Leading up to the June 2 release of "Through Private Wars" (available for pre-order now), I'll be posting brief thoughts on each of its songs over the next few weeks. Today, track #4, Planetstruck.
There was an article in The New Yorker in maybe 2012 or 2013 about death certificates, and what they could or couldn’t tell us about public health, and their history; one paragraph listed seventeenth century causes of death, including “Cut of the Stone, or King’s Evil, or Planet-struck, or Rising of the Lights. You could succumb to Overjoy, which sounds like a decent way to go, or be Devoured by Lice, which does not…” It occurred to me that I could take this paragraph, use these as titles, and let them inspire a concept album of sorts. That...hasn’t happened (though an early version of the changes from “Eyelash Wishes” had a lyric sheet for “Overjoy,”).
I wrote a lyric sheet for this guitar hook I had, and stared at it, weekly, for about six years. Never played it for anyone. Never recorded it. Just looking it over… “Is this good? Does it suck? Is this a really strong metaphoric idea, or really obvious?” And then I met my wife, and all bets were off. The death project became a love song for my wife, “Planetstruck.” The previously existing guitar hook, and the melody it suggested to me, gave me everything I needed. "Brighter than stars..."
Rob’s weeping pedal steel is astounding in its beauty, and Paul’s warm acoustic guitar envelops the song. We were pondering having David track upright, and Rob off-handedly said “you know what would be great here? Tony Levin.” Leaving aside the fact that nearly EVERYTHING would be improved by Tony Levin, having him play something for me has been a bucket-list item since I was 19. Funnily enough, Tony and I have a friend in common, and he graciously agreed to track a part in his home studio on a week’s break between King Crimson tours. You know, NBD. He sent the tracks over, and initially, we were almost underwhelmed, until we listened more closely, and realized how effortlessly he responds both to the vocal AND to the pedal steel, while maintaining a picture-perfect groove under the guitars. Just spectacular. I'm not sure we could make this recordingg better if we tried for weeks. Well, aside from my singing it better, which is always the case.