A friend of mine asked me once “Can you ever write a simple song?” My lyrics have quite often been very cryptic and I think in ways I’ve used this to cloak my personal self in the very public arena of songwriting. Much of the time I myself don’t have a handle on what a song is about until awhile after, sometimes even years after it’s been written. I think it’s taken me a little time to decode this one.
There is a tension in this song. In a sense I was at war with myself, tugged between inner worlds and outer, only finding peace in sleep and dream. I was the boy with ‘microscope eyes’ constantly over-analyzing and dreaming of a softer world. This personal story then becomes projected on the outside world where there is real war and conflict everywhere.
While I love The United States, I’m not always thrilled with the actions of its government (how timely this is yet again today). My favorite line in this is the bit about “patriot kisses long and deep like lies”. I felt the final line “Am I American?” didn’t fit, and I took it out, only to put it back in right before the album went to press. Now I can’t imagine the song without it. This brings up the hazardously tangential topic of pulling out lyrics I later wish I hadn’t, but that doesn’t happen too often anymore. Gotta follow that gut!
Musically I was very consciously intending to combine / imitate the feel of two different 80’s songs, drawing from the piano from ‘Open Arms’ by Journey and the silky synth lead from ‘Save a Prayer’ by Duran Duran. The sound-byte I used after the first chorus is from John F. Kennedy’s address before the United Nations in September, 1961.
Simple Song appears on the Romance of the Spaceways cd.