I wrote the song back in April of 2020 when covid had already locked us out of the studio. One day, with a guitar and a notebook and no specific plan in my head, I started absent-mindedly banging on the guitar, pacing back and forth, and a simple chord progression began to emerge. At this point, I’ll often start just mumbling words, they may make no sense but sometimes they get me started lyrically. In this case, the first thing out of my mouth was the phrase “Here’s the thing about America….”.
I could be rightfully accused of being a political junkie. So when the opening line challenged me to opine about the country, the lyrics came very quickly. “She’s as dirty as she’s clean, she’s as gentle as she’s mean”. I believe that. There are things we do really well and things at which we are miserable failures. The song ends saying that we can move ever closer to our national ambitions, that “they’re ours if we claim it, if we must then let’s reshape it”.
I changed a few lines over the next day or two but essentially the song was written in about a half hour. Here at the barn studio, I laid down acoustic and electric guitar parts, a vocal and a synth pad. I emailed all that to Marco who added some dramatic percussion, then on to upright bass-ace Marty Ballou for his contribution and finally to jazz trumpeter Phil Grenadier who laid down a note-perfect restrained muted trumpet part. Bam, done.
I was very happy with how it had turned out. But for months I didn’t think it was a fit with the rest of the record, so I set it aside...