Sometimes, as a songwriting exercise, I like to take an existing song that I really like and run with one aspect or another of it. In 2010, my brother and I were contracted to play a concert together in Portland, OR with our defunct band The Are Notz. He wrote a song for this one-off gig called “Out Goes a Light.” For anyone who doesn’t know, he is an excellent musician who has put in literal decades of hard work to become successful in the field. He is also a fun dude who writes outstanding music in any genre!
Two years after our concert, I couldn’t stop turning the themes of the song over in my head. At the time, I was working in a German pre-school (which they call kindergarten) as a “music teacher,” which basically meant that once a week, 20 kids and I sang and shouted and jumped and clapped and used all sort of improbable implements to make one hell of an ear-splitting racket.
Over the course of several weeks, I took advantage of that captive audience of highly impressionable minds, workshopping my somewhat morose number about how lightbulbs go out and then that’s it for them. This focus group with an inherent inability to focus proved to be a pretty tough crowd, and the song is better for it.
I remember wanting it to start with a little unison riff–instantly, like the switching on of a lightbulb–but this was never executed with any degree of success whatsoever by me and the 5 year-olds. The stress of even attempting that is probably why the recording simply starts with a drum loop.
Finally satisfied that the song had become what I wanted, I retired to my living room “studio” and made the version you hear now!
I then promptly forgot about it.