rough drafts


rough drafts
(last updated on May 28, 2002)



On this page you can view some of the early, rough versions of some of my writings. Perhaps this will show how some of them came to be, how they were formed, and how they might have turned out differently.


"EMPTY"

In its current form, the song "Empty" is a driving rock song in the style of Lou Reed. How did the song come about? Probably the main thing about the song that I wanted to get across was the idea of feeling empty, and how one's body is empty (of a soul, empty of life) after death. It's a dark song, and when I think of the line "empty it, empty me," I'm thinking of someone emptying a gun upon themselves (shooting themselves, committing suicide) and thus emptying their body of life. The dead body that falls on the ground will be emptied just as the gun was emptied. But someone who would do that to themselves probably felt pretty empty inside anyway, that they weren't really losing anything by losing their life.

When I look at the opening line "flower in a jar" now, in retrospect, I realize that it's a great line because it describes a feeling with imagery. The person is the "flower in a jar." A flower in a jar would die because it's deprived of the air it needs to survive. The person feels like such a dying flower, not getting what they need to live. The line "mom, take a look upon your favorite son now" is reminiscent of Jesus on the cross saying to his mother "Behold your son" -- although I was probably unaware of that Biblical passage when I wrote the line. Children are supposed to outlive their parents, and so a child dying first, especially by his own hand, would be a way of saying to the parent, "You failed." In the rough draft below, the reference to "watching you sleeping you know I'll get there yet" relates the state of sleep to the act of dying. The narrator longs for such a sleep, and perhaps by killing himself he feels that he's accomplished something at last, gone where he wanted to go. The section about the carpet probably came to be because I'd liked an image from a 1901 novel titled The Career of Mrs. Osborne by Helen Milecete that I'd tried to adapt into a silent-film screenplay around this time. There's a line in the novel, "Mrs. Wilton never admitted the sun into her house -- it faded the carpets." It was also inspired by the idea that after one dies, those who remain living have to deal with the consequences, including cleaning up the mess that the dead had left behind.

Anyway, here's how "Empty" began: a piece of paper circa 1993 with the following lines jotted down upon it:


LOST AND FORGOTTEN, INVISIBLE AS THE WIND,

SEEMS LIKE ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD OR DYING
NOW I'M ALL ALONE
THE TRIGGER'S TO THE BONE, AND THEN TO MY HEART
I SEE A FLOWERS IN A JAR
I SEE GRASS PAPERS IN THE PARK
SO MUCH TO CHOOSE,
SO LITTLE TIME TO CHOOSE IT.
MAYBE I'LL JUST BOOZE IT
AND LET A BLIND MAN MAKE THE CHOICE.

SALL SARAH'S STILL SLEEPING, FROZEN,
MORNING'S KEPT FROM THE CARPET BY THIS SHADE
WHEN I WALK IT'S WITH A WEIGHT FROM THIS ARM,
AND THIS HEART, AND THIS WAY I CAN END THE DAY.
BRING THE CARPET TO MY KNEES
AND YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW, I HATE SHE'LL
HATE SARAH'LL HAVE TO WASH THIS CARPET CLEAN WHEN I'M GONE
SAY YA DON'T MEAN IT
DON'T BE THAT UNFAIR
HOW BUT I DON'T GET A SAY 'COS I'M NOT EVEN HERE

WATCHING OUT THE WINDOW
WATCHING OUT THE TV SET MY REFLECTION
WATCHING PRETTY SARAH SLEEP I WANNA REMEMBER,
BUT YOU KNOW I FORGET
BUT THERE WERE OTHER ONES THINGS I FORGET
WATCHING YOU SLEEPING YOU KNOW I'LL GET THERE YET

A second piece of paper continues the process, with the lines more obviously structured in a song format, and so the choice of words depends on how it fits the melody and how it sounds. At this point, the work is still untitled.

FLOWERS IN A JAR
PAPERS IN THE PARK
SO MUCH TO CHOOSE, SO LITTLE TIME TO CHOOSE IT

MAYBE I'LL LOSE IT
MAYBE I'LL BOOZE IT

BUT MAYBE I'LL CHOOSE IT
MAYBE I'LL LOSE IT
MAYBE I'LL BOOZE IT, MAKE
LET BLIND MAN MAKE THE CHOICE

WATCHING OUT THE WINDOW
WATCHING MY REFLECTION
WATCHING YOU SLEEPING YOU KNOW I'LL GET THERE YET

WATCH ME OUT THE DOOR
HEADING FOR A FALL
HEADING FOR A POLE
OH I THINK I NEARLY DID CRASH MY CAR.

ON THE EDGE

AND I FEEL IT
I CAN FEEL IT
FINALLY FEEL IT ALL INSIDE ME

SAY YA DON'T MEAN IT
DON'T BE THAT UNFAIR
BUT I DON'T GET A SAY 'COS I'M NOT EVEN HERE

THE RIVER'S ROLL
AND THE SWEET SARAH'S SOUL
IS NOT ENOUGH TO EVEN KEEP ME GOIN' ON

NOT AFRAID SEEIN'
ZOMBIE-EYED
I GOT MY .45
ALL MY FRIENDS ARE EITHER DEAD OR DYING

I SWOON TO THE
RED RENDEZVOUS
REELING TO THE PIT-PAT STOP-START OF MY HEART

TAKE ONE OFF THE STREET
GIVE HER A GOOD BEATING
I'M STILL REELING; THAT WHOA, I HARDLY KNOW MYSELF LATELY TODAY

WHEN I WALK IT'S WITH A WEIGHT
FROM THIS ARM, AND THIS HEART,
AND THIS WAY I CAN END THE DAY

I'M GOING
WHEN I'M GONE
SARAH'LL
I'M GOING DOWN
TO MY KNEES
WHEN I'M GONE, THEY'LL HAVE TO WASH THIS CARPET CLEAN

STEADILY
LOOK AT ME
MORNING MAMA TAKE A LOOK AT
UPON UPON YOUR FAVORITE SON NOW

LOOKING IN THE MIRROR
LOOK AT HIM THERE
NO HO, LOOK OUT I'M GETTING SCARED.

A third piece has the song coming into its present form, with a title appearing for the first time and occasional stanzas which would be omitted in the final version. There's only one mention of "Sarah" on the page (compared to three mentions in the first draft) and it's crossed-out.

ON THE EDGE

.45 RAINCHILL GAME

EMPTY

FLOWER IN A JAR
DEAD MAN IN THE PARK
SO MUCH TO CHOOSE LOSE, SO LITTLE TIME TO CHOOSE IT.
(LOSING IT)

WATCH ME OUT THE DOOR
HEADING FOR A POLE
OH I THINK I NEARLY DID CRASH MY CAR

TAKE USE ONE OFF THE STREET
USE HER GIVE HER A GOOD BEATING
WHOA I HARDLY KNOW MYSELF TO-DAY

SAY YA DON'T MEAN IT
DON'T BE THAT UNFAIR
BUT I DON'T GET A SAY 'COS I'M NOT EVEN HERE

WATCHING OUT THE WINDOW
LOOKING IN THE GLASS
WATCHING YOU SLEEPING YOU KNOW I'LL GET THERE YET

BUT I NEVER SLEEP
I HAVE TOO MUCH TO SEE
PEOPLE I NEED TO GET INSIDE M YOUR HEAD

THE RIVER'S ROLL
AND SWEET SARAH'S

MONEY LANE
AND DEAR SWEET SARAH'S

HOLLOW MAN
HOLLOW HAND
HOLLOW OF THE GUN TO THE HEAD ON MY HEAD

ZOMBIE-EYED
I GOT MY .45
ALL MY FRIENDS ARE EITHER DEAD OR DYING

STEADILY
LOOK AT ME
MAMA MOM TAKE A LOOK UPON YOUR FAVORITE SON NOW

WHEN I WALK ITS WITH A WEIGHT
FROM THIS ARM, AND THIS HEART,
AND THIS WAY I CAN END THE DAZE.

I'M GOING DOWN
TO MY KNEES
WHEN I'M GONE, THEY'LL HAVE TO WASH THIS CARPET CLEAN

AND I FEEL IT BUT NOW I FEEL EVERYTHING NOW
AND I'M FREE
FINALLY I CAN FEEL IT ALL INSIDE ME

TRIGGER'S TO THE BONE
HOLLOW LIKE THE SUN
COLD

TRIGGER TO THE BONE
HOLLOW ALL ALONE
COMIN' SOON THE

-(SOLO)-

EMPTY,
EMPTY,
EMPTY IT,
EMPTY ME


Click here to read the final version of the song "Empty"


November 30, 1988

On the above date, I wrote three songs, "Picky Eater," "You Gotta Get Outta That Cage," and "Amen." "Picky" was my attempt at a psychedelic "I am the Walrus" type song, although it started first with just an insistent melody pattern that I had to put words to. Originally I titled the song "Picky Eater (from Na to La)" because I liked how "I am the Walrus" had the subtitle "No, you're not!" said Little Nicola (at least on the Magical Mystery Tour album, anyway). I had the phrase "Na to La" at the end of the second stanza mentioning "Roland." That stanza and the earlier "Roland" stanza "Chorus for a funeral") have the same melody (different from the rest of the song) and were written together, like so:

CHORUS FOR A FUNERAL
FOR A FIGURE LIKE
JUST LIKE ME

ROLAND WROTE THE
SONGS YOU SEE
AND DEATH IS ALL I SUNG

ROLAND BROTHER ELDER TWIN OF MINE
MASTER OF THE SONGS I SING
ROLAND THE DEAD TWIN FELL BY
MY HAND AND I
STOLE EVERYTHING

The next song written that evening was "You Gotta Get Outta That Cage." The lyrics reminded me of Todd Rundgren's song "All the Children Sing" which goes something like: "See Mr. Malone / He spends another quiet evening alone / Sits in his study and stares at the phone." Here's a rough draft bit from my song:

MS. LEE DOESN'T WANT TO GO ON A DATE
BUT SHE KNOWS THAT TIME WON'T WAIT
SHE GOES ON HOPING KNOWING TIME WON'T WAIT
SHE WANTS MAGIC, BUT SHE FEARS IT'S TOO LATE

SHE LOVED HER LIFE BECAUSE SHE KNEW
SHE KNEW
SHE THOUGHT SHE'D CHANGE THE WORLD
BE FAMOUS LI
DREAMED OF BEING FAMOUS
AND TRIED AS HARD AS SHE COULD
SHE DREAMED OF FAME

MR. TRAVERS STARES GLANCES AT HIS PHONE
MS. LEE DOESN'T DON'T WANT TO BE ALONE
TOGETHER WITH EACH OTHER IS THE ONLY WAY
STUCK IN EMPTY LIVES,
THEIR BODIES DON'T FEEL AT HOME
THEY BOTH ARE A LITTLE SICK OF SPENDING
THEY'RE SICK OF SATURDAY NIGHTS AT HOME

TWO DOORS DOWN, BUT THEY'RE SO FAR APART
TWO SOULS CRYING FOR THE OTHER'S HEART
THEY CAN'T GET MOVIN IF THEY CAN'T START

Finally, at the end of the day, I wrote "Amen." I had been reminded of Rundgren's "All the Children Sing" and had been disappointed that the song didn't have children singing on it! I felt that a song with such a title should have had a choir of children singing the chorus. So, I decided to create the kind of song that I was imagining.

IF THERE'S A GOD HEAVEN ABOVE
THEN I WANT TO GO IN
IF THERE'S A GOD FILLED WITH LOVE
THEN I KNOW I LOVE HIM

AMEN TO THE GLORY
AMEN TO THE CHILD
AMEN TO THE SUNSHINE
AMEN TO THE PEACEFUL
AMEN TO THE KIND
AMEN TO THE BLESSED FAITHFUL ONES
THE GREATEST BLESSED ONE COULD FIND




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