A lot went into writing your favorite song, but how much do you really know about it? This week Seattle singer-songwriter Allie Coy delves into performing at the FolkLife festival, learning to write with a full band in mind, and being happy regardless of the situation.
Song: "Garey's Song"
Album: Folky, Indie Sh*t
Release Date: December 19
When it was written: March 2012, over the course of a couple days.
Where it was written: In my living room in Tukwila, Washington.
Favorite line in the song: It's really hard to come up with just one favorite line. If I really had to pick, I'd say, "You never thought you'd leave your lover, but I knew it through and through." Which is silly, considering that it's possibly the least poetic line out of the entire song, but heck. It sums up pretty much every single feeling I had while writing the lyrics. I was bitter, resentful, and hurting more than I ever had in my entire life, and a tiny voice in the back of my head just kept saying, "I told you so."Which part was the hardest to come up with: Most of my stuff is pretty simple and straightforward, but this was the first song that I wrote with the intention to include other musicians. It was a bit of a brain exercise, picking apart the different points where I could add harmonies or multiple instruments. Unfortunately, the band is no more, and it was a bit of a struggle to recapture the fullness and body of the song by myself.
On the other hand, I'm not the world's best lyricist. This was the first time I'd ever tried to be poetic and meaningful - most of my songs are guilty of being catchy and shallow. I had to shift over into a completely different style of writing, which was interesting and also rewarding. This is possibly my favorite song I've ever written.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be: I would have definitely recorded it with my band. The song used to start off with the most beautiful sweeping octaves on cello and erhu, which I really miss.
Odd fact about song: The first time I played it completely through, I was pretty nervous about the way that it had come together. So instead of playing it for people, I played it to my cat enough times that I understood the ins and outs of the harmonies I had created in my mind, and only when I thought it sounded perfect did I show it to my band. We played it at the Folk Life Festival as our closing song without much practice, but it was smooth enough that I almost started crying on stage. Yep, I'm a tad bit emotional.
What was your inspiration for writing the song: This is a long story, so I'll keep it short. I moved to Seattle with a guy that I had been dating for a few months (yes, very bad decision) without knowing that he was actually manic-depressive. When I had met him, he had been going through one of his manic swings, and as soon as we moved to Seattle, he swung downward into a depression. Pretty soon, he spiraled out of control and started begging me to move back home with him. I refused, and after three months of living here, he moved back without me. At the same time, I was laid off from my job, leaving me with no way to pay my $1000 rent on my very nice apartment. He promised me he would move back as soon as he finished up some things back home, and I knew that would never happen. After his second visit, he called me one night and told me he had found someone else. Cue angry song-writing.
When was your favorite time performing it live: My favorite time, by far, was when I performed it for Folk Life. The crowd was fairly small, but they were attentive. It is a fairly long song, and I was very happy to see that by the end of the six minutes, we had roped in quite a lot of passersby and our audience had at least doubled. It was a pretty great feeling. I got a little emotional and pretty soon, I had carried on the ending for at least 20 extra seconds.
What is the meaning behind the song: There are people that I've known that seem to be content with being unhappy. No one can change that but you. It took me years and years to realize that I'm the only person in charge of my emotions. Other people shouldn't be your reason for being happy - you should find the happiness within yourself. I made the mistake of trying to change someone who didn't want to be changed, and while it made a great learning experience and song, it was one of the hardest times of my life.