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.
39 Carter (A Great Beam of Light)
by jeff pitcher — 2006-02-24 @ 10:47pm (EST) — Alt/Indie
the first thing i read about Jimmy Carter, was that many years ago, before he was president he called the police while in Georgia to report having seen a UFO. this got me thinking. what if instead of calling them as one of us, he was calling the police as a cover. in other words, what if he was an alien and was trying to pose as one of us, the phone call only serving as a means to cover his tracks.
and it went from there. i thought what if all of the presidents were aliens and they were sent down from the sky. in some way, it seems the only explanation for the seeming lack of intelligence, maturity, foresight, compassion and grace with our current leader. if they are aliens, it guess it would just make more sense.
so this song is about the aliens coming back to retrieve jimmy carter. i love the line about the humans standing there and “sadly waving goodbye,” as the image just kills me. i wanted to get in the song something about the fact that i don’t understand why we tend to have this image that all aliens would look like us (if they exist). ie: very human-like. why couldn’t they look like toasters? or curbs? or fog? or chair legs? (no i didn’t watch star trek. seriously) anyway, that didn’t make it into the song, nor did some ideas from a great old episode of the twilight zone, where these aliens come down and tell the people that they have one month to get their shit together or they will all be killed. of course the humans interprest this as world peace and do all that they can to SOMEHOW achieve this. which they do. a month later, the aliens come back and kill everyone, explaining to the foolish humans that they were being bred to be warriors. alas, we just can’t ever seem to get it right.
anyway, perhaps jimmy carter is an alien. perhaps they all are.
i would love to add theremin (is that too obvious), lots of vocal harmonies, strings and REAL drumming. such it is with fawm. cheers. wave to jimmy no?
- Christian Kiefer | 2006-02-25 @ 08:06pm (EST)
Sounds like an old, old folk song. Pretty.
Oh–and you’re a fucking weirdo, by the way. 🙂
- Matt Hopper | 2006-03-02 @ 01:08pm (EST)
This song gives me the same feeling as lots of stuff on “Hail to the Thief”…and I love the idea for this song…
- BigDaddyMatty & Special K | 2006-03-03 @ 10:37pm (EST)
I like how you made the background guitar?? sound like a flying saucer!
I hope you were trying to do that, otherwise I forgot to take my shoe off before I put my foot in my mouth!