"Wilderness" & how it was made.

"wilderness" is the opening track of the "july" EP in the "yearbook" series. this song is a bit of a time capsule.. while working on writing yearbook, i knew that at some point in the project, i wanted to return to my young roots as a songwriter and write a song that would have fit in stylistically with my older albums, like "ghosts" or "keep no score." as i was playing around with different ideas in that vein, i remembered a demo i had made sometime around my "ghosts" album in 2003. at the time, i got distracted with the songs that made it onto that record, that i never had time to finish it. when my next record "keep no score" was being put together, it didn't have a home there either, so it was left unfinished.

so i brushed away the cob webs on this song and i was so excited to have new ears for it because the entire direction and concept suddenly made perfect sense to me, and was exactly what i was hoping to achieve with a song inspired by my musical past.

the music in that old demo, was fairly arranged musically.. but the lyrics and vocal melodies weren't working.. and though there was a general arrangement in the song, it had some holes there too. so i went to work right away and discovered all sorts of directions and ideas that i would have never thought to try back in 2003 when it was first demoed. it was so fun to hear those old sounds in tandem with my new, current sounds and ideas.

i ended up keeping several of the recorded elements from the original demo in the end - some of the electric guitars remain, a few little keyboard bits, etc. but i knew that a key instrument here would be drums. so i called up my good friend, jacob marshall (mae), and invited him to be a part. he kindly accepted and with engineer help from mark padgett (mae) jacob recorded his drums in NC and it sounded fantastic right out of the gate. was so pleased!

lyrics for this song were tough to write. if i remember correctly, i caught a pretty bad flu virus right around the time of writing these words… so the process was a little slower than other yearbook songs. i wrote this song about my new little niece, who was born shortly after this song's release.

these words are about the sacredness of new life. about the importance of welcoming it into our world. in spite of how wild and broken life has made us, as adults. this brand-new, fragile, beautiful life rests on the shoulders of that overgrown wilderness in us. in this song i wanted to examine the contrast of new life being entirely helpless and delicate, and some how is entirely dependent on the selfish, rough edged, dangerous world we call home.

when i write "dear wilderness" - i am talking directly to the parent, who represents the most important the role in that little ones' new life.

all in all, i really enjoyed writing this song (in spite of getting the flu in the middle of it!) - it was incredibly fun to visit the past for a bit! feels good to pick up that electric guitar from time to time.. on my next project, perhaps you'll hear a little more of that sort of thing. we'll see.

much love, ryan




dear wilderness, be at your best. her armor is thin as the fabric of her dress. i know the rules: the weaker trees bend. but make her immune when your temper storms in.

when she gains her balance, be as still as you can be. when she’s climbing branches, be the feathers underneath.

when she regains her balance, be as steady as she needs. when she trusts you blindly, be her worthy lock and key.

though it goes against every grain of your sand, like turning wolves into lambs, be your best for her, your best for her.

when she holds her balance, be as gentle as she needs. when she shines her brightest, let no dark cloud intervene.