Fell

Fell

First up… the lyrics for this song expose one of the dangers of writing a ‘serious’ song in colloquial idiom. The lyrics, on the page, look… how shall I put this to spare my delicate feelings… stupid.

Sure… I grew up saying things like “he might ‘a fell” instead of the proper “he might have fallen” and it does sound completely natural to my ear. But, dang, it looks stupid when you write it out. I look like a gol dang illiterate, I do. Yup.

Anyhow, I never really felt like I finished this song (weak second verse… some too obvious phrasing… whaddya know, everyone is a critic) — but that never stopped me from performing it frequently back in the 90’s. I suppose it fit my mood at the time, which was to the dark side of melancholy.

When I performed it back then, I often mentioned that it was my understanding that there was a Jewish tradition (probably picked up from friends, books, or movies, since I, myself, am not Jewish) suggesting that, without proof otherwise, a possible suicide should be considered an accident — so as not to send a message of despair and futility to the community, particularly young people.

That was the context in which I conceived this song, building what little development there is around that central ambiguity.

Several years ago I became acquainted with an Americana band that I discovered on the web, The Pernice Brothers. (They were a Subpop band, so it wasn’t like they were deep underground, or anything.) I liked them enough to buy the 1998 album, Overcome by Happiness.

On that album, I discovered a song about suicide that had a line strikingly like the opening line of this song (“They found his car” in my song, “Her” car in the Pernice Brothers tune) with a melody nearly identical to the melody I used to use. (On this version I somewhat unconsciously changed the melody and decided to leave it.)

From there, the songs deviate quite a bit and, entres nous, I believe the Pernice Brothers song is a decidedly superior song (and has a very pretty string arrangement, to boot).

Still, I thought it might be worth noting, should any fellow Pernice Brothers fans stumble on my song here and note the (to me) small but striking similarity: my song was written in 1991 and performed frequently in public in the next few years — often at the Long Beach club Bogart’s, host to many a touring band over the years.

But, hey, great minds think alike (ahem) and I have no doubt that if you put 10,000 moody songwriters in a room and turn them loose at least a couple of them will come up with the intro lines to the song below…

FELL

They found his car
didn’t find a note
but they found this rose
lying by the side of the road

The sky was dark
when I got the call
her voice shook bad
She could barely talk at all

the rocks were slick
you could never tell
the sea so far below him
he might ‘a fell

I knew he was sick
never knew how bad
but I know he fought
gave it everything he had

I guess we’ll never know
what the end was like
I know he cursed the dark.
I hope he saw the light

the rocks were slick
you could never tell
the sea so far below him
he might ‘a fell

1:29pm Sep 12,1991
(C)1991 TK MAJOR

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