The Story Behind the Song - “The Sun Will Shine”

We're trying out a new idea for a regular blog segment.  Is there a part of our creative experience that you're curious about?  Have you wondered about the origins of any particular songs? Do you like reading background stories?  Let us know what you think!

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Songwriter: Ben Nixon

Oh the winter was hard on me
Froze my hopes and then shattered my dreams
I watched my love eyeing icy seas
Sadness pulled her away by degrees

Oh the graveyard it called to me
The only home that could hold my family
I felt their ghosts on a chilling breeze
While glowing frost lit their names on the marquees

The sun will shine, it will shine again
Oh I know it will, but I can't say when
So while it's dark, and you need a friend
Oh, you call on me babe
Cause I'll call on you again

Oh I’m leaving, I’ve gone astray
Now don’t you look if the flag flies halfway
The sky is bright and I miss the grey
My heart has flown so my body can’t stay

The sun will shine, it will shine again
Days are longer now, and the rain's set in
Buds will bloom, bees will buzz and then
Those forget-me-nots
Will remember us again

Snowflake/Life shake/Love break/Unmake
White cake/Kiss fake/Haiku/Mistake
Handshake/Sweepstake/Bespake/Oath break
Lock-lip/Milkshake/Long lost/Raise lake
Fortnight/Pink moon/Rewake/Namesake
Nick Drake/Intake/Crash back/Opaque
Prebake/Soul ache/Lost cause/Note make
Seed cake/Black wake/French horn/Soundscape

Love shake/Life take/Rewake/Heartache
Forsake/Self fake/Break time/Remake

The sun is shining, it shines again
Not for me, but for passerines
I hear a song, from their beaks begin
Oh it won’t be her
But you’ll fall in love again

When it was written: November 2012. I started with part of a chorus idea and some of the music a month beforehand, but I didn’t write with intention until I had some downtime during Fish & Bird’s fall tour.

What it’s about: Despite the happy-sounding verses and choruses, this song is actually quite dark. My initial lyric ideas sprouted from simple, spring-themed imagery, but the story quickly took control and wrote itself, leaving me with surprisingly little choice in its direction. The verses and choruses are a dialog between a male and a female character. The woman in the story is suffering from depression and a receding interest in her lover. The man is clinging to the idea that their marriage can be repaired and is in denial of its obvious collapse. When the bridge hits carrying the weight of truth, he is thrust through states of heartbreak, anger, resentment, depression, and, finally, hope.

How it was written: I wrote all of the sung sections and basic musical ideas alone, but the sound of the composition changed dramatically when I brought it to the band. Originally, it had a straight-ahead “oom-pah”, fast country feel, but that just wasn’t sitting right. At some point in our group jam, Mike started playing a guitar riff from a song by Local Natives over the bridge chords, which led Cort to play a hip hop style drum groove. Everything clicked at that point and we shifted the rest of the music accordingly. The bridge section’s spoken word part was the last thing written, and was intended to be a background vocal texture that built in intensity, a la Modest Mouse’s “Other People’s Lives”.

Notes on Recording: We recorded this song one instrument at a time and built the arrangement as we went. The doubling of banjo and electric guitar in the chorus riff was inspired by a happy accident when I was mixing an early version of the composition. Though I play the bass part with my foot pedal rig in live performance, the part in the recording is an actual bass guitar.

Where it’s at now: The second track on our “Spring” 7-inch EP. Though it isn’t the most radio-friendly tune we think it adds some variety to our sound that we hope listeners enjoy.

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