Friday, April 3, 2009

This Is Where My Heart Is - So's Ians'

I've said all I could say about Make Believe (both versions) here:

I still think it's a killer pop track.

This Is Where My Heart Is - Ian's Country Heart

Since "The Oaf" first stomped it's way into my head way back in 1997, I always knew Ian had a feel for classic countrified licks.

Not country like today, but country blues like those that inspired Jimmy Page. Originating in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia or Georgia. Ease My Mind was a little jug band workout on TPAG that gives us a direct clue but Ian's licks even in solos are influenced.

On the later tracks, it's a country music more reminiscent of early 60's country pop that Ray Charles was doing. Now granted the background vocals on the Ray Charles are over-the-top OLD school, but Zep was nickin' around with similar sounds on Hey Hey What Can I Do, the B side to the Immigrant Song. Listen to the end of the song when the rest of the band joins in on the harmonies. Very late 50's/early 60's.

Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You

Led Zeppelin - Hey Hey What Can I Do

So TIWMHI is sweet old school country to me. It's so earnest.

As a rule, Ian write first person, as he said in this interview:

So, in one sense, I see TIWMH is an epic metaphor about his musical struggles and band experiences. To my ears, musically, this seems to be a sister song to Lost at Sea. It breathes like a legendary tale of a long gone adventure to distant land where Ian left his heart.

Lost At Sea

So a map is never wrong, they say

A map, as in a plan, a strategy; a map from, say for example, the record company - a marketing strategy. In a relationship, of any sort both parties have expectations. This is the crudest form of a map;the "where" we initially expect a journey to go. In romance the map is the initial "feelings" we get at first blush.

But it was underneath deceiving
Some of the lyric sites have this line as "but it was underneath the seat then" - not to my ears. There it was, sending Ian in the wrong direction; deceiving. The same holds true for personal relationships. Unless we understand that relationships ALWAYS changes over time, expectations are sure to deceive.

Just like your favorite song
We got lost deep inside the romance

Like that song in That Song is forever tied to a person or a romance, to an expectation of love "forever". It's original meaning gets lost to that personal event and That Song is forever tied to a bad time. In the metaphor of Ian's musical trek, the relationship of creative to commerce, his favorite song gets nixed/messed with by the record company marketing "geniuses" and the essence of a great song gets lost.

We always knew we were never going home
We always knew we were never coming home

A band, by nature, is a tentative arrangement. History is replete with examples of the ruthless nature of the business. Musicians know deep down, that when you sign with a record company, go commercial that things will never be the same. Deep down, we know, in romance we cannot re-capture that original chemistry. That's why, with some relationships, we want to remain in the moment. Alas, often they are only for that moment, never to be extended; never to be repeated. Perhaps this song is about Ian's relationship the writing process. Like he's singing to the song itself. From this point of view, the "We becomes Ian and the song. "We" always knew, that the moment Ian plays the song out, brings it out to public review, out from the confines of divine inspiration, it will lose some of the initial magic that a songwriter feels in the creative process. That is the compromise of communication and ultimately commerce. Coming or going, neither the song nor the writer will ever be at that moment of inspiration again.

I've always lived my life, opened up
Ian seems to be a genuine person, no phoneyness, no guile. With Ian it's all WYSIWIG! Even in his music, if you care to dig deep, although he'll never tell.

On a shirt that’s got no sleeves
The expression is that you "wear your heart on your sleeve", which is Ian's nature. He always throws his best cards in your face; He's got no poker face. He leads with his emotion. That's a tough ride in business. So Ian closes up, protects himself, develops defensive skills; wears a shirt that has no sleeves so his heart has no opportunity to be exposed. Hiding in plain sight; that sleeve-less-ness appear bare but gives no quarter to his sensitive heart.

Well this is where my heart is
This song, these songs, this music is direct, no filter, no market considerations; THIS is where his heart is. Here I am, no band, it's all on my shoulders, it's all my decisions, all me.

This is where my heart is
This is where my heart is
This is where my heart is

While we were on the breeze
Dark clouds, were somehow keepin' up

To me, being on the "breeze" is to be like a feather in the wind. It's exhilarating to be floating on the moment, not sure where inspiration, or the chemicals of fresh romance will take you. On the verge of success a band/a relationship/a song is overflowing with potential. Dreams dreamt are always sweeter than reality. The breeze also keeps the dark clouds chasing. Reality beckons.

And sifting through the sleaze, for so long
That's gotta mess you up

The reality of business, romantic encounters, the sharing of self, in any context is hard. The more you do it, the more calloused you become. We harden ourselves to rejection. Shut up or ignore/push down those feelings. It's gotta mess you up. It just seems to be a fact, that being out there in the sleaze of the music biz/road to success seems to ruin people.

We always knew we were never going home
We always knew we'd never be alone
Yet this is the deal that we make when we venture out of self. As an artist, partner, businessman etc. we lay it all on the line for the hope of of our expectations. The We is the couple, the singer and his song, the band or even the fans that choose to follow an artist. It's a decision we make that's fraught with equal parts excitement and disappointment.

And at least I know we’ve tried
We passed the test but never found a home

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. No record company success, again... do it anyway. She's gonna leave me eventually.... go for it anyway. When you've found where your heart is, you can't help yourself... you... just... HAVE TO! dance a jig.

This is where my heart is
This is where my heart is
This is where my heart is
This is where my heart is

Musically, TIWMHI from demo to CD cut is pretty faithfully translated. The demo sounds/felt more organic to me and from what I can discern it has to do with reverb/delay which in nature is the sound of the room. The final track is very close-miked with little "room"/reverb in the track. This allows pristine separation and clean tone, but IMHO it looses some naturalness.

Our Message Boarder/ Musician/Neal Pinto put it best.

"I think the Big Wreck albums had a very open, roomy sound to them. They were loud and heavy, but everything sounded like it was recorded off the floor in a big room with only a few microphones and the sound was allowed to mix in with the open air before it went to tape.

Both "Come Again" and "Tiny Pictures" have more of a closed sound, where it sounds like all the microphones were right up against each instrument... which is very typical of post-grunge, and nu-metal production.

Sure "Tiny Pictures" has alot of complex guitar layering creating massive walls of sound (similar to Rush's "Snakes & Arrows") but it's still very controlled in comparison to the more airy sounds on Big Wreck albums."

I've laid the two tracks on top of each other and cut between the two trying to find why I sense a difference. Some might call the demo muddy, but to me it has an more mysterious atmosphere. Take a listen:


I'm sad to say that some of the potentially tastiest stuff on this song, the outro instrumental just seems too slow/stiff to carry the joy that it had the capability to carry. To my ears, it should be faster in tempo, looser in play. It sounds like it was recorded by one precise musician.... oh yeah it was. And that's the stiffness that one of the message boarders objected to. It sounds digital. For all the talk of grit in the grooves, no portion of this CD needed a "tight but loose" approach more than this. The precise technique that works so well for the outro of All Fall Down falls flat, for me, here.

I know the concept is to build up to the heartfelt hoedown that ensues, but it never reaches escape velocity. Listen to Soul Singing by the Black Crowes! This outro is like a thoroughbred at a cantor when it just wants to gallup. I get that restraint builds tension, but Ian, let it go. Unleash. I always thought the same thing about the country jam section of Head In The Girl. In my world it would have been a 3-4 minute Dave Mattews-like joyful jam, right in the middle of the song. It NEVER was gonna be single, so why not go for it. BW nailed the TBL feel of it, but I wanted MORE of it.

I do LOVE the little noodle at the very end. I just want it to billow up into a full blown section someday. I guess that's the treat to leave you wanting. Thanks Ian. I want.

When it's all said and done, I still love this song. I sing along and bounce in my seat. I hope to one day hear a live (not just acoustic) version of it in person. Maybe next week. See YA!

1 comment:

CubicleGirl said...

This is by far my favourite song on the disc, and every time i listen to it, a line or a chord reminds me of something. Some past lover, some past day wasted away on a Patio or in a basement drinking and talking with my 'crew'.
While you mentioned some of the lines touch on the transient / mutable nature of the band, I can't help but feel that this is a song about enjoying the moment and revelling in where your "heart is", even if it's just for a split second.

Love reading the blog... and if work didn't have me pulling an 18 hour day on Thursday, i'd SO be at the Phoenix, closing my eyes and inhaling in that very cliche way when Ian started up the opening riff on this tune.