Track ten from Inchoatery – the finale, the catharsis, the closest thing there is to a conciliation.
This is the last song I wrote, to try and find some way to wrap up the whole narrative in a somewhat satisfying way, and I spent the better part of a week figuring out where to go with it, before making a demo of it on the 16th. I didn’t complete the lyrics entirely until the last day or so of the album.
Lyrically it’s an attempt to tie together a number of threads from earlier in the album — the drinking, the disagreements, the lack of and longing for and avoidance of communication after the breakup, the references to poetry (in part a foreshadowing of the light-hearted epilogue track Metaphorsturbation), and so on. And so: a letter, one that had already been written and scrapped a number of times before (cf. the last verse of Tell It All).
Musically the song changes significantly twice throughout, with a move from a loosely folky opening to a more staccato rock beat in the middle to a more lush 6/8 feel for the ending. Executing that was complicated, especially making the changes across time signatures and feels, but I’m pretty satisfied with the results.
You can hear how the idea developed as I worked on the song by listening to the sketches; I started with the idea of a 6/8 feel for the whole song, before settling on a normal in-4 feel, with both being represented in the final product as it turns out.
The first sketch has very little lyrical content, just the tiny core of the notion of an apology (and some nonce lyrics that disappeared from the final product — “All the things / big and small / that I never should have done at all”). There are also some vocal melody brainstorms that got left by the wayside.
The second sketch carries on the 6/8 idea but has a more assertive beat; the first verse is also in place, and the final melody is starting to take shape. I was clearly playing with the idea of taking the melody up in this sketch, something that I ended up avoiding on the final recording.
The third sketch puts things into 4/4, and the final melody and prosody of the first verse is pretty much there. The idea of the stop at “I apologize” was in place at that point too. The changeover from strumming to a more driving tremelo-picking pattern after the first verse is made explicit here too.
The overall form is there in the proper demo, though it’s edited together rather roughly in a way that had me worried at the time about how difficult pulling off the changes would be in the album recording.
For the final album, I extended the central section of the song with additional lyrics and a short solo to break things up. I worry a little that there’s too much instrumental break in this recording, but I wanted it to be a solid and dynamically dramatic finale for the album, so repeated ups and downs seemed like a good way to keep whipping the listener around and building some tension to finally resolve with the ending.