As you may have noticed, I’ve been releasing a decent amount of music lately. In part, this is because I’ve been collaborating with other musicians like Timothy Simmons, The La-La-Lettes, and my cousin Vince as part of The Ministry of Plausible Rumours. Meanwhile, I’ve also been recording a few songs on my own, and the latest is a somewhat long song with a country & western lilt called “Black Boots.”
The earliest version of this song came to me many years ago with the phrase “I’m wearing my suit to the steakhouse tonight.” One of the couplets went something like, “I’m tired and lonely and looking to fight. I’m wearing my suit to the steakhouse tonight.” But sometime in 2020, I started playing with the idea from a different angle and it became “Are you promising to hold your tongue but looking for a fight? Are you wearing your black boots tonight?”
And as far as that “different angle” goes, instead of imagining a guy with anger management issues, I started thinking about a pair of sisters who don’t get along but who still love each other. This idea stemmed from a picture that my friend Jen Mitlas shared on social media of herself and her sister eating ice cream when they were children; the caption said something like, “See? Sometimes we do get along!”
Hence the first verse of the song: “Unfocused picture: You and your sister/Ice cream on Saturday night./Moment of detente,/You both get what you want/Before diving back to the fight.”
Of course, the song is a work of fiction, and I imagined that the two sisters were of different political philosophies–that one was a cop or in the military (“a warrior by trade”) and that one was ostensibly of a kinder and gentler bent but was, nevertheless, always the first to attack (or, in the song, “pull the blade” on) the on the other.
I also imagined that the sisters were twins, but I think that notion came about when I realized I could rhyme “Fighting each other” with “Inside your mother.” I just thought the idea of two children punching and kicking each other even before they were born was funny.
On the topic of rhymes, I felt like I was cheating a little when I rhymed “ice cream” with “ice cream” in the final verse, but I liked the idea that, as adults, the two sisters still set aside their differences to enjoy ice cream when they get together.
Musically, the song owes a massive debt to “Mississippi” by the Cactus Blossoms, which I first heard in an episode of Twin Peaks: The Return. I really liked the drum beat on that song, so when I bought a drum kit back in the Spring of this year (itself a weird story), one of the first patterns I tried to learn was the rhythm from that song. Once I had it down, I recorded it and built the rest of “Black Boots” around it.
Fun fact: The sewer pipe for my house runs through the room where I record drums. You can hear water running through it at about 3:28 on the song. Someone must have been taking a shower at the time. Either that, or they flushed the toilet. In either case, I actually thought the sound of running water was pretty cool, so I kept it in. Also, I didn’t feel like recording the track again.
My initial plan was to save the song for later — maybe to include it in an EP or an album, but then I saw a review of “Mine Forever” by Lord Huron on Jeff Archuleta’s (quite excellent) Eclectic Music Lover blog. Since the instrumentation on that song — especially the twangy guitars — was similar to the instrumentation of “Black Boots,” I figured Jeff might enjoy my song, so I sent him a rough mix and told him I didn’t really plan to do anything with it. But Jeff said he liked it, and since I’ve been a big fan of his music reviews for quite some time, I figured I had no choice but to release it… So here we are!