My Best Guess

my best guess behind the scenes video

If one word could explain this whole album, I think it would be "angst." This album was recorded during a period when I was questioning my religion, my relationships, where I was working and living, basically my entire life, all at once. Every song is full of doubt and questions.

Recorded 2008 at Miner Street Studios
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Producer: Brian McTear

Just Another Song

It makes complete sense that this should be the first song on this album. Lyrically, it serves two purposes. Purpose #1: Having completed work on my previous album no more than a month before writing this song, I felt a little weary, but nonetheless compelled to start writing again... "here we go again... just another song..."

Purpose #2: I'm an arguer through and through. I question everything, I constantly call people out, I never shut up. Despite being aware of this character trait for the majority of my life, I have not yet learned HOW to argue without a) hurting other people's feelings, and b) learning how to resolve arguments, which leads to having the arguments again and again. This usually results in one of two outcomes: 1) I tell you whatever you want to hear (sing you a song) so that I can escape with a small amount of dignity, or 2) I apologize later.

In either case, I know better, and I can usually see trouble coming, but I still run in, head-first and fists flying.

I know that I should walk away from you
But I've still got some things to say to you
I wonder how they're going to play
And would you say them too?

It's just another song for me to sing to you
It's just another song for me to make up words to
And I just want to get this right
Yeah, I don't want to ruin this night
So I say
Listen here I promise you
No matter what we're going through
I've never giving up on you again

Maybe there's a right and wrong way
to say what I have got to say to you
Promise me that you will stay
Even if it's not the truth

Okay, Okay
I'm just trying to say
I'll play, I'll play
Your silly game tonight
Tell you it'll be alright

Right way, wrong way
Nothing's ever gray
But I'll play, I'll play
Your silly game tonight
Tell you it'll be alright

Blackout

Depending on how loud your speakers are when you play this song, you may or may not hear a sweet female voice (belonging to Deena Parr) saying, in German: "Good morning boys and girls. Today we are going to learn about metaphors. A metaphor is..."

As far as I'm concerned, that really should be all the explanation that is necessary. However, if you really want me to fill in all the blanks, I can say that this song is HONESTLY not about drugs. It IS about people... people who you know for a fact are bad for you, but are no less addictive than a narcotic. Sure, you can try to get away from them, or try to alter your relationship with them, but in the end, they always return... even if they take the form of another person.

You black out the sunshine
You don't waste any time
How'd you get ahold of me

Well I'll be your goldmine
Long as wrong is still right
When you take ahold of me

All my innocence
will not be put on trial
If I had some sense
I'd stay here in denial
With you

So call me when you're ready to get high
Call me when you're ready to get high
Just enough for my body to get by
Call me when you're ready to get high

Well we had our good times
And we gave our best try
But you lost your hold on me

I cover my eyes
From the blackened sunshine
'cus it's not what it should be

All my innocence will not be put on trial
Nothing's making sense
So I'll just kill a while
With you

And my memory's tinted black
All the pieces look like you
When I tried to get them back
There was nothing I could do

Dear Jesus

When I played the demo for this song for a friend of mine, she said something like this in response: "Did you ever hear a song, and then realize that the song describes your friend perfectly? And then later, it dawns on you that the song was written by that friend? That's what happened to me when I heard this." That conversation just about made my week.

When I sat down to write Dear Jesus, I thought to myself: "I can fluff this, or I can write it honestly. If I write it honestly, people will hassle me, and question my faith, and judge me (and possibly try to proselytize me). If I keep it generic or hide it with a metaphor, no one will be the wiser, and I won't have to deal with probing questions." For whatever reason, I chose honesty.

My opinion is this: If God is, in fact, the God of the Bible (as I have been told), then he wants all of you - your love, your passion, your questions, your doubts, YOU. Sure, there have been times when I was complacent and had no doubts. This, however, was a time of sincere, meaningful questions. I think God wants that from me too.

Here is my question
The one without reply
The one I thought I had to ask
at 4:05
And this is MY BEST GUESS
And it's my last try
Even when I find answers
I never find why

Dear Jesus
I'm feeling so tired
Come back in a while
I'm waiting in line
for the outside world
I gave it a try
Yeah that is my line
I'm waiting in line
For the outside world

Here is my baggage
All the reasons why
I'm waiting for solutions
Or a well-told lie
And I hope it's no bother
To your infinite time
But I said all my prayers
And I'm still alive

Dear Jesus
I'm feeling so tired
Come back in a while
I'm waiting in line
for the outside world
I gave it a try
Yeah that is my line
I'm waving goodbye
From the outside world

I've got plenty on my mind
Without opening my eyes
To the world around me
I'll spend forever on your dime
Or wait it out in fire
How does that sit with your world?

Spaceman

spaceman music video

My favorite song from this album. This song was written to "someone" who is very very close to me, who was in a GIANT funk at the time. She was practically incapable of experiencing joy or anything other than indifference. She was, for all intents and purposes, in space. I promised myself (and her) that I would try my hardest to get her out of that funk, and to never let her get back there again.

I went up to the moon
And I saw you there
The time was coming soon
When you'd run out of air
But you sat there
Twirling your hair

So I brought you down to earth
To try and make this fair
But now we're on my turf
I'm painfully aware
How you sit there
Twirling your hair

I won't let you rocket away
I won't let you fly into space
You play in orbit
You'd best play it safe
Or a spaceman
Will take you away

In your eyes
I see the earth rise
And I can't believe you're staring back at me
In your eyes
I see the moonlight
And I know that's all I ever want to see

Line Between Us

"A Line Between Us" is the kissing cousin of "Just Another Song." It's also about many of the arguments I was going through at the time of writing, but this conversation is mostly with myself. As I looked back on a life of hyper-fundamentalism, I felt cheated, betrayed, and manipulated by a system that could no longer answer my questions. I had heard a lot of lines, and I had told just as many. I was frustrated, tired, and sick of the whole matter.

The key to this song, in my opinion, is the phrase - "anything is possible for us." That's me deciding that if something in my life isn't working, then it has to be fixed, or it has to go.

I've got a line
For you to hear
I've gotta try
'cus it's almost
Worth the fear to me

I've got a line
So just listen here
I've gotta try
'cus you left me
Here tonight

I'm too tired to run
I'm too tired to stand here and fight
So I'll say you've won
If it means you'll quit for tonight

And anything is possible for us
No matter how impossible it was

If you're gonna lie
At least make it clear
I'm already blind
And your lies are
Hard to hear

I'm short on time
So just listen here
I don't want to try
So just leave me
Here tonight

Another line
Another try
Another waste of time and space
Another line
On borrowed time
Another day to make my case

Picture Frame

picture frame music video

This one's a toughy. It's really a response to where I found myself in relation to my upbringing. After all, the year I spent writing these songs was a strange one, and it was hard to understand just how I arrived there. I was on the verge of moving across the country, but called it off at the last minute. I was re-evaluating my stance and opinions on everything and everyone I knew. I was living in someone else's home, and was changing jobs.

When I looked at myself as compared to what I thought I would be when I was young, the two pictures were very different. Sometimes I felt alone and wrong, at others I felt vindicated and liberated, at other times I felt like I needed to ask God to intervene, and in some ways I felt like I wanted to just escape. But in all of those cases, I was really being unfair - I was trying to define myself with someone else's rulebook. I think the greatest realization I had through this writing was that I needed to make a totally new picture on my own terms.

I guess you know
I'm all alone
I'm headed home
With my tail between my legs

And is it wrong
To play along
To sing the song
That you've always wanted me to

'Cus I've gone deaf
And I've gone blind
And I have crossed
Every invisible line

And I can try (say what you will)
Invoke the divine (time to heal, time to kill)
Bend space and time (we all have our race to run)
And pray my wish comes true

Or I can cheat (take it all away from me)
Just be discreet (pull me out of the debris)
Wipe off your feet
When you come in the door

Or go insane
Blow out my brains
Cut the last frame
That's how we want it to end

Wouldn't that be pretty?
I guess it would
I guess it should
fit in your picture frame

Can I ever admit it? (say what you will)
That I'm just quitting (time to heal, time to kill)
Whenever it gets too hard (we all have our race to run)
For me to see?

No I'll never admit it (take it all away from me)
'Cus I'm never quitting (pull me out of the debris)
'Cus it never gets too hard
For me to see
I see everything

Wait

Technical note: this song was originally cut in favor of something more up-tempo. I was really disappointed about that, but at the time, I wanted more "happy" songs. Eventually, however, due to a whole series of random events, that song got cut, and "Wait" was first in line to get back in the mix.

When you lose someone or something, you think it's the worst thing in the world. And then someone comes up to you and says "hey, you think YOU'VE got problems? What about so and so in Africa?" or something. When you deconstruct any problem, it can take on a whole new relevance or lack thereof. The life and death dilemmas of yesterday become the selfish whining today.

This song is deconstruction... my problems and losses are a small drop in a huge ocean, and the ocean is a drop in a huge universe which is comprised of nothing really, when you think about it, and therefore neither are my losses. My head hurts.

The ocean is nothing but water
Lying on top of some sand
Rising to the call of the moonlight
Eating away at the land

Eternity is nothing but space
Lying on top of the sky
Floating at the whim of the sunlight
Watching all the planets go by

You and I are nothing but memories
Hidden in the back of my mind
Every day there's less to remember
Sometimes I forget to try

If I wait for you here
Would you reappear
If only for a moment
Or would I disappear
It used to be so clear
But only for a moment

And I'm tired of trying to think
'Cus I don't know what to say
'Cus these words I cannot speak
And this prayer I cannot pray

My Best Guess

This is my attempt to take ultimate responsibility for myself. I've spent my entire life wrapped up in religion, and I had recently realized that (in many cases) such religion requires you to blame other people and God / gods for your problems. "Why did God let me waste my life?" "God had me experience ____ so that I could better deal with ____."

I don't buy that anymore. This is where I "man up" and say "You know what? It's on me." Whatever course my life takes from here on out is my fault, for better or for worse. I'm not blaming God any more. Like it or not, life is a guess. Everyone's got to take their best shot at it, and let the chips fall.

Am I so
Disadvantaged
No trees grow
None planted

I'm empty
I've had it
No trees grow
None planted

If I fall asleep tonight
Then I guessed
the meaning right
If I had to guess

If I fall asleep tonight
Won't be wrong
I won't be right
Fill in the rest
With my best guess

Evacuate the planet
No trees grow
I planned it

I can't wait
Can't stand it
No trees grow
I planned it

It's not easy as it seems
It's not easy for me

This is Me Smiling

This song is based on a single conversation I had with a friend that I don't really hang with anymore. After sensing that something was going on in my life, she was doing a nice friend thing in asking me how I was HONESTLY doing. I honestly responded. I told her that I was taking a second look at everything, and some things weren't making the cut.

She then hijacked the conversation and defined my situation through her experiences, and her problems. She assumed that this was a result of depression; and maybe even the result of, or the love of, sin. After a minute, I put on the brakes. "That's not what I'm going through. I'm not sad about this. I'm the happiest and most satisfied that I've ever been, and if God is God, then this is what He wants. I'm just growing up... This isn't sin."

I know that she wouldn't agree. But maybe that's why we don't hang anymore.

I've given up
I'm tired of trying
I'm ready to call it quits
And sleep where I'm lying
And it may be surprising
For you to see...

I've run away
On paths that are winding
Is that what you're calling this
Is that satisfying
And is it surprising
For you to see
That this is me smiling

Maybe you're right
And I'm just not trying
The galaxy's caving in
And everyone's dying
And is it surprising
For you to see
That this is me smiling

This is me growing up
This is me shedding skin
This is me calling this
For what it is

And I know you won't let me drown
In my own confidence
What if nothing else holds up
What if nothing else makes sense

Everyone has
A story they're buying
And all of them end the same
With the heroes all dying
And it may be surprising
For you to see
That this is me smiling

Shoulda Been

Everyone has a guilty pleasure. Mine is Pop (the genre, not the soda). I literally said "I'd like to write a pop song." Then I sat down and wrote "Shoulda Been." This story never happened to me, and with any luck, it never will. It's just a catchy tune that I wrote just for fun. It's kind of a counter-point the to the serious tone of the rest of the album.

So what about us
What about now
Shouldn't we try
And figure this out
We were always in love
Never in doubt
We let it go by
We let it go out
Our shoulda been love

What did you say to me
You've got a better place to be
You've got a whole big world to see
And we're just not working out

Well baby I'm tired too
I've been working hard for you
But no matter what I do
It never quite works out

We just got turned around
And then got flipped upside down
But I know we'll work it out
And start over again

We'll figure the whole mess out
Get over our fears and doubts
Then we'll turn the whole world around
And start over again