the story behind: “don’t wait”

This song came very obliquely from two conversations –- one I had, and one I overheard. We played a festival in Red Rock, and the day after the festival we went hiking with some friends (Devin and Keri Latimer from Leaf Rapids…check ’em out!). At one brief point, in conversation with Devin, we were postulating the granularity of brain activity and what you could actually see with an MRI scan. It was a real nerdy discussion, but he is a Chemistry professor and I have a math degree and that’s just what we got up to talking about. We came to no specific conclusions — the brain is a bit complex, or so I’ve heard — but something about our ability to see everything that is going on and understand only a very small part of it was interesting to me.

Then, on the way home from the festival we played a show near Wawa at a resort on Lake Superior. I was sitting in the lounge area, with several small knots of conversation around me, and overheard a discussion about a relationship where mental illness was a significant part of the end of the relationship. Two things stuck in my head about what I heard – there was a young son involved and he was suffering the most from the divorce, and the person used the phrase “they were on different wavelengths.” I used the idea of wavelengths as different colours of the spectrum in the final verse. The title comes from the idea that mental illness is not something you can control – it doesn’t wait for you, and it can’t be cured by ignoring it – but it also refers to the partner’s lack of patience and, ultimately, empathy.

I made a fairly intense demo of this song. I tend to do that because I love the recording process, and layering a thousand instruments into something that is, ultimately, unlistenable. But sometimes it’s good to make a full demo because, if the vibe is right, I might be able to pull a track or two from the demo and just put them right into the final recorded version. We did that with the organ sound here — it comes from an Orcana that I bought for $20 at a yard sale. It’s an instrument that looks like a small pedal organ and it plugs in, and when you turn it on there’s a good loud whirring sound that comes from the guts of it. And it has the tuning of an organ you bought for $20 at a yard sale: delightfully wonky. Suffice it to say it was hard to record because of the whirring and the wonky tuning…and the fact that I forgot to turn the click track down on the speakers when I was recording it.

So it’s a sweet, wonky mess of an organ — the whirring, the tuning, the click track in the background. I would call it charming, but I’m so very, very charitable when it comes to demo recordings. Thing is that was a track that we pulled into the final recorded version and it is on the album(!!). We used a very expensive program that corrected the tuning — which is pretty impressive because there are multiple notes being played at any one time, and each is out of tune by a different amount. And our producer massaged the EQ just right so that the whirring became a thing of the past. The click blended in to the drum sound. But, if you put on the headphones and really listen you can kind of hear all of the organ’s many faults wheezing away in the background.

Or, if you’re really curious, you can just send me a message and ask me for the demo and I’ll send it to you. I’m not proud.

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