The Weekly Song
Sometimes I have a very specific memory of the writing of a song. I can remember where I was, the inspiration, how the process went, and how long it took. This is not one of those songs. I have only one memory of writing this song. I was driving on I-88, on the way home from Boston. Somewhere around Cobleskill, the road descends into a valley and there are views of the low mountains beyond, a quarry, the red brick buildings of a college. I remember thinking the words, "Gonna put down my roots in a town surrounded by hills of blue, and stop writing songs about you." That's all I've got.
The only other thing I remember about this song is that it felt easy to write. No lightning flashes of inspiration, but no banging-head-against-wall moments of desperation either. In general, my writing tends to fall at either end of this spectrum, so A Train's uneventfulness is perhaps its most remarkable feature. I also didn't feel especially attached to this song when I wrote it, though I knew instinctively, as I sometimes do, that it would go straight into the hopper of my often-played songs. By contrast, many songs I love desperately waste away in purgatory and never reach this place.
Easy is the word that comes to mind with A Train, through and through. Easy to write, easy to play, easy to arrange, easy to record. I don't mean easy in any diminutive sense: it's just always felt effortless and relaxed, like a laid-back but true friend. When I sit down with my guitar and don't know what to play, I often start with it. Not because it's especially precious or dear to my heart, but because it has never failed me.
Of course, over time this song has become precious to me, for reasons I can't quite explain. The words of the final verse ring so true in my life, perhaps even truer than they did when I wrote them. I never actually built a table (though I did buy the lumber for it), but I did cobble together a patchwork of friends whose companionship and humor I trust could weather me through anything. It took a long time. And ultimately, I think this song is about time, and trusting in your own better judgement (or the wise counsel of friends). This song took it's time with me. I'm so glad it did.
Folks in the Inner Circle: you can now download this track for free. Wondering what the heck I'm talking about? The Inner Circle is just a fancy-schmancy name for folks who join my email list. I send out occasional updates via email, but mostly it's a way for me to give away some secret stuff to the people who support me. If you want to join, just sign up below: