For the third album in a row, I’ve decided to showcase each track in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “The Fine Print” is the sixth (and title) track from my latest release, The Fine Print. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.
I settled on this as the title track of the new album before I even knew what else would be on the album… actually, before I even finished the song. As usual, that put extra pressure on me to write something good, and I must admit that it does tend to lead me to choose safe melodies, which doesn’t really bother me in songs, but apparently it bothers other people, ha. But I’m mostly just happy that the pressure didn’t prevent me from ever finishing the song at all.
This song basically started with me just thinking the phrase “the fine print” was kind of poetic, and I wanted to come up with a concept for it. Eventually I came up with “up until now, all my life has been in the fine print.” And then I used a technique that is common for some songwriters but that I rarely use: I took a bunch of random lyrical ideas accumulated through the years and smashed them all together into one song. Obviously, I only chose the ones that were relevant, but I was very happy to be able to make use of so many lines that had always felt great, but I could never think of what song to put them in before.
That’s where I found the bridge, the first pre-chorus, and bits of both verses. The rest came from either lyrical free writes, or just crafting the song into a coherent whole once it was mostly finished. I’ve always found it very easy to come up with a line here and there when the bones of the song are already in place. It’s the bones that are easier said than done.
Now, even though it was the title track and I really wanted it to turn out well, I did not feel the same paralyzing pressure on the production as I did on the songwriting. I just had fun with it.
This album is probably the first time I’ve actually played around with dynamics, especially with adding and removing extra instruments, so I really enjoyed putting the dramatically quiet pre-choruses between relatively loud verses and choruses. I got mixed feedback about it, but I liked it, and I’m excited anyway to be using a new tool in my kit. Anyway, as on some of the other songs, I added in some electric guitar hooks and drum loops and called it a day.
Lyrically, this is one of my favorites (perhaps my top favorite) on the album and means a lot to me, and I think listeners enjoy the lyrics too. (You could always watch the lyric video on mute and pretend it’s a poem!) Musically, most people think it is one of the weaker songs on the album. I like it, but of course I can’t be objective. But the good thing is that (in my opinion) my weaker songs now are still better than most of my stronger songs in the past, and that’s basically all we creators can ever hope for in our journeys. So I’m pretty satisfied, but looking forward to making the next album even better!
Been feeling like life’s already passing me by
With a heart weighted down from missing everyone who’s left my life
My heroes are all middle aged and I’m running out of drive
I feel like I’ve waited too long, and I never wanted to wait too long
And you could say time, time’s still on my side
But it’s quickly growing tired
Tired of all of my waiting around and all my insecurities
Because up until now, all my life has been in the fine print
But if I could choose, then it would be on a billboard while a spotlight surrounds it
Outgroups and borders, they’re so boring
I want to learn every language and go out and speak them
I want to fight in every single righteous revolution
I know I want too much, and I don’t want to want too much
And you might say pain, pain means you need a break
But if your feet hurt at the end of the day
Your day was probably better spent than a day where everything felt fine
It’s time to draw a line in this quicksand I’ve been drowning in
The greater the risk, the greater the potential win
The greatest risk of all is dying unfulfilled
Up until now, all my life has been in the fine print
But it’s time to move it on to a billboard where a spotlight surrounds it