Just stop and imagine for one moment. Imagine that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans had never been enacted, imagine that two expensive wars had never been started, imagine that the incredibly badly planned and poorly managed increases in spending on the Department of Homeland Security had been better planned and better managed. This country would be even wealthier right now than it still is (incidentally, we are still ok - the Republican battlecry of the the danger of deficits is totally disingenuous. If elected they would probably do little to reduce the deficit and would spend to be successful, just as Obama wants to do.) Anyway, I digress, the point of all this is that the economic situation we find ourselves in is 100% the responsibility of the former president not the current one. That is simply a fact. The costs of healthcare reform etc come nowhere close to adding to the deficit what Bush did in multiple ways. It is now unquestionable that his tax cuts are the single biggest contributor to the deficit and that influence will only grow in future years.
It was in this environment, some years ago now, that I saw an interview on TV with a man who had lost everything.
He had lost his job, lost his house to foreclosure and lost his life savings in bad trading on Wall Street. Now, the latter is his own fault - although many people were taken in by the false optimism around the time of the housing boom and thought all investments would go up and up. People had all that wrongly aquired home equity to spend after all before we realized it was wrongly aquired!
This interview, believe it or not, lead me to write:
This is one of the two songs that are finalists in the New Mexico Music Awards. Tomorrow night we will be making the trek down to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Albuquerque to see if it, or the other song I have as a finalist FADE TO BLACK, make it further. Whatever happens, the recognition of being a finalist is cool with me.
Listening to this song I expect most people hear it as a simple love song. But it was indeed provoked by the very political situation I just described.
It was triggered by a turn of phrase. The man being interviewed was talking about how lucky he was that his wife had stood with him through it all, as they lost their income, their home and their savings. Most of us might have said something simple like, "I don't deserve her." But not this man. With tears in his eyes he said, "I am undeserving of her love."
Undeserving. Why did that word impact me more than the simple way of saying what he wanted to say? Why did he choose it? I'll never really know but it was powerful. I suddenly found myself trying to evaluate the difference between not deserving something and being undeserving of it. I never reached a conclusion but I did write a song!
The starting point was the idea of something connecting the past and the present - all our actions are a continuum, one thing leads to another and we can change paths at any point if we are aware that the path we are on is a road to disaster. Unfortunately we do not always see this until it's too late. The thing I felt connected all different time periods was the wind - "There's a cold wind blowing out of the past to right here where I stand - it's taken everything we thought would last, everything that we had planned." A little nod to Dylan's Blowing In The Wind? Probably - but unconsciously.
From there the words just tumbled out. Saying the same thing in different ways, really. "There's a cold wind blowing, you feel it too, you feel it on your skin - it's everything we thought was true, all we wanted to begin,"
But holding it all together? The love of that woman. But I chose to write this song in the first person, trying to put myself in this man's position - "I know that I am undeserving, I know what I'm undeserving of - I know that I am undeserving, of your time and your love."
Time crept in there - I guess I now think of time as one of the most valuable things we have, if not the most valuable. So losing everything else even if you retain someone's love means you have lost time for showing, sharing and nurturing that love. So love is a great thing to retain but even it is unavoidably damaged in these situations.
This song almost did not get recorded. I had the words, the melody and the chords but I was playing it on guitar. And it just wasn't interesting enough to rise to the top of the pile of songs I was considering for beneath a flagless moon. I tried different keys, different melodies but the original worked best. I just couldn't get excited about it as much as I liked it. Or maybe the simplicity of the tune was making that nod to Blowing In The Wind a bit more obvious than I felt comfortable with?
Then in one of those moments we can never explain because they are unconscious, I picked up a ukulele for the very first time in my life (I'd bought it for the studio, thinking I'd have other people play it if I wanted it on a song). And the version you hear on the CD is the first attempt to play this song on that instrument. Not the first take after many rehearsals...the first rehearsal, that I happened to record! I have never sung this song again to this day.
My good friend and collaborator on DEEP SALVAGE - Jeff Shattuck - is working on a much more rock 'n' roll version of this song using an earlier version of the lyrics. Can't wait to see how it turns out!