Today I will tell you the tale of the oldest song on the record.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, I was a student in Leuven and in between records. Ok, so this may not start out as your typical fairy tale, but for the song 'I want it all back' there sure was a fairy tale ending in the making, even though I didn't know it back then in 1997 or 1998.
It must have been around that time, anyway.
I had released my first record, 'Growing Pains'(1996), a collection of songs I had written between the age of 12 and 16. After the release, I had been playing a great amount of concerts around Belgium and Holland while also trying to be a thriving student.... Well, that didn't work. The student part anyway, the concert part was great. I loved it. It gave me energy. It gave me air. It gave me life. But as everything, also a tour must come to an end eventually. And then it hits you. Hard. The silence.
So there I was. Starting a new university year, as a future art historian, I might add. I didn't know right there and then that I would actually graduate with flying colours and would be celebrating my ten year anniversary next year working at one of the coolest and boldest museums this side of the Channel. But that's another story...
For a while, I reveled in being a student, studying art, soon developing an endless love for the Middle Ages.
But, somehow, you can take the girl off of the stage, but not the stage out of the girl...So soon, I developed a serious case of concertitis. A real and severe aching in the deepest part of your musical heart, an itch to perform and sing music in front of a crowd.
And I started writing songs again, while feeling the pressure of the 'second album'. The song 'I want it all back' was written at that time. I loved it instantly. The lyric was so 'me', and the melody was one I could really 'sing'. But.... it didn't work. Somehow, it didn't fit the list of songs that was selected for my second record 'Humanoid'.
Time went by, 'Humanoid' (1999) was released, concerts were played. Tours ended and the song just lay there, on the shelf. After 'Humanoid', I studied some more (yadayadayada) and felt some more itching and aching for playing.
I also did not have a record deal anymore since my record company ceased to exist and my distribution company went bankrupt a few month after the album was released (yeah, my album sales didn't go through the roof...) So it hit me twice. And even harder than the first time. It kicked me to ground. I didn't even want to be a musician anymore. But I still was. I will always be. I realised as long I had songs and music in me, I would be doomed (and blessed) to stay a musician forever. (aww... can you hear the violins too? seriously, I hear them. All the time ;-))
So I picked myself off from the ground, wiped my knees and started writing again, and recorded my EP 'Up all night' (2001). And started over as an indie artist. Time sneaks up on you, and I tried to read and learn everything there was to know about being an independent artist. I also wrote and wrote and wrote. I finally had the perfect list of songs for my next album 'Wolfish Times' (2006). But, you can guess, 'I want it all back' didn't fit. Didn't work. Didn't make the cut. Again.
After that I kind of gave up on the song for years. You can't keep beating a dead horse, right?
Time was a serious bitch after that. It went by so fast. I started working in said cool museum and soon was swamped in museumstuff. I started writing for the next record around 2007, 2008 and already recorded a first song in 2009 ('Hoping for a miracle') but I didn't find the time, or the money to record and release my newest record 'The sound of the beat' until 2014. I had a heap of songs ready and made a very strict selection. This album would be a coherent one.
And then, just when I stopped looking, I found it again. There it was, on the shelf, the lyric to 'I want it all back'. I still knew the melody and chords by heart, as if I had just written it the day before. I decided to take a chance and record a demo for it. I started with the bassline, oddly enough. I like playing bass. I love it. So I started working on it. Because I started with the bass, I guess I changed the groove of the song and it moved away from the typical 'depressed young songwriter girl with acoustic guitar'-song and became something more, something greater. Suddenly I injected a sort of Bruce Springsteen meets Anouk meets Melissa Etheridge meets Texas kind of drive in the song. After a few hours, I played it back and I liked it. Instantly really really liked it. Goosebumps kind of liked it. So, there it was. The illegitimate child, hidden in a backroom for years, suddenly standing in the light and shining! And I realised it wasn't the song that wasn't ready or good enough for so long, it was me... I needed those 15 or 16 years to come to terms with it.
The rest of the story is pretty straight forward. We recorded the song almost exactly as I arranged it in the demo (bassline, riffs, backing vocals,...), as a classic rock combo (drums, bass, guitars, piano, vocals). At first, I did have an awesome idea to use a horn section in the bridge (I recorded it on the demo) but it turned out it really wasn't that awesome after all, so we skipped the horn-idea. It would have been too much. Trust me...
I did keep the horn-melody and changed it to a string part. I also added a twin piano part to the strings that wasn't on the demo. With the strings combined, you get a little touch of Vanessa Carlton there...
All's well that ends well. I want it all back is now one of my own favorites on the new album.
Listen to it here
Marjan Debaene: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, keyboards, percussion
Alex Brackx: Electric guitars
Bert Embrechts: Bass guitar
Eric Bosteels: Drums
Next week another personal favorite: Oh my love