Photo by Caleb Barnhart

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Story Behind The Song: Driveway

Driveway was written in the fall of 1998 for the eponymous album, Chris Titchner and Sunday Rain Dog. This was the first album I recorded without my former band and therefore all the songs on the record were going to be solely mine. I had been writing on guitar for a few years at that point, and wanted to write a few 'radio songs', songs that were catchy and more pop focused. In addition, I had been receiving feedback that I needed to be less of the nice guy in my songs and have a bit more swagger.
This song seemed to have what I was looking for, but there was a problem: I couldn't finish the damn thing. I had the first two versus and the chorus and I believed the song was strong, but I couldn't come up with a bridge or a final verse. I struggled for months. One day when I was playing music with my friend, Neil, I told him I needed chords for a bridge. Without hearing the song, and only knowing the key, he suggested A / B / G / F#. It was in an odd fit; The song is in f# minor, and the B major and F# major struck me as odd. However, I didn't have anything else, so I stuck it in as a place holder at least.
The recording dates got closer and the song remained unfinished. I was running songs with the bassist and drummer and we played the song through at every rehearsal with no vocals on the bridge or final verse. I was starting to panic, but was still unwilling to take the song off the record.
Finally, the night before we were going into the studio, I took my guitar and sat on the floor in the hallway of my apartment, just outside my bedroom door. I played the song over and over and tried to figure out how it should end. They say that desperation is the mother of invention, and in this case that cliche proved true.
The first thing that happened was that I was reminded of an old unreleased Three Mile Limit song called Crash and Burn. Mike, Tom, Pat and I wrote it one weekend at Colby College before a gig we were playing there. All I remember about that weekend is that we rehearsed in a tiny cement storage room under the pool, you could see underwater through a tiny window near the top of the wall; I had such a bad cold I could only hear partially out of one ear; and during our rehearsal we wrote the entire song. I wrote the lyrics and most of the melody/harmony. The rest of the guys handled most of the arrangement and made good suggestions.
Crash and Burn has a similar theme to Driveway: Boy attempts to win over girl and convince her to spend the night. In that song, the protagonist makes a good pitch, but discovers that the girl has heard it so many times that she's bulletproof. Crash and Burn was inspired by a great deal of listening to Ben Folds Five, and we attempt a BF5 type harmony on the chorus.
While thinking about this other song, I realized that the lyrics for the chorus in that song would fit well in the bridge of Driveway. So, I stole from myself and put them in. Once the bridge was finished, the last verse fell into place. You'll notice that even when attempting a good swagger, the true me slips in. That final verse reveals that the whole song up to the last line of that final verse was in the protagonist's mind, and that before he ever gets to say how he feels, the girl is already out of the car and headed into her apartment.
Driveway slipped in under the gun and made that CD, but I always thought it should have been more of a rocker. The song was recorded as trio, just my acoustic along with bass and drums. When I began to plan for recording Moving Day and realized that it had the potential to be more of a rock album, Driveway quickly made the short list.
The recording of the song on Moving Day is much closer to the way I've always heard it in my head. The great guitar hook, the freight train drums, the organ, and the great distorted bass part on the bridge, all come together to make a pretty good song.

Listen to Driveway from the album, Moving Day:

Here is the unreleased Three Mile Limit song, Crash and Burn

It should be noted that this song is performed by Chris Titchner on vocals, Mike Lawrence on guitar and vocals, Pat Doyle on drums (he also plays drums on Moving Day), Neil Lawrence on guitar and vocals, and Aaron Brown on Trumpet.
Tom Williams helped write the song, but had left the band by the time we actually recorded it.
P.S. Happy Birthday, Mike....

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