I usually don't like to write about the meanings behind songs I've written. I believe it was Jeff Buckley who said it best. When someone asked what his songs were about, he asked them, "What do you think it's about?" They'd answer and he'd nod in confirmation. He did this with every individual person. I agree with him as well. I've written these songs from my personal experiences, whether it may have been a story I heard, a relationship I was in, a favorite book, a city that inspired me, meeting new and interesting people on my travels, etc. etc. But what the listener always gets out of the song, whether it is "wrong" or "right" to what I wrote it about, is always what is most special to me.
Having said that, I will continue on telling all you curious folk about what these album tracks mean to me. However, keep in mind that what they mean to YOU will always be "right" in my book. Anyway, here's a little insight on the rest of the songs from RED for anyone who is interested. :)
This song can be summed up in one sentence: "Home," is not a place. It is a person. (Or at least that's my definition of home). It took me a while to come to that conclusion. I started touring when I was 17 (You can read about that a couple blogs below). Some years I was on the road 8 months out of the year. I love traveling, but it was hard at times. Try dating someone and then telling them you're leaving for 3 months. The response usually isn't a party. "But don't worry...after those 3 months I'll be home for a week...and um, then on tour again....in the UK. But...I'll get a phone card." Yeah, usually not a party. But after a while, you realize that the people who truly care about you are the ones who don't even blink when you tell them about your crazy schedule. My best friend Hannah has always been there for me, even though on almost every birthday of hers I'm usually 5000 miles away. My mom and family have always been understanding and supportive. It took me a while to realize it, but home is about the people you love and that love you. It's about the people that no matter how far away they are, make you feel at home. I love you guys!
"Billy the Kid"
Picture a sunshine man. A happy, go lucky, creative, funny person with blonde hair and bright eyes. His name is Isom Innis. He is the keyboard player for Foster the People. I met Isom a few years ago, way before "The Voice." We got together from time to time and wrote songs and chatted and created. He's just overall an inspiring person/musician to be around. When it came time to write for the album, I called him up. "Let's get together and write! Let's just see what happens." I went over to his cozy apartment in Silver lake, CA. He said, "Come in, come in...I'm just..uh, working on a track...it's like a spaghetti western...reminds me of cowboys,sit, want water? Ya good? Check it out..." Isom gets really REALLY excited over music (which is why he's awesome to work with) and kind of reminds me of a mad scientist when working on songs. He played me an intro to a song he had been working on. There was no melody or lyrics. He started dancing around the room with his guitar, playing the song really loud and yelling over it, "I think we could add in some really cool tambourine here!" And then he'd pick up an acoustic guitar and start dancing again. I sat down on his couch, opened up my journal, and started writing away. It did remind me of a western....I thought back on my favorite movies. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Clint Eastwood. Doc Holliday. Calamity Jane. Kit Carson the sharpshooter. I started dancing too on the couch and started writing a story..... I love writing stories. We recorded vocals that night in Isom's living room (same vocal tracks on the actual record. Sometimes the "demo" vocal is the best!) Then we wrote a chorus which made our feet wanna move. We gave it a few weeks, thought on it. Isom showed it to Mark Foster while they were on tour together. He had a great idea for the chorus and also added some fun instrumentation. It was a pleasure to work with them. This song was....fun to write...and now fun to listen to while I'm dancing in my car and almost crashing into the poor lady next to me.
This song is very special to me for an obvious reason: Blake Shelton! It was amazing to be able to watch him cut vocals for this song. (We cut vocals for this tune together in Nashville, TN)! I love his voice and his country twang! Also, I absolutely would not have an album to release in a couple days if it wasn't for him. He's been such an awesome coach, friend, musician, that I just feel so lucky to have met him. This song, simply, is about friendship. He joked that it should have been the "Fox and the Hound" theme song. Yes!
"The Broken Ones"
This song wrote itself, or so it seemed. It came so naturally. Lyrically, it's about not only accepting "faults or flaws" people find in you or ones you love, but embracing them. It's the quirks and weird things my friends do that I usually love. What others might find "broken," I find charming. We've all gone through our uphill climbs, our own hardships. We all have a story.... In my life, and especially in many relationships, I have been drawn to people a little out of the box. We grow together and become better people. What makes us broken, is also what makes us perfect.
"Don't kick the chair"
Greg Kurstin produced this track. One of my favorite producers! It was so wonderful to be able to work with him. Also, of course, Mr. Kid Cudi. I like it when artists write happy tunes with dark lyrics, and that is what I attempted to do on this one. This one is ...as corny as it sounds... about not giving up.