Singled Out: August Wells' Here In The Wild
I was asked to submit an original song for some National Geographic show about survival in the wilderness. I have never succeeded at these writing on demand assignments, song writing is so personal to me, and probably the only uncorrupted part of my life, I almost feel if I corrupt that, then I will have nothing. For instance a few years back I was asked to submit a song for Targets Christmas campaign. I decided to give it a go, frankly because I am poor and could do with the money. I submitted it, they wrote back "hey we love love love the song, and are very excited about it. Only thing is, because its a Christmas song, could you possibly remove that line about the man with the gun to his head? "
Obviously I was not cut out for this kind of thing. Any way, in the same spirit of poverty I decide to give this National Geographic thing a try. I wrote a 30 second melody and lyric " Here in the wild, under blue skies, time doesn't try to pass me by, here in the wild" Not exactly Shakespeare I know, but I sent it to them and never heard anything back.
Somehow the lyric and melody haunted me for the next couple of weeks. What did it mean? On the surface it seemed almost throw away. I decided that the simple lyric represented peace somehow, peace of mind, peace of place, peace finally. So I wrote three verses, each verse about a character that for different reasons was looking for peace.
Lucy in the first verse, I saw as an old world New York aesthete who truly believes she experienced a better time than this one, so I wrote " Lucy was sad, sad to the core, she said let's jump out that window sweetheart on the count of four, don't you find it all such a bore? people like us don't exist anymore, we're invisible now , sweetheart we're free"
Tommy from the second verse I saw as a working man, but a working man who hated been defined as that, people denied him his complexity, he resented the way people saw him as a good simple man, so he left to find peace. So I wrote
" Tommy was a good man, he did his work well, people said there's not a thing in this world ever made that Tommy couldn't fix or sell, but then he lost the joy, couldn't find the will, the doctor said he's probably been that way since he was a boy, and he's that way still "
Molly from the 3rd verse I saw as someone twisted up in paranoia, someone who got comfort from elaborate lies, but she knows she is troubled and really just wants peace of mind. So I wrote " Molly swears she was there, the night they shot Bob Dylan, she says his last words to here were, go do your own killing, cause sometimes your demons they come in disguise, talk to you in your own voice, and laugh as you choose, because you think you had some kind of choice. "
I feel strange explaining the lyrics, I have never done it before, somehow I feel it denies the listener their chance of their own experience with the words. Often people come up with far far more interesting interpretations of the words than the writer.
I finished the song with the line " take your brother, take your sister, walk them across their troubled hearts "
I imagine I judge a lot of people ignorantly, I decide they are this way or that, I deny them their complexities. Some people just want to be walked towards peace, maybe ?
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the group right here!