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.
27 Taft (There was no use longer to hide the fact that it was gout)
so this last year, i have been making primarily instrumental music. much of it very similar to this piece, some of it experimental. frankly, while i enjoy singing, this is what speaks to me most, and this is what i really want to be creating. but, after christian, matt and i decided to do this project about the presidents, i felt like i needed to write things with words in oder to re-tell the history, or at the very least provide some form of narrative. anyway, this is my favorite piece of mine for the project thus far. best enjoyed with headphones on.
as for taft he was an unhealthy man. during the time of his presidency he stood 5′ 11” and weighed 320 lbs. when i began working on this song, i had intended to write about some lesser known fact of his political career, or at the very least focus on the fact that he had to have a custom bathtub made and brought into the white house as he would not fit into the one already there. but while searching, i found a website (no idea how i haven’t found it until now) that details the health history of many of the presidents. what amazed me most, was the amount of detail on the site. there were records (detailed records) talking about times when he had reported indigestion to friends. times when he had headaches. diarrhea. anyway, throughout the song i read this long piece speaking about a time in his life when taft had gout, and cancelled some golf tournaments with friends. missed a dinner party, etc. it was really funny, because he tried to hide it from his friends and wife, but they all knew. i’ll link the site in the lyrics if anyone (highly doubtful) is interested. it was really amazing to me to see the detail.
anyway, as you will hear i pulled most of the speaking out, and messed with it to the point that it is largely unintelligible, as that was what worked best for the song. poor taft. big, unhealthy, and left without a story. when the song builds, if you listen closely, you can hear me repeating “there was no use longer to hide the fact that it was gout.”
- friendof | 2006-02-19 @ 04:19pm (EST)Wow, this is really a lot darker than I thought it would be. Alas, I did not listen to it with headphones, but I was able to get the atmospheric effect from it. It’s very climactic and builds well. I heard the speaking, but couldn’t tell what you were saying, though I think that adds to it. Gives it this “voices across space” kind of feel if that makes any sense. Nice job. (And happy you got to do an instrumental like you wanted.) 🙂
- jroberts | 2006-02-19 @ 05:54pm (EST)A deeply emotional song, I think. I did listen with headphones, and it’s a lovely experience. It’s difficult to make instrumental music like this interesting, or at least to maintain interest for three-plus minutes, but Jefferson does it here. Nice work. I think the drum beat actually evolves as the song continues. It somehow becomes something different near the end, although it’s (roughly) the same beat. It’s striking.
- Christian Kiefer | 2006-02-20 @ 02:07am (EST)I gather that your initial consideration to use no effects whatsoever has long since fallen by the wayside? 🙂
Nice job on this one. It’s intriguing.
- tomtomtom | 2006-02-21 @ 01:57pm (EST)My favorite by far. Your instrumental work is unique and at the same time accessible. For this one I���d love to hear the dynamic range exaggerated even more and the drum track pulled up in the mix. 9 out of 10�Ķ
- Ben J. | 2006-02-21 @ 09:22pm (EST)Gorgeous.
No more words are necessary.
As a film music fan I adore music that creates and evokes atmosphere. It’s probably my first love ever since I was tiny and long before I made music – I would always pay more attention to the score in films and TV than anything else.
This track has probably touched me emotionally more than anything else I’ve heard from FAWM so far.