Burn it all Down

Hello once more from the frontiers of (un)popular song. This week a tune which I have previously posted without comment a couple of weeks back as I was still buggering about with it. Usual rules: have a cup of tea, listen intently while masturbating, read the lyrics in quiet awe, then rejoin me later down the page for a full and frank discussion.


Setting a fire to the bones of the town
Sometimes she feels she could burn it all down
And just leave here
They don’t believe her

Watching the flames reflect in her eyes
Burning the truth along with the lies
Is this feeling
Really freedom?

Shatter the windows
Flatten the doors
She doesn’t care what happens here any more

Tomorrow the sun will rise
Over smouldering ruins
It doesn’t matter at all to her
Cos tomorrow’s another day
And she won’t even see it

Watching her eyes in glittering gold
She looks so young but her soul is so old
And she’s leaving
Always leaving

Taking her hand in the charcoal glass
She’s burning the future along with the past
So lonely
Oh so lonely

Tomorrow the sun will rise
Over smouldering ruins
It doesn’t matter at all to her
Cos tomorrow’s another day
And she won’t even see it


I don’t often write songs from a riff up. I’m a rhythm guitarist by inclination, so mostly my songs arise from a chord change that’s caught my fancy. In this case, though, the riff that runs pretty much throughout was the wellspring from which everything else sprang. Recorded on a 3/4 scale acoustic guitar with nylon strings, I didn’t really imagine it would turn into this rocky-by-my-standards slice of anthemic indie.

It started life as a gentle, psychedelic number with a root drone in B… but playing around around with it I thought it sounded quite nice with the same riff over an A. And then it worked well with an E, and thus! Our Chord Change was born into this world. Fairly standard stuff, actually, but sufficiently pleasing to me to spend a few days working on a lyric. The bridge sits in a pretty logical F#maj with a soupcon of tendion between a descending bassline and ascending guitars to create a mini climax before the chorus, which deploys a couple of minor chords (F#min and D#min) to lend it a kind of plaintive feeling. To add some zest to that subtle underlying flavour of melancholia, the bassline and keening guitar parts change the harmonic construction a little so it doesn’t sound entirely meat and potatoes (I hope).

I’m quietly pleased with the effect, as it reminds me a bit of the Stone Roses’ first album. I’m sure that history has decided they were a dead end by now, but they were my entry point into the world of guitar music, and not much of my music really reflects that. There’s a sort of triumphal feel to the music perhaps? I dunno. The various guitar parts all sound like mini fanfares to me — and I am particularly pleased with the effect of the riff you hear over the first minute or so – a repeating melody in 5/4 time that plays on different ends of the stereo spectrum to what is (I hope) a slightly exciting effect: as it is in 5/4, it only actually matches up with the underlying music every 5 bars, and it generates something that sounds a little… breathless? Maybe? I like it anyway, so you can fuck off.

Lyrically, it is concerned with endings and new beginnings, and uses fire as its principle metaphor. Fire destroys, but it also cleanses. The protagonist of the song – a young woman – is about to change things irreparably for herself. Perhaps she is burning bridges with friends. I’m not going to analyse it too closely, but there’s something personal behind its meaning that I maybe don’t want to dig too deeply into.

What I do want to dig deeply into is the vocal, which suffers from a few moments of pitching trouble. Might have to re-record that. AGAIN. Jesus. And also rebalance the guitars in the chorus, which might be a bit loud. I dunno. I’ll let it percolate for a while.

Anyway, as it stands, I’m more or less pleased with the output. You may now go about your business. Let us never speak of it again.