An Album For My Wife: Prologue & Infatuation (Part 1)

Welcome to the commentary of 1 + 1 = 1: The Courtship of Green & Blue.
This is Part 1, containing tracks 1-5 of the album, the "Prologue" and "Infatuation", the first section of the album. 
(Here are links to the IntroductionSection 2 "Transition" and Section 3 "Commitment")

Here's how it will work. After an introduction from the original commentary (in italics), each song will be embedded so you can stream it. 
After each song will be:
Original commentary (in italics)
Present day commentary with various bits of history thrown in

The album is divided into three sections and therefore the commentary will take up 3 articles (and starts with a main introduction). At the end of each article there will be a link to the next article in the commentary.
Let's begin. Please remember most of the original commentary and lyrics are written to my wife. You should be able to figure it out though.

Commentary Introduction

Think Back.
Things were different.
No Babies. No Kitties. No Consummation. 

Just you and me and a Friday night.
No Cancer. No broken wrists or legs or teeth.
No overdraft charges or dog bites. No parking tickets or dents in our car.

Think back, because that’s where this Story takes place.
There were many unknowns then (there are many more now).
There were long telephone conversations, our hormones, and all that waiting.
Now we wait for other things.

These songs were birthed out of moments.  Each one is a snapshot of us.  One specific song does not represent our relationship as a whole, but merely a single moment, plucked out of time and recorded for safe keeping.  Some of those moments are painful and others are filled with the euphoria of young love.  

To be fair, these songs really only tell one side of the story—my side—and are thus limited in their chronicle of our life together.  Sometimes, I might prove to be a rather untrustworthy and biased narrator. Even so, I hope this collection of songs contains at least a speck of the essence of what the beginning of our life together was like.

Please realize the “you” in these songs is you; Elisa Ann Marchand.  These are not ambiguous, universal love songs.  They are written about you and for you.  Sometimes though, they were written for me, as cathartic therapy.  In the painful moments, I would capture my thoughts on paper and my emotions in melody.  These songs helped me forgive you and understand you, as well as understand myself.  Some I really worked for, others came as unexpected gifts.

To me, these are true love songs; at least as true as I can make them.  Our relationship has had good and bad moments, and I believe we learned to love each other through both extremes.  If truth is beauty and beauty truth as Keats said, then I think a true love song can show how good can come from bad.  

Getting to know you has been a testing, frustrating, wonderful, joyful, pleasurable, confusing, fatiguing, invigorating, stretching, maturing, blessed experience.  I hope these songs have captured as much.

These songs are for you Elisa, my sister, my bride, my friend, my wife, my partner, my joy, the love of my life. May they be a lasting memory of our love for each other and the path we have taken on the road to becoming one.

I love you, I love you, I love you.  

Now let me show you how.

[Suggestions for use:  This commentary can be read in conjunction to the listening of this work in any number of ways.  How you choose to proceed is entirely up to you.  1). You can listen to the work by itself any number of times, only appealing to the track list for minimal directions and only reading the commentary once you are familiar with the music.  2). You can read this commentary in tandem with listening to the work.  3). You can read the commentary first and then listen to the work.  However, I suggest listening first and reading later [my first suggestion].  There are many layers here waiting to be unpacked and there is no need to rush.] 

An aside, to start:  You are very fortunate.  I usually do not like explaining my work.  It should be able to speak for itself, don’t you think? [no, probably not. I am sure you would disagree]  The fact is there are many inside jokes contained within these recordings and some of them are so far inside me that I thought they would be worth explaining.  Not everything is explained, however; some things are worth finding out on one’s own.  You will probably end up having to ask questions, which is completely acceptable and highly encouraged.  If I remember right you like solving puzzles.  Remember, they all concern us and our history, so this should be fun and not burdensome.

This work is divided into three sections, each representing a distinct and consequential division of our relationship: 
Transition, and 
Each of these sections is bookended by a transitional or introductory instrumental piece.  Thus, we have a prologue and an epilogue—signifying the beginning and ending—or fulfillment, more like it—of our courtship, and we have two pieces signifying some of the various progressions in our physical relationship, the events of which acted as unintentional catalysts for furthering our relationship as a whole.  So, when we began “Holding Hands” our relationship immediately became more complicated, which sent us into a “Transition(al)” stage where we found that being in a relationship is not all bliss.  Our “First Kiss” plunged us into a true commitment to each other, as we had previously pledged that we would not kiss until engagement and thus by kissing we were saying to each other “We had better get engaged soon, don’t you think, you little hornballs?” 


Track 1: [ 1 ]  [ 1 ] or prehistory or [green][blue] or the other fish in the sea or multiple awkward stages or let’s never do that again

This leads us to our first track, “Prologue.”  Every musical line in this piece is a specific and integral character of our story.  It starts off with two notes played together in eighth notes, a G and a D, a perfect fourth apart from each other [there is nothing significant about fourths—at least as far as I can discern--it was merely a sound experiment.]  These two notes represent the character of Life, God’s Created Order, or perhaps Manhood (G) and Womanhood (D).  The next line to come in represents my life and six beats after that [played a perfect fourth above my line] your life comes in, as you were born six months after me.  Then, in this order, you will hear these themes introduced, one each for you and me—again played a perfect fourth apart from each other: the sin theme, the salvation in Christ theme, the work theme, the romantic relationships we have had with other people theme, and some other themes that represent the business of our lives.

Salvation in Christ theme: This is a very drawn out version of "Jesus Loves Me This I Know". Once it enters it is a gentle constant throughout the whole song. Christ is with us.
Work Theme: Played by the hammered dulcimer, this is an adaptation of the hook in "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White. Eventually both of us took up work of some kind—school work and then some kind of labor.
Romantic Relationships Theme: These themes, which are simple repeating minor 2nd intervals, come on forcefully but eventually leave, just like the temporary relationships we had in our teens and early 20's

This opening instrumental track, like all the instrumentals on the album, are sound experiments. I was curious to see what would happen if, using an unchanging harmonic base (the original droning notes, a 4th apart), I then layered many independent themes on top of each other. 

I call this song a "Prehistory" and the two "1's" are in separate brackets. In this song my wife and I are individual units. Our paths have not yet met each other and certainly have not merged. I wanted to capture in musical form how both our lives were paralleling each other, how our prehistory was a preparation for what was to come.

I knew when I began recording the album I wanted lots of percussive instruments on the songs, including the marimba, the vibraphone, and the xylophone. The previous year I had done a lot of substitute teaching at East Peoria High School, including subbing for their band and music classes a few times. I got up enough nerve to ask their band director if I could spend a few days in his band room recording. He graciously allowed me to. I don't even remember his name. Thanks to him and to East Peoria High School. I am grateful. I was overjoyed to be surrounded by so many beautiful instruments.

Section I. Infatuation
Track 2: 2 – 14 – 03 

This is when we say it all began, is it not?  The music directly relates to the events—or the non-events, rather—of the day in question, as well as foreshadowing our first dance.

This brief song is a memorial to my wife and I's first "date." I will first need to explain why "date" is in quotations. First you will notice the title of the track is "2-14-03", which signifies Valentines Day 2003, the night we attended the Valentines Day Church Banquet at our church. You see, my wife and I had begun becoming infatuated with each other ("Infatuation" being the title of the first section of the album), however, we did not exactly know if we wanted to date each other just yet. She had come out of a long relationship the previous year, which carried with it its own baggage. We both were more than a little skeptical of modern dating culture, with its fickle sense of commitment and its focus on short term sexual fulfillment. As young Christian people we understood that if we were to start dating we should be doing so out of some intention of heading toward marriage in the moderately near future.

Here we are in the lobby of the church, going
in to the banquet. We have no idea what we
are doing.
And so we decided to go to the church Valentine's Day Banquet (a chaste event if ever there was one, even for the married couples) as "special friends", which is what we sheepishly called ourselves as a serious non-dating couple. We had already been on a couple of non-date dates to the movies, to dinner, and to a mall. Everyone was asking if we were dating and we kept replying, no, we're just special friends. It was silly, if noble, but 2-14-03 sent us over the edge into Commitment Land.

Here was the plan: we were to go to the banquet on Friday night and then travel to Chicago the next day to hear Sixpence None the Richer, one of our favorite bands, in concert. However, while attempting to take Elisa home from the banquet a huge snow storm hit. We're talking 12 inches in a couple of hours. I didn't want to risk the drive across the river to her parents' house and instead went back to my house (my mom's house, that is), which was a much safer couple of miles away. We went back to my place to wait out the storm, but soon realized she would have to stay the night. My non-girlfriend would be spending the night at my house! We knew we weren't going to have sex, but we didn't know what people would think if they found out.

I don't remember much about the night, except for feeling awkward, being incredibly attracted to Elisa, and feeling bad that she had to borrow my mom's clothes to sleep in for the night.

In case you are wondering, this song is a direct cover of the melody from "A Million Parachutes", a Sixpence None the Richer song from their album Divine Discontent. The band brought us together, so I thought I should pay tribute to them.

Track 3: A Look, A Glance, A Word Said In Passing

Let’s go and eat some pasta
Then see a movie too
Maybe we’ll do some shopping
Call our friends if we want to

Let’s go and get a milk shake
Let’s go and get some tea
We’ll ask each other questions
Decide our destiny

Let’s read a book together
And learn to waltz and swing
I’ll teach you to play tennis
You’ll teach me how to swim

One look
One glance,
One word,

Let’s go to a foreign country
Let the kids smirk and smile
I’ll record you on piano
You’ll make it worth my while

Let’s go and see a concert
And drive through blizzard storm
I don’t think we can make it
My house is safe and warm

One look
One glance,
One word,

Let’s go and buy and ocean
Let’s go and rent some friends
We’ll throw a hipster party
One that never ends

Let’s make a life together
Underneath the sun
Let’s go and plan forever

And try and become one

Hopefully this song makes you feel whimsical. I was hoping to capture the euphoria of young love, where everything means EVERYTHING, where the smallest gesture makes your heart burst with passion, where you think you can do anything so long as you're together (hence the absurd lyrics towards the end). The song also documents my wife and I's early non-date dates on into the many things we did together in the first stage of our relationship. The milkshake and tea lines are a reference to the time we went to a Perkins restaurant and had a serious talk about our relationship. It was there that we finally decided to start "dating" or "courting". 

The song was originally entirely an instrumental. Gradually I began to figure out how to put words to it. You can find the instrumental version on my Wedding EP. The recording does not sound even remotely as clear as I would like it to (it needs lots of mixing work and EQing) but the composition is something I'm proud of.

Track 4: Perfect Timing

Take my hand, pull me out on the floor
Don’t let me watch from the comfort of my chair

We’ll move together, never apart
Let’s move in step to the rhythm of our heart

So teach me to dance
Like a satellite
Always rotating 
In perfect time

And I may not be the most graceful one here tonight
But if you will teach me 

I will dance with you all through this life

Out of all the songs I have ever written this one comes closest to being a "cheesy little love song." The album as a whole stands as an extended metaphor on two becoming one. Every song contributes its own illustration, allusion, or narrative about two separate people uniting. "Perfect Timing" uses the metaphor of dance.

At some point while we were dating we took dance lessons together. Dancing was not something I knew how to do, so I wanted to show Elisa I could be refined and was willing to do something out of my comfort zone for her. It also gave me an excuse to get close to her and touch her waist for an hour. Besides, if we were to ever get married we would need to know how to do some dances, right? Doing The Swing was my favorite. One of the most important thematic implications in this song is that I was willing for and hoping for Elisa to change me. I expected to be changed through our relationship. I didn't want to stay the same. I wanted her to challenge me to be a better man. Our "dance" together was a movement towards and with each other. As we move together through life we each become transformed.

It was in this song that I began experimenting with time signatures. Also, you can tell I like long intro and outros. One day I envision redoing this song as a waltz. I like having multiple versions of the same song in order to get different feelings out of the same material.

And yes, it is me playing all the instruments on this album (except for one song that comes later). However, I have a confession to make: often the drums and piano were separate tracks, as in I would record the hi-hat separate from the snare and separate from the kick, or with the piano the right hand was recorded separately from the left. Sorry that I'm a cheater. One more note: throughout the album whenever you hear a keyboard or synthesizer sound, it's actually not. Instead, it's a baby grand piano with a mic that is running through a guitar effects pedal.

Track 5: Holding Hands

We hear one gigantic chord, built entirely in fourths. Eventually, we hear another gigantic chord gently fade in. Each of these chords represents our respective hands. Eventually, we hear the two gigantic chords resolve into one even more gigantic chord. Our fingers have intertwined. We are now holding hands. What was two has become one. This piece prefigures the physical oneness that will occur in our marriage and thus echoes the theme that runs throughout the entire work.  

What if holding hands was an end in and of itself? What if it was a pure act, a thrilling adventure worthy of its own pursuit? To me, holding hands was a big deal. I had kinda-sorta dated someone before (I was immature and kind of an idiot in that relationship), but when Elisa and I began dating it was a big step for me. So I wanted to make each aspect of our relationship special. I wanted to savor those moments, even something so innocent as holding hands.

Each of the 3 sections of the album are bookended with an instrumental track, each one a kind of programmatic piece signifying an important event in our relationship. Basically all the instrumentals started with some basic compositional idea and then I put the parts together and hoped for the best. That is to say they are very much "sound experiments". I was curious what would happen if I put all the parts together. This particular track consists entirely of E-bowed electric guitar (oh yeah, and a huge gong that I found in the East Peoria High School band room). I love the hovering dissonance of the first part of the composition and then I love how it resolves into a gigantic harmonious chord.

Here are links to other entries on the album:
The Story of 1 + 1 = 1: Introduction

Infatuation (Part 2)
Commitment and Epilogue (Part 3)

Here is the full tracklisting in case you are wondering where we are at.

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