BELIEVER / PRETENDER
It’s a guitar part that Sam wrote, and it circled around in the band for years. There was something so nostalgic yet interesting about the melody and we just held onto it. It was so much fun to play, but it always felt like words ruined it somehow-- so we just let it sit and waited for the song to come together in its own time.
It was the last song we finished for the record, and I distinctly remember the moment the words started to come together-- when I bought a coffee from a barista/musician with sleeve tattoos in my new home of Nashville, and wrote the line “Put all your secrets under your skin.” It was this this sad feeling looking across the counter-- that neither of us have any depth--any meaningful internal life-- nothing real to say to each other-- but maybe another tattoo will convince the outside world that we have something to say-- which is sadly maybe all we wanted in the first place.
You never really know what a song is about when you write it, you’re just following your goosebumps, but in hindsight I think the song is sort of a meditation on continuing to make music in adult life-- especially in a superficial cultural and economic climate that continues to devalue the arts. There is this Chinese finger trap you can get yourself into in adult life where you’re never quite sure which part of you is still genuine and which part of you has learned to fake it-- which part of you plays music just for the love of it, and which part of you just desperately wants to be loved. Especially in an industry town like Nashville where it feels like posturing is half of being an artist. Faulkner once described the struggle between being both an artist and a human being as a life spent “trying to stuff a cat into a flour sack”-- a tension between the two parts of yourself that will never be resolved. I think part of growing up is realizing that none of us ever fully escapes this tension-- That the real work of seeing the phoniness in other people is recognizing the same ugliness in yourself.