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23 February 2012 @ 10:40 pm
Bp's Song of the Week #144: Lifehouse "Everything"  
Lifehouse "Everything"

(the video for this is a fan-made lyric video which is wonderful, read the below and then watch the video - because I know you have that kind of time - but seriously, postpone the Facebook news feed for a few more minutes, it's worth it)

While it may seem really uncool to dedicate a Song of the Week to Lifehouse, so be it. I'll agree with you that their last few releases have been pretty run-of-the-mill, but the magic they captured on their first album with Ron Aniello and Brendan O'Brien was just that, magic! Don't deny it and don't be ashamed to admit it, at least to yourself, that they put out one fantastic album twelve years ago (wow, was it that long ago?).

When I first got into the debut album from Lifehouse, No Name Face, it was early Fall of 2000, just before it's release. Jeff Bayard threw it over the cube wall and told me to check it out as it might be up my alley. At this time I was a year into my new job in the music industry and I was happily drowning in all of the new music I was being exposed to, many of which came from JB. I was also developing an intense relationship with Tara MacLean's music and connecting with her voice and songs like I hadn't done in many years. I discovered Trans-Siberian Orchestra that year as well. I was a musical sponge.

The first song on the Lifehouse disc immediately caught my attention. "Hanging By a Moment," went on to become a huge radio song and that hooked me first, because unlike most radio smashes, it's a truly great song. This Lifehouse record was brooding and intense, not a straight forward rock record and each song had a special moment that I loved and which brought me closer to the CD. There was a confidence in the songs, but a lack of confidence coming through in the lyrics and that dichotomy attracted me to many of the songs including "Simon," "Sick Cycle Carousel," and "Somebody Else's Song." Vocally and musically it was engaging as well.

The last song on the album, "Everything," really connected with me as it spoke to what I was immersed in musically at the time. I always enjoyed live performance, but in 2000 I saw three times the number of shows I had in previous years. Combining that with the styles and sounds I was experiencing for the first time made it a really exciting time and "Everything" spoke to me about my relationship with music. I was able to see James Kinne's band six times that year, and they were doing some pretty intense material that was really powerful; The Tragically Hip blew me away three times, Angie Aparo was transcendent, the band +Live+ was as well on two occasions. I was being blown away by music and live performance and this song seemed to speak to that for me.

[Slight tangent alert here (skip the bracket section if you want only the Lifehouse stuff, but without fully fleshing this out there is something missing, so I'm going to include it even though it's a 'back when' bit.]

When I was playing music in school and with our school's Jazz Attack and Freedom (vocal with band) touring groups it was obviously a very group oriented thing, but purely listening to music after my brother left for college became a more solitary experience because I liked stuff that few other people I knew did. Although I did turn on my best friend, Roshni, to a myriad of artists, it wasn't through a shared listening experience. And through that solitary listening I really connected with the music. Fast forward to my first concerts and while some were with friends or my brother, it was a shared experience on a surface level. When I saw Genesis with friends from high school it wasn't the hang that I was there for, it was the show. I grew up an hour or more from the local arena so I didn't go see a lot of shows and if I went to a show I went because I wanted to see the band perform. I saw Rush for the first time with my brother, but once the show started I had no idea anyone else was in the venue. When I saw Heart with Matt Gounis, we had a blast, but the lighting strike emanated from Howard Leese's guitar and Nancy Wilson's everything. I left my brother and his girlfriend at the back of the venue and worked my way to the barricade for REO Speedwagon in 1991 and Dave Amato's guitar work put me in a trance. Later that year and early into the next I caught 4 more Rush shows and I was there to soak up every morsel like a sponge (with the exception of one Rush show with Roshni, her first, which was both of us getting blown away together). Later in '92 I caught Marillion, Def Leppard, Robin Crow all solo and all utterly amazing.

So going to a live performance has always been about the performance and it didn't bother me that it wasn't a shared experience with someone next to me. There were times while waiting for hours to get a good location for a club show it would have been great to have company, but once the lights went down it didn't matter. Granted, over the years this philosophy has changed quite drastically as now seeing a Rush show without meeting up with friends from all over just isn't the same. The thought of seeing Rush in 2012 without hanging with my friend of 20-years who I've seen Rush with 24 times since '94 will be sad, but maybe we can make it work somehow. The same is true for TSO friends that I've made along the way. I might travel to the shows by myself, but once I'm there it's a reunion of friends.

But for the most part, seeing shows was a solitary experience and that didn't bother me, hence the connection with it being "everything" here.

[end of tangent]

The year 2000 was a magical year musically and I started to think of these lines in terms of live performance, "And how can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you..."

So the song starts slow and moody in Jason Wade's wonderfully low register, a hallmark of their sound on that record.

"Find me here
And speak to me
I want to feel you
I need to hear you"

That's live performance right there - the rush of the bass flapping against your pants, the power of a performance engulfing you - you're there to be entertained, but to some it's more than just surface level entertainment, it's a deeper connection. You want to physically feel and experience what is in front of you, but you also want to feel it run through you.

"You are the light
That's leading me
To the place
Where I find peace, again"

Tara MacLean signed her website updates "love + light, Tara." I connected "light" in the first line with Tara and the connection that I was developing with her music and voice at the time.

A few years ago when trying to determine Wade's inspiration behind the song, the general consensus that I found was that it was written about God (he grew up with Missionary parents), although some sources claim it was written about his wife. It can easily relate to any relationship with a loved one, whether it's spouse, friend, or God. Because of the period of time that I connected with it, I equated the song with music. Maybe that makes me shallow, but that's the connection that was made with me. One of the initial connection points as well was during the first Trans World convention I attended. I remember during a passionate performance by a new artist, Kina, there were numerous folks just standing chatting with blatant disregard to the 110% that was being left on the stage. That's what first made me think "how could I stand here watching this passionate performance and not be moved in some way?" Many times as I'm at shows, anticipating the house lights going down and the artist hitting the stage I'll think of the pre-chorus lyrics, "And how can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you, Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?"

That slight lead of the pre-chorus at 2:10 which slowly builds a little into a subtle release that crawls into the next verse is a great moment. The delayed gratification of the chorus is essential to the power of the chorus when it does finally arrive. You're four stanzas and over two minutes into the song, but still no chorus! The drama is only just starting to build.

I've always loved the power of music. It was always my release. As a non-drinker I used music to drown sorrows or celebrate joys. As a relationship challenged guy in school I wrote song lyrics about the crushes or relationships that didn't work out. Songs were always there to help ease the pain and those songs are still connected with those people. "Amanda" by Boston, "Someday" by Aldo Nova, "All for Love" by Nancy Wilson, "I Want You So Bad" by Heart, "Have You Ever Needed Someone" by Def Leppard, etc. They all have their memory triggers. I sang or drummed, or air guitared as a release, and the next verse speaks to that.

"You calm the storms
And you gave me rest
You hold me in your hands
You won't let me fall"

Walking in the rain on a spring night in '92 listening to Def Leppard's High N Dry cassette was the storm for me. Max Webster's "Battle Scar" throughout my junior and senior years of high school. In retrospect the pitfalls of growing up were so amazingly minor compared to others, but not when you're living them and some song or album was always there.

"You steal my heart
And you take my breath away
Would you take me in?
Take me deeper now"

This verse was all about Tara MacLean who, during 2000-01, was almost daily listening, always stealing my heart and taking my breath away with her voice and musical backdrops that, corny as it sounds, took me deeper into many different styles of music and soundscapes than I'd ever experienced. I was receiving live CDs in the mail weekly with more new Tara shows to devour and it was so magical to listen to.

Here we are at 3:10 as the pre-chorus begins again ("And how can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you, Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?") and as the music slowly builds you're seeking the salvation of the chorus which still has yet to arrive. Think about the great songs of the '50s and '60s and beyond. Many of them were shorter than 3-minutes. They'd already have been through three verses, and four rounds of the chorus. But you're still waiting here....and then those lines are repeated again (remember a couple weeks ago when I mentioned that the delayed chorus in The Beatles "All My Loving" was so great?) so it's another half-minute before the climax is reached. The drama created is unbearably wonderful!

At 3:56 the release finally occurs. The vocal leads into a single down-beat on the floor tom, the first appearance of the drums, followed by a quarter note bass guitar and bass drum rhythm driving the vocal and guitar into that wonderful refrain:

"Cause you're all I want
You're all I need
You're everything, everything"

It doesn't even matter that it's repeated over and over again because you've been waiting so long for it...it's euphoric! As if you've been running up a hill, through the forest, escaping danger, and suddenly you've reached a cliff and you're suddenly fitted with hang-gliding gear and you jump off the cliff - able to fly (not sure where that image came from - and I know you shouldn't run off of cliffs because you usually won't fly, but it evokes that feeling. Pink Floyd's "Learning to Fly" video had a hang-gliding scene, but I think this is more effective).

Even the snare drum is delayed...you're waiting for that but you don't get that until 4:38. By that time if you're not moving your body or finding yourself solidly tapping your foot or moving your arm in the air, click the link again, turn it up a little louder and try it again.

"And how can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you, Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?"

No, I can't.

More Lifehouse:
Everything (live)
Sick Cycle Carousel
Someone Else's Song
Hanging By a Moment