Song Stories: Twelve

Leading up to the June 2 release of "Through Private Wars" (available for pre-order now), I'll be posting brief thoughts on each of its songs over the next few weeks. Today, track #7, Twelve.

The oldest song on the record by far, I scribbled this lyric before I could legally drink, and have changed only a couple words in the interim. It’s undergone several re-arrangements, though, most recently built off of a groove suggested by Daniel in an attempt to “Tallahassee it up a little.” He was right to do so… I'd like to say that this is its final, optimal version, but we'll see how the next decade treats it. Also, if you're not familiar with the delightful Boston band Tallahassee, and its lovely bearded gentlemen, please go resolve that hole in your musical tastes immediately. I'll wait. I recommend "Jealous Hands" or "Old Ways" as your ideal ways in. 

The title refers to, and I’m not making this up, the fact that it’s the twelfth song I wrote that didn’t have an obvious title (my first band also played “Seven” for awhile, if I recall correctly...or was it “Eleven”?). This was written well before I became a fan of Dave Matthews or his Band, so I’ll claim the idea as original even though it’s really not.

The lyric was written in a five minute straight shot, sitting on my dorm bed sophomore year, waiting for a friend to come pick me up to go out for coffee, and has that meandering, slightly undercaffeinated feeling of youthful existential crisis to it. I'm honestly not sure why I still relate to it (as I'm nearly twice as old as I was when I wrote it, which is...troubling on a number of levels), but somehow it still speaks to me.  

This is one of the most deceptively complicated songs in my repertoire, because no two verses are exactly the same length; I've comforted numerous bands over the years with "yes, I understand that it's different every verse, but let me assure you, it will be the SAME different every time we play it." Originally it was a finger-busting ballad (I was late to adopt capos, though the song HAD to be voiced the way it was, equaling quite a stretch in the left hand), and went through a Postal Service-esque incarnation on The Sobriquets’ self-titled LP before being reworked to its current loose Americana. Eleanor and Elie put in perhaps their finest work here, though their work throughout the album is stellar: we should all be so lucky as to have a Franco-American folk duo singing our harmonies. Rob’s slide guitar and Kevin’s Crowded House-ish organ solo make for a warm, inviting spin through younger me’s psyche, a place I don't like to live anymore, but which it's occasionally nice to visit...