It's so familiar -- somebody trying to involve you in their trip. The
time is wrong or the circumstances are bad, yet you feel drawn in anyway.
When someone well-meaning is trying to pull you in, it's very hard to resist.
We had to do a clean version for radio, which is ridiculous because you
get the "f" and "ck" and the "ed." There really
should be a context consideration. To say "You fucked it up" is
different contextually from saying "I fucked him in the backseat";
one is a little more explicitly sexual than a generic curse.
Choice in the Matter
A simple song of recognizing that someone has a tendency to be deceptive
and just saying, "You know what? I can't go there." You go to
somebody's house and their answering machine is clearly packed full of messages,
but they're pointedly not going to play those messages back while you're
there. And you think, "Okay, secrets." Somebody's got secrets,
maybe not big secrets, but the tendency toward that is there.
The song's about Bernard [Butler]. He'd left Suede and the press was
intimating that he was some spoiled rock star. And you meet him and he's
the sweetest guy. But everyone else gets sugarcoated and he comes out looking
like the bad guy. I was in London
and I'd read how he'd quit his band and wanted to work with other people.
So I called him up. We wrote a song and Jon [Brion] was with us -- there's
your drummer and there's your second guitarist. So we recorded it. The whole
thing took two days.
You Could Make a Killing
People get fixed on a certain thing and they just have to have it at
all costs. As a bystander, you're likely to get trampled underfoot. It's
not even that big a deal; it's just a habit. It's the habit that will trample
you. I don't sing really high, so Juliana
[Hatfield] was perfect for high harmonies. She's got that kid thing; I love
that. I have this vibrato that I can't really get rid of and she has absolutely
You're a million places at once. With a superball,
one little throw and the thing never stops. It's like, "Don't get me
started; you have no idea what you're getting into."
That's a song I wrote with Jon. I wrote the lyrics. His plot instructions
were: "When you and I broke up and we were trying to get back together
and all my friends were saying, 'Why would you go back to that nightmare,'
this song would be your answer to them.'" The word amateur means you
do things for love, but all the good intentions in the world don't mean
that things will go the way you want them to.
All Over Now
The classic tale -- some manipulative person trying to control your every
move. For a while you go along with it, but then you hit your limit. There's
real maliciousness behind it. This is, "You are trying to fuck with
me, and because you are stronger I let you. But those days are over."
Par for the Course
I saw a friend of mine getting into a situation where he was just going
to get his heart broken into a million pieces. Mr. Pattern Guy. It's happened
before and it'll happen again. You're not even in the situation, but you
know it's all gonna end in tears.
You're With Stupid Now
Kind of about my past record company situation and kind of about a big
fan of mine -- I have the most bizarre fans -- who's a politician in England.
He's very dedicated and altruistic. He really tries to do good work and
change things and is always frustrated.
That's Just What You Are
A typical Mann/Brion composition. Jon told a friend that he'd frequently
behaved in an appalling fashion. But the friend said that to change would
compromise his personality. He was using 'Hey, I just am what I am' to justify
acting like a jerk. A lot of words on this one.
This is about creating a Frankenstein
monster of a relationship out of bits and pieces. I was writing it in the
studio when Jon was working on something else, and I told him what it was
about. So I hear him go into the storage room and he's got a stick in his
hand and he's just hitting things. Forty-five minutes later I go to tell
him that I've finished the song and sitting in the studio is this drum kit
he's pieced together out of joint compound boxes and ashtrays where when
you hit the stand it rings in tune with the song. This other box of bolts
was the snare. Of course I said, "That's all very cute Jon, but does
it sound good?" And it sounded perfect--it was not only sonically ideal
for the song, but it had the concept of the song in it.
My love song to my imaginary friend, to a person you've never met and
probably never will. Sometimes you need to write a love song, and so what
if there's nobody there? You have to invent somebody, an imaginary friend
It's Not Safe
It's completely, 100 percent about feeling that professionally you're
involved with people who don't understand what you're doing, don't care
what you're doing and thwart your every move. And because it's of such a
personal nature, you just question the whole process. You wonder, "Why
am I doing this; why bother?" I hadn't written for a long time before
I wrote that song. I felt like I didn't want to tell these people anything;
I didn't want to give anything away.