The Furious Light

The New Album From David Ullman

Almost There

Feel like I’m almost there
Feel like I’m almost there
Suddenly I just don’t
Suddenly I just don’t

Feel like I’m almost there
Feel like I’m almost there
I keep screaming but you just don’t
I keep screaming but you just don’t

Feel like I’m almost there
Feel like I’m almost there
Suddenly I just don’t
Suddenly I just don’t care

"Almost There" is, by far, the shortest song on the album and the shortest song I've ever written. Like "How The Story Ends," it was written during the period I was re-listening to the Nine Inch Nails catalog and feels very Reznor-esque to me.

Some folks have mentioned Cream and Lenny Kravitz, too. I'll happily take any of those comparisons and really dig this song, myself.

It's the antithesis of many of my songs, in that it was written super, super quickly without any editing whatsoever—other than the number of times the phrases were repeated.

To be embarrassingly honest, I started singing this song to myself at the end of my drive to work one morning when one of the NIN records was over and there wasn't time enough to start another before I got there... Because I was "almost there."

At first, it was just a melody place-holder, but I soon realized other, less circumstantial, applications of that refrain.

It's really how I feel about my career as a public/professional musician.

Soon thereafter, I recorded the following video with me playing along on bass—an instrument I don't actually "play."

I tried only once or twice to elaborate on the theme; but, ultimately, I thought it was better left to the bare-bones of the lyric. I figured it could be something like the "Aye Davanita" interlude track on Pearl Jam's Vitology album. 

Here's a peak at some of the lousy lyrics that were (very briefly) considered:

About eight months later, I had a long demo session during which I recorded the following "Bass & Drum Loop Jam."

Basically, I played the bass line I'd cooked up over-top one of the programmed grooves in my RC-50 loop station and tried out various vocal phrasings and attacks through my (then) recently acquired Sure 520DX “Green Bullet” mic.  

Normally, I wouldn’t share something this long and self-indulgent, but it’s interesting to me how the whole writing and arrangement was sorted out in these seven minutes. You can really hear “my wheels turning.”

From there, I knew it would just be a matter of narrowing down just how many times I uttered the title phrase.

What follows is from my handwritten recording journal about the session wherein we recorded "Almost There" in Ohio:

9/29/14, 5:40pm @ The British Pub, near Gate B - Cleveland Airport

By this point (hour 10 of 2, 12 hr days), we were getting burnt out, and I was not catching on very well to Brian’s direction to play the groove a little sloppy—behind the beat.

Despite my best efforts, I could barely play it any other way than an awkward guitar lick. After a good few dozen strained attempts, we cut our losses and accepted my best take, which was really only 50% acceptable. That’s not saying much for a 1-minute song.

It was kind of a bummer way to end such a successful weekend session, but we did manage to very quickly map out that crumb of a song in two hours, most of which were spent on my failed attempts at playing bass.

On the drive to the airport today, I think I talked B into bailing me out of the bass performance altogether. He played it so effortlessly—and even threw in some tasty improvisational flourishes—when trying to teach it to me. It will sound much better this way.

Here’s how Brian remembers things, in his own words:

PRODUCER'S NOTE: This is where it became clear Dave wanted to do a different album. A one-and-half minute song of drum and bass. He was ready to be bold and different. The most memorable thing about recording this song was trying to get Dave to play the bass. After all, his riff and idea. I was pushing for the bass to slag behind, as we had done with the drums. After an hour of cracking the whip, he gave up. Our time was always short. So, with his blessing, I enjoyed slopping it up.