Track nine from Inchoatery – the other side of the story, a sense of perspective.
This was one of the last songs I wrote — the last other than Rewrite, I think — when I realized a had a whole album that was about fighting with and being neurotic about and angry at and longing for an ex-girlfriend who beyond all that emotional projection didn’t really exist as a person in the narrative.
So this was an attempt to flesh out a little and humanize that absent character. It didn’t need to be anything particularly definite, but the song hopefully creates a balanced sketch of someone who is neither angel nor villain, not some stark caricature of the sort the listener could read into one or another of the songs earlier on the album but just another human being who didn’t come out of the breakup unscathed or unperturbed either.
Who she is exactly isn’t any more important than who he is — they’re both just anonymous characters — and there’s no answers on the album about this, or about why they broke up or whether they could ever make it work given enough time (though Rewrite isn’t exactly optimistic about reconciliation). But with this song, at least she exists as something other than a shadowboxer for the man the rest of the songs focus on.
There’s some intentional formal similarity between this and Pathetic — they’re both midtempo songs that feature a descending bass-line figure in the verse and an ascending line in the chorus; they’re both fade-ins from previous songs at matched tempos. The So Fuckin’ Free/Pathetic and the Tell It All/Meanwhile pairs also bookend the album, the former following the big breakup at the start, the latter preceding the finale/closure of Rewrite.
The harmonic distinction here compared with the ascending line in the chorus of Pathetic is that it’s the root and not the fifth that moves up in the chorus, from an A tonic chord to an A-sharp diminished to a Bm, before diving down through A to G for a quick little step out-of-key before resolving back to a D.
And like Pathetic, there’s a key change here; this time, the transition is made by using the aforementioned A-A#dim-Bm-G-D move as a stepping stone to change from the key of A to the key of D — the resolution of tension provided by moving from the out-of-key G to the satisfying D is used as an excuse to slip into D at the end of the song instead of cycling back to A.