Day 4: Hey! Let it Be and Long Lost Friend - Premium Album Experience
Today's songs are:
"Hey! Let It Be" and "Long Lost Friend"
Hey! Let it Be
Early Live Version,Greensburg, PA
Hey! Let It Be : Song Story
Originally, I wanted to call this song “Let It Be”. Unfortunately, some other band had already taken that title and so I added the word “hey” and an exclamation point. There. New title.
In my work as an educator, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many people recovering from substance abuse. I’ve met many incredible people, some very challenging ones and, sadly, a few who've overdosed and died. That experience, coupled with knowing my own addictive tendencies, caused this song to emerge as something of a lyrical journey of resisting and finally asking for help.
Seeing through the bullshit
The character knows at the beginning of the song that he/she has all kinds of important reasons to stop the addictive behavior… and at the same time knows that there is no benefit to intellectualizing an addiction. In the second verse, the character sees through their bullshit that even though they let go of most of the different addictions they had, they still held on to one. And it cuts deep.
This is a song that had good verses and choruses and yet, with only these parts in place felt too one-dimensional. Some new thing needed to happen to speak more directly to the complexity of addiction.
A Strange IDea
I remember getting the idea right around Hagerstown, Maryland while on drive to work with people in recovery. The idea was strange.. What if we came out of the first short bridge into an instrumental and take a complete left turn into cut-time bebop ride cymbal and a improvised bass and guitar section? The purpose of the section was to musically emulate the experience of descending into addictive behavior.
At first it is lucid and dreamy but slowly drifts into discord and then all hell breaks loose, and things get very dark. The apex is utter chaos and then by the end of the bridge we pop back out into a scene where the character is telling everyone it’s his birthday even though it’s not- just to get “presents”.
The chorus is the voice of reason telling the character what to do “Hey! Let it Be”. And the response "I wanna fade"is the character saying in effect, “Yes I get it, I know I should let it be, but I’m in pain and I need to do this to make the pain go away.”
During recording of the song, we got the whole way through to the point where it seemed to be finished. The song was in this state for several months but we knew there was still something that felt incomplete. Then it hit me that the very last line of the song was not in place yet which are the words “help me “.
Even though I wrote it, when I hear that last line it often will put me into tears thinking about all the people that I’ve met working in that field who have left the world too early. The song is dedicated to anyone who has the courage to step out of addiction and back into the fullness of life.
Long Lost Friend
Long Lost Friend : Song Story
A cautious glimmer of hope
Long Lost Friend is a song about the pain of loneliness and anxiety and about that cautious glimmer of hope one gets when they suspect someone might have interest in them. It’s about wanting to be fully understood and ultimately accepted.
This song arrived at some point in 2016, I think near the end of the year. This is one song I have little memory of writing which is odd. There are a few things I do recall...
I remember struggling to sing it because it was in the wrong key for a while and then I discovered the magic of putting a capo on the guitar neck. As it turns out, if I put the capo on the second fret, several of the songs I was having a trouble with including this one, We Have Arrived and You in My Arms suddenly dropped into place.
I have a recollection of sitting on my red couch and just playing the melody from the introduction over and over. I remember Tracey hearing the riff from upstairs and saying “that sounds sweet”. I have another recollection of dictating words coming up through the mountains of west central Pennsylvania on the PA Turnpike. And I remember that it was dark out and going westbound.
My long lost friend from lives ago
Even after writing the full lyrics and bridge, I didn’t understand what or whom the song was about. It seemed kind of out of place given the space I am in my life. And then I realized it this song was taking me back in time to 1993 when I first met Tracey. She tells me the story about the first day she met me, when she was hiring me for a job at a company called Wheel Deliver that delivered food from Pittsburgh restaurants to people’s houses, that she knew who I was.
I remember her repeating that phrase “I know who you are” to me for the first year that I knew her (we were not dating yet). And I thought it was an odd thing to say to somebody.
She said she knew from the very first day that I was the one for her. Which is kind of hilarious when I think about it because at the time, I was dirt poor and had not much going on besides playing in a small local band called Rusted Root.
And then I realized upon having this memory that the song was about when we first had the inkling that we might want to date. And how complete I felt when she was near me and how utterly painful it would be when I would have to leave to go on the road.
I believe in the idea of reincarnation. I don’t know exactly how it works, I have no evidence whatsoever, it just seems to feel right as I reflect on the concept.
She is my long lost friend from lives ago. And more than anyone in the world, she gets me and sees me for what I am and who I am. I recognize that is a treasure.
Musically, the best words I had to describe feel I was looking for was Irish punk. Even though I don’t really know any Irish punk bands besides my old friends from Ploughman’s Lunch in Pittsburgh. I knew I wanted the entire thing to be driving with a very sweet open chorus which having my girls Tupelo and Ella singing there really helped make that happen. I smile every time I hear them there.