An Incomplete History: Michael Buble's "End of May"

May 1996 Tim Seely, then 19 years old and the lead singer and guitarist for the Seattle band Willis, writes "End of May," a spare, sorrowful ballad about an amalgam of failed romantic acquaintances. September 1996 The original version of "End of May" appears on Willis' self-released, self-titled debut CD. Spring 1997 Influential disc jockey Marco Collins plays "End of May" on his show on 107.7 FM, The End. Collins says he likes both the band and the effect of a clock ticking in the background of the song, the sole rhythmic element in the original recording. 1998 Willis signs with Capitol Records and gets so hammered on their trip to Hollywood that they flake out on an opportunity to meet Drew Barrymore at the premiere of the hit rom-com Never Been Kissed, on whose soundtrack another Willis song, "Standing By," is included. 1999 A new version of "End of May" is recorded at Sweet Tea Studios in Oxford, Miss., by producer Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello). 1999-2001 Willis changes its name to the Actual Tigers, primarily for legal reasons, but also because Silver Jews frontman David Berman pulled the new name out of his ass during a chance meeting in San Francisco. The band's record is shelved amid turmoil at Capitol. July 2001 "End of May" is re-released on Gravelled & Green, licensed by Nettwerk, an imprint best known at the time for being Sarah McLachlan's label. November 2001 "End of May" is played during a breakup scene on the TV show Felicity. July 2002 Seely relocates to Oxford to record much of what would become his solo album, Funeral Music, with Herring. There Seely lives alone in a rented rambler on Martin Luther King Boulevard, drives a gigantic maroon van around town, steals some jealous Southerner's girlfriend, and is thrown in jail for a night with his oldest brother* for "public drunk" during homecoming weekend, when tens of thousands of even drunker Ole Miss fans attend a football game dressed to the nines. It was swiftly determined that the Seely brothers were the victims of geographic profiling, and charges were dismissed. After moving back to Seattle, Seely is dismissed from his contract with Capitol as well. End of May, 2009 Seely suffers a heart attack at age 32. While he's in recovery, Alan Chang, Michael Bublé's piano player and a former acquaintance of Seely, e-mails Seely to tell him that the Canadian megastar has recorded a version of "End of May" for potential inclusion on his soon-to-be-released covers album, Crazy Love. October 2009 "End of May" is not included on Crazy Love. When pressed for an explanation, Bublé, still reeling from a breakup with the comely British actress Emily Blunt, tells Seattle Weekly's Reverb blog (seattleweekly.com/reverb): "First off, it's one of the most beautiful fuckin' songs ever. It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make on the record, and I'm still not sure I made the right decision. They wanted to use it as a bonus track, but I disallowed it. I think it's far too good to be put out as a bonus track. I want to save it for a soundtrack, or if I have to, I will sit on it for my next record, because it's honestly the best vocal performance I've ever given, and it's wonderfully inspiring." October 25, 2010 A year after speaking with Reverb, Bublé makes good on his promise, releasing a largely faithful version of "End of May" on his Hollywood the Deluxe EP, included as a bonus disc on Bublé's Crazy Love (Hollywood Edition). In a YouTube message the week before the record's release, Bublé asks his fans to vote for the Hollywood track they'd most like to hear streamed on the home page of michaelbuble.com. The winner: "End of May." November 3 Sullivan's Steakhouse in downtown Seattle hosts a wine soirée where free downloads of Bublé's new tracks are made available to attendees. The event reportedly oozed class, and Soundscan reports that 26,000 copies of Crazy Love (Hollywood Edition) sold in the first week of its release. mseely@seattleweekly.com *The author of this timeline is Tim Seely's oldest brother. After being freed from jail, the two promptly split a bottle of sake, watched Spinal Tap, and went right back out to the bars.

 
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