Jul 14, 2009


"Marcher" is based on the novella The Beast in the Jungle by Henry James. I don't want to give away the story in case you want to read it, so I'll just talk about how the song came into being.

It was the autumn of 2007 and Band Practice/Party needed more original songs. We already had "Frankenstein," but I wanted to write a song that everybody could play a unique part on. I was messing about with E and whatever the chord is that looks like an open E but is two frets higher. I was listening to Stereolab's The First of the Microbe Hunters at the time, and I really liked the song "Intervals" because of its strange descending melody at the beginning. In fact, I've always been fascinated by descending melodies, including "Teardrop" by Massive Attack and "Weird Divide" by The Shins. So I wanted to write my own. The "bap bap" countermelody came afterwards, as I was trying to make it sound like Stereolab.

I sent the instrumental over to Lisa, who said it sounded like two people sitting on a car by a beach. Somehow that got me thinking about this story that I had read for English 45C. I remember reading The Beast in the Jungle during lunch time one Wednesday afternoon in 2003, on a bench in front of Sproul Hall. I remember this, because I was so moved by this novella that it sealed the deal for me to be an English major. So, in a way, you have to thank John Bishop for making this song possible. Anyway, I wrote the lyrics from the point of view of John Marcher, the protagonist of the story.

The music video will feature Russ playing the role of Marcher. I'd like to have it so that Marcher is wandering around town. It would be nice to have it in Berkeley, so that some of us Cal alums can have this footage for nostalgic purposes later. There will also be a few seconds of us playing in the park. At the end of the video, Marcher reaches his destination, which turns out to be a cemetery. "May, now I feel you..."

Who played on the recording? Steven (lead vocals, guitar, percussion); Russ (mandolin); Ciana (accordion); Lisa (bicycle bell); Molly (backing vocals, claves); Vijay (violin); Devin (trumpet)


Drawn together young embraces
Sat like loveless seeds who perish
You remember, May, when we were young
Found us in the cool November sun

I sensed something looming towards me
Vaguely, just beyond my arm’s reach
Oh, won’t you watch with me?
Oh, won’t you watch with me?
I drift like a ghost through a fate that I keep holding on

Long nights we stayed up in sentry
Gazing, playing, side by side we
Saw the joy that passion could have brought
Lost the joy that passion would have sought
May, now I feel you, my tears fall in vain on your tomb

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