my mind. It dawned on me that "process" is not the same as "communication" and communication is the difference between an artist who creates privately and one who creates for an audience. And though my name is obscure in the world at large, I still have an audience. Without the essential branch of communication, music very rarely touches other people.

This said, it's surprising to me how many people love Falling. When I was writing To the Bone, I was still heavily immersed in the idea about process - completely unconcerned about communication. To make matters worse, this song was not hard-won. The process was instantaneous. In fact, when I wrote it, I didn't know what I was writing about. It took time for me to stand back and read the lyrics before I realized I was talking about a pseudo-situation in which I choose a new partner who was exactly like my last partner. In this situation, I behave the same way as I did in real life - a bit of a love triangle, in which I lose. Why didn't I just write about the actual situation instead of imagining a scenario that paralleled reality? Yeah, don't know. It's just one of those weird brain things.

I believe this was the second song that Kevin produced with me, following The River. I have similar memories about working together in my little tattered apartment, working all day, and eating Taco Bell on Sunday nights.

In the end, this song was chosen from To the Bone to be made into a music video. Making that video was a strange experience. Having gone to film school myself, it was difficult to be on the OTHER side of the camera. In fact, I think I overcompensated because I didn't want to step on the director's toes. I was a bit of a wuss on set, which I can see in my performance.

But the video took an interesting direction. It so happened that the Director of Music Video production at a certain major label saw this and began talking with me about a recording contract. He was taking my work into meetings with label heads, etc...including me in deals that he was working on. It was the closest I ever came to getting a deal - which is something I'd never pursued AT ALL. But since it came about in such a strange, organic way, I was open to the possibility. The most revealing part, however, was that this record executive would talk with me at length and actually encourage me (for my own interest, not his) to stay independent as long as possible. The whole thing was such a surprising experience.

How weird is it that despite all my theorizing and careful writing, that a song as instantaneous as this one would have made such a large impact? People STILL email me and tell me it's their favorite (it's about tied with The River), that it was chosen to be the music video for its album (not by me, by the way), and that I was nearly signed to a major label because of it. Yeah. Music is weird. I totally don't get it.

October 2006