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Tom Getter Slack: Blog

Song Story #8 - A Place for Two

Posted on May 22, 2011

Every song has a story. The 9 songs on Looking Glass are no exception. This is the eighth installment of a blog series to talk about how each of them came about.

As I've discussed in the notes about other songs on Looking Glass, there are instrumentals and there are songs with unfinished lyrics.  I feel that A Place for Two really could have gone either way, but ultimately ended up being an instrumental.

I had the first line of a chorus in my mind that went something like "When she comes, we'll make a place for two".  It was written during the same period of time as "Should Have Known Better", which was a breakup song, but this was written before the utlimate breakup.  So it was really meant to be a hopeful song but, ironically, seems kind of sad now - or maybe that's just my personal feeling.  Others have told me the hopeful feeling is what strikes them, which is fine with me.  At first it was titled "When She Comes", and later changed to "A Place for Two".

I wrote the song on guitar, and then somehow began trying to play a rendition on the piano.  They each sounded like the appropriate compositional instrument in their own way, and when it came time to record it I was really uncertain which one to use.  So I used both of them (!)  I'm sure a lot of producers would have forced me to choose one or the other, but one of the advantages of a mostly self-produced effort is that I get to follow as many misguided paths as I feel like.

Which is not to say that this recording came together very easily at all.  You can ask Jeff Buck - we spent a lot of time trying to get at the root of a proper feel for this one.  The initial tracks just seemed too bare and sparse-sounding, and the rythm was plodding and dull.  At one point during a bout of insomnia, I realized that this song called out for the use of a brush snare, which we ended up adding.  I also decided to add a melodica part on the chorus because I wanted to give it a taste of the theme from Midnight Cowboy, which I have always loved. (If I could make my dreams come true for this song, I would love for it to end up on a soundtrack for some kind of romantic film.)

Another interesting part came about quite by accident.  Jeff was editing the space out of the beginning of the tracks, and one of the guitar tracks got out of sync by a full second. When we listened back, it created this amazing and unexpected rythmic counterplay to the rest of the tracks - it blew us away!  So I recorded a new guitar part that consisted of 16th note staccato embellishments to the original sparse parts, and it adds an interesting and subtle atmosphere.

After all this, we finally ended up with a track that seemed to have a rich enough sound to back up the kind of emotional, dreamy feel that it seemed to cry out for.  Add Garret Haines' mastering touch, and it actually comes out a bit crisper and louder feeling than many of the other tunes on the album, an outcome I never would have predicted.