Songs start with something at their center – an experience, a feeling, a great line, or a snippet of melody. Yet, once they’re fully formed they wind up attached to other contexts and meanings.
From that perspective I can understand why some songwriters personify their songs; Tori Amos, for example, refers to them as her “girls,” and ascribes assertive opinions and stubborn tempers to each one.
I don’t know that “Lost” has ever talked back to me, but it’s certainly a character. It came to me in a single blast in the middle of a Journalism class in Randell hall on May 16 of my Freshmen year, scribbled straight through on a single sheet of lined paper.
The guitar arrangement came later, but in the same lightning bolt fashion – so perfect in my head that I recorded it four times in a row before I felt like I captured some part of it on tape.
Then I promptly forgot it.
Really it was a little more complicated than that. I was writing so many songs at the time that “Lost” didn’t really stick out, and then I broke my collarbone and was forced to go on a brief hiatus from playing. And, when I had healed enough to play again I had a backlog of lyrics waiting to transform into songs.
By the time I returned to “Lost” it was months after it was originally written, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to play its chorus. The chords sounded simple on my four recordings, but I couldn’t quite get the fingerings.
It took the better part of the year for me to suss out the secrets of my guitar part, and as soon as I did I recorded a quiet-but-determined take of “Lost” – exactly the way it had been playing in my head for half a year – in Trio Season 1, #11.
I adore that recording, but it’s not quite one of my favorite tracks.
Over the years “Lost” has stuck with me through ups and downs. Playing with cellos, in different keys, segueing into “Lucky Star,” and changing from 3/4 to 4/4. Recently I feel like maybe we’ve parted ways … at least for a little while.
Somewhere in the middle of that journey was another take as quintessential as its first Trio appearance – a recording that remains one of my all-time favorites over four years after the fact. It originally appeared on January 13, 2003, in Trio Season 3, #6.