Salim Nourallah released his new EP new EP "Let's Be Miserable Together" this week and to celebrate we asked him to tell us about the song "Winners". Here is the story:
I started the song "Winners" back in May of 2009. At the time, I was on a German record label called Tapete. They'd have me go over to Europe to tour whenever I'd release a new record. I ended up traveling over there three times. Earlier that year, I inadvertently became friends with Wreckless Eric. He and his wife, Amy Rigby, played in Dallas at a place I regularly haunt called The All Good. My friend, Bucks Burnett, knew Eric and introduced me after the show. Bucks pointed at me and led with a boldfaced lie. "This guy's a pop star!" At least he followed it up with a half-truth. "This is my friend, Salim, he plays in Europe all the time." Without the slightest hesitation, Eric said, "Well, if you ever come to France - look me up! I'll get you some gigs!" Eric had never even heard my music before. I thought it was the nicest thing to say to an overhyped stranger you'd just met.
Several months later, I took him up on his offer. I was supposed to travel back to Europe to promote my fourth album, Constellation. I wondered if Eric's offer would end up being total BS. It was the opposite. Eric ended up being so friendly and genuine. Not only did he get me a couple shows, but he also put up posters in the village laundromat and grocery store. He also told me he'd shed tears on the way to the laundromat while listening to my song "Model Brothers." That song told the story of my brother and I no longer playing music together. If you'd like to know more about that you can check out this great article the Dallas Observer did way back in 2005 (here).
Anyway, while Eric and I were living it up in the south of France, we both talked about someday making a record together. Maybe he would produce my next album? Our biggest challenge was logistics. Five thousand miles separated Texas from the tiny village in France where he lived. I'd been a fan of Eric's ever since he was on Stiff Records in the late '70s. One of my favorite records of all time is his Donovan of Trash LP from 1991, which he recorded in his kitchen. I always admired his DIY ethic. No longer being on "Top of the Pops" never stopped him. It just made Wreckless Eric stronger and better. So when I returned from my European adventure in May of '09, I was fired up about possibly making a record with one of my heroes. After I got home, I immediately wrote "Winners." It was inspired by Eric. I always felt like he was the quintessential underdog. It's a song about not fitting in with the in-crowd. I always pictured Eric singing the answer melody on the bridge. "Even in sleep they're still laughing at me..."
We never ended up making a record together, and I shelved "Winners" for 10 years. When Billy Harvey and I started recording together in July 2018, the song came to mind. When I circled back to it, I realized I wasn't ever entirely happy with the lyrics. That's when I enlisted my brainiac girlfriend. She's been a great sounding board to bounce ideas off of these past few years. Since I'd been living with "Winners" for so long, it was hard for me to see the way to make the story better. She didn't have that problem, and we set to tweaking it. We worked on the lyrics together, and I took the revised version to Billy. Just shy of ten years after I'd started the song, Billy and I finally recorded it.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the album here