This one gets me in the feels, and I honestly think it's one of the best songs I've written.
I wanted to write a song about the Syrian refugee crisis without being too specific and without aping a music style to tell the story. I read a lot of articles from people on the ground, but the one that really stuck with me was this one in Newsweek: www.newsweek.com/2015/08/28/syria-war-bombing-aleppo-364035.html
Nothing in particular about it ended up in the song -- and there are lots of stories that could be told here, but at the same time I was reading that to research my song, Mosno Al-Moseeki posted a song about the street where he grew up in Sudan. It's a beautiful song. Mosno's story is different, but it did help me realize a common emotional element in the idea of looking for an old home (in the literal sense in his case) and being unable to find it or go back there if one wanted to. (Mosno was banned from Sudan for writing a political song.)
Anyway, I decided that what I really wanted to talk about in relation to the refugee crisis was that losing a home in that way can be like losing a loved one: It's taken from you, by often incomprehensible circumstances, and you can never get it back. I had to go to some pretty dark places to be able to imagine that kind of devastation. To then get to another country and be a pariah, or to see your fellow countrypersons doing things that make others hate you even more in your new home, and never really feeling like you can actually settle down because suddenly no place feels like it can be home, even if your old home was a more dangerous place to be.
The story is pretty self-explanatory and could fit more than one tale, but that's the one I was telling when I wrote it.
I started the lyrics on Thursday 2/18 when I was watching a documentary on Robert Johnson in the background, worked on the chords in the chorus a little that Saturday, then finished the lyrics on Sunday morning while waiting for Rick to come over to record his banjo and harmony parts for "Riddles."
The musical structure is 12 bars, but it's actually 8-bar verses with an extra bar at the end of each line, and not a 12-bar blues style. (I've used this before for a FAWM song in 2013, "The Language of Flowers," which is one of my favorites to play with the band.)