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.
33 Truman (Suits and Fine Trousers vs. Hiroshima)
Truman was responsible for dropping the bomb on hiroshima. as i sat researching truman and thinking about this song, i tried to imagine what it must have felt like to make a decision like that. ultimately, i don’t think that any of us are even remotely capable of accessing a place in ourselves where those feelings exist.
in some way, what i found most interesting, was the fact that after serving on the front lines in WWI, truman came home and opened a men’s clothing store with one of his close friends from the war. much to their chagrin, the store went bankrupt after 3 or 4 years, and they both fell into a state of great depression and economic ruin. truman spent years living rather destitue, though he finally paid off his debts.
from there he rather quickly stumbled into politics. he was very well liked, and what seemed terribly rapid, he found himself as roosevelt’s vice president. when roosevelt died, viola. so there he was trying to figure out how to end the war (a war that he attempted to go fight in instead of being president) and was utterly confused. i spent some time today reading correspondence between him and stalin, much of which was just fascinating.
anyway, without carrying on endlessly here, i was struck by the idea that our destiny and our dreams can exist at such polar extremes. i imagined him just wishing that he could have run the mensware store, but instead he will be historically remembered as the man who dropped the atomic bomb. i can only imagine the nightmares and terror that would inflict on someone (or we would hope) so i imagined him being somewhat delusional, hence the lines about jesus, his brother (the japanese) and his very logical concerns with where to put the dead bodies.
the lines about “ruin will rain down,” were direct quotes from his diary.
as for the song, i borrowed the mandolin from christian kiefer and had never played one for more than a minute or two before this. it made me feel like a giant. i would love a full band, harmonies, and so forth. i didn’t intend for that middle section to be there (with the guitar solo poorly played) but i counted poorly and i am tired and i must awake tomorrow with only three to go. my brain (and soul) need this. trust me.
- Max | 2006-02-22 @ 10:04am (EST)
Never played a mandolin before ???????? :-O
Well done ! Great song, I can imagine this will sound great with a full band.
- Max | 2006-02-22 @ 10:16am (EST)
BTW I’m completely blown away by this cover.
- friendof | 2006-02-22 @ 12:02pm (EST)
This is really pretty. I love chorus–it’s so sad. The “oh god forgive me” kills me. Like all your others, this is just amazing.
- daniel78 | 2006-02-22 @ 03:23pm (EST)
I really like this one – the chorus is beautiful…. the mandolin is great (especially snce you haven’t played one before!!! Makes me want to get one myself…). During the first chorus i was thinking that the upcoming verse just needs to add more backing… and there it was! (in fact i’d go further and more than just the percussion – maybe some guitar and/or bass)
Keep it up.