This week, the New Pornographers released their fifth album, Together . To celebrate, A.C. Newman has taken over the RS blog to explain the birth of three of the album's tracks and analyze a trio of artists who have inspired him. Check out How the New Pornographers Became Black Sabbath and The Genius of Felt. Today's topic: new tune "We End Up Together."
The beginning of this song is probably my favorite point on the record. I'm always happy when I come up with a simple three-chord melody with good lyrics, though it only lasts for 45 seconds. It definitely has the "heaviest" lyrics on the album, and yet it came to me when I was walking my dog in Brooklyn. Like "Yesterday" was initially about McCartney's scrambled eggs, this song was initially about wanting my dog Chops to go poo so I go could go back inside. Sometimes there are musical ideas that just stay with you, even when you weren't trying, and you have to follow them. So that little ditty morphed into a sad ode to mortality. That is before the cellos kick in. After that, it becomes a new beast. You can only feel sad for so long, about 45 seconds usually, before the cellos and Kaossilator kick in. Just like in real life.
The main thrust of this song is the cello riff. I wanted to have a song that was driven by a cello. ELO is an obvious touch point but you may also notice that the part is a slight rewrite of the riff on Railroad Jerk's "Glamorous Bitch." That was unintentional though, I only noticed it later. A subconscious tip of the hat to Matador history? Everything is bound to sound like something else.
So I had the first 45 seconds completely written and then I had the music written for the rest of it. I just needed to find the rest of the lyrics. I liked the idea of "little brother" from the beginning of the song and decided to use that as a reoccurring theme. The rest of it came from the bathroom door at Seaside Lounge studio in Brooklyn.
One of the upstairs bathrooms at Seaside Lounge is a closet-sized little thing, and on the inside of the door is written the graffiti: "We End Up Togther." You read this many times before you realize that there is a missing "e" in "together." It struck me as a really great line, and as far as I knew it hadn't been used in a song yet. I just went from there. When I started laying down the vocals for this song, the guys who worked at the studio slowly began to notice something familiar about that line. They would usually figure it out upon returning from the bathroom.
Even though the line doesn't show up until the very end, it is still the subtext that pushes along all of the other lyrics. It's a song about all of the times in the past that I had met my wife, or been in the same room as my wife, and had been completely unaware that, well, we end up together.
Later, after finishing some Okkervil River recording at Seaside, Will Sheff would tell me, "I can't believe you didn't call the album 'Togther.' "