Parties, Video Games, Death – Track by Track Explanation

I realise that most of the time my songs might not make sense on its own, and it can actually be funnier if you know the title of the song, or any of the backstory behind why I wrote the songs (particularly if you don’t know me personally, which won’t be many people). So I figure, while I’m working on this latest album, I’ll do one of those track by track explanations some bands do to help explain what’s really going on in a song. I may do this again for earlier albums in case anyone’s interested, or just as an interesting exercise.

1. Newton Does It Again…

I’m notoriously quite bad at playing guitar well, hence why I focus on the lyrics more than the music (and thus why most of the songs sound the same). Still, I’ve never been quite sure how to start an album, and I’ve always liked how Newton Faulkner opens both albums he’s done with instrumental pieces, so I thought it would be funny to open each album with instrumentals. It isn’t.

This song in particular is the second song I ever recorded on my 4-track that has served me so well over the past year, cut down to 34 seconds from the original 4 minutes that the original version lasts for (which sucks).

2. Welcome To Animal Crossing

On this album I started messing around a lot with finger-picking instead of just playing open chords for every fucking song. Obviously I’m not doing a particularly good job of it (Damien Rice I ‘aint) but it’s damn good fun to do, and makes my new songs more varied than ever.

Anyway, I was messing around with this progression for a while but couldn’t think of lyrics to go with it. Scanning the room I saw a copy of Animal Crossing, and looking through my song collection I found “Skullcrusher Mountain”, which opens with the line “Welcome to Skullcrusher Mountain”. I figured if I tried to write a song with a similar lead in, it could be good fun to throw in a bit of gaming with it. And so this song was born.

(People assuming that I may be in the area of copyright infringement are wrong; Jonathan Coulton releases all his songs under a Creative Commons license which states that you can record, play, re-write and so on any of his songs, so even if my use of the line “Welcome to Animal Crossing” was an infringement of copyright, this is my acknowledgment that he was the inspiration.)

3. The Most Hated Man On The Internet

True story: Me and Ultimate Guitar had been in talks for a while about me writing for them, and when I finally produced a piece they deemed acceptable for what they were looking for, it was about Matt Bellamy getting lots of positive media attention. (http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/muse-ing_on_matt_bellamy.html)

The second verse is also true; the video of me playing an acoustic version of “Kristen Stewart” did cause multiple Kristen Stewart fans to accuse me of being in league with Chris Brown, and saying that THEY wanted to punch ME in the face. Well, I guess free speech works both ways. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhsvR41MPyI)

4. Like You A Lot

The first song I wrote for the album. I’ve always found it a little annoying that I can’t write a love song for my girlfriend without feeling horrendously gay (see Why Didn’t You Look At Porn? for my first attempt), so I figured the next best thing would be a “like” song. You know, something that isn’t too committal, and yet displays all the worries I had about our relationship throughout the time we’ve been together. Cos I haveĀ  low self esteem. She loves the song, by the way.

5. Nathan Fillion’s Song

My proudest achievement. Nathan Fillion tweeted that he’d like his own theme song, specifically about him, and the first entry was some girl going on about Captain Hammer, which I felt missed the mark a bit. This was also the week that my parents went away without me, and it was about half eleven at night, so I knocked together a 30 second song for him. He described it as “truly inspired!” (except in caps), and gained me about three more followers by retweeting the song. What a lovely gentleman.

I included this on the album because I felt that my proudest achievement should be heard by the largest number of people possible, and also my poetry/instrumental idea was stupid.

Also, it’s really fucking hard to rhyme things with Fillion.

6. Chilli For One

A son’s lament at the fact that he becomes ill when his parents leave him home alone for a week. All of this is completely true; right down to the not playing Halo Reach for a week, despite having had it bought for me by my very generous mother before she went on holiday. The chilli for one aspect came from the single-serving ready meals I stocked up on before they went.

7. We Are All Going To Die (One Of Those Days)

Ever played the original Half-Life? The second guard in the game informs you that they had a system crash about twenty minutes ago and he’s still trying to find his files, before concluding, “it’s just one of those days, I guess”. I adore this man’s complacency. He has no idea that the facility where you work is about to get swarmed by aliens that will tear him limb from limb for no reason, all because your character pushes a shopping trolley into a giant beam of light (mostly accurate).

So I felt I should write a song about it, in an apathetic style, in homage to this security guard. It features a sing-along chorus, sheerly because I thought it would be hilarious to get people singing “oh we’re all going to die”. I’ve tried this two times live. The first time it went fantastically. The second? Not so much. But I guess every audience is different, right?

8. Drunk At Someone Else’s Party

Ah yes, the continued sage of getting drunk at people’s parties and doing something profoundly stupid. I fully intend on writing two more of these and releasing the whole saga as a concept EP, just for the sheer hell of it.

This song is not entirely inaccurate: I did play Chase the Ace shots, and did drink a shit load of Greek fire water because I fail at playing cards. I got drunk just so my girlfriend could see how I act. It was a fun night. Terrible morning after though.

9. #Ambiguity

A homage to James Barnes, and his incredible tweets. The opening and closing lines in the song are almost directly quoted from a tweet of his, I just re-arranged it a bit for rhyming purposes and added the “oh dear” to expand it a little. The events are made up; I originally intended on using just his tweets to write a song, but as it happens they don’t rhyme very much.

I put this song in as a replacement for the poetry/instrumental idea when I decided there wasn’t enough meat to it to make it a full song. Still, it’s the longest of the short songs. I think one of the proper songs is shorter.

10. You’re The Producer

I’m definite this replaced a bad song idea I had… but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was. I thought it up while watching an episode of Lie to Me (which I adore), where something clicked in my mind; every American series I watch gets worse when the person playing the main character becomes an executive producer of the program. My mother and I reason that this is because they demand some kind of creative control over the show when they start putting up money, and so they make themselves more awesome at the cost of the rest of the show.

(Examples: Cal Lightman in Lie to Me has now started getting more women and has started to mess around with guns, and everything seems to centre round him. House in, uh, House, has started dating Cuddy, probably so Hugh Laurie can get more sex scenes, or because the writers are just fucking lazy. Echo in Dollhouse became “the one”, and every other character got pushed to the sidelines (moreso than usual) while she went off and kicked everyone’s arse.)

11. Fashion Comatose

(Taken from the Facebook page)

Got asked to perform at the school Fashion Show (specifically because it would look good on my UCAS application), and realised I have no fashion related material. Wanted to write this song for a while, but couldn’t work it out until last night (16/11/10). It’s about my lack of fashion knowledge, and also how little I care about it.

This is all true. For those interested parties, this song replaced “This Song Has A Hidden Meaning”.

12. 30 Flights of Goddamn Stairs

Ahh, Left 4 Dead 2. People don’t like it, but I think it adds to the original game and makes it much better and more varied. Anyway.

In the intro cutscene, the big fat black guy, Coach, wonders aloud “Who the hell puts an evac station up thirty flights of god damn stairs?” A question that plagues us all I think. So I started thinking about it, and there are quite a few things to wonder about in this game, all of which I wondered in the lyrics. I think it’s a nice little way to play out the album.

Still with me? Well, thanks for reading through, and hopefully you’ll appreciate the album more now that you’ve read this. Remember to get your copy from whatever method I supply for you to get it!

-Ric

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