This is a special one to me. I’m proud of it on every possible level.
I wrote this song years before I would finish Winter, probably in 2009. I had been listening to a fair amount of old country & western music. Originally it was going to have a tempo and arrangement similar to Sadly, believe it or not. But the melody was prying open my soul and I knew the vibe wasn’t right. I slowed it down and switched the chords up and tried it on acoustic guitar but that felt bland. I put it away for a while.
Eventually I found that it worked beautifully with this really simple piano part. It’s quite different from how I normally play the piano, I don’t think I’ve ever done this half-arpeggiated constant-16ths thing anywhere else. There are only ever two notes being played at once, which is kind of interesting. The emotions behind the chords are implied differently than usual because of the way they’re broken up.
I also used some cool voicings that I’ve never used before or since, my favorite being this weird one that could be interpreted as an Asus4 with the third added back in or a Dmaj7 with an A in the bass and no third. Bottom to top A D E C#. In the song you hear the D and E together and then the A and C# together and it keeps flipping back and forth. It’s perfect where it sits in the song, I could find nothing better to put in its place, I find it ridiculously beautiful, and strangely it’s a combination of tones that I have never found another use for.
The structure is also interesting, if you’re a huge nerd like me. It’s three verses, with phrases of abnormal length, and each time you hear it the melody grows a little bit. A little longer, a little more intense. And then it ends with a section that is completely different, before bringing it back to exact first line where it began. This is one of those times where it felt like the thing wrote itself and I’m just happy I didn’t get in the way with the normal verse/chorus pop arrangement and multiples-of-4-bars kind of stuff.
Lyrically the song deals with moving past addiction using the metaphors of winter and war and an old love. Every line came from a real place and every line I felt I said what I wanted to as best I could - that’s rare for me. And it all came out in one shot. Probably 20 minutes. There was a single rewrite where I changed the word “bring” to “drag”.
There is no other song I’ve played more on the piano, other than Chopin’s Prelude in E minor - I went through a phase of playing that daily for almost a year. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve played this song and just started crying by the time I get to those high notes. I play it in concert every single time there is a piano. On a shitty keyboard in a house show in Hong Kong. In Sydney at a jazz bar. For a middle school in Calgary that invited me to inspire kids to get into music.
It’s a special one.
I’ve been listening to this at least once a day for the past week or so and I am just completely moved by this song. If I get to see this played in person, I’m not sure if I would be able to keep myself from tearing up. Thank you.