The Furious Light

The New Album From David Ullman

Filtering by Category: Songwriting


“Maytime” is a title I had written first written down about five years ago. It came from a chapter title (“The Maytime Witch”) in The Swell Season by Josef Škvorecký. I had often thought it would be a romantic love song, but it turned out to be a platonic one.

I knew friendship was one of the central themes on the album, and I’d always wanted to write a song about my friends using their nicknames (à la Springsteen or Hamell on Trial)...

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The Furious Light

The title track for the album was one of the last I set out to write. At this point, I had a good idea of what the pallet of the record would be, and I knew I wanted a certain sort of opening song. 

I believe the words “Furious Light” were inspired by something in Moby Dick, which I was reading/listening to at the time, but I haven't been able to relocate the specific passage since. 

At this stage, I was favoring the “Notes” app in my iPhone over my pocket moleskine notebooks. Those of you familiar with this feature know the title of a given “Note” is the first line of its text. The first line in the file containing many possible lyric phrases from this time was “Furious Light.” I would see it every time I wanted to add something to my growing list of ideas, and it lodged in my brain something fierce...

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Almost There

"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."...

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How The Story Ends

The song which would become “How The Story Ends” began in 2001 as a tune called “The Petty Principle.” 

At the time, I’d only written three other songs (“Darkest of Days,” “Start Anew,” and “Unspoken” ) since the 1950’s-rock’n’roll-inspired tunes I was recording in my parents’ master bedroom at age eight.

The latter two (both ballads) would appear on Dog Days, my first full-length solo release in 2008. By this time, I was specializing in acoustic, singer-songwriter fare, but this song was always firmly rooted in my love of aggressive rock—particularly that of Nine Inch Nails...

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Deep Dark Secrets

“Deep Dark Secrets” recounts a very alarming incident in which I witnessed an authority figure unexpectedly lose control and ultimately utter the haunting words, “I have done a very good job of harboring deep… Dark… Secrets.” 

One of my more effective songs has been “Fear Followed,” written about the time I was robbed at gunpoint while working the graveyard shift at a gas station/convenience store in Raleigh, North Carolina. The intense subject matter always seems to intrigue people. However, even at the time, I knew and would tell folks that I had been more scared at another time in my life. With “Deep Dark Secrets,” I wanted to write about that time. 

The kernel of this song came to to me during my early-morning commute. I scribbled the first line and refrain in my pocket-sized notebook in traffic and recorded a video on my iPhone at 8:28am—as soon as I got to the office... 

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French New Year

After having written three ballads in a row, I was very ready to write something more aggressive and upbeat. 

The same Smithsonian magazine that lent me the inspiration for “Lately” also contained either a line or an article about people burning their cars on New Year’s Eve in France. I have not been able to find the mention since—or even much clarification as to why French folks were doing this—but I really seized on the rebellious notion of new-beginnings, forged in flames...

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Close To The Bone

I began “Close To The Bone” very shortly after finishing “Lately.” It picks up right where the closing lines of that song leave off and serves as a kind of second act to a trio of tunes which resolves with “French New Year.”

I remember jotting down the title phrase after hearing it during an interview with screenwriter Anthony Tambakis on The Bryan Callen Show—a comedy podcast, of all places. I was dismayed to learn it was already the name of a Tom Tom Club album from 1983, but I proceeded to write my song anyway...

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“Lately” was originally entitled “Holocene”  and is very much a new-year’s-resolution-turned-campfire-confessional type of tune. I wrote it very quickly after reading an article published in the January 2013 issue of Smithsonian magazine—a publication to which my father-in-law had bought me a subscription for Christmas. 

In print, the piece bears the headline "The Era of Our Ways,” and it explores the scientific debate as to whether humans have had sufficient enough impact on the earth so as to necessitate a newly named period of history. According to the article, “we are officially in the Holocene epoch, which began 11,700 years ago after the last major ice age.” 

Holocene is defined here as “entirely recently.” That phrase and the “Era of Our Ways” title got me going, and the stream-of-conscious lyrics came very quickly. It was my New Year’s resolution to write a song a month; and, especially with this first one, I didn’t want to labor over lyrics as much as I usually do...

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“Enough” was the first song I wrote for the what would become The Furious Light album. I started working on it Halloween, 2012—about a month before the Light The Dark record was released.

My wife and I had moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Northfield, Minnesota, and I had spent the previous couple of months trying to create some interest in the new album and looking work as a video producer to help pay the bills.  

I was watching television coverage of “Superstorm Sandy" and the people affected by it when I was moved to write the first verse, which is virtually the same in the recorded song as it was on the top of the page dated 10/31/12...

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