The Ultimate Decision
A little story about writing of the lyrics (by Ville)
This was the first ever song, where I wrote both the music and the lyrics. Why I wrote the lyrics, I still don’t know. It just happened.
I was composing the piece with my acoustic guitar, the verse and chorus were already in their final shape. Also the general structure was pretty much finished, although it had one extra verse/bridge pair before the first chorus at this point, when compared to the finished version. I had started to think about the vocal lines, so that I could create a simple demo, and teach the song to the other guys for arranging and lyric writing. I was completely stunned by the melody I had just discovered for the chorus, singing it over and over again, while playing the guitar riff. I usually evaluate my little creations in this way, trying to forget that I actually wrote it myself, and try to hear it as an external listener would. Sounds schizophrenic, I know.
Anyway singing ‘nah nah’ over and over again was getting pretty boring after a short while, and started to disturb the process. So the natural thing to do was to quickly write some lyrics, just to test the melody. Just any lyrics, that would come fast. So I took a pen and a piece of paper, hummed the melody of the chorus and wrote:
Up in the red skies castles are burning
Down on earth sweet dreams and high hopes die
I looked at the paper amazed. It was disgusting. How can anyone write such crap? I almost puked… I sang the lyrics trying not to think about them, and concentrated to work with the melody.
Later I was surprised to find myself writing lyrics for the 1st verse. I tried to convince myself: it’s just to test the melody, I won’t show it to anyone. Somehow I started thinking that I need some kind of a story for the lyrics. The atmosphere of the chorus was not exactly happy or light. It might make someone laugh, but still it’s mainly depressing.
Suddenly I remembered a conversation from my youth, which I heard at the exercise of the local football team. We were about 14 years or so, two other kids talked about the sorrows of life, wondering why there are so many sad things for each good & nice thing. This made me think, that maybe it is really so, that if you were able to measure all the joy and sorrow in the world, there would be clearly more sorrow. It was just an intuition, I couldn’t prove it of course, although some things learnt from the physics lessons seemed to give some support to it. This was obviously the starting point for the story, and the first two verses were quickly written. The two kids in question play currently for the Finnish national team, by the way.
He wanted to find out the balance between joy and sorrow
If there was more one than other in this life
He was to have it measured by a pair of scales and arrow
The weights would stand for each experience in life
Applying highest objectivity everything was measured
The scales were firmly turning to the other side
Pain and misery had outweighed laughter and pleasure
To make the conclusion he looked into the sky
After the first chorus I had some difficulties, the same story didn’t seem to be able to carry all the way to the end of the song. I felt that something has to happen at this point. I’ve later learned that this phenomenon is called the ’2nd verse hell’ by the songwriters.
Some months earlier I had seen a TV-show, where several philosophers were discussing several metaphysical issues (hey, something useful from the telly, those were the days!). One of the discussions was about a pre-Christian text outside of the bible, which told a story about creation of the angels. At the moment of creation they had the freedom to make exactly one decision, whether they would serve the good or evil. No more free will after that. Lucifer was an angel with superior capabilities compared to the others. Despite those capabilities (or because of them), he decided to serve the evil side, and one third of all the angels followed him.
The philosophers discussed a lot about the reasons behind that decision. If he was so smart, why did he join the ’wrong’ side? He had to know he was going to lose in the end. To me it sounded like he had to do it just to show that he is able to do it. I mean, if he was so superior to the others, how could he make the same decision as the others?
Anyway, that’s where I got the idea for the last verse. Also in this case a decision between right and wrong has to be made. Otherwise the setting is completely the opposite to little story mentioned above. There doesn’t seem be any reason to ’do the right thing’, the world isn’t going to change by that. Why on earth then, did he do what he did?
And so the time had come to make the choice between the two sides
Whether he could live for the good cause anymore
Despite what the hard facts of reality had testified
He decided to serve the bright side forevermore