A lot went into writing your favorite song, but how much do you really know about it? This week Kason Coulter, guitarist and vocalist of Seattle pop-rock band Chasing Molly, delves into writing tips from his former English teacher, disguised charaters and heart-breaking car rides from Mexico.
Song: "Oh, Mexico!"
Album: Simple Songs for Smart People
When it was written: July 2011 after I had returned from a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico
Where it was written: In a few places. It was written on the back of my guitar (for the flat surface) but I was all over the house and the yard and even a line or two at my part-time fast food job.
Favorite line in the song: "She thought I was cute and I thought, 'Well shoot! I ought to go out on a flimsy limb.' We got back to the states, she skiped out on a couple dates and our future together was looking kinda dim." Easily enough, it's the perfect love song line! Some young teenage kid sees a girl that he thinks is cute and goes for her. All too often though, things don't work out. This guy may have given it a shot but hey, if things don't work out for whatever reason, there's not a lot you can do there.
My former English teacher once told me what makes poetry good, better, and great. He said that good poetry will answer the reader's question; that better poetry will ask the reader questions; the best poetry though, makes the reader ask him or herself questions. So when writing the song I tried to make it a story that not only gave the satisfaction of the audience's questions to be instantly answered, I also gave it a total cliff hanger. At the end you're left with so much wondering and so much uncertainty. It doesn't have a super happy ending. No no, that would be too easy.
Which part was the hardest to come up with: Without a doubt, the bridge. When I was composing the music for the words, I was left with this funny chunk of lines that were too similar to the chorus to be a plain old minor third bridge and weren't quite different enough to be another verse. I had a dilemma. Jason Upton, a singer/songwriter, once told me, 'Never throw out a perfectly good bunch of lines. Sure, one line at a time but never discard what you worked on.' With this I decided to make this "bridge" a completely different movement than the rest of the song. After the harmony it drops off into a much
more calm, laid back style that easily complements the more up-beat entirety of the song.
Odd fact about song: Oddly enough, the entire song is my story of a mission trip to Mexico I went on with my ol' man and a group from Connecticut. Just as Don McLean wrote 'American Pie' with hundreds of allusions and references, I disguised my characters and situations with easy-on-the-ears rhyming. [The line,] 'So I packed my things, even the bird that sings,' the singing bird was my dad. The entire car ride to Mexico we would sing along to our favorites like, Jamiroquai, Lenny Kravitz, Maroon 5, Erasure, and even Korn. Anyway, we would go 8 hours non-stop driving and singing. And of course the female being constantly mentioned throughout the whole song... but I won't
so easily reveal the name just yet. Do keep your eyes and ears pealed, though.
What was your inspiration for writing the song: The inspiration behind it all was, I owe a debt to the one who gave me talent to write some songs that people like to listen to. Not just random words like a lot of crud our society listens to nowadays. I wanted to write something better; a story that people could listen to and under completely different circumstances, still relate to what it has to say.
When was your favorite time performing it live: I think that Chasing Molly's favorite time to play this song is the next time we play it. I know for me, each and every time we get better and better. We are constantly improving and it shows with our work. Even when guitar petals fail and wireless systems lose their batteries, the song's heart and soul sounds exactly the same. That's what makes the next time, the best time.
What is the meaning behind the song: Oh man, the meaning of the song. Don't try to fall in love; let it happen when it happens. There's no point in trying to force yourself to become emotionally attached to someone and have it not work out. Then you have to deal with a long, heart-breaking car ride from Mexico to Seattle. Not a good time!