I did “behind the song” blog series for both of my last two albums, and some people seem to like them, so I thought I would do it again! “The Difference Between” is the final track from my latest release, Better. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.
This is my only cheat song on Better that I actually wrote years ago, around 2017. All the rest of the songs I wrote this past February. Even though I always liked it ever since I wrote it, for some reason I didn’t think it was worth releasing at first because it felt too short and simple. And okay, I know most of my songs are simple, but most of them aren’t this short!
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the inspiration for privacy reasons. But generally speaking, it’s about people who get into music for the wrong reasons. I’m not talking about people who just like to party and are hoping to get rich and famous – I mean, good luck with that, but if that’s the dream that makes you happy and you’re not hurting anyone with it, more power to you.
It’s more about people who think that music gives them status (rich and famous or not), and that’s the only reason they do it. While I like to think they are not the majority, unfortunately there are a lot of people like this. Unfortunately, music does tend to confer status more often than not, and so people with these kinds of tendencies are attracted to it as a career/hobby. I’ve occasionally been mistreated by people like that, and seen others mistreated, because once they got a bit of power they couldn’t bear to make room for anyone new, lest it take away from how special they were. Basically, just like in any other facet of life, these are insecure people who feel like they have to build themselves up by tearing other people down (or at least holding other people down).
The worst part is I’m sure I’ve got a long road ahead of me dealing with people like that for the rest of my life! But don’t worry, a few bad apples is not nearly enough of a reason for me to give up on the only thing in life that’s ever meant something to me. I’m here to stay regardless of these experiences.
I actually wrote the lyrics to this song pretty fast, and I’m proud of them. They seemed to be more vivid than most of my other lyrics, especially back then – I like to think I’ve gotten better with hard work and practice. I think it was just because I was so fired up when I wrote it that it just poured out of me! I even found it easier than usual to come up with (near) rhymes. I actually like every part of it – amazingly, for once I have no complaints on the lyrics – but some of my favorite parts are the “getting the gold” and “foot in the door” verses. I read those lines and I’m just like, damn, I can be good with words sometimes (just not nearly often enough, haha).
And then of course I like the ending – I thought “scrounging together pennies to pay my bills” was an apt contrast for being the leader of the pecking order. And honestly, it’s accurate for me. Not that I’m not ambitious and wouldn’t love to be recognized on my merits and be financially comfortable someday… but if I only ever make enough to live on, I’ll still feel very fortunate to be able to do that. And I have met a lot of people for whom that is not remotely the case!
Musically, I wanted it to be a simple acoustic punk song, a genre I’ve always preferred even though most of my songs don’t fit neatly into it. I like to think this one does. And while I definitely think I’ve written better songs since then, and I know the melody is very simple, I still really like this song.
The difference between you and me
Is with me you get what you see
And I’m capable of love and it’s free
And you’re too focused on the fact that
The only way to get the gold is if it’s yours and yours alone
And everybody else goes home empty-handed
I would be surrounded by a few who
Encourage everything I do but always try to speak the truth
Before I’d have an army to be my yes men
And you’re not interesting, you’re interested
In looking cool and talking shit
Where everything’s about the drink
And I just want to leave ‘cause it’s not my style
And well, sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth
The struggle and the pain and hurt
To get my foot inside the door
When I’m out in the cold and you’re waving from the inside
The difference between you and me is in the dream
I want to scrounge together pennies from this work to pay my bills someday
And what I want I will achieve
You want to be the leader of the pecking order till you’re old and gray
And you will never be happy.