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Nothing Is Ever Good Enough

02:54
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