Double Singled Out From Morello's Malcolm Cross
Some Families: This is a song about communication/miscommunication. Like many songs the initial ideas came out jumbled and non-specific but I tried to keep them (the lyrics) deliberately vague so as to keep the listener guessing: 'Some Families never do/I wasn't talking to you'. It's not until the end of the song that the full, uninterrupted lyric is finally unravelled.
My family has a specific brand of UK up-tightness where no-one ever likes to express strong-or-negative emotions (my dear Grandad's catchphrase was 'don't make a fuss'). I think a lot of British people spend their lives in emotional straightjackets of their own making.
The second verse - 'Church lunch, garden center, Oxfam shop, National Trust' - is an homage to the kind of postcards my Mum would always send; packed with long lists of specific things she had done without really saying anything at all. She was never happy with me moving to the 'States and died unexpectedly when I was working on the recording - I couldn't work on the song for a couple of months after that happened (the album is dedicated to her).
The production of this song was pretty experimental - lots of chopped-up sections of guitars and vocals (the girls are singing 'dut-i-ful', my little joke.) I honestly didn't know if it would all come together but thanks to some amazing performances (that's my sister Fiona on the flute) and a killer mix (by R Walt Vincent) it's ended up being one of my fave tracks on the album.
In-A-City: People had said that my last album Handheld was too 'cute' so I had in mind a tougher, harder stance for the opening track on the new album. The inspiration came from being on tour with Pete Yorn and finding myself in unfamiliar cities in the middle of the night by myself; you gotta walk tall, look like you know where you're going if you don't wanna get jumped! The lines and the rhythm just popped into my head.
'Put your hand on your money' is a London thing (I'm from the UK originally). Because central London is so rife with pickpockets when walking in crowds or on the subway (the 'Tube') the trick is to always keep one free hand covering your wallet/purse. When I'm in any big city situation I always revert back to this without even thinking.
Later on as I explored the idea I figured - all these tough guys that prowl the city streets at night are probably the first ones to put on the fluffy slippers when they get home, smoke a bowl and play Nintendo - hence the line 'all I wanted to be...safe at home with a nice cup of tea'! Meaning the 'tough guy' act is all a front anyway
The bridge also has a kind of 'easter egg' - a half-hidden lyric that a backing vocal sings: 'all I want is to be honest with you'. That's a whole other layer to the song and the whole album in fact; that honesty/dishonesty is at the heart of all the conflict implied by the title "The Duellists".
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the songs, listen for yourself and learn more about the album here.