A lot went into writing your favorite song--but how much do you really know about it? This week Keira Verlee, a 17-year-old songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Seattle, as well as the frontwoman of indie-pop band Verlee for Ransom, delves into high school talent shows, learning to write music, and her mother's sickness.
Kaye Gill (bass), Nathan Keiffer (drums), Kyle Morrison (guitar/cello), Keira Verlee (vocals/guitar/keys), Rio Chanae (keys/vocals)
Song: "So Says the Doctor"
Album: Happy Like Monkey That Climb
Release Date: May 20, 2011
When it was written: Early 2010 when I was 16.
Where it was written: In the living room at my mom's house. My practice keyboard was there at the time, and I would work on songs when no one was home.
Favorite line in the song: "She breathed with intention as she entered the room, a look of hesitation and eyes hiding gloom." This line reminds me of when my mother first told me she had cancer. I remember that conversation clearly, and I wanted to express that in this first line.Which part was the hardest to come up with? The bridge was the hardest part for me lyrically. This is the point in the song where I step away from telling the story and reflect on what could have happened.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be? Since the recording, the entire band has really grown as musicians, including myself. So if I could change anything, I would go back into the studio and record the song again. Since the recording, we also have a different lead guitarist and drummer who both give the song a bit of a different feel, which I really like. In general the song has more energy now and I'd really like to capture that in the studio.
Odd fact about song: The intro is at a different tempo than the rest of the song.
What was your inspiration for writing the song? Five years ago my mother was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, which is a very severe form of this disease. This song was inspired by that experience. I am happy to say that she has been cancer-free for almost 5 years now!
When was your favorite time performing it live? We were invited to play a Battle of the Bands at my high school last year as a guest band. I really didn't know a lot of people at my school, and by my junior year (last year) I had started taking all my classes at a community college as part of the Running Start program. We didn't know what to expect for the show, but over 400 students showed up, and when we played, they were all crowded around the front of the stage. "So Says the Doctor" wasn't released yet, but we had been giving away demo versions and had it posted online for a while. When we played the song I was completely shocked to have people from the crowd singing along. I could hear them onstage, and I was amazed at how energetic the room was.
What is the meaning behind the song? During my mother's treatment I was in 6th grade and wasn't fully aware of the significance. Since I was so young, people would just tell me not to worry and that everything would be fine. By the end of 8th grade I had started writing songs as a way to deal with the things in my life that were troubling me. It wasn't until later that I realized just how serious the situation was and understood how close I came to losing my mom. I also realized I would have handled the situation differently if I had known the full truth. This new awareness is what created the song.