song by song – remnants

russiandolls

Remnants lyrics:

She fell to her death, but she didn’t die
I wear my nerves on the outside of my body
My tears are an intercession
There’s a girl I hate with a vengeance

Falling over white snow white sky
Everything is filmed in black and white
A woman walks the land, trying to get her head right
She fell to her death, but she didn’t die

And all the remnants of my life fell away
And I ended up on your couch in disarray

Sister, mother, friend and lover you are all of these
Sister, mother, friend and lover you are none of these

Catch the rain before it starts to fall
Read the ending before you start the novel
That girl, that girl she said we were done
What was up was down we were all reeling toward the sun

So turn around and take your spot
We can’t remember what we all forgot
I draw a line to the edge of my body
We like to fantasise that it all means something
All means something .

And all the remnants of my life blew away
And I ended up on your couch in disarray

Sister, mother, friend and lover you are all of these
Sister, mother, friend and lover you are none of these
Sister, mother, friend and lover you are
Sister, mother, friend and lover you are none of these

but she didn’t, but she didn’t die

Fun Facts:

– The songs on the album appear largely in the order they were written in order to maintain the trajectory of what I was going through and how I was working with it through the songs. So Remnants was the last song written and notably a very important one for me.

– It was very significant because I thought I was writing about one topic and instead was writing about something else that I needed to learn. For this reason, I had lyrics in the song that I didn’t understand at first writing – they could be called ‘placeholder lyrics’. Placeholder lyrics are usually temporary lyrics placed in a song until the writer figures out for sure what she is going to say. This is not my usual mode of writing but I definitely had a couple of lines that I liked for the sound of them but had no idea what they were about and considered that I would be swapping them. These were “Catch the rain before it starts to fall” and “Read the ending before you start the novel”

– Having finished the song, I was laying awake in bed one night trying to memorise the lyrics and the meaning of the song became abundantly clear to me. It was a learning I needed to understand. You could have told me this learning in one sentence – everyone knows the cliche, bullet-point answer – but hearing it come through in the imagery of a song that I wrote made it much more powerful. It was like I was talking to myself in a language that resonated much more strongly. All of the repeating images through the album all culminated in the final hidden message of this song.

– You could imagine my disappointment then, when it appeared for the most part that the song wasn’t going to make the album because musically it wasn’t coming together. Through an error in my own arrangement approach, the spirit and power of the song just wasn’t translating in the recording. This was quite devastating and I tried several remixes (not being able to re-record given the time and resource constraints I had).

– It was so close that I had run out of studio time and Lee gave me the effected tracks to continue to remix. It was so close to not making the pass that I ended up in the Mastering Suite (the final final process in an album usually done after mixing) with an incomplete song. Mike Gibson (mastering genius extraordinaire) sat with me while I completed the mix – giving some much needed advice and objective ears. It was quite an emotional moment to play the final master and realise it was going to make the record.

– A random ‘you’ve-got-mail’ text from my former partner within minutes of finishing the final master was another poignant accompaniment to the end of the audio journey.

– I had arranged several different band parts in this track but all of the band parts save for the end were canned. Again, nothing to do with the amazing players but to do with the ideas not working for the song. In the end, the dreaded vulnerable guitar and voice were the answer.

– Due to recording the guitar differently to how it needed to be in the second verse, I was tasked with an extraordinary amount of guitar editing.

– There are several vocal backing tracks making up the big ‘choir’ sound at the end – vocal ideas I sang as a guide ended up staying with a small vocal choir of 6 singers. Also in the mix was a layer of my vocals processed (reversed, effected and collaged).

– I discovered the value of working with other singers’ voices rather than just my own – you get the ideas and timbres of different voices. One of my favourite parts on the album is a vocal part from Holly Jane Ewens at 6’27”. She has such a deep rich tone and chose a note that I never would have – it always appears as pure power and magic to me.

– A gift song of hope. When you fall to your death and don’t die – that can sometimes seem like a tragedy, but in time it can be some form of a triumph and it is the sisters, mothers, friends and lovers that get us through.

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