Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Honest Ground"

Behind the song:
Any solid relationship stems from an unshakable place of trust. Love is deeper when it is rooted in honesty and openness. I was trying (unsuccessfully) to turn these ideas into a song when I heard the beautifully dark lyric from one of my favorite bands, The Shins: "It took me all of a year to put the poison pill to your ear but now I stand on honest ground on honest ground." There it was: "Honest Ground."

In the studio:
The idea for this song started out with a string quartet as the backbone. So, I spent a few months working on the string arrangement. (The composing/arranging part of my brain had been in hibernation since college.) I slowly worked out the brain cramps and eventually got the arrangement to a point that really felt satisfying. I brought the arrangement to the studio and Nathan and I started to build the song around the strings. We tried many different approaches. Something just wasn't clicking with the song. After sitting on the song for a few weeks, Nathan suggested that we try arranging without the strings. Scrapping the strings altogether had never even crossed my mind. I had worked so hard on them. THE SONG WAS GOING TO WORK WITH THE STRINGS whether the song liked it or not. I would have pounded this square peg into the round hole until the bitter end had Nathan not removed the strings and replaced them with a magical electric guitar line. The rest of the song jumped up and screamed, "This is it! This is what I'm supposed to sound like!"

Gray silence up ahead
And a highway of time
You’re blue and trembling
From the walls we have to climb

Take these words I give you now
Hold me up 'til we get out
Plant my feet on honest ground

And the light comes tumbling
Through holes in our lives
Our hands find strength
From a sun we thought had died

We start out fine
But this heart tears every time
Throw the doubt to the fire

Your brown eyes settle me
From the fear in mine
This hand you’re offering
Well, it comes as no surprise

And we shine

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