This week I've finished another tune from the same project as "Write Me Off," namely "Once in a Great While," which was originally called "Therapy Song #141."
The song is one of several I've written about inspiration and its masochistic character. What I want from moment to moment is a feeling of warmth, of involvement. When I finish a great movie or book or come back from a great concert, "real life" feels naked and cold by comparison, and you want to fill it. When you're at peace, there's no reason to write a song.
I'm overgeneralizing, of course. You can be inspired by another work, like I've on occasion written some songs (lyrics, at least, and maybe the rhythm of the melody) basically while listening to another existing song over and over, so that what I come up with is essentially a child of whatever it is I'm listening to, even if no one else would notice that listening to the two back to back.
But I don't want to talk about inspiration and its many varieties here, but only the kind where you're amped up with emptiness, probably late at night when all around is quiet, maybe walking the dog, which is in fact how I'm pretty sure I came up with this tune, walking around my neighborhood in Austin on a warm evening in 1999. While the emptiness is vertiginous, it's also exhilarating, and is probably the kind of productive sort of suffering that Nietzsche was always on about.
Like the previous tune, drums and electric guitars were recorded back in 2000, and I put down the bass that summer, I think, shortly after moving to Austin. I was surprised that Mark Doroba the guitarist, who recorded all of his parts on his own at his house onto my recording equipment, had not really recorded a lead guitar part on this one, and I pictured getting some really good classical player to do it. Instead, of course, I, just now, ended up doing it myself, which involved a lot of punching in and overdubbing, as it inevitably does when I play lead. I also recorded all the vocals just now, mostly very quickly, though I was somewhat lost for a bit as to how the whole key change near the beginning was supposed to work (I'm not sure what made me do that originally and likely wouldn't have included that now.) I'm pretty sure that there was supposed to be more of an instrumental break instead of quite so many repeats of the choruses, but I'm pretty satisfied with how it sits now.