Layers of meaning, layers of paint
I wrote ‘Everywhere I Go’ around the same time I wrote ‘Foxhole’, my previous single. That is, some time around 2010/2011. Rather than go through the song in detail, I’ll just list some assorted tidbits about its inspiration, writing, and recording in case you find those kinds of details interesting!
This is kind of a love song, but there are other layers of meaning too. It’s about being haunted by love, trying to escape it in other people, but ultimately needing a ‘slap and shout’ to snap out of it. The ‘girl who found her way into my head’ delivering the metaphorical slap may not in fact be a person, but more an experience - it’s been long enough that there are two different ways I understand it myself. There are some slightly obscure literary references sprinkled throughout, reflecting the books I was reading at the time. The line in the second verse - ‘black sail mocks/the jagged rocks/forgot to stop/and it’s too late’ - is a nod to the story of Theseus from Ancient Greek mythology, who after returning from rescuing his fellow Athenians from Crete accidentally caused his father to kill himself by forgetting to take down the black sail he left with. The story of victory rushing headlong into tragedy seemed fitting for this song. Another slightly stranger reference is to Carlos Castenada’s (fictional) Don Juan, whose wisdom included thinking of death as always sitting to one’s left-hand side. I thought it would be nice to undercut the line ‘time is on my side’ with ‘but it don’t sit to the right’.
I actually played ‘Everywhere I Go’ a couple of times with The Crashlights, with our lead singer Rupert handling vocal duties. Rupert always liked the song, saying that it reminded him of ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s. I kept that reference in mind for years, and it informed the mix and arrangement of the final version of the song. I was listening to Big Star a lot around the time I wrote the song, and the cascading lead guitar part is an attempt to capture the molten, golden jangle of their album ‘Radio City’.
At some point I decided to sing the lead vocals down an octave. This choice was dictated by something I learnt after many years trying to sing at the top of my range: I’m not Jeff Buckley, and I’m not Thom Yorke. But my voice sounds good in its wheelhouse, and singing lower allows me to sing with more control and nuance. This was brought home for me clearly by watching my friend Clea perform - her acoustic songs are very comfortably in her range and it lets her really perform and get the emotion of the lyrics across.
I was struggling a bit with how to end the song - I wanted it to be cathartic, to feel like freedom, but the big jangly electric guitar treatment I originally planned was too obvious. So I tried out a different technique, layering a dozen or so different ideas over the ending and then deleting parts from there. The idea was to do something like the painting technique where you paint several layers of colour on top of each-other and then scratch away the top layers to create the composition.
‘Everywhere I Go’ is another song with a long history. It’s also another song that I wrote around the time I properly joined the adult world, around 19 or 20, and like Foxhole it contains both a feeling of optimism for the future and relief at having escaped adolescence in one piece.