in mid-october, my wife and i took a small trip downtown for a couple days for a friends wedding. at that time, only 2 of the 3 songs for the upcoming "november" EP were written. before that little trip, "101010" wasn't even a seed of a song yet. needless to say, i was a bit stressed out to take a few days off, leaving things up in the air like that. since writing/creating isn't something you can really plan around, i was quite nervous about that missing 3rd song.
but during our little getaway, something brief and unexpected happened, which triggered the birth of the entire song.
my wife and i had been walking around chicago, hopping in and out of stores and restaurants all day. later that afternoon, exhausted, we decided to head back to the hotel to recoup and get away from the busyness of michigan avenue for a bit. we walked into the hotel lobby and headed for the elevator door. alongside us were a middle-aged couple who just checked in and were also heading towards the elevators. they struck up some polite conversation with us while we all waited for the elevator doors to open up. they asked "what are you guys in town for?" and we told them about our mini-vacation plans surrounding the our friend's wedding. they had nothing but kind, polite words to say in response. suddenly, with a big smile, the woman mentioned how thrilled they were because today was their "cancer-free" day. the man shyly shrugged her comment off. we responded with surprise and tried to find words that were appropriate, and said how sorry we were. the woman then went on to tell us that her husband is in town for his 8th round of chemotherapy which was scheduled for the following day, and that they were just so happy to have a day off downtown before visiting the hospital again. my wife and i were shocked and again, were at a loss for meaningful words. the husband gently told her to stop bothering us with the details, but she was so proud and full of smiles that she kept on chatting. she asked us if we knew what a "bucket list" was... we said that we unfortunately did... she went on to tell us that her husband bought a corvette the other day and was able to check it off the list. at this point we were heartbroken and hardly knew how to respond to it all. her husband then went on to tell us how great he thinks it is that a young couple like us are making time to take mini vacations like that and that he feels like it's so important to untangle yourself from daily routines.
the elevator stopped at the 10th floor and they got out and with nothing but smiles as they wished us a wonderful rest of our trip and said goodbye. we mumbled words like... "so nice to meet you... we hope tomorrow goes okay... we'll be thinking of and praying for you" and they stepped out of the elevator.
all of this took place in under 2 minutes. totally stunned, we quietly waited for our floor, 28.
we walked to our room, full of a million feelings at once. heartache for having encountered people who are facing things so much more difficult and challenging than we are. guilt, that we were so crabby and tired from our day of shopping and eating, not appreciating our health and the luxuries we've been given, and we felt incredibly inspired too. that small, 2 minute event was very important. my wife and i had some really nice conversations about what we can do to recalibrate our lives more, to fully appreciate what we have.
the exact date that all of this happened was 10/10/10, which inspired the title of this song. the lyrics too, are directly related to this tiny but significant encounter.
probably goes without saying that the theme of the song is about making change. essential change. it's about appreciating each small and overlooked gift that is tucked away into our lives... it's also about acknowledging that so much of life is gray. meaning, from our perspective, things are not so simple and defined - and that's entirely okay. for reasons beyond our comprehension everyone faces different sets of challenges and complications in their lives... some are significantly tougher than others. what's important is making the changes necessary in our own lives in order to value more fully the people that we love and who love us back. it's a song of recalibration. thanks to that brief interaction with that incredibly kind and brave couple, recalibration has bumped itself way up on our priority list, where it belongs.
here are a few more specific lyric references that tie back into that story on our little trip...
"hold your breath and count to 28" - refers to the common bit of discomfort we all feel when you get onto an elevator with strangers... usually, you try to stand pretty still, taking up as little space as possible and you just count down the floors until your stop. for us, it was floor 28...
"change is slow but i feel it taking shape" - refers to how that small conversation/interaction was stirring us, preparing for necessary change.
"hold your breath and count to 29. connect the dots and cherish every line" - the meaning behind this line is a bit more obvious; the importance of cherishing what you are given. but the number 29 refers to another part to the reason we took our little trip... to celebrate my wife, cayt's 29th birthday.
in an effort to not make this blog post too long, i'll leave it to those examples, but there are lots of other small references scattered throughout the song.
this was a fun song to work on musically. it was very kind to us throughout the whole process too - meaning that it didn't give us much grief to complete! whew... we needed a song like this after some of those recent problem-child songs.
it marks the first song on yearbook that i played my guitar! i enjoyed writing on my martin acoustic guitar again... it felt like seeing an old friend.
it didn't take us much time to come up with the idea of asking the incredibly gifted musician, eva holbrook to be our guest for this song. we met eva a couple years ago, played a show together and thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with her. and there are few musicians we're aware of that posses as much talent as eva does... she has literally mastered her instruments. i'm not exaggerating.
so we invted her to play some mandolins, she kindly accepted our invite and wrote and recorded her parts in colorado and with the speed of lightning she sent 'em back and her tracks were literally perfection. we didn't edit a single note of her mandolins. such a beautiful job!
dan and i had fun pretending like we were drummers on this song. we set up our drum set and went through a ton of trial and error before settling on a percussive approach... but we did manage to get some kick, toms and hi-hat in there too. maybe we'll get braver soon and rock out some full-on drum beats... (or, more likely, have someone who knows how to play do it.)
101010 is the first song of yearbook that was mixed by anyone other than john goodmanson (our veteran mixing pal) - the amazingly talented chris bethea mixed this song and did such a truly wonderful job! everyone has a different ear, so when you put your song into someone else's hands in the last creative stage of the song's lifespan, it's crucial that the mixer understands and appreciates the direction of the song. chris not only understood it, but also had the talent to give the instruments space and depth in the song. he truly did a great job and we're looking forward to working with him again!
that's about it! hope you enjoyed reading about the story behind this little song. it was a fun one to make!
p.s. a fun side-note... in binary code 101010 equals 42. 42 is the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything," according to the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. interesting, eh?