Singled Out: Great Divide's Spare Any Change
'Spare Any Change' is a song inspired by a man who goes by the name of "Runnin' Ronnie", Ann Arbor's favorite vagabond. Ronnie is known all over town as the most popular (and successful) 'fundraiser' for his coined incantation "Spaaaaaaaaare any change my good friend?" Whether or not he'd received any donations, Ronnie would leave you with a fleeting farewell "well, you have a nice day." A pleasant departure from the usual begging practices we are normally accustomed to. Over the course of my years in school I got to know Ronnie a little bit, sticking around for a few minutes to chat with him every now and then. I was always amazed by Ronnie's gleeful demeanor and zest for life, and I even introduced him to my parents when they were in town! Of course Ronnie wasn't always all smiles, as every once in a while he would go on rants about all those women that did him wrong. Getting to know Ronnie had a profound effect on me, and I just couldn't get his "Spare any change?" line out of my head.
As far as actually writing the song, the main hook on the verse really just wrote itself. In truth, the song isn't really about Ronnie the individual. The first verse focuses more on the plight of a person living below poverty lines. Within the first week of arriving in Ann Arbor my freshman year, we received news of the terrifying disaster and of Hurricane Katrina. The shock and horror of the storm and the events that followed had never really left my mind and became the focus of the second verse of the tune, as the scope of the subject matter broadens as the song progresses.
Before we entered the studio, I was really hoping to get Ronnie's voice on the record, since there would be no better way than to pay homage to the man then get his famous line on tape. So one day after we had already tracked the tune I was with Ronnie, and called our drummer Josh, and told him to let his phone go to voicemail. We had Ronnie drop his line on Josh's answering machine and the rest was history.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album - right here!