Back in February of 2006, Jefferson Pitcher, J. Matthew Gerken, and I set about writing and recording the original demos for these Presidents songs as part of the February Album Writing Month challenge (www.fawm.org). We wrote and did demo recordings of 42 songs (all but G.W. Bush) in Februrary–28 days and 42 songs. Sheesh.
In any case, as part of that, we wrote little texts to accompany each new song as we got them up on the FAWM website. I like looking through them now as they seem part of a crazy, crazy time.
Burr Settles, a fine songwriter in his own right and the FAWM-lord, was kind enough to get me an html backup of all the original texts we wrote, and it includes the comments other songwriters wrote on the demos as we got them up. I’m including those as well.
42 Clinton (The Mighty Lion Will Not Roar Again)
by jeff pitcher — 2006-02-26 @ 11:18pm (EST) — Alt/Indie
Clinton. The end. What was i to do with clinton? he being the first president that i voted for. he being so terribly intelligent and articulate. my first idea (impulse) was to write a song about him concluding that perhaps it was indeed his destiny to assasinate george. he did after all have the connections and what not. but somehow (perhaps obviously) that felt trite and predictable. but then i imagine my final piece here is likely rather predictable as well. i simply couldn’t get out of my head all of the work he has been doing in africa. so…..
i wrote the song imagining that all of the animals were dying of sorrow, because we greedy folks here in the west do so little to help the africans. and so, as the children die in africa and we drive around in our nice cars and record our music on these machines, the animals all begin to perish. sad, i know. as i tried to approach this song from a differnt perspective, i just kept returning to the fact that clinton is indeed doing some really wonderful and important work right now. sure, he did some bad things too (didn’t they all?) and maybe this is simply him fighting his guilt for not doing anything in rwanda back when they REALLY needed the help of a wealthy and powerful nation like the U.S., but either way, i admire what he’s doing now. i imagine him, imagining himself a modern day noah (of noah’s rumored ark) out there saving the kids from the flood of famine and aids.
anyway, without carrying on…the song itself i like quite a bit, the mix no. unfortunately, i’m too poor a pianist to really play the damn thing in time, so we get a rather sloppy take. always. i think there is a good tension in this song, which leads inherently into the end segment which i think should be really loud, but difficult with limited equipment, and only one person. (who also happens to be a fairly bad drummer with no cymbals). yes, there are drums on the song. try headphones. anyway, it should get big and loud and rock. so there.
for some reason, i’m fairly dissatisfied with the mix, but unwilling to try and fix it at this late hour (metaphorically speaking). it is time for dinner, WINE, and a highly recommended film (songs from the second floor by ray anderson). i would also change the bridge and arrangement some (which happens to be this most difficult part of this fast writing process for me…the songs and melodies come out faily easily…the arranging another story. it generally takes me quite some time to mold a song into shape just right. how long should this part o? that part? should it get loud here? or quiet? etc.)
anyway, i guess that’s it. William Jefferson Clinton. Now i’ll finally have time to listen to more of other folk’s stuff here.
thanks for listening and offering such compliments. it is always much appreciated.
- Burr Settles | 2006-02-26 @ 11:59pm (EST)
congrats on reaching mr. clinton. another piano-focused tune…. i haven’t heard anything since quincy adams… i agree that toward the end of this song needs to be a larger than life cacophony.
this is an interesting take on clinton… the fact that you chose to focus on his ongoing stuff… rather than all the stuff that went on during his term that you COULD have. kinda unexpected. in fact, i think this would be an interesting song to just end the whole project with. skip dubbya… because this tune is kind of an appeal to us (and him) and our behaviors, etc. i dunno if that makes sense… i hope so… tired… congrats…
- Christian Kiefer | 2006-02-27 @ 01:09am (EST)
Fucking excellent. I hope our G.W. song is anthemic or Burr might just be right. Hard to top this for an album closer.
- friendof | 2006-02-27 @ 01:49am (EST)
Wow. This is so delicate. Though you may be too humble to say this, I really think that this is a beautiful tribute to a continent that has been torn apart by capitalism, wars they have nothing to do with, civil wars, ethnic strife, and a million other things put upon so many countries. This may be my favorite of yours. I’m not sure Clinton deserves such credit, but certianly it can apply to the many leaders fighting for Africa right now. I love the piano, but when that electric guitar comes in… oh, man, what build.
- Ben J. | 2006-02-27 @ 02:05am (EST)
Wow. Goose-bumps. Tingling spine. Misty eyes.
- BigDaddyMatty & Special K | 2006-03-02 @ 12:01am (EST)
This is such a sad song, I don’t perceive Clinton as being so sad. Heck he has such a great sense of humor! Jimmy Carter was the first I voted for
and he’s been doing more since he hasn’t been president But hey, the piano work is great in a depressing sort of way. Your voice sounds frustrated and tired which I think was on purpose, but it sounds good especially with the piano!
- orange mouth man | 2006-03-20 @ 12:29pm (EST)
My initial reaction to the content was: oh, no, westerners writing about the problems in Africa (like Sylvia Plath writing about the holocaust) but in a poetic/fictional sense I think the lyrics and idea are spot-on. Someone like Clinton doesn’t really exist in our real lives but in our imaginations (for most of us). Music was good. Don’t like the line ” I will spare them?” as much, too melodramatic.