I have been wanting to write down the stories behind all of my songs for a while now. There is always some hesitation when I consider doing things like this. I think the largest hangup that I have is my own surety that no one is interested. I think that this is an insecurity shared by many artists. I have always been fascinated to hear about other people’s inspiration in their songwriting; so in an effort to overcome my fears and in the hope that others may find my story equally interesting I will start with the title track to my recent freshman effort Illusions & Chimeras (Wait & Hope).
Illusions & Chimeras is actually one of the first songs I have ever written. I can trace the song’s roots back to 2002; although back in the day it was known as The Girl From Seattle. The interesting thing is that at the time I didn’t know anyone from Seattle. The title was entirely arbitrary, and I think at the time I felt all artistic for that. The song itself has changed lyrics and melodies so many times that I have lost track. Despite the countless revisions, however, the theme has always lingered on unrequited love. I think the lyrics kept changing because by the time I had finished up a version of the song I was already fruitlessly pining over a different girl that I was madly in like with. What girl could resist a guy that wrote a song about them right? Turns out plenty of them can. To be fair though I am sure that none of these girls ever knew I put them into song.
It wasn’t until I began to conceive the album Illusions & Chimeras (Wait & Hope) that the song, now called Illusions & Chimeras, took its final shape. The song is about feeling hopeless and lost but resolved in the decisions that you’ve made. There is a reflective nature to this song as well because I wrote it while looking back on a relationship that had recently ended. I was still trying to comprehend all of the emotions that I was feeling, and as a result really began to romanticize the whole relationship. I was extremely conflicted at the time, despite what logic was telling me, because I still had a lot of feelings for this person. It is funny how people are. We put ourselves through misery because we are afraid of change, or because we want so desperately to achieve an ideal that is often based on what Hollywood determines love to be. I was very much in a self destructive and confused place emotionally when I wrote this song, a fact that is ever apparent when reading the lyrics.
It is interesting to look back at the whole songwriting process, especially with Illusions & Chimeras because there have been so many iterations of the song throughout the past decade. I can see traces of songs that I loved back in college, books that I still love, and the remains of a very defining period of my life. In a lot of ways this song represents my growth as a person and musician. It has survived drunken nights, bad decisions, wrong turns in life, and generally a lot of questions and mistakes; but it also represents a conscious effort on my part to dig deep within myself to try to become a better person. Have I done a lot of stupid things in the past? Absolutely; but I don’t regret any of it because all of those experiences lead me to where I am now. That’s what this song means to me.
Illusions & Chimeras
You taunt me, confuse me, with all your guilt stained memories. I know you, don’t mean to, there’s no excuse for what you do.
Still you try, to sift through lies, that are only in your mind. Please can I, find misery in your size? Mine wears so well.
Do I mean what you mean to me? Or is this bitter bite of truth all that I’m fighting? Do I haunt you in your sleep like you haunt me? Or is my hope just a dream?
You tell me, what you need, and that to care means to concede. I need you, to see through, your hate and see I suffer too.
So what of love, and jealousy, our portrait of a beast. Illusions and, these chimeras, they claw my heart to shreds. And with my dying breath, the last thing to be said, is I’d suffer and die over again for you.