1. The Giants Causeway
A tribute to the Chicago band Russian Circles, who I saw in Brooklyn before I wrote this song. Named after the famous basalt rock formation in Northern Ireland. I had originally named this song after my great-grandfathers book, which has never been published. However the subject matter of the book (the terrorist activities of the Irish Brigade of which he was a member) are still quite controversial, and I had no desire to bring up old tensions or alienate anyone, so I changed it. Very soon my family plans to publish the book, then people can form their own opinions.
2. The Far Pavillions
A sort of tribute to all my favorite early Unwound songs. This was the last song to be written for the record, and I wanted to write something high-spirited. The song is about a book I read last year, the Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. It takes place in India in the aftermath of the Sikh rebellions of the 1857, when the British Empire controlled the Raj. Its the story of a wedding procession from what is now Pakistan, and it also inspired one of the drawings on the album. The song expresses the urge to be free from the confinement of our early lives, to strive for a distant ideal, symbolized in the book by the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains (these being the far pavilions).
3. Isis Unveiled
This song is about the idea of hierarchies in heaven that rise and fall like terrestrial dynasties. The idea of an old God being overthrown by a host of angels, who are then punished, but then forgiven and reinstated to their divine bodies by a messianic figure, very much in the same way that the Skeksis and Mystics were reunited at the end of the Dark Crystal.
4. Halcyon Days
This song is about moving to Brooklyn, and its also a love song, about spending time with only one person. The first line was inspired by the famous words of John Bradford try to conjure the feeling of leaving behind a past that is both painful and beautiful at the same time.
The middle section (Born on our knees) is actually from a song I wrote back in Olympia, c1990, and I always liked it so decided to use it. It references the re-occurring theme of destroying something we love.
5. Bells Of Creation
This song is about the idea of divine music, and was partly inspired by watching a two-part PBS American Experience documentary about the Mormons. I was fascinated by how Joseph Smith described receiving prophecy, and it occurred to me that the idea of theophony was an old one. Music is often referenced in conjunction with angels and heaven, and even in the early natural philosophical ideas astronomy.
6. Fields Of Coal
This is another song centered around the reoccurring theme of prophecy on this record. The idea of being reluctant to take up the mantel of your pre-ordained destiny, and running from it for fear of it coming true.
7. Inland Sea
This song is about transcendental meditation. My mother and step-father Eric used to practice meditation (still do) when I was young. The idea in this song is about coming down from an elevated spiritual state, and having to wake up in the less-than-perfect real world, full of its pettiness and the fraudulent nature of our many acquaintances, from which The only way out is to go up.
8. Luna Park
Jason wrote this song about a place called Luna Park, which was a Coney Island type of amusement park that was burned down numerous times, possibly by arson, and eventually abandoned. I dont know what made him fixate on the story, but to me I feel its a metaphor for destroying something you love. Apparently, there are over forty amusement parks that have been called Luna Park at one time or another.
9. Insatiable (One)
Insatiable was written as a song for a vampire movie that never came out, or maybe it did, I dont know. A friend of mine who was working on it asked me to submit something, so I wrote this, a sad song that was supposed to sound creepy, haunted, vampire-like. It was actually written when we were working on So Divided, and we were considering including it, but at that point So Divided was already so dark and gloomy, I thought it didnt need another dark, gloomy song. To me these lyrics transformed metaphorically from the idea of a vampires insatiable need to consume life, to the idea of the human races insatiable need to consume the planet we live on.
10. Pictures Of An Only Child
I wrote this song in 1995, our first year in Austin Texas. I was working as a temp in some horrible office at the time, and I wrote these lyrics on my lunch break. It was a Thai restaurant in down-town, I dont think its there anymore. Maybe that got me thinking about Thailand, and about my father and my fathers family, which is what the song is about, as well as about traveling through Asia with my mother and step-father (Eric). The lyrics are about specific photographs in my photo album. For me the song is about the pain of growing up far away from all your family, so that they are reduced to mere ghost images inside a photo album.
Jason started this song, and we added a middle part then we both worked on lyrics. The up-beat section is about our time growing up as teenagers in Hawaii, angst-ridden times with no outlet. There was nothing for teenagers to do back then, no direction given to any of us, except make trouble, which was what we did. We were vandals.
The middle section is about the Odyssey of Homer.
12. An August Theme
This song aint about nuthin.
13. Insatiable Two
These lyrics, written after the first part, was meant to summarize the theme of the song, reflecting upon that deep-seated bestial nature within all humanity. War-like, bellicose, insatiable, greedy, destructive, and willfully ignorant. And yet, our one gift, the ability to imagine ourselves as better, and our innate desire to strive for a better world.