The line that started it was during a conversation with a friend, when he told that while people say life’s too short, sometimes it’s too long. I realize that sounds pretty dark out of context, which I why I rearranged it to make it more musical and to better capture the feeling that went with it.
My friend and I were not discussing a desire to die, but more a frustration with where in life we were at the time, as opposed to where we wanted to be. Sometimes life just feels like so much waiting. It can become very deterring, especially when you have the perspective how fleeting life can be to remind you how futile it seems, with the things you “have” to do getting in the way of what you want in life.
I don’t play this song on my own very often. It was quick to become a Strangers and Liars song after it was written, and reside in our repertoire as the resident barn burner. We plan on having it appear on our upcoming album, the release date of which remains TBD.
More than one of my songs have been a theme for Lake Erie. Growing up near Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania, and spending a great deal of my childhood summers at the lake both in PA and Ohio make it a prominent figure in my life, so it’s only natural for it to creep up in my music.
Earlier this week, some friends and I made a visit to the nearly thawed lake. Though still frigid, the view speaks for itself. Here’s to the upcoming summer!
I don’t write as much as I used to. A few years ago, I seemed to have a pretty steady stream of songs coming and when the dry patches came, they wouldn’t say long. But this past year has been a quiet one for the pen.
I was nervous about that at first. Nobody wants to lose it, whatever “it” might be and it’s hard to ignore that fear initially. However as time went and the scarce new songs emerged here and there, I started making my peace with it.
I wrote “The Hard Way” a few months ago. It’s sort of a “memo to self” song. I have some songs that I forced because I felt I needed to write something, or it had been too long. They never sound as good, and more importantly, never feel as good. I think right now I’m just not in a place (in life) that calls for as much writing. When I get there, I get there.
I assume this kind of thing happens with any performer or artist in just about any field, where after a particular creation, they look back and say “huh. Well that’s different.” It’s not that this song feels like something I wouldn’t play, but it doesn’t always feel like something I would write. Which I guess is a question of trying to view oneself in the third person, and therefore a solid sign that one is severely over thinking things.
So moving on, this was a fun little song about the hang ups shy guys like myself have when we’re trying not to prematurely doom a budding romance. The song is out to express the same vibe I have in those situation: an attempt at charming, while remaining completely obvious that I have no idea what’s going on.
So it’s 25 weeks later since I first started throwing a song up once a week on this page. For all you readers and listeners, I want to say thank you. This has been a great exercise in a lot of ways. It keeps me doing at least some sort of musical production once a week, it helps me keep my original material fresh, and it gives me a chance to go back and see if I can find life in songs I gave up on.
I can’t guarantee that every song I have ever logged away will appear here before the end, but I hope keep this going for awhile longer.
Be sure to keep an eye on Strangers and Liars and solo performances (the upcoming gigs list is up to date currently), and be ready for season 4 of The Songwriter Sunset to start up in another month and a half. Thanks again readers for tuning in!
A short story for a short song: back in 2010, a friend of mine let me know that an independent film maker in the area was looking for original music submissions for their project. I looked into, read the premise of the movie that was given, wrote this song for it and submitted. They never got back to me so I assume it wasn’t picked.
I never did see the movie when it finally came out, but I feel like the song turned out alright. So there’s that.
I can be more critical of others than I care to admit. I try not to be. When I listen to something that doesn’t appeal to me, I always try to remember to ask myself “do I really think this is bad, or is it just not a style I’m in to?” Because I am very selective in my musical tastes. I’ll even admit to being close minded from time to time.
There are times when my judgmental side gets the better of me though. There are times when I can’t help but think that somebody is doing something for all the wrong reasons, that they’re not out there because they have the desire to perform, or because they’re in search of a creative outlet. Some people just want the attention and to have something to do in front of their friends. And it gets me pretty fired up.
But it’s totally BS on my part! First, who I am to have any idea why any particular person is performing? I can be suspicious all I want, it doesn’t prove anything. Second, even if they are, so what? It’s not a crime. If they want to play just so they can yammer into a microphone, why should I care?
This song is for those folks, whether they are real or imagined. I know better than to think I have right or reason trying to tell someone how to do what they do, but having a tune to help pour out some of that some of that unnecessary negativity is a nice way to handle my hang ups.
So yeah, I guess you do your crazy thing and I’ll do mine.
Growing up, I was told that my great grandfather had killed himself when my grandfather was eight. A few years before he passed in 2012, my grandfather told me a story of his childhood that went into further detail.
As my grandfather tells it, his father Francis Louis Link was a rum runner during prohibition working out of Vermilion, Ohio. Alcohol would come over Lake Erie from Canada. Francis Louis ran the speakeasy, with my grandfather having memories of have root beers while his father had his meetings, and having a new family car every year. Whether the police were on to him, or the money was running out, my grandfather was unsure. But at the age of eight, it was my grandfather that found his father dead in the room above their garage after taking a gun to his head.
Some of my older uncles claim the speakeasy tales were just my grandfather being colorful, but either way, I deemed the story one worth telling. And while the song may name Francis Louis, the song is really an ode to my grandfather, Richard Link. After his father’s death, he went to live with his aunt and uncle. As a young man he worked the Lake Erie shipyards and joined the merchant marines during World War II. While on leave, he met his future wife, came home after the war and had nine children with her. And the rest is history.
I never knew my father’s mother, as she died of cancer when I was very young. Looking back, I always find it tremendous to have descended from a man who suffered such a tragedy so young and was still able to lead a full and amazing life, through good times and bad, providing for his wife and nine children and getting to watch them start families of there own. I think back to him and the tragic story of Francis Louis as a reminder that adversity of any shape and size can be overcome.
It’s been said that many successful musicians find themselves with their less than favorite songs being the most popular. I’m sure that comes with it’s difficulties, be it the frustration of a self-thought master piece going unnoticed or a fluke being praised. Still, I hope there’s some satisfaction in the fact that something they created is enjoyed by so many.
There’s a similar feeling for me with this song. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Last I Ever Heard. Quite the opposite actually; it makes me smile every time. It’s a silly fictional story of me driving like a lunatic down I 79. The car, a 1985 Toyota Corolla that my father bought for $200 in 2008, is non fiction, which makes me smile even more. It was a great car for a broke college kid to bum around in.
The song was a lot of fun for me, I just never expected everyone else would like it so much. It tends to get a lot of reaction from the audience, maybe because driving recklessly in a vehicle on death’s door is a story just about everyone can tell.
This is a song about a person we all know, or rather, a type of person we all know. The drama magnet who lives to declare their hate for drama. The free spirit who doesn’t care what you think and won’t censor themselves for anybody but just can’t figure out why you don’t like having them around (“I’m just being myself!”). Their you’re best friend when it suits them, but when you have it bad, they’ll be the first to let you know that they have it worse. Politely ignore their abrasive tendencies or become part of the cult they claim is responsible for their victimhood.
They are the tragedy, waiting for the curtain to rise.