I’ve decided to write notes describing each of the tracks on Loving Every Other Minute of It. I’ll publish one of these pieces per month until I touch on all ten tracks. Start at the beginning of the series here.
If there’s one thing people don’t like, it’s when you go on and on about how much you love your favorite U.S. state.
Completely ignoring this rule, I put two songs on Loving Every Other Minute of It about Oregon, and to pound home the point, they’re both on side one.
“Oregon Sky” came together in 2009, around the same time as “Another Song about Oregon,” right after Kel and moved back to Oregon from Illinois. I actually wrote a third song about Oregon at that time called “Back,” which I managed to keep off the album. Maybe it will resurface later.
Bret and I loved “Oregon Sky” from the time I wrote it. There’s something celestial about it, especially the bridge section, and it feels positive and uplifting to me, which is a quality I’d struggled to get into my songs to that point. As proof, give a listen to my first solo album Songs from Memory.
Still, there’s one particularly cranky verse in “Oregon Sky” that jumps out at me when I listen to it now. It goes:
When it comes to animals,
If it bucks or brays or barks, I’ve seen it,
But they’re more lovable than most the folks I know,
And I mean it.
It’s hard to explain how such lines make it into my songs. Sure, I like animals, but not more than people. As I clarified earlier, many lines make it into my songs simply because they strike me as funny initially, and this one did too.
With songwriting, I like narrative approaches such as the one employed in “Johnny Marr,” but I also have no problem with letting my subconscious run the show. Anyone who’s known me for 15 minutes knows I grew up a big R.E.M. fan, and like many of the songs by that great band, I don’t necessarily kill myself to make my lyrics reflect narrative sense, or even to keep lines from contradicting each other. As the songwriter, I have plenty of opportunity to manipulate the songs, but there’s a time for that and a time to keep that instinct in check. I have plenty of outlets for more narrative forms of writing, so I can let my lyrics roam as freely as possible from moment to moment, as necessary.
My favorite lyrics in “Oregon Sky” come in the third pre-chorus:
Even if the odds are slim to none,
Well, hey, you know that’s half the fun.
That’s pretty much how I felt when we moved back to Oregon in 2009. Kel and I were rolling the dice again, and I was willing to accept whatever fate came our way so long as it unfolded amongst the mountains, foliage, and ocean. We’re lucky that, 12 years later, Oregon still works for us. I marvel every day I look up at the sky. I’m doing it right now.
Laying down the law,