The Furious Light

The New Album From David Ullman

Lately

Lately I’ve been thinking: 
I should really read more books
Be more romantic with my wife and finally teach myself to cook 

Latey I’ve been thinking: 
I should call my mother more
Pack up the Christmas tree and clean the kitchen floor 

Take my dog for walks
Maybe even think before I talk 

Lately I’ve been thinking: 
I’d like to be seventeen
But do it better this time—hell, I’d settle for twenty-three 

Lately I’ve been thinking: 
I should really drink less wine
But I don’t really want to, though. I’m sure my liver’s fine 

Try to listen more
Maybe fix the window on my driver’s side door 

I don’t want to live online
I want to spend more time outside
I’ve seen the eras of my ways
I want to get right someday 

Scientists are saying that the holocene is over
But it’s been ages since I’ve seen you
Wish I could just come over
Maybe I shouldn’t have drank so much and wrote you that letter
It’s really how I felt, though, so why don’t I feel better? 

You’re still my oldest friend
So long for now
Until we meet again

 

“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.

Most all of my first draft, dated 1/3/2013, survived unchanged, and I suppose it’s fitting of the first song written as part of my New Year’s resolution to write more songs that the lyrics read like a list of things I could be doing better—everything from household chores to being a better doggy-daddy, husband, and son. 

Other than a chord or two in the bridge, the only thing really to change from the video demo above, done about a week after the lyrics were first scribbled down, was the decision to capo my guitar on the second fret so I could sing in a more comfortable range. This took a few live airings to sort out; and, by the time I came to record the first demo with my brother a full year later, I’d taken to playing the song on my custom Fender Strat. This was to try and take things in a slightly less folky, country direction. By that time, I’d written some much more aggressive songs and was less interested in kitchy little ditties. Nonetheless, this song had a charm that carried it all the way through the final cut of The Furious Light album. 

Below is a cell-phone video I took of the ridiculous rig and process through which I recorded to the “beat box” (computerized drum track) Brother Brian sent me. While his recording techniques and output were becoming more sophisticated and successful, mine were somehow devolving—becoming more simplistic yet somehow more convoluted at the same time. 

So, I sent him my crudely-recorded voice and guitar tracks, and he soon sent me back a mix with all sorts of guitars added. 

Here's what Brian had to say:

PRODUCER'S NOTE: My fondest memory of the recording process was eating broccoli, carrots and humus in-between writing and recording 2nd guitar, uke, 12-string and bass parts. All while the Super Bowl is taking place, that was a unique day. Also getting my dad’s bandmate and friend Larry Griffin to play pedal steel on this was super cool! He’s got to be the best in the area, thank you Larry!

The pedal steel part Larry Griffin played was done a few weeks later and can be heard on the final album version (posted up top).

I think my favorite thing about this demo is Brian’s acoustic guitar part (right speaker). Also, I remember Brian telling me his bass guitar part was inspired by the one on Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side.” 

And… If you listen closely at the end, you can hear me take the last swig of a bottle of wine I had lying around. I was trying to quickly get a guide vocal off to Brian, but the time-crunch made my throat constrict, so I did this take having a sip or two of wine throughout to try and loosen up. The sounds of me popping the cork at the beginning and finishing the bottle at the end were ultimately used in the final mix on the album.