So the following is a review of Somersby that I wrote for the two mirrors--way back in October of 2006. Ben was kind enough to give some great insight into this track. People, you gotta hear this song. I rant and rave for a long time, but just give me four minutes. And I swear you'll understand. And the artwork was done by Deems as he listened to Somersby. Read on...
Song Title: Somersby (MP3 )
Album: Welcome Back Dear Children
Somersby finds itself nuzzled in at track 10 on Welcome Back Dear Children and it follows Surviving the Savior which is a tough act to follow. However, it quickly proves itself as the highlight of this record. Somersby begins with a keyboard piece that according to Ben, “is some kind of vibraphone/Wurlitzer hybrid patch on a Yamaha keyboard.” This keyboard piece is crucial to the song, as it comes back in the end in a reinterpreted form as if to remind of where we began. After this intro keyboard, this “absolutely wild guitar orchestra” explodes to begin the story of Somersby. This explosion was the result of a “stream of consciousness style” that was suggested by Nick. In my humble opinion Nick’s most valuable suggestion was to “follow its form a little bit.” I truly believe that songs can take on a life of their own. And while I am not a musician myself, I certainly understand the power that a song can take on. Ben explains that the band began to feel like Somersby was about “a kamikaze deep space scientist who had reached the end of his wits and had set his space craft on a collision course for the sun.” If you can stay with this idea for a moment, in my mind, during this sound explosion you can envision the scientist freaking out and heading for the sun. At the conclusion of this explosion, the opening keyboards are reinterpreted and I can just see this scientist in slow motion heading for the sun as his life flashes before him. Ben let me know that, “The final ending is a reinterpretation of a riff I recorded 2 years ago at the same time I wrote the piano part, but I never intended the two to go together.” It’s rather interesting to me that the beginning and ending keyboard pieces were not written for the same track.
There are so many more layers to this song but one of the more interesting things that Ben shared with me was about the lyrics. He originally had many more lyrics to the song. However the line “Somersby, oh Somersby, a man with a thousand eye's can't see that all that I want... and all I must get... is everything that ain't happened to me yet,” is the line that is the focal point of the song. According to Ben, “it’s the only original vocal part that made it to the final song” I really like this idea that even the most visually astute person can’t see that you will eventually get everything you need in life. That little word yet is so powerful in this lyric.
And I think I would be doing a disservice to the musicians out there if I were to try and interpret what Arizona was doing technically. So here a few quotes from Ben about the technical aspects of Somersby and the entire Welcome Back Dear Children album.
The song starts off with a reversed sample of Danny Kadar dropping my Jamison 2x12 combo amplifier and causing its reverb tank to go haywire.
Another funny little piece of information about Somersby is that during the mix, either Alex (bassist/engineer) or Danny forgot to unmute the kick drum channel on the console (for the technical minded out there, WBDC was mixed on a super nice big format Neve console to tape) or something, because it was mixed to tape without a bass drum.
Alex actually had to go back and line up the original kick drum track to the master and blend it in before the CD could be duplicated. So if you really listen, you can hear the kick is separated from everything else just a bit.
Also, I hope to do a sequel to Somersby one day- Arizona has a lot of "character" songs, like Jubilee, David, Sylvester Wheat vs. Finneas B, and I think it would be fun one day to do a song or an album that was all about the goings on of these characters.
Somersby is a great example of how the drums got done on Welcome Back Dear Children. The majority of the song is played by Nick on drums, but that very ending part is played by Alex. A lot of the drums on WBDC are hybrid performances with Nick playing most of it with Alex adding his touches in key parts.