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Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

YOU CAN WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE LIVE PERFORMANCE OF THIS SONG BY DESPERATE MEASURES AT SULLIVAN HALL IN NYC AT http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3otUS5mz08M

DECODING “FRANKENSTEIN WALK”

“Frankenstein Walk” is not about zombies in the popular, “Walking Dead” sense, though it plays on that mythology.  Rather, it’s about the citizens who sleepwalk through the urban jungle every day, trudging The Green Mile to work, school, the unemployment office, the DMV or wherever, not interacting with each other on any truly human level, but subsisting in a virtual world of anti-social networks, faceless sniping, mindless gaming and other anaesthetizing distractions.

Following a nod to the Godfather of Soul by guitarist Tony Spatarella and establishment of the cool jazz/funk bass line by Rob Sunkel, the opening lines of the lyric – “It’s starting again/Sound the alarm/She staggers from bed/Backlit by the glow from the gathering dawn” – came one dark early morning when I was still half asleep and only vaguely aware of a shadow moving stiffly past my window, through which the first shards of pre-dawn light were just beginning to appear.  And the title came instantly:  It was a “Frankenstein Walk.”  The rest of the lyric evolved from that phrase, the first verse setting the stage as our zombie girl arises from bed, the second describing her daily subway commute, and the bridge acknowledging that it is her kind who are in charge now:  “The walking dead are rising again/And running the game.” 

Twelve bars of instrumental later – the first half an “absurdly cool,” scalpel-precise mute trumpet solo by BP Express front man Brian Pareschi, the second a guitar-as-meat-cleaver blow to the head by the aforementioned Mr. Spatarella – we finally get to the point:  “It’s a cruel, cruel world/And I’m just one girl.”  No, I wasn’t having a crisis of gender identity.  Rather, this song was originally intended to be sung by several leads, one female.  When the vocal became all mine, I kept the line because (with apologies to feminists) I felt the “just one girl” image connoted a sense of helplessness.  And it worked well with the next lines:  “How can it be that you’re looking to me/For your cocaine and pearls?”  That is, what makes you think I can comfort you or give you wisdom?  “I’m trapped in a dream/Where I can’t even scream” is an image I’ve used before, e.g., “Invisible Guy” on the Two Can Play CD (“And sometimes it seems/Like I can’t even scream/Hard as I try to cry out/It’s like in a dream/When you can’t make a sound/And there’s no one ’round to hear your call”).  I like these lines, as I think they describe an experience that is not only universal, but also terribly frustrating.  Finally, the true horror is revealed (as it always is in these movies), that the listener himself may be one of the undead:  “But I could swear it was you that I saw/Doing the Frankenstein Walk.”

Musically, “Frankenstein Walk” reflects a blend of influences, with its cool Steely Dan-like groove, bass and electric piano figures, Ventures-style surf guitar chords, and jazzy film noir horn chart (also courtesy of Mr. Pareschi).  In fact, although I have long strived to create a “low-rent” version of The Dan (with similarly sophisticated sensibilities, but less polish and perfection, and maybe a touch more heart), it wasn’t until this record that I felt that goal had been achieved.  The tracks were recorded by seven real players on real instruments in three different locations, each session engineered and produced by Carl Casella with an iron hand and a deft touch, the open airiness of the final mix belying the depth of the orchestration.

P.S.  This song’s coming out party was held at Desperate Measures’ July 2013 show at the (now very dead) Sullivan Hall in New York City, and shortly thereafter our good friend and unofficial videographer Bill Smith put together a video of that performance, intercut with old horror movie and television clips that perfectly reflect the silliness of the lyric.  Enjoy it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=3otUS5mz08M.

Lyrics

FRANKENSTEIN WALK
 
It's starting again
Sound the alarm
She staggers from bed
Backlit by the glow from the gathering dawn
The room is dim
The radio's on
And by the light of the dial, it's alive!
And doin' the Frankenstein Walk
 
It's cold and damp
The F train is cramped
It lurches from stop to stop
In a stiff-legged iron man dance
Swayin’ side to side
All the zombies ride
'Til they crawl up out of the dark
And do the Frankenstein Walk
 
These wheels of steel
Are screaming in pain – in vain
They know the dead
Are rising again
And running the game
 
The walking dead
Are rising again
And running the game
 
It's a cruel cruel world
And I'm just one girl
So how can it be that you're looking to me
For your cocaine and pearls?
I'm trapped in this dream
Where I can't even scream
But I could swear it was you that I saw
Doin' the Frankenstein Walk
Bill Sunkel
Andy Maniglia/Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “SANTIAGO”

Like several songs in this collection, “Santiago” is a movie you watch with your eyes closed.  And that’s what I like most about it. 

The original music was written by pianist Andy Maniglia, who presented it to me with only two conditions:  The title had to be “Santiago,” and the first line had to begin with the phrase “When we met.”  I never asked Andy why these requirements were so important to him; I assume it was simply because those words just felt right, which they indisputably do.

Given Andy’s specifications, I set out to do some research on Santiago and its people, culture and history, my goal not being to produce an historically-correct lyric, but to develop a backstory for our characters – who (the Latin-inspired music suggested) would be entwined in a fiery romance – if, for no other reason, to make them more “real” to me.  I learned that, in the early 1970s, Chile was under the rule of an elected Marxist government led by Salvadore Allende.  Believing that situation inimical to U.S. interests, then-President Nixon secretly took steps to support a military overthrow of the Allende government, sending arms to the rebels via diplomatic pouch, an irony I find priceless.  Ultimately, the coup was successful as well as bloody, Allende and his minions were killed, and a new regime installed.

It was against that backdrop that I painted our two characters:  a low-level, pencil-pushing CIA agent who, on assignment to Chile, meets a Mata Hari-like revolutionary who seduces him to secure U.S. support for her cause.  Let’s make this visual:  For the part of the CIA agent, picture the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman reprising his dishabille character from Charlie Wilson’s War.  For our Chilean Mata Hari, think Salma Hayek, or perhaps the luscious Sofia Vergara.  Okay, where was I again?

The song is presented as flashback or reverie, and opens with an eight-bar introduction (not part of Andy’s original music) designed to set the stage:  You were underground, I was CIA/When I couldn’t quite make myself clear/You appeared, and somehow saved the day/It was ’73, and the streets were on fire/But the nights were our own/Dedicated to samba and secret desire.”  Obviously tongue-in-cheek (I like the image of the bumbling CIA agent trying to make himself understood in high school Spanish, with limited success) and purposefully melodramatic (like a Latin novella), it tells us everything we need to know to move forward with our story.

As mandated by Andy, the first verse begins with the words “When we met.”  But where?  I read that, during the fighting, members of the foreign press were sequestered in the best hotel in town, with infamous local madam Dona Nena providing food and other sustenance.  I decided that our hero and heroine should meet “at Dona Nena’s place,” i.e., a brothel.  Put aside what he’s doing there (and on the taxpayers’ dime, no less!), he is instantly smitten:  “I saw the face of Santiago/You hypnotized me with the tales you’d tell/And so, I fell for Santiago.”  She has found her willing partner-in-crime.

Besides amusing myself with the thought of U.S. involvement in a South American revolution being the result of some starry-eyed bureaucrat’s hormones (come on, is it really so far-fetched?), what I most wanted to convey was the contrast/disconnect between the gritty reality of violence in the streets and the privileged isolation of the puppet masters who tend to catalyze and foment such conflicts (as I write this in 2015, too many current day examples come to mind), for their own ideological, political or (in the case of our agent) endocrinological reasons.  Sure, they’re writing history, but from a safe distance (in this case, their bed):  “We’d hide in our room high above the fray/As a soft bossa nova’s sway soothed the far-away din/We’d write, while the world below turns a page/On a cool white sheet where we lay ’til the sun rushes in/Rising up in the glow of your warm copper skin.”  (Chile’s greatest natural resource and commodity, copper had to rear its shiny metallic head somewhere in this song.)

For the bridge, the music moves to a major mood, and that less exotic, more “American” feel affords us an opportunity to explore our CIA agent’s inner dialogue.  He knows in his heart of hearts that he is neither hero nor freedom-fighter, yet he willingly remains intoxicated by the delusion:  “And though I am quite an ordinary man/When you came to my door/I became something more in your hands.”  He also knows that he’s being manipulated, that he’s merely “[a]n ampersand, a footnote to a heroine.”  (Andy speculates this may be the first use of the word “ampersand” in a lyric, but I make no such claim.)  Yet, he continues to revel in his fantasy:  “But in your deep sea-green eyes/I appear as I’ve always imagined.”  Those “sea-green eyes,” incidentally, were inspired by Cecilia Bolocco, the first Chilean to win the Miss Universe title.  (Salma can wear contacts.)

In the final segment, the revolution is over, and so the romantic interlude.  The improbable lovers tour the aftermath of what they hath wrought (in the back seat of a big American sedan, insulated and detached as ever) before he departs on his flight back to the States.  That their brief but torrid affair will continue to haunt him is evident, though whether she will ever give him another thought less so:  “We’d ride in the back of the Monterey/Undisturbed through the disarray we would silently glide/We’d stroll where the ghosts of Allende played/Darkness falling as memory fades, and a silverbird flies/I can still taste the night when we kissed it all goodbye.”  The song ends as it began, with our narrator reminiscing about when they met, though this time with the added revelation that he probably never knew her true identity:  “When we met, I did not catch your name/But you shared your dream for Santiago.”  And that, my dear, was all that mattered.

All in all, “Santiago” is a fun song, not to be taken particularly seriously, that could make for an entertaining screenplay.  Or maybe just a fine soundtrack for salsa on “Dancing with the Stars.”  You decide.

Lyrics

SANTIAGO
 
You were underground, I was CIA
When I couldn’t quite make myself clear
You appeared, and somehow saved the day
It was ’73, and the streets were on fire
But the nights were our own
Dedicated to samba and secret desire . . .
 
When we met at Dona Nena’s place
I saw the face of Santiago
You hypnotized me with the tales you’d tell
And so, I fell for Santiago
 
We’d hide in our room high above the fray
As a soft bossa nova’s sway soothed the far-away din
We’d write, while the world below turned a page
On a cool white sheet where we lay ‘til the sun rushes in
Rising up in the glow of your warm copper skin
 
And though I am quite an ordinary man
When you came to my door
I became something more in your hands
An ampersand, a footnote to a heroine
But in your deep sea-green eyes
I appear as I’ve always imagined
 
We’d ride in the back of the Monterey
Undisturbed through the disarray we would silently glide
We’d stroll where the ghosts of Allende played
Darkness falling as memory fades, and a silverbird flies
I can still taste the night when you kissed me goodbye
 
When we met, I did not catch your name
But you shared your dream for Santiago
You seduced me with your siren spell
And so, I fell for Santiago
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “CASEY’S GONE”

This song is about loss, and the effect it has on the way we perceive the world around us. 

I should start out by saying that, the way I see it, pain is good.  Just as (I submit that) hate is not the opposite of love (apathy is the opposite of love), pain is not the opposite of pleasure.  For so long as you are capable of feeling pain, there is the potential to feel pleasure; so long as you have the ability to experience sorrow, you have the possibility of knowing joy.  It’s only when some part of you has died – physically, spiritually or emotionally – that it cannot feel pain.  Pain is a sign that whatever part of you is hurting is still vital, still alive.  Ergo, pain is good.

“Casey” is about the emotional open wound that accompanies significant loss.  Because our psychological/spiritual skin has been broken, we are exposed to our surroundings in a way that (for most of us) doesn’t often occur when we are intact and whole.  An analogy may be instructive:  Imagine a drop of water falling on your finger, or air moving across your hand.  Under ordinary circumstances, you barely notice it.  But have an open cut on that hand or finger, and the sensation is profound; neither the tiniest drop, nor the gentlest breeze, escapes your attention.  You feel it.

And so it is with emotional cuts.  When we suffer them, we become vulnerable and open in a way that allows us to see that which we had not seen before, to sense that the world is speaking to us, to perceive our surroundings with heightened sensitivity and awareness.  Most who have experienced the loss of a loved one know the feeling:  In the aftermath, we continue to feel that person’s presence, to imagine that he or she is communicating with us, guiding us, sending us signs.  For me, the message of “Casey” is that the universe is always attempting to communicate with us, but only when we are psychologically, emotionally and/or spiritually ready – often, as the result of a devastating loss – are most of us actually capable of perceiving those messages.

If all this sounds like new age nonsense to you, that’s fine; I’m usually a pretty logical, rational agent myself, and I’m not entirely comfortable with these concepts, either.  But I will tell you that every image in this song is exactly as I experienced it, catalyzed by great loss.  That the song is monologue is clear from the outset; the lines of communication are down, there’s no quick fix in sight, and the singer is essentially talking to himself, trying to process what he is experiencing:  “There’s so much I need to tell you/But I guess it has to keep/’Cause the lines are down/And the lineman’s fast asleep.”  (The “lineman” metaphor is an homage to one of my favorite songwriters, Jimmy Webb, as well as to Glen Campbell.)  I really did sit in that “theatre in the dark” and feel the “ghost” of a long-dead songwriter (Bert Berns) speaking to me (“The song man stole pieces of my heart”).  And that same night, when I left the theatre, the wind did indeed “whip[] like it never did before,” causing me to envision my own death, and to question my life’s direction.  The movement in each verse from the “macro” (universal) to the “micro” (personal) is a trick cadged from yet another great American songwriter, Paul Simon, who often moved from the external to the internal in his lyrics. 

I hope this song speaks to you, as it does to me, on a core emotional level.  And if it does, I am truly sorry for your loss, whatever it may be.

Lyrics

CASEY’S GONE
 
There’s so much I need to tell you
But I guess it has to keep
’Cause the lines are down
And the lineman’s fast asleep
 
I never felt so sad
As the way I do today
Never walked so all alone
Since Casey’s gone away
I never felt this empty
I never knew such pain
Outside the sky is blue
Inside there’s only rain
 
I sat in that theatre in the dark
As the song man stole pieces of my heart
And I never felt quite the way I feel
And no ghost ever seemed so very real
I suppose I could don my old disguise
But she always saw through me with those eyes
Still, I know there’s much more I might have done
But it’s too late now because my Casey’s gone
 
And I never felt so sad . . .
 
I wish I could tell you what it means
But last night as I stepped into the street
The wind whipped like it never did before
And I saw my body lying on the floor
Though this hope in my heart may be pretend
That the page we have turned is not The End
Still, I pray for the strength to carry on
In a cold, silent place where Casey’s gone
 
And I never felt so sad . . .
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “SHE’S A VAMPIRA”

Every once in a while, we write a song that is a “sequel” of sorts to another one of our songs.  “Vampira” is one of those, our “sequel” to “Frankenstein Walk.”  The theme of both, of course, is that there are “Monsters Among Us,” ordinary people who (like the zombies in “Frankenstein Walk”) wander through this world without human interaction, or who (like the title character here) feed on the lifeblood of others.

There are two things I like about this lyric:  First, how it paints a sensual picture of a werewolf-like fellow who feels a strange compulsion to leave his bed (“It’s been a while since the stranger in your bed/Has dared to come around,” implying this has happened before, see, e.g., “True Confessions” from the Desperate Measures CD of the same name) to go down to “the darker side of town” where “there’s been some noise about lost boys” (a shameless reference to the classic vampire film).  That his particular jungle is suburbia, and that he is slave to his desire, are reflected in the lines that follow:  “You’re too far gone to smell the summer lawn/Voodoo holds you in its sway/As you slowly stalk the winding walks/Until you’ve caught the scent of prey.”  Enter Vampira – maybe a hooker, maybe a stripper, maybe just an insomniac housewife, but definitely a creature of the night.  The tongue-in-cheek nature of the song is telegraphed in the next line:  “What’s a red-blooded boy supposed to do?”

The second thing I like about the lyric is how the roles of the hunter (or huntress) and the hunted continue to shift back and forth throughout.  These are willing (if not co-dependent) victims:  “Don’t lie, you can feel it in her thighs/The distant fires of Hell/You pretend you’re cool and in control/When you know it won’t end well.”  Why won’t it end well?  Because it’s addictive, and consumptive, a fatal attraction if there ever was one:  “You’ll be back again tomorrow midnight/With a suitcase full of cash/But you’re already dead and the eyes in your head/Have turned a grayer shade of ash.” 

I also like the images juxtaposing death against thrilling vitality:  “Wild anticipation raging up from deep inside/And you’re filled with the cold sensation/That you’ve never been more alive.”  In Shakespearean slang, “to die” meant to orgasm, e.g., “to die in your arms.”  That it should come as a “cold sensation” in this case is, I think, wickedly appropriate.

On an “insider” note, this is actually the third full set of lyrics written for this song.  Earlier versions were more visually descriptive of Vampira, though in a cartoonish way (“You like her lace bustier/But she ain’t what you think/Yeah, she’s hot and she’s thirsty/But she don’t want a drink/Her lips are black cherry red/And her skin cool as cream”), more Elvis Costello snide (“She’s out on the street/Set her sights on a target/Claims her name’s Desiree/When her real name is Margaret”), and/or contained additional vampire imagery (“The most undead woman/That you’ve ever seen,” “She’s got him wrapped ’round her finger/As he picks up the check/And he won’t feel her teeth/Buried deep in his neck,” and the dumbest – hence, my favorite – double entendre of all, “You rise like Nosferatu/And she smiles ’cause she’s got you”).  Ouch, that’s just awful.  But I think that this final version – which ultimately turns out to be more about him than her – best captures the intended mood and meaning of this song about these everyday monsters. 

I hope you find it as darkly exhilarating as I do.

Lyrics

SHE’S A VAMPIRA
 
It’s been a while since the stranger in your bed
Has dared to come around
And there’s been some noise about lost boys
On the darker side of town
You’re too far gone to smell the summer lawn
Voodoo holds you in its sway
As you slowly stalk the winding walks
’Til you’ve caught the scent of prey
 
She’s a Vampira, she’s a Vampira
She’s a Vampira, through and through
She’s a Vampira, she’s a Vampira
What’s a red-blooded boy supposed to do?
 
Don’t lie – you can feel it in her thighs
The distant fires of Hell
You pretend you’re cool and in control
When you know it won’t end well
You’ll be back again tomorrow midnight
With a suitcase full of cash
But you’re already dead and the eyes in your head
Have turned a grayer shade of ash
 
She’s a Vampira, she’s a Vampira
She’s a Vampira, coming for you
She’s a Vampira, she’s a Vampira
What’s a red-blooded boy supposed to do?
 
Wild anticipation raging up from deep inside
And you’re filled with the oddly cold sensation
That you’ve never been more alive
 
She’s a Vampira, she’s a Vampira
She’s a Vampira, yes it’s true
She’s a Vampira, she’s a Vampira
What’s a black-hearted girl supposed to do?
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

YOU CAN WATCH THE OFFICIAL VIDEO OF THIS SONG AT http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqDUy_M8qdc

DECODING “RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY”

When I wrote “Rain On Your Wedding Day” (at the suggestion of guitarist/composer/producer Tony Cultreri), my goal was to craft a song that would make someone actually want it to rain on her (or his) wedding day. 

First, I wanted the listener to open his or her mind, to reexamine traditional notions of good and bad.  “Realign your way of thinking.”  Simply stated, why is a sunny day good and a rainy one bad?  Don’t hide from the rain, embrace it:  “Put away that gray umbrella/Let it glisten on your skin.”  Next, I wanted to identify what a wedding is really about:  the commitment of two people to spend their lives together and to love one another, through good times as well as times that are not so great (“Love’s not only for the sun”).  I also wanted to present water as a symbol of fertility and nourishment, via the image of the wedding flowers:  “Cool, cool water for the drinking/Everything will bloom as one.” 

While I wanted the listener to recalibrate, however, I didn’t want to be unsympathetic to the bride who (it’s only natural) feels her special day has been ruined:  “How could it [the world] treat me this way?”  So, I wanted to acknowledge that emotion briefly, though it’s not a “poor, poor pitiful me” song by any means.

The lines “There’s so much love in the world/That the sky can’t contain it” were inspired by the blues song, “The Sky Is Crying.”  I thought of tears shed by wedding guests, not because they’re sad, but because they’re overwhelmed by emotion.  And I wanted to project that emotion onto the universe, to tell the bride and groom, “Your love, and the love your family and friends share for you today, is such a powerful and overwhelming force of nature that even the sky is crying.”

The next piece I wrote was the bridge, where the repeating closed-circuit cluster of thick, ominous grey chords – meant to connote atmospheric heaviness throughout the verse and chorus – surrenders to more open, brighter, shimmering pastels of major ninth chords.  Anyone whose parade has ever been rained on knows that often, at the end of a drenched day, the sun will appear, accompanied by a brilliant rainbow.  Here, I envisioned a bride and groom walking out to a garden at the end of their day, dancing barefoot in the wet grass:  “Let’s go dancing in the garden/Watch the sunset rainbow fall.”  That image was so real in my mind that I could smell the freshness of the air after a soaking rain.  And I thought, not only are the glistening garden, the cool clean air and the glorious rainbow perfect expressions of new beginnings and the journey ahead, they also reflect what (one would hope) every couple feels on their wedding day, that elated sense that everything around them tastes and feels and smells better than it did yesterday:  “Has the air ever smelled so sweet before?”

Having collected all these ethereal, universal and romantic images, I became worried that the lyric might be too sentimental and saccharine.  And so my imagination turned to the sensuality and sexiness of getting soaked to the skin (“Let it glisten on your skin”), which led to the “flashback” story in the second verse about lovers caught in the rain, seeking shelter and finding solace in one another:  “Reminds me of that time last summer/When the dark clouds crowded in/We were caught inside the downpour/Took our shelter in a barn/Falling in love while thunder rumbled above/Finding comfort from the storm.”  (Originally, the line was “Making love while thunder rumbled above,” but there were some expressions of concern about the song actually being played at weddings, and maiden Aunt Pittypat fainting at the notion of such premarital shenanigans, and so the G-rated version was adopted.  Seriously.)  Anyway, I felt that those lines would give the song just the slightest bit of edge needed to cut the sweetness, and to complete the story of what a wedding is all about. 

And that’s the story behind “Rain On Your Wedding Day.”  I hope that, should it rain on your wedding day, you will welcome and embrace it as the great symbolic expression of love, emotion, nourishment, fertility, sensuality and sexiness it is. 

FYI, you can watch Bill Smith’s lovely video of this song, complete with Pittypat bawling in the front row, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqDUy_M8qdc.

Lyrics

RAIN ON YOUR WEDDING DAY
 
Realign your way of thinking
Love’s not only for the sun
Cool cool water for the drinking
Everything will bloom as one
 
Rain on your wedding day
Why won’t it go away?
How could it treat you this way?
 
There’s so much love in the world
That the sky can’t contain it
There’s so much love in the world
That the sky can’t contain . . .
 
Put away that gray umbrella
Let it glisten on your skin
Reminds me of that time last summer
When the dark clouds crowded in
We were caught inside the downpour
Took our shelter in a barn
Falling in love while thunder rumbled above
Finding comfort in the storm
 
There’s so much love in the world
That the sky can’t contain it
There’s so much love in the world
That the sky can’t contain . . .
 
Let’s go dancing in the garden
Watch the sunset rainbow fall
Has the air ever smelled this sweet before?
 
Rain on your wedding day
Why won’t it go away
How could it treat you this way?
 
There’s so much love in the world
That the sky can’t contain it
There’s so much love in the world
That the sky can’t contain . . .
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “NOTHING IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH”

In terms of number of lines or words, “Nothing Is Ever Good Enough” is probably the shortest lyric I’ve ever written.  Sort of my “Her Majesty,” or “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”

I’m not inclined to identify the specific event that (or the individual who) inspired the line that became the title (as well as the lion’s share of the lyric) of this song, “Nothing is ever good enough for you.”  Suffice it to say I came by it honestly.  And the longer I lived with that line, the more I realized that others would identify with the experience of feeling inadequate because they weren’t measuring up to someone else’s expectations.  Next, it struck me how that “someone else” could be a significant other, a parent, a teacher, a boss or virtually anyone in a position of power or authority (real or perceived).  Finally, it dawned on me – probably while struggling through multiple takes of my lead vocal, and cursing myself for not getting it right – that the “you” in the title could even be . . . wait for it . . . yourself.  (Deep, eh?)

With all those possible interpretations, I knew the key to completing this lyric would be to avoid focusing on any one particular scenario.  Depending on the individual listener’s experience, he or she would get to decide to whom it refers.  And, with that in mind, I set out to write the bridge lyric:  First, the singer acknowledges his own failures (“I know I’ve been a disappointment/I haven’t lived up to your plans”).  Next, he makes what may be the softest declaration of independence in history:  “Sometimes I almost think I’d like another chance.”  To me, this is the song’s most poignant and potent line, not only because (in combination with the two preceding lines) it betrays the singer’s “battered victim” mindset, but also by the nearly imperceptible insertion of the word “almost,” connoting that, in fact, he doesn’t want another chance, that he has made the decision to no longer subjugate himself to another’s perception of him.

The second half of the bridge builds on that theme:  “And though I wish I were that trophy/You’ve always wanted for your shelf/Sometimes it’s hard enough just trying to be myself.”  In other words, while it might have been wonderful to have been everything you ever wanted me to be, I’ve come to realize that looking outside myself for validation is a losing game.  All in all, a positive, empowering message.

Musically, I took pains to avoid making this into a pop piano ballad like, for example, Elton John’s “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” – a perfectly good song in its own right, but our hero is breaking free (albeit very quietly) from victimhood, and minor chords on the piano just seemed to suggest futility and melancholia (I am reminded here of the immortal words of the legendary Nigel Tufnel), whereas big drums and overdriven guitars seemed to provide a more fitting soundtrack for the message of rebellion and escape I wanted to convey.

Here’s to those of us who struggle every day to be strong and brave, to break free, and to find peace, happiness and acceptance within ourselves!

Lyrics

NOTHING IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH
 
Nothing is ever good enough for you
Nothing is ever good enough for you
Nothing is ever good enough for you
 
Nothing is ever good enough for you
Nothing is ever good enough, no matter what I do
Nothing is ever good enough for you
 
I know I’ve been a disappointment
I haven’t lived up to your plans
Sometimes I almost think I’d like another chance
And though I wish were that trophy
You always wanted for your shelf
Sometimes it’s hard enough just trying to be myself
 
Nothing is ever good enough for you
Nothing is ever good enough, no matter what I do
Nothing is ever good enough for you
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “THE THING ABOUT TIME”

“The Thing About Time” is a song about the passage of time and death, my own little Memento Mori.  I began writing it while riding in a car on the way back to Manhattan from a friend’s dad’s wake on Long Island.  I had seen a bunch of old friends and acquaintances, some of whom I hadn’t seen for many years, and (apparently) I was in a particularly reflective mood.

The first chorus is just my internal monologue, set down virtually verbatim as I considered the invidious creeping effect of time on all of us:  “So, here’s the thing about time/It just keeps rolling on/Even as you sleep/Even while you mow your lawn/It doesn’t move real fast/But suddenly it’s gone/That’s the goddamned thing about time.”  The reference to “mow[ing] your lawn” is intended to acknowledge that time continues to pass even as we engage in the most mundane of activities.  The last line is meant to convey the grumpy tone of the crotchety old guy singing the song, i.e., me.

After I had the first chorus, I asked myself, “So, what happens next?”  And I decided to just tell the story as it happened, without embellishment:  “Went to a wake today/Saw some old friends of mine/Including several whom/I’d not seen for some time/But they didn’t look the same/One didn’t even know my name/That’s the goddamned thing about time.”  All of which was one hundred percent true.  So far, this lyric was writing itself.

The style of music similarly suggested itself.  It felt like a drinking song, to be slurred goodheartedly by a group of “hail fellows well met” gathered ’round a bar, maybe at a “traditional” Irish wake, where the guest of honor is laid out in the back room, and it’s not over until the inevitable brawl.  (Okay, I’m not Irish, but I dated a lovely Irish girl back in the day, and I have this on good authority, i.e., her sainted dad.)  So, the melody needed to be broad and simple, the instrumentation Celtic acoustic, and the rhythmic signature susceptible to faithful replication by heavy glass beer mugs thunking away on a wooden bar.  Both chorus and verse had to be punctuated by the vaguely pissed-off refrain “That’s the goddamned thing about time,” which I thought would help lighten what could otherwise be a pretty dark subject. 

Since the music was basic and the refrain repeated – and because I felt like I had more to say on the topic – I didn’t perceive the need for a repeating chorus lyric.  So, the second chorus talks about how, notwithstanding conventional wisdom, time cannot be “saved.”  “That’s the thing about time/You can’t save it in a box/It’s ever in decline/Whether you use it or not/Wisely or foolishly/It still treats you cruelishly.”  (I know it’s not a word, but I like it.)

Anyway, it wasn’t long before I started reminiscing about my own father, who died twenty-four years ago, at age 59.  Now, when I think of my dad, I remember the stupid stuff we fought about, and how many times over the past three decades I’ve wished he were still around, just so I could get his take on all the parts of life I didn’t experience until after he was gone, but know he would totally understand.  And this is how those ideas got expressed:  “I looked in the mirror once/And I saw my father’s face/Since he died in ‘91/We had a lot to catch up on/But this time, I didn’t disagree/With one word that he said to me.”  For every guy who’s ever thought, “I’m turning into my dad” – which, I’m willing to bet, is pretty much all of us – this verse is for you.

Well, as everyone knows, you can’t have too many drinks before you start to wax philosophical, and to ponder life’s really big questions, like “What happens when we shuffle off this mortal coil?”  And so the last chorus poses those kinds of queries, with all the soggy gravitas (soggravitas?) of a true pub pundit:  “One more thing about time/Does it continue when we die?/Do we remain aware/Of what goes on up there?/And, if so, do we care?/I can’t imagine why/That’s the goddamned thing about time.”  In other words, when our lives are over, time and other trivialities with which the living trouble themselves will become meaningless to us.  In my mind’s video of this song, the three “impact” hits at the end are accompanied by images of a coffin lid banging down with great finality (shot from the inside, of course), the rear gate of a Cadillac hearse slamming shut, and the ancient wooden door of our mythical bar closing out the rest of the world.

A final note (no pun intended):  If you think this song is disrespectful to the dearly departed, please let it be known that I would be pleased and honored if everyone sang it (just once, in unison) at my wake.  But if you’d prefer I don’t return the favor, I completely understand.

Lyrics

THE THING ABOUT TIME
 
So, here’s the thing about time
It just keeps rolling on
Even as you sleep
Even while you mow your lawn
It doesn’t move real fast
But suddenly it’s gone
That’s the goddamned thing about time
 
I went to a wake today
Saw some old friends of mine
Including several whom
I’d not seen for some time
But they didn’t look the same
And one didn’t even know my name
That’s the goddamned thing about time
 
Yeah, that’s the thing about time
You can’t save it in a box
It’s ever in decline
Whether you use it or not
Wisely or foolishly
It still treats you cruelishly
That’s the goddamned thing about time
 
I looked in the mirror once
And I saw my father’s face
Since he died in ’91
We had a lot to catch up on
But this time, I didn’t disagree
With one word he said to me
That’s the goddamned thing about time
 
One more thing about time
Does it continue when we die?
Do we remain aware
Of what goes on up there?
And, if so, do we care?
I can’t imagine why
That’s the goddamned thing about time
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “LET’S NOT & SAY WE DID”

As a prefatory matter, it bears mention that, in the context of this collection – which traffics mostly in the darker spaces where monsters tend to dwell – this song is something of a palate cleanser, an intermezzo offering two-and-a-half minutes of blessed relief from the prevailingly minor mood storm cloud that hangs over much of this CD.  Which is why it is placed at (what is more or less) the center of the album.

To paraphrase John Merrick the Elephant Man, “I am not a couch potato!”  Not only have I never been a couch potato, but as I’ve edged ever closer to the age my dad was when he died, I’ve experienced an escalating compulsion to get out and do stuff while I still have time:  stuff I need to do, stuff I want to do, stuff that’s just plain fun to do.  When a friend announces that his or her weekend plan is just to “veg out” – or, worse yet, urges me to do the same – I recoil in horror:  “The weekend is my time!” I snarl.  “I’ll rest when I’m dead.”  Or some such overheated rhetorical nonsense.

So, it’s ironic that, were couch potatoes ever to declare an official theme song, this should be a strong contender.  “Let’s Not & Say We Did” is the tale of a couple who, rather than going out dancing, imbibing at a local watering hole, or scarfing down a nice meal at some upscale eatery, would rather sit cuddled in front of their TV, probably wrapped in a double-wide Snuggie and munching Cheetos.  Their guilt over their anti-social behavior – clearly projected upon them by me, as no true sofa spud would feel even the slightest pang of remorse over staying home – is reflected in their apparent need to tell their friends they’re doing something else, something way cooler:  “But, on second thought – let’s not and say we did.”

I assume that most writers these days, when they come upon a title they want to use for a song, book, etc., “Google” it to see whether it’s been used before, by whom, in what context, and (most importantly) how successful the earlier work was.  When I researched “Let’s Not & Say We Did,” I found one other song with that title; but aside from using the phrase itself, it had absolutely nothing to do with claiming that one was doing something one actually was not doing.  And, as I started to develop my lyric, I began to understand why:  It’s not easy to make inert people fun, sexy, attractive, interesting or even sympathetic.  However, I think this song rises (albeit lazily) to that challenge.  The singer ponders all the different things he and his squeeze might do that night, but in the end rejects each of them in favor of spending a quiet evening at home, enjoying each other’s company.  Kinda sweet.

Now, admittedly, the country rock genre is not my usual stomping ground.  In fact, I’ve taken heat on some of my quasi-country songs for using “profanity” (specifically, the use of the word “Goddamned” in “The Thing About Time,” which I insist is not gratuitous but necessary to convey the grumpiness of the old coot singing the song – seriously, wouldn’t “doggone” have been too precious?) or for using fancy words (the “Nashville” version of “Everything Breaks,” concededly not a country song by birth, drew snipes for its use of the words “incessantly,” “perpetually” and even “immortality”).  So, do these music business flacks really believe that country folk are that sensitive, or that dumb?  In my experience, non-urbans can be incisive, resilient and resourceful individuals, with tremendous (and often self-effacing) senses of humor.  They’re certainly the kind I’d want around if I were marooned on a desert island, where the so‑called “best and brightest” – who tend to trade primarily in the theoretical realm – would generally be less than useless and voted “Most Likely To Be Eaten First.”  In any event, while I tried to avoid my customary bookishness here, it was not because the hillbillies wouldn’t get it, but because the self-appointed gatekeepers of all things “country” apparently can’t handle that sort of thing.

At its core, this song romanticizes something that most American couples are already doing most evenings anyway.  In that regard, it is similar in aspiration to what Bruce Springsteen actually accomplished with his Born to Run album, where he transformed suburban kids who did nothing more than drive around all night into instant folk heroes, the “poets” who “don’t write nothing at all,” but “just stand back and let it all be.” 

As for the recording itself, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the violin on this track was performed by Hudson Valley neighbor, true artist and kindred spirit E’lissa Jones, who trekked out in the middle of a snowstorm to do the session.  Her eclectic blend of sophisticated classical phrasing, note choice and vibrato with rustic zydeco sawing warmed the cold basement studio better than a space heater and provided the perfect, elegant finish to this not-quite-country song.  In the words of the Elephant Man himself, “It’s lovely!”

Lyrics

LET’S NOT & SAY WE DID
 
Let’s go strolling tonight under the stars
Let’s go dance to the Roadhouse Clams in a roadside bar
Let’s go riding around burning up our tires (like a couple of kids)
But, on second thought – let’s not and say we did
 
Let’s pull on our Dan Post boots and our best blue jeans
Let’s go out for a couple of rounds and cause a scene
Mixing it up with some good ol’ boys (over what they said)
Hey, on second thought – let’s not and say we did
 
Let’s pretend we’re out there rolling with the in crowd
In a place that’s far too crazy and too loud
Let’s not let on to our friends how tonight we’re quite content
Cuddled up here watching football on the couch
 
We can tell ’em all we’re on some secret mission
When all the while we’re sipping coffee
Sitting barefoot in our kitchen
 
Let’s head out to a fancy restaurant
Where you can order any little thing your little heart might want
Let’s get dressed and get on up (out of this big bed)
Ah, on second thought – let’s not . . .
On second thought – let’s not . . .
Yeah, on second thought – let’s not and say we did
Bill Sunkel
Bill Sunkel

Story

DECODING “AYN RAND”

This song is not so much about controversial author Ayn Rand as it is about the people who hate her, many of whom have never read her work – a phenomenon which, as I say in the song, I don’t understand.

For me, the concept of a song about a figure like Rand has its genesis in Paul Simon’s “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” (on whom, coincidentally, Rand partially modeled the character of architect Howard Roark in her novel The Fountainhead).  In early 2013, I read that book and Atlas Shrugged out of sheer curiosity, as Rand’s ideas were being co-opted (albeit selectively) by various political groups and, frankly, I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about.  I confess that I found myself drawn to the concepts articulated by Rand, in particular ethical egoism, a social construct in which each individual acting in accordance with his own self-interest theoretically results in the highest and best use of resources, and the most productive society.  (I believe that those who reduce this concept to mere “selfishness” miss the point.  Indeed, based on her work, it appears to me that Rand viewed philanthropy and generosity as being in one’s self-interest, so long as it is not compulsory.)  I also identified with certain Rand characters, and was fascinated by her prescience, in particular the uncanny relevance of her stories (written some 60 to 70 years ago) to recent history.  However, I also found Rand’s writings to be flawed, ridiculously verbose, redundant, self-indulgent and ultimately unsatisfying, as either literature or fully-baked philosophy.  So, I don’t see this song as the fawning “love letter” to Rand some have accused me of penning, but rather as a gentle defense against those who harbor rabid and irrational antipathy towards her and her work.

Nor should the song be misinterpreted as my “pissing in the soup,” as others have so elegantly opined.  I was not trying to tick anybody off by writing this song, although I appear to have done just that.  (Indeed, Local 802½, the sub-chapter of the musicians union dedicated to the elimination of all things Rand, boycotted my sessions, requiring me to dust off my trusty Epiphone Broadway and perform this track as a solo.  I’m kidding – sort of – not really.)  I do rankle, however, at the idea that songwriters should be confined in their messaging to that which is currently “politically correct,” or muzzled where their words might alienate some portion of a super-sensitive (and let’s face it, in my case highly theoretical) audience.  Judge this song on its merits, for sure; but please don’t condemn it just because it doesn’t comport with your personal beliefs, strongly held though they may be (especially if you haven’t read Rand, but only read about her). 

As for the lyric itself, like many of my songs, it is not intended to be taken entirely seriously.  By the opening lines, for example – “Ayn Rand, come take my hand/Come lead me to the Promised Land” – I mean to suggest neither that I view Rand as some Messianic leader, nor that I consider myself her disciple.  I suppose the “Promised Land” could be the myopically utopian “Galt’s Gulch” described in Atlas Shrugged, where the best and brightest reside and trade their high-end services to one another (kind of like the Village of Scarsdale), but for me that was where that book started to flag.  The true message is actually more accurately reflected in the lines that follow:  “Ayn Rand, let’s talk a while/I like your prose, I like your style/Sometimes you leave me cold/But I’ll keep running back to you.”  Indeed, I would have liked to meet Rand, to have a drink with her and to discuss her work, as well as to challenge a number of her hypotheses.

The first verse begins with a reference to quintessential Rand villain Ellsworth Toohey, the columnist who wields great influence over popular opinion (in particular, concerning architecture) in The Fountainhead.  Like Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, Toohey himself appreciates genius, but is so filled with contempt for his fellow man that he believes society is not worthy of it.  And so he seeks to snuff out true creativity whenever possible, using his influence to celebrate the mundane and to quash anything likely to challenge the status quo.  By naming Rand’s critics the “Tooheys of today,” the entirety of that complex character is collapsed into a single phrase:  “The Tooheys of today all hate you/Distort you and excoriate you.”  It is the next lines, however, that pose the real question, i.e., why would anyone trust what critics say about Rand’s books when they could just read the books themselves?  “They” – the Tooheys – “write their lies about your words/Which always seems a bit absurd/For those who’d truly know the score/Would surely go straight to the source.”  The next line is perhaps the most polarizing, as it places blame not on the shoulders of the pundits, but on those who blindly follow them:  “You’d say they’re lazy and it’s true.”  By playing on the slang meaning of the phrase “to get the best of,” the final line of that verse (also repeated at the end of the song), “They’ll never get the best of you,” combines my declaration that those who refuse to experience Rand’s work firsthand cannot effectively argue against her, with my lamentation that they also will never discover whatever goodness Rand may have to offer.

The next verse lauds Rand’s prescience, likening her to “a gypsy who time travels.”  My “amaze[ment]” at her ability to “predict” “the headlines on my TV screen” “in 1956” (the year in which Atlas Shrugged was first published, as well as the year of my birth) is tempered by some mild criticism of her writing (“The labored tales you spin unravel”).  Nonetheless, that verse culminates in the conclusion that, notwithstanding the flaws, Rand’s broader concepts continue to hold water:  “They call it flawed philosophy/Doesn’t seem all that flawed to me.”

In the bridge, I confess my affinity for Rand’s heroes, in particular the independent, self-made industrialist Hank Rearden and the uncompromising creative genius Howard Roark (“I can see myself as Rearden/Or an architect like Roark”), as well as my infatuation with their respective leading ladies (“With a Dagny Taggart in my bed/Or a Dominique to court”), who let me tell you were some formidable (and, at least in my fertile imagination, long-legged and breathtakingly sexy) dames.  The bridge closes with a reiteration of my wish to have engaged Ms. Rand in some heavy tête-à-tête, along with my gentlemanly concession that I never could have bested her in our inevitable debate:  “And I would have liked to meet you/Though I know you’d make me cross/And I’m certain we’d have argued/And I’m sure I would have lost.”  Frankly, I’ve always been attracted to women who could clean my clock (or at least go toe-to-toe with me) in conversation.  So, maybe this is just a crazy little love song after all.

Parenthetically, I have come to believe that this song is unlikely to find an audience, not because it’s unworthy, but because it’s not extreme enough for either Rand’s fans or her detractors, i.e., it neither lionizes nor demonizes Rand.  At the urging of well-meaning friends, I briefly considered substituting a different set of lyrics about some random couple on the run, even drafted a set and went so far as to record them (for release on the inevitable “Rarities” collection).  But, in the end, that song was far less interesting, so I ditched the “inoffensive” version, declaring (to no one) that I would rather be hated for doing something I like, than liked for doing something I hate.  In the iconic words of David Crosby, who would likely be mortified to be mentioned on the same page as Ayn Rand, “I feel like I owe it to someone.”

Lastly, for the churlish few who would pick at nits:  Yes, yes, I know it’s pronounced “Eye-n” and not “Ann.”  But the former elicits a singularly unappealing nasal tonality when sung (at least by me), and so I am invoking my artistic license on this one.  Really, that should be my biggest problem with this song.

Lyrics

AYN RAND
 
Ayn Rand, come take my hand
Come lead me to the Promised Land
So many men won’t understand
No matter what you do
Ayn Rand, let’s talk a while
I like your prose, I like your style
Sometimes you leave me cold
But I’ll keep running back to you
Running back to you
 
The Tooheys of today all hate you
Distort you and excoriate you
They write their lies about your words
Which always seems a bit absurd
For those who’d truly know the score
Would surely go straight to the source
You’d say they’re lazy and it’s true
They’ll never get the best of you
 
Ayn Rand, come take my hand
Come lead me to the Promised Land
So many men won’t understand
No matter what you do
Ayn Rand, let’s talk a while
I like your prose, I like your style
Sometimes you leave me cold
But I’ll keep running back to you
Running back to you
 
And like a gypsy who time travels
The labored tales you spin unravel
Still, I’m amazed that you’d predict
All this in 1956
Almost as if your eyes had seen
The headlines on my TV screen
They call it flawed philosophy
Doesn’t seem all that flawed to me
 
And I can see myself as Rearden
Or an architect like Roark
With a Dagny Taggart in my bed
Or a Dominique to court
And I would have liked to meet you
Though I know you’d make me cross
And I’m certain we’d have argued
And I’m sure I would have lost
 
Ayn Rand, come take my hand
Come lead me to the Promised Land
So many men won’t understand
No matter what you do
Ayn Rand, let’s talk a while
I like your prose, I like your style
Sometimes you leave me cold
But I’ll keep running back to you
They'll never get the best of you
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “LITTLE PINK DRINK”

I have a confession to make:  I like me a good Cosmopolitan now and then, even though I am roundly mocked by friends for my “little pink drink.”  For men secure in their own masculinity, however, this is a tasty and surprisingly potent cocktail, much more so than the beer and wine typically swilled by its detractors.  And I make one heck of a fine Cosmo, too:  3 parts Absolut vodka (Mandrin, my preference, or Citron), 2 parts Triple Sec, 1 part Rose’s Lime Juice, and 1 part cranberry juice, shaken with ice, strained and served in a (preferably chilled) martini glass.  Try it.  (If this proves popular, I may start inserting my secret martini recipes in each Decoder©, irrespective of relevance.)  In this story, however, the “little pink drink” in question belongs to the female lead.  (Or does it?)

This song began as a message of indifference:  You can say what you want to say/And you can think what you like to think/You can drown down there, like I care/In your little pink drink.”  I won’t disclose the identity of the individual for whom that message was originally intended, but (as I’ve stated before about other lyrics), I came by it honestly.  The next piece of the puzzle that arrived was the jazzy/cool/sleek/dark/sexy/sleazy instrumental introduction.  And there sat this little song embryo for weeks, until an ambiguous encounter provided inspiration for the (highly fictionalized) tale of two people who meet in a (hypothetical) hotel bar, each utterly indifferent (if not outright hostile) to the other, and their self‑loathing psychosexual journey down a bizarre (but perhaps too familiar) rabbit hole.

In the first verse, we are introduced to the two strangers.  They appear entirely unsuited to one another, yet they still play the game, as if compelled to do so:  You’re a little judgmental/But you’re still flirting anyway/You’re not even quite certain why/My situation is sketchy/My agenda’s unclear/And I am so not your type.”  There is a seamy side to these lines that suits the shadowy nature of the music:  Of all the losers in the whole wide world/Why did it have to be?/What was it about you/That made it about me?”

This lyric is all about atmospherics, and so the second verse continues in a visually descriptive vein:  So now you sit and twirl your hair/Trying to take your measure there/And wondering whether this could be fun.”  She’s sizing him up, he’s sizing her up (and probably sneaking peeks down her blouse), and both are continually angling and recalculating each next move in their creepy little pas de deux.  Maybe, he muses insultingly, she’s just desperate:  “Or perhaps you find you’ve reached that age/When you think it’s time to leave the stage/With the options on your menu down to one” (i.e., him).  And, through it all, he keeps asking himself why, even suspecting at one point that this might be a put-up job:  For every double yellow line we crossed/What was it caused our crash?/Was it a twist of fate/Or someone’s twisted plan?”  The narrator’s tone betrays emotional detachment, a pathology that lets him play the game (even, possibly, to a tragic end) without more than a casual concern for the outcome.  Again, indifference.

The rhythm of the lines in the bridge intensifies, as our two antagonists hurtle towards their inevitable collision, reducing the entire dance to four rushed, breathless lines:  “So we make our introductions, interrogations and seductions/Without one stone left intact/We bare our claws, our teeth, our souls, we turn our tables, roll our bones/With curtains drawn so we don’t reflect.”  These lines contrast the psychological aspects of the encounter (e.g., the “interrogations” that leave no stone unturned) with the physical (e.g., the “roll our bones” image, a triple-pointer referencing gambling, sex and drugs).  The absence of light (“[w]ith curtains drawn”) not only suggests anonymity, but allows a play on “reflect” as both physical reflection of light and self-examination, none of which is happening here.  (Indeed, the willful blindness of our protagonists as well as the violent sexual overtones of this passage are illustrated brilliantly in Greg Miles’ photo, “Girl with the Cellophane Blindfold,” included in my new book.)  The song concludes without resolution, more prurient, voyeuristic peek into a murky corner of the human condition than sermon or cautionary tale.  Draw your own conclusions, guided perhaps by the smudged, dimly-lit “Walk of Shame” aura of the instrumental section (itself a veritable pageant of slithery nocturnal characters, each represented by his or her own unique theme), or the utter desolation of the lonely final line.

I’m going to ramble incoherently for a few sentences here, but frequently I find anger (especially anger at myself) to be a powerful inspiration.  Maybe it’s because it gets me all riled up and sets ideas caroming around inside my skull.  Perhaps it’s just a compulsion to express the anger, or frustration over not having expressed it at an appropriate moment.  Whatever it is, at least for me, conflict and contention serve as far better catalysts for creative expression than calm and contentment.  Basically, when I’m happy, I tend to enjoy it and just “be” (how wonderfully Zen!), and not struggle to capture it in song.  Which is probably why I don’t write very many positive love songs.  So hold that thought . . .

Lyrics

LITTLE PINK DRINK
 
You’re a little judgmental
But you’re still flirting anyway
You’re not even quite certain why
My situation is sketchy
My agenda’s unclear
And I am so not your type
Of all the losers in the whole wide world
Why did it have to be?
What was it about you
That made it about me?
 
You can say what you want to say
And you can think what you like to think
You can drown down there – like I care
In your little pink drink
 
So now you sit and twirl your hair
Trying to take your measure there
And wondering whether this could be fun
Or perhaps you find you’ve reached that age
When you think it’s time to leave the stage
With the options on your menu down to one
For every double yellow line we crossed
What was it caused our crash?
Was it a twist of fate
Or someone’s twisted plan?
 
You can say what you need to say
And you can think what you like to think
Girl, you can drown down there – like I care
In your little pink drink
 
And so we make our introductions
Interrogations and seductions
Without one stone left intact
We bare our claws, our teeth, our souls
We turn our tables, roll our bones
With curtains drawn so we don’t reflect
 
Well, you can play all your stupid games
And you can sink low as you can sink
Hey, you can drown down there – I don’t care . . .
In your little pink drink
Bill Sunkel
Andy Maniglia / Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME?”

Is it just contrarian me, or have songs actually become less “visual” since the rise of the music video?  Maybe it’s because now that there is actual video accompaniment, less of a premium is placed on the ability of the song itself to evoke visual images in the listener’s imagination.  (In the early ‘80s, I participated in a kind of Altered States sensory-deprivation float-tank experience, and I can say with authority that the absence of visual stimulation causes the mind to supply its own, very creative substitutes.)  Or maybe it’s just ADD in the “mile-wide, inch-deep” era of 140 characters or less that causes most modern lyrics to resemble primitive stick drawings scrawled on the wall of some cave.  In that sense, “Do You Ever Think of Me?” – the second of two songs in this collection to which Andy Maniglia contributed the music – is a bit of a throwback.

For me, this song takes place in a very specific time and place:  The singer is sitting in a big chair next to a fireplace, facing a wall of windows.  (Personally, I picture the black & white Steigman photo of the “blown away man” sitting in the Le Corbusier chair, used in a popular series of stereo ads in the ’70s – minus the ridiculous wind blast from the speakers.)  The season is Winter, and the hour is late, well past midnight.  The room is silent, cold and dark, the sole source of light and heat a dying fire.  There are others in the house, but they’re asleep.  As the song begins, the singer sinks more deeply into his chair, likely clutching a near-empty tumbler of brandy, or scotch, or some such spirit.  And, in my mind, that’s precisely where I was when I wrote these words.  In fact, that image was so specific and real for me that, like several other songs in this collection, it felt less like crafting a lyric than simply describing my surroundings, as seen through my mind’s eye.

At first blush, the singer appears somewhat self-involved and narcissistic as he ponders whether a long-lost lover ever thinks about him, or their time together – “When you look back on how it used to be/Do you ever think of me?/Or watch the snow paint all the fallen trees/Do you ever think of me?” – but it quickly becomes evident that it is he who is haunted by these memories.  We know intuitively that he is merely projecting his own feelings, as each time he poses a question, he reveals something about himself.  Lines like “When the fire starts to die” – literally, the fire in the fireplace, but also the “fire” of a current relationship – “Without really knowing why/Do you ever wonder, where am I tonight?” and “God forbid you close your eyes, do you go back to that place?/Do you ever taste my kiss or see my face?” are more confession than inquiry, and betray a depth of emotion.  His true agenda seems not merely to know whether she has found a way to “heal [her own] heartbreak,” but if so, how can he do likewise?

In the second verse, the singer continues to leaf through his musty book of memories, creating the impression that, although all of this must have happened a long, long time ago, he will never get over her:  “When the radio plays a song we used to know/Do you ever think of me?/Or when you chance upon some movie on a late late show/Do you ever think of me?”  Set within and building on that nostalgic theme is a momentary inference of blame and accusation:  “In your mind, do you replay how we left it on that day?/Do you ever wish you hadn’t walked away?”  But it’s quickly dissolved in the overt (but still reluctant) admission that he’s really talking about his own regret:  “Do you ever think of me when you’re blinded by the light?/When familiar faces in a crowd deceive your weary eyes?/It happens to me all the time.”

Just as in “Santiago,” Andy’s bridge momentarily breaks the verses’ hypnotic vibe, becoming less atmospheric and more open and deliberate.  Here, it’s as if the singer were trying to shake off his reverie and to summon the strength and presence of mind to return to reality, perhaps while raising whatever’s left in that glass he’s holding and toasting his imaginary companion:  “So, here’s to us and the roads we’ve forsaken/We’ll never know what might have been/But that won’t soothe this soul’s empty aching/Or bring this yearning to an end.”  There’s a hint of bittersweetness (even sarcasm) in the toast to that which has never been, but again it’s fleeting.  When I first wrote these lines, I feared they might be too melodramatic.  But I decided they suited the mood of the melody, and they felt true and honest, and that carried the day.

Ultimately – and in case it wasn’t already painfully obvious that he has been talking about himself the entire time – the singer bares all in the final lines:  “Do you ever think of me the way I think of you?/Do you smile when you recall all of the foolish things we’d do?/How do we heal the heartbreak?”

As a lyricist, I tend to admire (and try to emulate) the intellectualism and indifference of a Donald Fagen, or even the sour acidity of an Elvis Costello, and (believe it or not) I generally try to avoid anything that’s too saccharine or overtly sentimental.  Although these lyrics betray (what is for me) an uncharacteristic pathos, they paint with dark colors, they create a compelling visual ambience, and (as I mentioned earlier) they feel “true.” 

Close your eyes and enjoy the show.

Lyrics

DO YOU EVER THINK OF ME?
 
When you look back on how it used to be
Do you ever think of me?
Or watch the snow paint all the fallen trees
Do you ever think of me?
When the fire starts to die, without really knowing why
Do you ever wonder, where am I tonight?
 
The house is dark, and everyone’s asleep
Do you ever think of me?
And you’re alone, with ghosts and memories
Do you ever think of me?
God forbid you close your eyes, do you go back to that place?
Do you ever taste my kiss or see my face?
 
Do you ever think of me in the middle of the night?
When you awaken from a dream, can you feel me by your side?
Or have you healed the heartbreak?
 
When the radio plays a song we used to know
Do you ever think of me?
Or when you chance upon some movie on the late late show
Do you ever think of me?
In your mind, do you replay how we left it on that day?
Do you ever wish you hadn’t walked away?
 
Do you ever think of me when you’re blinded by the light?
When familiar faces in a crowd deceive your weary eyes?
It happens to me all the time
 
Do you ever think of me when you’re riding on a train?
Do your thoughts race down the window glass like blades of frozen rain?
And does it heal your heartbreak?
 
So, here’s to us and the roads we’ve forsaken
We’ll never know what might have been
But that won’t soothe this soul’s empty aching
Or bring this yearning to an end
 
Do you ever think of me the way I think of you?
Do you smile when you recall all of the foolish things we’d do?
How do we heal the heartbreak?
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING "EVERYTHING BREAKS"

One of my most frequently misinterpreted lyrics, “Everything Breaks” is not about fatalism or even pessimism.  Rather, it is about impermanence, about how everything continues to change, and about how trying to hold on too tightly to any person, place or thing, or believing that anything in our human experience can last “forever,” is a conceit.

So that’s the message, but it wasn’t what drove me to write this song.  Rather, like many of us who experienced the 2001 World Trade Center attack “up close and personal,” I struggled for a long time to come to grips with my emotions (including rage) about the horrific acts of that day.  In fact, as a lifelong New Yorker, my feelings about that event were so intense that I didn’t want to – frankly, I couldn’t – write about it, for more than a year.

Then, one day, for no apparent reason, I flashed back onto a memory of being down at the WTC in the early ’70s, shortly before construction was completed.  Three of us were coming home from our annual high school trip; we were following our friend Carlos, a semi-streetwise kid from the projects who claimed familiarity with the Manhattan subway system.  We followed him through (what I eventually came to realize was) the WTC construction site, and ultimately down into a subway station (at track level – we had to climb up onto the platform), where we hopped a uptown train to The Bronx.  In the years that followed, I visited the WTC many times, and was always struck by its mass, majesty and presence.  And as those memories swirled around me, I mused, “If someone had told me back then that there would come a day when I would still exist, but these giant towers would not, I would not have believed it.”  And that’s when that little bit of obvious hit me:  Nothing is permanent, nothing lasts forever.  No matter how great or powerful any person, place or thing may seem to be, everything breaks . . . eventually.

So, after the opening chorus sets the overall message – “Everything breaks, eventually/Hard as you stand, you’ll fall to the sea/As the wind and the waves come incessantly/Everything breaks, eventually” (when I wrote that, I was picturing cliffs being worn away by the sea) – the first verse describes my memories of the WTC, before and after 9/11:  ”The bigger they are, the harder they fall” references what were at one time the world’s tallest structures, and how violently they fell.  But I also liked taking that tired cliché and giving it new meaning (one of my favorite things to do lyrically).

“Once there were shadows, now there’s nothing here at all” is a bit thicker:  On one level, it refers to the shadows that had been cast by the Twin Towers over the financial district, and how even they were gone; I like the “double negative,” the reference to the absence of something (shadow) that is itself the absence of something (light).  But, on another level, it was then more than a year since 9/11, and I was referring to “shadows” in the Shakespearean sense of “shades,” or ghosts.  I wanted to convey that everything was gone now, there were just two giant holes in the ground, and even the ghosts of those who died there on 9/11 had (so to speak) “left the building.”  The emptiness of the imagery was poignant to me, especially since it had been a long process getting past my own anger and pain.  When things as ephemeral as shadows, ghosts and emotions are gone, there really is nothing left.

And then the lines turn personal, describing how “I watched them raise our hopes a hundred stories tall/And never believed, I couldn’t conceive/I’d see the day that they would come to be/Laid to waste.”  I’ve been asked whether the first line is “raise” or “raze,” i.e., whether I’m talking about the creation of the WTC or its destruction.  It’s the former.  While the perceived double meaning is intriguing – especially since I was, in fact, witness to both events – I’ve never believed that our “hopes” came down with the towers.

That verse ends with an apparent paradox:  “But take it on faith/Everything breaks.”  Most times people talk about having faith in something, they’re talking about faith in the continuation – the “forever-ness,” if you will – of that thing.  And this is the opposite of that, faith that nothing (at least, nothing in the physical world) lasts forever.  Again, I know that some will see this as a fatalistic, pessimistic message, but it’s not meant to be.  Rather, if we can be at peace with the concept that everything – you, me, our relationship, our house, our country, our religion, our planet, our universe – has a limited lifespan, maybe we can begin to use that revelation to gain perspective, or at least to live for the now and to stop worrying about how to make everything last forever, an endeavor at which we inevitably must fail.

The second chorus talks about the “fools” who “build shrines to their own immortality.”  I think these lines are pretty “on the nose,” so I won’t waste space on them here, except to note that the Bob Stone photo I chose to illustrate this song (in my new Monsters Among Us book) perfectly depicts the chromium cathedral referenced in those words.  The next verse, however, bears examination.  After the 9/11 verse was complete, I pretty much shut down.  I had said all I had needed to say about the worst horror in my lifetime, and, as I believe in a song evolving and building, I simply didn’t know where to go from there.  Another full year passed, and then, one morning, I switched on my computer and read a news story about the largest asteroid in recorded history to have passed that close to Earth.  According to the story, it was the size of a football field and had rocketed over us the previous evening at about the altitude of a weather satellite, or close enough for the Earth’s gravity to have significantly altered its trajectory. Had it hit us, the writer said, the effect would have been akin to the detonation of an atomic bomb. And that gave me the second verse.

While the message of the first verse was simply “everything breaks, no matter how big or strong,” and involved man’s destruction of two giant man-made towers with two man-made jetliners, the second verse upped the ante with a potentially even more destructive force of nature.  More importantly, the “everything breaks” message had evolved to include:  “And there’s nothing we can do about it.”

“Last night an asteroid passed close overhead/A hundred meters wide, or so the morning papers said/As I lay sleeping, in my sweet unknowing bed.”  The helplessness of those lines is palpable:  Most of us weren’t aware of the asteroid’s passing while it was happening, and had we known, there wasn’t anything we could have done about it anyway.  And that leads to my favorite line of the song (another twist on an overused phrase, “the life you lead”):  “And for all your strength/And for all your speed/How can you talk about a life that you lead?/We’re just caught in the wake/And make no mistake/Everything breaks.”

The bridge talks about the universality of the “nothing lasts forever” concept, and warns not to interpret the song as promoting any particular brand of ideology:  “Doesn’t really matter in what truth you believe” (what your religion may be); “Doesn’t really matter where the dim lights will lead” (in general, whenever I refer to “the dim lights,” you can bet I’m talking about our esteemed political leaders, though not any particular individual); “Doesn’t really matter what the tarot cards show” (your mystical persuasions are equally irrelevant).  And then, again, the lyric dives down into the personal:  “I’ve been around enough to know/There’s only one way it can go.”  On one level, this sounds like the same fatalism I denied earlier, i.e., “It doesn’t matter what we do, we’re all going down.”  But then the music does something that suggests the exact opposite:  the key modulates up a whole step, suggesting optimism and positive/forward movement, followed (at least on some versions of the song) by an uplifting instrumental break – why?

Okay, so now we’ve talked about the destruction of the tallest buildings in America in the first verse, and a near miss by a cosmic cannonball in the second.  Where do we go from here?  It took a while, but the last chorus managed to go bigger still:  “Everything breaks, eventually/You weather the storm perpetually/And then a kiss brings you to your knees/Everything breaks, eventually.”  Contrary to some interpretations, this was not some syrupy reduction to how true love prevails in the end, but rather a reference to the destruction of Christ, betrayed by Judas with a kiss. What’s bigger than a skyscraper or a planet?  God?

P.S.  Decisions, decisions.  There are now four distinct variants of this song:  the original version (from Desperate Measures’ Speaking in Tongues CD, available on CD Baby and iTunes); the full tilt bells-and-whistles “New York City” production with horns (also available for download on CD Baby and iTunes); the kinder, gentler “Nashville” arrangement with slide guitar by A Night with Janis Joplin guitarist Steve Flakus (unreleased, but shoot me a note at billsunkel@billsunkel.com and I will email you an mp3, gratis); and, the no-frills “Singer-Songwriter” model, with naught save acoustic guitar and voice.  I struggled long and hard over which flavor to include here, and will no doubt take some serious flak from those who prefer another iteration.  Although I dearly love my horn section and the cool, sophisticated noise they make, and the slide guitar version has its own warm, unique glow, I decided that the barren, un-pretty, post-Apocalyptic acoustic track recorded in my cold basement was the right one to conclude my performance on this solo effort.  What I like most about this particular presentation is that the vocal is stripped naked, making the (hopefully now less cryptic) lyric the true focus of the song, as it should be.

Lyrics

EVERYTHING BREAKS
 
Everything breaks, eventually
Hard as you stand, you'll fall to the sea
As the wind and the waves come incessantly
Everything breaks, eventually
 
The bigger they are, the harder they fall
Once there were shadows, now there's nothing here at all
I watched them raise our hopes a hundred stories tall
And never believed, I couldn't conceive
I'd see the day that they would come to be
Laid to waste
But, honey, take it on faith
Everything breaks
 
Everything breaks, eventually
The fool is the kind who's too blind to see
Building shrines to his own immortality
Everything breaks, eventually
 
Last night an asteroid passed close overhead
One hundred meters wide, or so the morning papers said
While I lay dreaming in my sweet unknowing bed
And for all your strength, and for all your speed
How can you talk about a life that you lead?
We're just caught in the wake
And, baby, make no mistake
Everything breaks
 
Doesn't really matter in what truth you believe
Doesn't really matter where the dim lights will lead
Doesn't really matter what the tarot cards show
I've been around enough to know
There's only one way it can go
 
Everything breaks, eventually
You weather the rain perpetually
And then a kiss brings you to your knees
Everything breaks, eventually
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “AN UNFINISHED LIFE”

It seems odd to write a Decoder© for a song that has no lyric, but there is a story to this track, and here it is:

“An Unfinished Life” is the instrumental version of “Nothing Is Ever Good Enough.”  When guitarist/composer Tony Cultreri sent me this arrangement – with the idea that I would add my vocal track to it – it sounded so beautiful, so perfect, so complete just as it was, that I couldn’t bear to break its mood.  It took some convincing, but I (or perhaps Tony’s mom) was finally able to persuade Tony that it was perfect “as is.”  Since we had just lost Carl Casella – Tony’s best and oldest friend – we decided that this performance should stand as a tribute to his memory, a meditation on which to conclude the CD.

The title comes from a set of lyrics I started to write shortly after Carl passed:  “Lord, let me live an unfinished life/Don’t let me grow tired of this world before I die/Let there be empty spaces for children to fill/Lord, this is my prayer, let it be your will.”  Ironically – or maybe (subconsciously) intentionally – that particular song remains unfinished.

And the genesis of that verse was this:  When Carl died, at first I lamented that there were so many things he had left to do, so many half-completed projects, so much he still wanted to accomplish in his life (even though his accomplishments were great and varied, including a Grammy nomination for the Broadway cast album he co-produced and engineered in his final, breakneck-paced lap around the sun).  But then I realized that maybe we should all leave our lives unfinished, because maybe that would mean we hadn’t yet wearied of this world, and perhaps even that we had lived life to its fullest.

Yeah, we should all make that kind of exit.

Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

DECODING “OTHER PLANS”

This is a bonus track for my website fans, a really good song that, for better or worse, arrived just a few minutes too late to make it onto the Monsters Among Us collection.  Though, as every flight attendant in The Twilight Zone knows, there’s always “Room for one more, honey!”  Well, actually, two more, since I'm including two different versions here:  this one, which features the lovely, subdued "lonesome guitar" stylings of Tony Cultreri, and the one that follows, which features crisp, clean chromatic harmonica, beautifully performed by Corrin Huddleston.

The problem with writing a heart-wrencher like “Other Plans” is that your people immediately assume that some awful thing has happened in your life that caused you to write it.  With songwriters as with novelists, however, it should come as no surprise that not every first person narrative is about the writer himself, or about something he personally experienced.  In fact, we writers love to co‑opt others’ pain and suffering (as opposed to the good stuff, which we’re pleased to experience firsthand).  As Billy Joel explained in interviews, many of his fans just assumed that because “My Life” was written in the first person, he was writing about his own life (he wasn’t).  Or, conversely, that because in “Big Shot” he addressed the title character in the second person (and also made her a woman), he was not talking about himself (actually, he was).  Tricky bastards, these songwriters.  You can’t trust ’em.

Which is not to say, with respect to “Other Plans” (to quote the bard, Shaggy) “It Wasn’t Me.”  Just that it probably didn’t happen exactly the way you’re thinking.  Some songs gestate from nothing more than a phrase, sometimes even a phrase that hasn’t been spoken aloud.  (Clear enough?  No?  Good.)  Notwithstanding all this denial, there’s real blood on these tracks.

About the recording:  This is a "whiskey" song, which perhaps explains the use of a "whiskey" voice.  I was in the middle of a bad cold, and could barely speak.  The song was newly completed, and I had just memorized the chord changes well enough to make it from one end to the other, so I thought, “What better time to record while I only have half a voice, and on top of that it hurts like hell to sing?”  (I figured that I could always go back and record a more pristine vocal later, if my Dustin Hoffman Marathon Man method acting experiment didn’t pan out.)  But this is a broken man, singing about his broken heart, and a broken voice just felt right.  There are a couple of flaws in my guitar playing, too, but again they seemed to suit the mood, so I let them go. 

What is flawless is the lovely, transparent lead guitar track provided by Tony Cultreri, who managed to capture not only the pain and loneliness of the lyric, but also a country-jazz vibe in what I think can only be described as an inspired arrangement.  When this song hits, we’ll be doing the L.A.-to-Vegas midnight run in a black Cadillac sedan.  (Sorry, Tony, I’m driving.)

I suppose it’s apparent by now that I’m not going to dissect each line and verse of this song the way I have in past Decoders©.  If you can’t tell what’s going on here, your heart is made of granite, and my explaining it is not going to change that one whit.  Suffice it to point out that the lyric shifts between outgoing message (what he’s telling her) and inner monologue (the truth), and it is the contrast between the two that is, I think, poignant.  There are a few lines with which I'm especially pleased, including "Tonight I'll sing myself to sleep/Holding me close this old guitar" (which is purposefully ambiguous -- is the singer holding the guitar, or is the guitar holding/comforting him?) and "I'll count your face among my favorite daydreams/And when the wind whispers your voice, God save me" (which is intended to capture the wistfulness of a bittersweet memory).

Finally, as disheartening and frustrating as it can be to create exciting new music and have it go ignored by the masses, or by industry insiders – seriously, wouldn’t Willie Nelson, Rod Stewart or Tom Waits just sing the heck out of this song? – I must say that I consider myself truly blessed to be able to write, perform and now (through the grace and patience of my sensei, Obi Wan Casella) record my original songs.  This is especially so in view of the terminally degenerative state of modern popular music, to (most of) which I cannot listen.  (Trust me, I’ve tried, periodically and repeatedly.)  In fact, with the release of this track, I am pleased to announce that I have named myself my own “Favorite New Artist of 2015.”  Which is really what it’s all about anyway, right?  Right?

Lyrics

OTHER PLANS
 
You can go your lonely way
’Cause I’ve made other plans
No need to ask if I’m okay
Yes, I’ve made other plans
 
Tonight I’ll sing myself to sleep
Holding me close this old guitar
Trying to take my mind off where you may be
With the whiskey in this jar, oh baby
 
You don’t need to justify your choice
I’m sure you deserve a better man
Still, listen closely to my voice
’Cause I’ve made other plans
 
How could you know that it was you
Who steadied me through stormy days?
Maybe I’ll find another star to guide me
Sail to an island far away and hide me
 
 (Instrumental Verse)
 
Each now and then, I’ll reminisce
About every kiss we never had
I’ll count your face among my favorite daydreams
And when the wind whispers your voice, God save me
 
Some day you may come across
A torn and faded photograph
And you might laugh, but please don’t weep for what we lost
When we made other plans
 
Yes, we made other plans
Bill Sunkel
Bill & Rob Sunkel

Story

And here is the alternate version of "Other Plans" with Corrin Huddleston on chromatic harmonica.

A few comments about my session with Corrin:  This is one of the nicest people with whom I've had the pleasure to work.  A great player and a true artist, collaborative and always working for the song, i.e., to find its essence and bring it to the fore.  The tone, clarity and precision of his playing speaks for itself, as does his beautifully nuanced phrasing.  When we began the session, we talked about the track and it was clear that Corrin understood the pain of the lyric, and he expressed that through his harp.  I told Corrin that I envisioned a harmonica part along the lines of what the late, great Toots Thielemans might have played (or even Stevie Wonder), and I think he delivered. 

For the techies, we recorded the harmonica using two separate mics (one cardioid and one condenser, set at different distances), which produces an airy, ambient, dimensional tone that contrasts nicely with the gruff, stark intimacy of the vocal and guitar, but never interferes with the mood of loneliness and solitude the song attempts to convey.  Personally, I see the singer/guitarist sitting on a single bed in his seedy apartment or perhaps a hotel room, whiskey bottle by his side, while the harpist stands in a puddle of light out on the darkened street below, leaning on a streetlamp.

Let me know what you think.

Lyrics

OTHER PLANS
 
You can go your lonely way
’Cause I’ve made other plans
No need to ask if I’m okay
Yes, I’ve made other plans
 
Tonight I’ll sing myself to sleep
Holding me close this old guitar
Trying to take my mind off where you may be
With the whiskey in this jar, oh baby
 
You don’t need to justify your choice
I’m sure you deserve a better man
Still, listen closely to my voice
’Cause I’ve made other plans
 
How could you know that it was you
Who steadied me through stormy days?
Maybe I’ll find another star to guide me
Sail to an island far away and hide me
 
 (Instrumental Verse)
 
Each now and then, I’ll reminisce
About every kiss we never had
I’ll count your face among my favorite daydreams
And when the wind whispers your voice, God save me
 
Some day you may come across
A torn and faded photograph
And you might laugh, but please don’t weep for what we lost
When we made other plans
 
Yes, we made other plans