Another one of the songs originally from our “Take Me To The Fair” EP, “Pretty Memories” is littered with metaphor and simile. It’s about moving on after the end of a seemingly brief relationship. It kicks off by likening the romance to a summer storm and a traveling circus that only sticks around long enough to bring a little larger-than-life joy to our narrator before packing up and moving on.
Love hit hard like a late summer storm
sudden and furious then it’s all over
The wind took north, the sun hopped a train
The circus left town singing its final refrain
It’s quite enlightening for me to analyze my own lyrics so many years after writing them. If I’m not mistaken, around this time, Rod and I were binge watching the short-lived, but wonderfully creepy TV series “Carnivale” so it makes sense that circus metaphors were actively gnawing away at my subconscious.
I also remember imagining an old dilapidated non-functioning wishing well, in the middle of nowhere on which our narrator is sitting, leaning over the edge and dropping pennies despite the fact that there’s no water at the bottom.
There at the bottom of a well bone dry
Many is the heart that fell from the sky
Leaning in close for a better view
Trying to join the ranks of the chosen few
That was me after you
With each penny, she’s lamenting the dysfunction of the relationship and the dry well provides the perfect backdrop for the hopelessness of her wishes. You get the feeling she isn’t his first hit and run love affair.
Pretty memories
Pretty memories
go quietly into the ground
Like pale copper wishes
Falling down
The following verses are the moving on part. She’s taking steps to shed the pieces of him that influenced her, while he is leaving town in a rather pathetic way. (I couldn’t help delighting myself with the reality of this heart-breaker.)
With a box of hair dye and a pair of scissors
Made some changes in the bathroom at the Motel 6
Burned all the leather and dumped the Harley
Bought a blue plaid dress from the salvation army
We had big top dreams in a pup tent world
It was just another riddle when you called me your girl
Now in search of a greyhound bus
At a truck stop with toilets that don’t flush
That was you after us
I love bridges (both the real kind and the musical kind). At least half of our songs end up with them because it feels right and they take us somewhere. This bridge dips its toe into a bit of hopefulness – suggesting that this love didn’t take everything away from her. However, with the last verse we’re reminded that she’s not quite done yet.
So you haven’t heard the good news
I’ve got a few things left to lose
Like a wish or two that might come true
But close only counts with grenades and horse-shoes
Guess it doesn’t matter that I really loved you
The colors started falling and then blew away
The circus left town singing its final refrain
Now, scholars and critics of a particular form of songwriting could poke and prod at this song for its use of too many different metaphors but I’ve always been happy with what I’m saying in this song without actually saying it.
I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the equally important musical half of the equation. I’m fortunate to have such talented participants to help me turn the songs into as much of a musical statement as a lyrical statement. We utilize dynamics on this one in a big way and as usual, Rod has written a beautiful and now recognizable intro passage that sets the mood perfectly. Add to that our playfully mournful and creative harmony parts and I’m happy to report that this song has become a favorite of ours.