Song Notes: Confession in the Back Room | Film at Eleven | Where You Are
From Confession in the Back Room...
Open All Night- There are a number of clubs and bars that dot the landscape of West Hollywood. Open All Night is really an amalgam of all of them—the "see and be scene"—but it's largely based on a club on Sunset called The Viper Room.
Crimes of Passion - One more time through the whole Bill and Monica thing.
Forbidden Love - Another old one, pretty self explanatory.
That's the Way It's Supposed to Be - This one started out in life in 1979 as a song called Meet Me in Montreal but got an update and rewrite duing this project. I can still see the torrential rain beating down on my windshield and tell you exactly where I was at the moment.
In the Sandbox - Yogi Berra said it best: “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” I was coming home from Los Angeles late one night last August. As we deplaned in Philadelphia, there was a family waiting for a soldier returning home from Iraq—complete with an Action News crew. I paused in the terminal to watch the reunion and noticed a woman standing behind the greeting party. As the family welcomed the returning soldier, I saw that the woman behind them had tears streaming down her face. Not really thinking, I said something like “I know, it’s touching.” She looked at me with complete dispair and said, “that bastard took my only child.” It was only then that I noticed the gold star on her lapel. She was a Gold Star Mother, and as she explained to me, her only child, a son, had been killed in Iraq. And she blamed the President. At that second, In the Sandbox became an angry song. Originally a story about Edwin Wilson, the arms dealer, taken from a book called “The Death Merchant,” it rewrote itself as an indictment of selfish, arrogant neocolonialism and latter day manifest destiny. I never learned that Gold Star Mother’s name, but whoever you are, “In the Sandbox” is for you.
Just the Way It Is - About narcissism and a woman whom I don't know but used to see in the bars all the time. She's probably not a very happy person.
Dixie Chicken - My tip of the hat to Scarlett O'Hara's everywhere. Plus, I am a huge Lowell George fan and have played Dixie Chicken live for many years. The New Orleans arrangement was something that David, Steve and I cooked up one night. Some great playing throughout. Check out the horns and Joshua's piano and organ.
Let It Rain - I was monkeying around in the studio one night playing the reprise figure from Come to Papa on the piano. It just snowballed from there and makes a nice introduction to Come to Papa.
Come to Papa - Several years ago, a city councilman from Reading was arrested for molesting the five-year-old daughter of one of his friends while he was babysitting her. He ended up getting probation and a slap on the wrist. She got a night she'll never forget.
Party Girl - A 100% true story involving a guy I used to know named Lenny. Too long to tell here, suffice it to say that the person with whom you hook up in a hotel bar may turn out to be completely different than what you bargained for.
That's Why I'm Here - In the "boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets back girl" genre, it's sometimes hard for a normal guy to compete with the fast cars, fast parties and fast times that some guys can offer women. In the end, though, the romantic in me would like to think that the normal guy gets the girl, but not always.
Under Fire - There are so many sappy "I love you" songs out there that I thought we could use a good "take a long walk on a very short pier" song. And so it is.
Watsonville (Crossing Over) - From an outstanding book by Ruben Martinez called Crossing Over that chronicles the lives of illegal Mexican workers in the United States. Very timely reading. Buy it. In fact, click here.
From Film at Eleven...
Black Ice - About addiction. When the sun goes down in the winter, water sometimes freezes on a roadway in such a way that the ice is invisible at night. Anyone who has ever driven in the snowbelt knows that there is nothing as dangerous as black ice.
Long Night - A guy I know had the displeasure of having a "tell all" book written about his band, their internal squabbles and their excesses. This is my letter to the editor.
Coup d'etat - Inspired by the History Channel documentary "The Men Who Killed Kennedy." Written start to finish during two of the commercial breaks.
Don't Lie to Me - Any relationship is only as strong as the promises kept.
Give Me Your Love - Believe it or not, a friend of mine actually fell for a girl he knew only from one of those 900# phone lines.
All I Can Do - We sometimes make the wrong choices in relationships, and sometimes those choices are neither reversible nor repairable. Written while watching the movie "High Fidelity" with my son Chris. (Great movie, by the way.)
Here We Go Again - An adult love song about rediscovery. Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows how different love at 22 is from love at 42 and how hard (albeit important) it is sometimes to remember why you married your partner in the first place.
Who You Gonna Call? - When you're single and lonely, the path of least resistance often leads right to an old flame. Never say never.
On the Inside - For anyone with kids, the tragedy at Columbine High School in Colorado should have been a real wake up call. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.
Down the Wire - When I used to play hotel bars, I'd take along a newspaper to read on my breaks. Down the Wire came from a story I read in the Village Voice about a group of transvestites and cross-dressers who would gather at a club in Harlem to vogue (pre-Madonna) and stage elaborate shows that they called "Balls". While I was reading the article, I remember thinking "what do these people do for a living?" I added the part about the protagonist working the phone sex lines (down the wire).
Sad Songs - The end of a love affair is seldom a clean break.
It's Only Love - About a rape, from the point of view of the rapist.
You Don't Know - Inspired by the Tom Brokaw book "The Greatest Generation." For those of us who came in the next generation, there truly was a "generation gap." From father to son.
True to You - At forty, my wife decided that she wanted to have another child. At the same time, she was afraid of how her friends would react and that they might abandon her. "True to You" is from me to her.
From Where You Are...
Where You Are - Written during the OJ Simpson murder trial. Let's say, hypothetically of course, that you were an ex-NFL football player and a sometimes actor and you decided one Sunday night to kill your ex-wife. What would you be thinking on the drive over to her house? Some pretty strange conversations going on in that head, I imagine.
City of Angels - Much to the offense of my friends in LA, I think the air must be a bit thinner in the 900 zip code. Too many wierd things happen out there. About decadence. A bit of trivia: the "bright lights below, darkness above" part of the chorus came from the view from the rooftop of a hotel called Le Montrose in West Hollywood. Absolutely breathtaking. I love LA!
Die Like Elvis - I was watching "Blue Hawaii" one afternoon with my then seven-year-old daughter. She asked me if Elvis was still alive, and I told her that he had died a long time ago. Then she asked "how did he die?" So I told her. She looked at me with that seven-year-old innosence and said, "Oh, Daddy, I don't want to die like Elvis." Instant song.
Under the Desert Sky- About the most romantic place on Earth: Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Little Angel - Written for my then girlfriend, now wife of many years, shortly after we met.
Before the Storm- Written in the living room of my apartment in State College, PA. Early one morning, KYW-News Radio from Philadelphia ran a story that there had been an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear station near Harrisburg. I remember thinking "this is it;" then, I remembered that we were upwind. Sad but true.
Wish Upon A Star - I played a show in Reading, PA a few years ago and met the husband of one of my wife's friends. We all left the bar together. Ten minutes later, I was home. He was dead. She was being Medevac'd to a trauma center. "Wish Upon a Star" was written from a conversation my wife had with her newly widowed friend a few days later - sort of a letter from her to him.
Love Me Tonight - Know what you get when you spin a country record backward? You get your house back, your wife back and your dog back.
East of Heaven - For anyone who is still wondering whether the grass is greener. It never is.