Song Profiles

Song title: Time Machine
From the album: Little Light EP
Requested by: Megan

As a young teenager, my favorite film was Somewhere in Time - the story of a modern man who feels the pull of destiny in a photo of a Edwardian actress and learns to travel back in time to be with her. I watched the film with Katie, and I will always remember how her jaw hung in a silent wail at the conclusion of the heartbreaking story. That night, she and I decided to try our luck at time travel too. We failed. But I didn't stop hoping that one day I would figure out how to get myself to 1908.

There are many different ways for me to begin writing a song. Usually, I begin with a single line. In this case, All the clocks are standing still. Looking back on my notes, I realize now how piecemeal this song actually is. I remember around this time, I was planning on having the album be about celestial things - stars, sun, moon, planets, orbiting, space, astronauts, space ships, darkness, beginnings, and the universe. So you can see in my notes, that "clocks" was crossed out and "stars" was written instead. (I'm very glad I reversed that decision.)

You can also tell from my notes that some lines written to go with these lyrics were actually used in other songs. For example, I wrote about "paper wings" (which was discarded from this song and added to Mission to the Moon) and "serpent hides in the grass" (which became "snake in the grass" on Nothing Walks Away). What's not obvious is that the entire bridge: "Four walls closing in...etc" was written back when I was writing for All Girl Band. I lived in a teensy apartment. My bedroom was also my studio and the walls were covered with brown paper, where I would graffiti lyrics, tape images, and surround myself with thoughts, notes, scribbles, dreams, goals, inspiration, and frustrations. It became claustrophobic. Those four walls were insane. By extension, I started writing on everything I could get my hands on, including my skin - which always reminds me of The Pillow Book, by the way. I wrote this bridge back then, but could never find a song to work with it. For several years, just about every song I wrote, I'd try this bridge. I knew it belonged somewhere.

But despite how patchwork this all sounds, I felt very focused on the intention of the song; it is the unravelling of an emotional journey. I wanted the words to sort of spill together like one long thought, instead of a more "traditional" verse/chorus lyric structure. It was finger painting with sounds and syllables.

Recording the song was fairly easy (save the drum parts), and Emily Spaude added the violin. The drums were a bugger because they sounded too suave and lounge-y for a long time. Yuck.

But I really enjoy this song. It took me on such a fun journey.

April 2006