Categories
Days Between Stations

Shotgun

lyrics

i / been trying to call you / get you on the phone

couldn’t get you alone/ couldn’t get you at all

i was just trying to break through

i can’t get over the wall

couldn’t get through to tell you / that your

shotgun lover took another one to cover up the  pain that he couldn’t hide

you wished him well / gave him a kiss and a shell

with his name inscribed on the side

and you said sellout / you can get the hell out now

i can find my way alone

but you’re a little girl lost in the wilderness now

and I don’t think you’re coming home

oh no

ooh / i see the way that they watch you

counting up the cost/the lines you shouldn’t have crossed

’cause right now, there’s nothing else waiting to come due

you’re paying for what you’ve done

girl I was walkin/you better run/run and tell ’em that your

shotgun lover took another one to cover up the  pain that he couldn’t hide

you wished him well / gave him a kiss and a shell

with his name inscribed on the side

the one who sold out / I couldn’t hold out

left you the queen of rock’n’roll

but you’re a little girl broke on the boulevard now

and you already sold your soul

yeah you’re a little girl

and you’re losin’ it

spending up something so real

like it was counterfeit

like it never meant nothing at all

story

I’m a big believer in the power of mystery and well-intentioned obfuscation when it comes to music. I love songs where the lyrics are clearly about something – there’s an internal logic that relates the verses to each other, and the choruses – even if you don’t know exactly what the song is about.

But.

Some people really, really want to know what a song is about, and, specially for them (and because otherwise I’d have nothing to write about here), I’ll tell you that Shotgun is about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.

This is definitely not something I ever intended to write a song about, but I was walking past a bookstore one morning, I saw Courtney Love dressed in some super high-fashion outfit on a magazine cover, and an entire verse and chorus assembled themselves before my very ears.

The interesting thing is that it actually…wasn’t this song. It was a song about clothes, a terrible song, and I banged my head against it for a week before suddenly, while sitting at my keyboard of pain, started playing this song instead. . I think I wrote the whole thing in about an hour ( an hour and a week…). Weird.

Categories
Days Between Stations

Halfway Home

lyrics

There was fever in the coal black boots that she wore
She danced like a hurricane coming ashore
Yeah, the warning came but I was too far gone
Tied myself to the mast/let the storm come on
So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
When you’re halfway home you can call on me
When you’re halfway home you can find me
Well I put up a red light/stop/she was through it
She was gonna come out on top and she knew it
She said “come on people, now, give him a hand
The ship’s going down but you can still hear the band”
So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
When you’re halfway home you can call on me
When you’re halfway home you can find me
Oh, they said I should’ve known
One look and I turn to stone
I was waiting for you/I was waiting for you to come ’round
But your sailing tide, it was ebbing fast
And we were born to run, not built to last
So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
When you’re halfway home you can call on me
And you’re halfway home so far

story

Halfway Home is the oldest song on Days Between Stations. The beginnings of this track go back quite a few years, to a New Year’s field trip that I took with a bunch of friends to a remote part of Death Valley National Park. It’s called Saline Valley, and it’s about 50 miles from nowhere over one of the ugliest dirt roads in the state of California.

We spent something like five days there, and by the middle of the last night we were starting to feel like locals, limiting most utterances to single syllables and forgetting why we had formerly been motivated to bathe.

I remember looking up at the blackest sky I’d ever seen and a ludicrous number of stars and having the first two lines of the chorus of this song just swim into my head (though I was not actually then missing the sound of the freeway).

I sang those lines to myself all the way back to the Bay Area the next day, which annoyed the other people in the car mightily (it’s a 12-hour drive). By the time we got home, though, the lyrics were essentially done. The verse piano riff arose out of the rhythm of the lyrics as soon as I sat down at the Rhodes.

Categories
Days Between Stations

Catherine Wheel

lyrics

backseat driver with something to prove

she was runnin some daytime night moves

she said to leave the radio on

rolled out for a cigarette

don’t you stay too long/gonna play our song

but you know that song never came on

and I don’t think I’ll make it to the next turn of the screw

’cause the only thing that keeps me here is you

so roll on/sister roll on

hold on to the wheel

roll away forever/roll away from what you feel

take the car ’cause you come this far

who am I to keep you down?

’cause my world turns on Catherine Wheels

whenever you’re around

well I guess we bought what they sold us

believed in what they told us

that we’d be safe here on this holy ground

well I guess ain’t no one to blame

stood and watched it go up in flames

couldn’t even feel it burning down

and every night I have this dream where I’m sinking like a stone

just praying I’ll be waking up alone

so roll on/sister roll on

hold on to the wheel

roll away forever/roll away from what you feel

take the car ’cause you come this far

who am I to keep you down?

’cause my world turns on Catherine Wheels

whenever you’re around

who am I to keep you?

I just tried to reach you

with you it’s always on with the show

so I’m letting you go

whenever you want to roll

story

In 1993, I was a cub reporter for a magazine called Guitar Player. No prizes for guessing what the mag was about. In many ways, it was a dream job – I got paid to work in an office full of musicians, listen to crusty old backstage war stories from older writers during long, not-fully-sober lunches, and meet the occasional shredder who wandered into our thoroughly un-rock’n’roll cube farm of an office.

In that year, I convinced my editors to run an interview/album review focused on the new Crowded House album, which included a great song called “Catherine Wheels” (plural). Talking to the writer, Neil Finn, inspired me to hit the dictionary (no Internet back then, boyz’n’girlz) to find out what Catherine Wheels were, viz:

Catherine Wheel: a spiked wheel symbolizing the instrument of torture involved in the martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria (died a.d. 1307).

Zow! What a great band name! (Taken.)

Okay, song title then!

Ten years later, at an Arroyo Seco campfire during a solo roadtrip to Mission San Antonio, the other shoe finally dropped. I was aimlessly strumming chords while trying to guess the species belonging to the eyes in the bushes beyond the fire when the words “my world turns on Catherine Wheels / whenever you’re around” came out of my mouth (with a melody utterly unrelated to the one that finally made the record).

Two days later, safely ensconced within Radio Nowhere HQ, I played around with the song for seven hours or so on the guitar, getting nowhere. So I burned it.

Then I switched to Rhodes electric piano, played for about 5 minutes…and the entire riff, melody and arrangement for the chorus came out. Funny how often it works that way.

Categories
Days Between Stations

London Calling

lyrics

I been waiting  in the airport bar for hours

I been wondering if they’re gonna make me drink all day

Last call calling on a non-stop back to the heartland

Calling on your getaway

Every day I’m trying to slide by on kodachrome kisses and headlines

Did I tell you that I wish you were here?

invisible man, catch me stumbling out of the underground

I just want to disappear

London is calling/everybody cut & run

come see what drink and the devil have done

somebody’s falling/did they make you give up your gun?

and I might not reach you in time

midnight rider on the Jubilee down to the high street

rule brittannia/show you how to rise and fall

and I remember the 4th of July up on Hampstead Heath alone

ain’t no rocket’s red glare/don’t you know that nobody cares about

another lost ugly American in this town

London is calling/everybody cut & run

come see what drink and the devil have done

somebody’s falling/did they make you give up your gun?

and I might not reach you in time

and from the corner of the Marble Arch back home to your rolling fields

a soapbox preacher is reaching out

and you’ve been lonely and you’ve been lost/I know it’s true

but every american girl thinks she’s run out of time

London is calling/everybody cut & run

come see what drink and the devil have done

somebody’s falling/did they make you give up your gun?

and I might not reach you in time

story

“London Calling”, like a lot of my songs, started from personal experience and then spun off into something else (I guess most creative experiences are probably a little like that). A few years ago, I went to visit a friend of mine who was living in San Sebastian, Spain – the Basque Riviera. I decided to take the scenic route, which included 3 days in New York City and a week in London and Paris before showing up in Northern Spain.

I was really impressed by all of these places, but the time I spent in London was far and away the most inspirational, from a songwriting point of view (I actually got several songs out of this trip, some of which showed up on the “Interstate Medicine” record, by my other band, Slim). I didn’t know anyone there, so I basically spent all my time just walking around and actually seeing all these celebrated landmarks, neighborhoods and locations – Oxford High Street, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park, etc. – which I knew from reading about English history.

Or from listening to rock’n’roll. I was hoofing it through the London of the Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Mark Knopfler, Leonard Cohen and a zillion others, and it was great! It was also pretty lonely – did I mention that it was a solo trip?

With no one to talk to, and with all this amazing sensory input flooding in, the ideas came pretty quickly when I hit the pubs at the end of the day with my notebook, especially on the afternoon of July 4th, towards the end of my trip. For some reason, the Brits aren’t too excited about celebrating Independence Day – who knew? – and the fact that I couldn’t find anyone to eat watermelon and light off M-80’s with really brought me down.

Plus it was foggy. And rainy. I wrote the second verse of this song right then and there, drinking warm Boddington’s and looking out the window at Hampstead Heath. Then I caught a plane and got the hell out of there.