Song by song quotes and descriptions from producer and co-writer Ben Lovett
JUST AIN'T RIGHT
"Just Ain't Right" is a rebuttal to every past relationship I've had mired in common communication problems. It's more an expression of frustration than deep anguish, someone simply exasperated at having to constantly jump through invisible hoops to prove their affection. Chris had made "Currency Of Love" with Joseph Arthur, which I thought had a great tone and sensibility to it, so we started off with that song in mind. Chris sat down at the piano and I grabbed a yellow legal pad, he played and I wrote, occasionally throwing out phrases and melodies. Once we had a sense of what was working, we switched over to guitar and worked out the rest of the arrangement. I went back to the hotel that night and hammered out all the lines. I still had a lot of baggage to dump from a previous relationship, so the words came clear and fast. The vocal take in the recording was actually the scratch track, which I always meant to replace but never did. It was cut two days after I wrote the lyrics, so the whole intent of the song was fresh in my system and still new to me, and when I went back to re-cut it later, I quickly realized the feeling had passed on and figured it best to just keep the original take. As much as the lyrics attempt to posture and taunt the person being addressed, the deeper point running underneath all that is exposed when the singer realizes the root of his frustration is not the other person at all, but simply this notion that 'I get attached to things easily because I'm human, and once you start giving me a little affection I want it all the time.' Then all that attitude and pretense being thrown around in the verses catches up with the singer. Suddenly he's not so cool after all; underneath he's begging for love just like the rest of us.
This song is a different animal from most others we did. Rachel and I hammered out a musical arrangement and a general thesis for this song the day we met, scratching down a flurry of phrases but never really committing to any of them. Her brain works really fast, and if we lingered on a line for more than a few moments she'd boot it and keep moving. Only the ones that hit the page hard and quick were allowed to stay. When she came in to record, there was still no "song" on paper in the usual sense, so I decided we'd cut the song live and have her just riff on the phrases, trying different combinations on each take. She's a rock and roller at heart, so she was totally game for it. The song needed the wild energy of raw instinct, and Rachel has that in spades. We ran it a few times with everyone playing together, took the best instrumental take, and spliced together my favorite vocal bits, and the song was done.
FOLLOW THE SOUND
The day I met Michael he told me a story about a man who spent weeks in a coma. A friend of Michael's went to the hospital every day with his guitar and sat next to the bed, playing and singing songs to his unconscious friend. After weeks of this, the man was still unresponsive and his family made the decision to let him go, having lost hope he would ever regain consciousness. Michael's friend snuck into the room on the man's final night and sat next to the bed, playing the songs over and over until morning arrived. Just as the doctors entered the room to usher him out, the unconscious man woke from the coma, singing right along in time with the song. He was long gone and in instant he reappeared, as if all along he had been following the sound of his friend's voice, eventually finding the door from that other place back into ours. Michael then leaned back and said, "So what do you want to write about today?" We both laughed and I picked up the guitar. The mission was clear and I knew the song was already there. It was simply a matter of helping it find its way to us.
CAME A LONG WAY
Sydney was the first of the blind dates that eventually became Lovers & Friends. I had never co-written a song from scratch with anyone, much less someone I didn't know. Nervously I drove out to her place and we went for a walk along the canyons above Mulholland Drive. Sydney told me a story she'd read in the news about a pair of lovers who had reached the end of their relationship, [delete] and decided to walk the Great Wall of China from opposite ends, meeting in the middle to say a final farewell, then go their opposite ways forever. It was a grand gesture of respect between two people who had spent decades together but knew things had run their course. We wrote "Came A Long Way" that afternoon and it set the wheels in motion for the entire project. The vocal on the recording is the same one we tracked in her bedroom that day, with Sydney capturing everything the song had to say in a single demo take.