08 December 2011
it wasn't always the way it ended up
we're at the beginning of making a new record at the moment. and i've been spending the last couple of months putting together all the words i've got for it so far. the other day i came across a box of old lyrics and in amongst them were all the different songs that 'my tiger my heart' had been, along the way to it being 'my tiger my heart'.
i remember it started out as a lyric called 'i always feel sad when i hum', which i gave to my brother, who then wrote a tune to it on the piano. i don't think there were many words. i think the words were "i'm here for a bit then i'm moving along and i always feel sad when i hum" and then the chorus went something like "when you go away i get the saddest feeling when you go away" or something. i can't remember much else from the original demo. most of the words were made up on the spot.
then i kept trying to write different things to the demo. and these are all the drafts i found in the box. so after it was called 'i always feel sad when i hum' it seems to have been a song called 'feeding the ducks' which included the lines "i'm feeding the ducks and thinking about us/thinking about us feeding the ducks". i don't think i could stretch a lyric about feeding ducks out over five verses and two choruses so i abandoned that direction in favour of a song called 'fishing for pips'. six years later i have no idea what this was about or what a pip is. but interestingly it did include the line "i feel like a snail climbing a rose" that later turned up in a slightly different way in 'every grubby little memory'.
after fishing for pips i moved away from the water and took inspiration from a flavour of dog food that i saw once. and so the next version of the song was called 'rabbit and heart', and was a song about two friends, one called rabbit and the other one called heart. at one point in the song they sit on a porch, which the tiger and me ended up sitting on in the finished song. this was the first time the word "heart" appeared in the song words. interesting.
i think i must have abandoned that idea because there was no great narrative and i just got stuck. the next version was really close to the finished song, but i hadn't thought of it being a tiger yet. so i used a fruit instead. it was called 'my apple my heart'. i don't think it was actually a song about an apple though. i think i just meant "apple" as a term of endearment.
anyway, i guess i must have just thought about other terms of endearment for a few weeks, after we decided that we couldn't have a song about an apple as the b side to another song about an apple. 'my tiger my heart' was originally meant to be the b side for 'i'm glad i hitched my apple wagon to your star'. it was only after we'd recorded it that pete suggested it should go on the album.
so then i must have come up with the tiger bit. i remember it being quite quick to finish after that, although it does look like i might have called it 'my tiger and me' at some point. i guess tigers are pretty inspiring. and so that was it. the story of how a song about humming turned into a love song about a tiger.
and so now whenever i get stuck on writing the words for a song i try to remember how many different songs 'my tiger my heart' was before it was 'my tiger my heart', and not worry too much about the words. i'll just try again until that moment when i know the words i've written are the best words for the song. even if they're not the best words in the world.
and i didn't mention christmas once.