Power pop duo Porter Block just released their new album called "Clean Up The Living Room" and to celebrate we asked Porter to tell us about the track "I Don't Want To Wait." Here is the story:
"I Don't Want To Wait" was the first song we recorded for this project. It was October of 2020 and New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic and in the midst of lockdown. I drove to Nashville and recorded the song in a day with Caleb, not really knowing we were going to eventually create an entire album. There was just a relief to be making music.
Writing the song took place at home, alone with a piano and my iPhone. I had the repetitive phrasing of the hook and title sitting on my phone. I like to put ideas down quickly and instantly, if possible, as voice memos. When I would listen back, it seemed to feel close to what I would describe as a forlorn impatience, even beyond the "annoyance" of waiting. There was an urgency to the meaning and delivery of the phrase. I developed that a little further melodically by ending the second line, "maybe it's a good time for me to go," with a descending melody that seemed to complete the opening phrase for the chorus. I didn't really know what to do with this fragment of an idea and sat on it. I wasn't in the frame of mind of "writing" full songs. I was just jotting down musical snippets and ideas to keep and maybe use later.
Perhaps a month or two later, in a similar situation, I was working with the idea of long lush chords lasting as long as whole notes; laying out a kind of hypnotic feel underneath my phrasing. I love bands like Portishead or even Radiohead who do that so well. I had the chords and melody, but not any of the words to what eventually became the verses to this song. Sometimes a simple four count chord can have real power. My collaborator Caleb calls them "footballs," as the music notation of a whole note is a completed circle (i.e. looks like a ball squeezed between the staff lines). I had some dummy lyrics outlining the melody underneath my two chords (F and A Minor) which I ended up keeping.
I like having as many ideas and as much "language" available when attempting to write songs. It's similar to the iPhone voice memos described above, keeping phrases, word games, etc. on my phone as a constant stream of notes to go through while writing and searching for lyric and song ideas. I had the opening line, "It's a good time to cut expenses," just written down as an almost unmusical reminder. From that small sentiment, the verses came attempting to toggle between personal "loneliness" and "economic" anxiety. The lyric, "I never thought I'd live inside a phone," I actually overheard someone say on the street talking into their phone. I just wrote it down and used it.
So I had these two separate musical ideas basically mapped out, but couldn't really connect them. When I arrived in Nashville and we started playing around in the studio, I was playing Piano and the simple cadence came which worked well musically to link the ideas. Then we laid the "ahhs" on, assuming we'd put a lead vocal on later, but felt it didn't need more. The overall "relief" the musical bridge gave the song a cool 60s vibe and felt like a good release (literally and figuratively) from the tension the other parts attempt to create. It's a real push and pull and we arranged the song that way, hopefully with maximum impact.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself below and learn more about the album here