When you save a project on the production software I use, Logic Pro, it makes you give it a name. This can be tricky if you haven’t yet written all of the lyrics. How do you choose a name when you don’t know what the song is about? To this day I have multitudes of unfinished tracks with incredibly unhelpful names like ‘new song’, ‘new new song’, or my favourite: ‘Really Beautiful Amazing Song That Everyone Loves and Is Really Really Good.’ (That one is just a simple 4 bar phrase repeating some chords with a choir-synth sound. I keep finding this out again and again, because it has the unfortunate attributes of being incredibly forgettable, whilst owning a name too seductive to not click on.)
Anyway, It’s Gonna Be Good is called It’s Gonna Be Good not because the lyrics contain a positive, uplifting message, but because I genuinely just thought it was going to be good when I was halfway through making it. SECRETS OF THE ARTIST REVEALED.
And, you know, it is quite good. Good enough for my band to play it until the band stopped, despite no-one in the audience really showing much enthusiasm for it at gigs (they want to DANCE. they want to JUMP.) We carried on playing it because we believed that, to the trained ear, we sounded more polished performing It’s Gonna Be Good than any of the other ones.
NOTE: the attached video contains the original version, dutifully placed first, recorded sometime in 2007. The second half, beginning 3.46, is the version recorded with my band around this time in 2008. It is much better, both because the instrumentation of my friends on keys, bass and guitar is more interesting, and because my singing has improved a bit. In particular: check out the bassist’s little lick at the beginning of the 2nd verse, at 5.22. That’s a bit of proper music! You weren’t expecting that!
This is an important song for me. Like the song that might be at some big but calm revelatory moment in a film. The protagonist lying on his/her back, looking at the sky, squinting, slight smile beginning to form on his/her face. Something has resolved. Something is going to be ok.
I was proud of it, yes. But the reason it feels important for me is different. I think it’s because it’s become lodged in a very specific time and place in my memory. And weirdly, that time/place is 2007, year 10, in Biology class. An interesting thing about lyrics like the ones in Its Gonna Be Good, is that sometimes they’re vague enough that even the writer doesn’t know what they mean. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing: the lyrics convey a certain atmosphere, they’re not trying to say anything concrete. I don’t think I wrote the lyrics in Biology, but at a certain moment, maybe listening to the song months later, the lines in the second verse created an image for me of myself looking out the window of that classroom, distracted and sleepy. The lines are:
‘I want to leave,
The chemistry is killing me,
And how I look outside and dream a lot.
They’re all smiling,
With their eyes on the ground and their hair in the sky’.
Let’s get one thing out the way: I’ve always known that it was the word ‘chemistry’ that placed me in a classroom in my mind, but I’ve literally just put two and two together and worked out that Chemistry is the wrong subject, I’m definitely picturing my Biology classroom. This all fits in with the dream-vision stereotype: ‘it was like my Chemistry classroom, except it wasn’t my Chemistry classroom, you know?’
So I’m in Biology, I’m looking out the window, and I see couples walking past, down on the street. And they’re all holding hands, and they’re all dressed as punks. They’re all dressed as punks because they all have Mohicans. And as I hear that line ‘their hair in the sky’ I can see their Mohicans stretching up from their bodies, impossibly high. So this isn’t a very imaginative interpretation of those lyrics. In fact it’s boringly literal. But the significant part of it for me is the feeling I get from imagining their faces, and my state of mind. They’re smiling, holding hands, but they’re looking at the ground. Like they’re scared, or shy, or embarrassed. And they just keep walking past this window, and I’m almost nodding off from the summer heat and the sheer boredom of listening to Mr. Branch go on, maybe about Biology, but more probably about his wife.
Over the years, this image has attained mythic proportions in my mind. Like a repeated dream you had when you were younger, or the same fear you used to get every time you turned off the light in the corridor coming back randomly every once in a while. When I listen to It’s Gonna Be Good, I’m 15, and I’m peaceful, and I’m feeling slightly lost.
The final lyrics are:
‘So I burn a line out through the clouds,
And I watch the sleepers taking ground,
And I burn a line into the sky,
Taking it into the night.
Through the trees, make glowing red,
I spread the leaves into my head,
And I’ll wait a while and make a smile,
Softly burning mile by mile’
I don’t know what those ones mean either. But the rhythm of them, and the way I stay on one note for several notes, is much closer to the way I use my voice in more recent music. And they cement the feeling of the song for me. I’m in a classroom, and then I’m out the window, and I’m burning softly out into the sky.