So Divided

So Divided

The band’s fifth, and arguably most commercial album, which may explain why it was also their worst selling and
least popular.

In interviews Keely still claims that it a favorite, and the only album of theirs that he listens to on occasion, citing as a reason that when he hears it he can pretend that each song is actually some other band.

In terms of overall band moral, this record represents a low point in the band’s career, much of which is reflected in the lyrics to the album, partly due to several mediocre tours they were forced to endure, as well as a sense of sagging enthusiasm for rock music at the record label (Keely worked on the art for the album for three weeks at the Interscope office in Manhattan, during which time he claims to have not once heard a single rock album being played, but instead only pop, hip hop and rap – which they referred to as “urban music”).

Although initially the band did not take the recording or composition very seriously, by the end they had invested so much into the production that the mixing sessions (done at the Interscope offices in Los Angeles, in a studio built by Dr. Dre) were meticulously pained over.

 

Stand in Silence

Lyrics

I had a house on a rock
I turned around and it had gone to rot
All that was left of me were walls of doubt
I asked a question but the world returned with silence
All that I wanted to know was where’d everyone else go?

I had a dad, had a mom
I had a family, don’t know what went wrong
I watched them helpless as their blood turned sour
Wanted to scream for them but had to stand in silence
All that I wanted to know was where’d everyone else go?

I had a band, had a song
I had a vision, where’s my vision gone?
I turned inside to find the walls of doubt
My mind was stripped of sound, I had to stand in silence
All that I wanted to know was where’d everyone else go?

Annotations

The riff that this song is based on came from a raga by Ravi Shankar that Keely’s parents bought a recording of when the family was in New Delhi, India. Although the original bootleg cassette tape recording was lost, the tune
stuck, and became Stand in Silence.

The song conjures up a low point in the band’s interpersonal relationships, written at a time when they were close to calling it quits. They claimed to have continued on the advice of a fortune-teller, who told them they would one day rule the music world.

Wasted State of Mind

Lyrics

Talking ’bout things we’ve seen
Paris to Oslo seem like dreams
Looking back, was it real
You know how things sometimes feel
You can run but get no further than
Three city blocks from where you began
Caught in a wasted state of mind

Here you come here you come,
Now that you’re gone
Where will it take me?
Why am I waiting?

Caught in a stasis
Feel like I’ve wasted all this time
With people and places
Who’ve never related or desired

Annotations

Several of the songs on this record were inspired by a difficult tour the band did opening for Audioslave, where they were met with general apathy by the audience, if not hostility.

This attitude was not shared by Audioslave, however, who were very supportive — Tom Morello even joined ToD onstage on the last night of tour for a version of ‘Aged Dolls/A Perfect Teenhood’. This did not, unfortunately, allay the difficulties of the tour; Keely returned home very disillusioned and penned this song.

The drums for the track were based on an idea Keely had long been eager to experiment with, that of using Tahitian drums on a song. Growing up in Hawaii, he and Reece were exposed to the various types of Polynesian drumming, of which the frantic rhythms of Tahiti were the most dramatic.

Guest-drumming on this track is Pat Mastelado of the bands Mister Mister/King Crimson. Apart from some
sampled loops, no member of the band contributed to the drumming.

Naked Sun

Lyrics

I’m a naked sun, see right through me
I’m a naked sun
I have no clouds to conceal me
I have not one
Maybe someday I’ll forget
To rise up but it hasn’t happened yet
I’ve got you sunburnt now

In the morning rise up to greet me
And say I’m number one
In the evening cry when I’m leaving
And the day is done
Maybe someday I’ll confess
A love once warm gone cold like all the rest
I’ve got you sunburnt now

I’m a naked sun, see right through me
I’m a naked sun
I’m not the moon you thought you left me
So bright have I become
Maybe someday I’ll accept
Your faults, til then I’ll curse the day we met
I’ve got you sunburnt now
I’ll burn a way out

Annotations

This song came from an early idea Keely had when he and Reece first moved to Austin, inspired by the band
Beat Happening. The subject matter is fairly ambiguous, and it is possible that there is no concrete inspiration behind the lyrics, other than the Beat Happening song ‘I Got A Crush on You’. Keely had originally considered asking Calvin Johnson to sing a lead vocal on this, but in the end no one could be bothered to pursue the idea.

The outro-refrain of the song was inspired by the end of the Yes song ‘Starship Troopers’.

Bassist Danny Wood has gone on the record as saying this is one of his favorite of the band’s recordings.

The video for this song usurped the video for ‘The Rest Will Follow’ as “the worst alternative video ever made with a major label budget”.

Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory

Written by Robert Pollard

Lyrics

Cold hands touching my face
Don’t hide – the snake can see you
Old friends you might not remember
Fading away from you

The goldheart mountain-top queen directory
The goldheart mountain-top queen directory

And we looked
And we passed
Through the hallways of shatterproof glass
She runs through the night as if nobody cares
She screams and she cries and ignores all the stares
She wants me to come, but i’m never going there
The goldheart mountain top queen directory
The goldheart mountain top queen directory

Annotations

The original recording of this song by the band Guided By Voices sparked Keely’s imagination, for he thought it
sounded like a demo recording for a song that had never been fleshed out in a studio. He decided to do so.

Keely recalls the day after getting a rough mix of the song he had been invited to join a group vocal along with several other Austin acquaintances at the Bubble Studios to be on an album by the artist Har Mar Superstar (Sean being an old friend). At the end of the evening Keely enthusiastically played the track for those remaining, upon which it was met with resounding apathy.

Weeks after the album was released Keely received an angry email from Bob Pollard’s manager, pointing out
that Pollard had not been included in the credits. Keely checked the credits and noticed that not only was Pollard
not credited, but that he had also failed to credit himself or Trail of Dead as having written any of the album material, despite the fact that he’d sent the credits to the label to be proofed and edited. Although he promptly issued an apology to Pollard, it was one of the last in a series of incidents that convinced him that Interscope Records was run by a team of inconceivably indifferent morons.

Will and Lilly Courtney and their friend Beaux sing the back up vocals for this track. Tragically, Beaux was killed by a train in Chicago shortly after the recording. Beaux’s death served to remind Keely that life was too short, and prompted him to renew his efforts to move to New York.

So Divided

Lyrics

Hear the noise back in town
Let’s gather everyone
And go see what they’re
Up to now
Driving in, driving out
From hotel to the bar
All our friends are here
But somehow we seem so divided

We’re the voice crying out
Screaming every song
Not that anyone understands
Diving in, diving out
The terrified crowd
All our bands are here
But somehow they seem so divided
If you want to see where the fight is
Look around…

I hear the sound of a voice inside my head
Saying things that I can’t understand
Telling me a life may soon be dead
I wonder from what hand
The words they say are too hard to conceive
I try my best to never listen
Can’t you see I’m struggling to conceal
These thoughts from everyone
It’s not that I don’t care
And I don’t want to hurt you
It’s just the worst fear is coming out
Coming out of me

You know I’ve heard you say that I’m not real
I know you think that I don’t understand
Truth is I am trying hard to deal
This is not what I had planned
It’s not that I don’t care
It’s not that I don’t love you
It’s just that I am here
To put you out of your misery

All of you lovers who think you are in love
I’ll put you out of your misery
All of your children born under the sky
I’ll put you out of your misery
Venom that you can’t conceive
Is pouring out of the depths of me
You think you’re free. you’ve been deceived
I’ll put you out of your misery
You think the future is warm and bright
But it is death and I’m your destiny
You think you’ll be protected by God
I’ll put you out of your misery
I was put down to bring you down
And put you out.

Annotations

Arguably one of the strangest of the band’s compositional ventures, its schizophrenic nature might be attributed to the fact that it had five composers, Reece, Keely, Kevin Allen, Danny Wood and Doni Schroeder all having contributed parts. The first section was an idea Reece had been toying with for a while, where the second opens up with a riff of Allen’s, with Schroeder and Keely contributing the chorus.

The lyrics gave Keely a great deal of difficulty, and were not completed until right before singing them. He was never happy with them, and in the end simply sang whatever jumped in his head.

The recording itself was inspired by Genesis, and a lot of time went into gating the drums to make them sound as close to Phil Collins as possible.

Amanda Palmer of the band The Dresden Dolls provided the piano and strange noises that were achieved by playing the piano wires with spoons and guitar picks. Amanda’s presence also provided some of the few light-hearted moments during the recording.

Life

Lyrics

Another page of history
Another failed and hopeless year
Of wasted life and wasted time
Long ago you sang a tune
Of running from a painful youth
And now it’s dry, you’re wondering why

Talk to me, reveal how lost your life must seem
All the wonderful things that you could never achieve
Now you’re out of time, you’re life is dry, you’re wondering why

Remember how it used to be
You were young and love was cheap
And every night was fire and wine
Now you face another year
In a lonely state, in an empty place
Wiping dry your crying eyes
Wipe and dry your crying eyes

Talk to me, reveal how lost your life must seem
All the wonderful things that you could never achieve
Now you’re out of time, you’re life is dry, you’re wondering why

…I lost the rainbow
Behind that cloud, I lost the rainbow there
It’s hard getting over the rain
It’s hard getting older all the same

Annotations

This song provides yet another of the many dark moments on ‘So Divided’. The original riff was written by Doni Schroeder.

Keely tried to point the recording in the direction of the song ‘The Facts of Life’, by the band Talking Heads on their album ‘Naked’, with limited success. In the end he felt the mix by McCarthy failed the original intent, and though there was a remix done by another producer, in the end the apathy surrounding the making of the record overwhelmed any attempts to remedy the situation.

Lily Courtney sang the solo female vocal at the end of the track, the one shining moment in an otherwise dismal excursion into Hades.

Again, Keely cites the song as being one of his favorite to listen to, because it doesn’t sound anything like Trail of Dead, and he can pretend someone else wrote it.

Eight Day Hell

Lyrics

Wasting away the best part of a day
In the bus on the docks of the UK
We walked down the street on that All Hallows Eve
But couldn’t wait to get back to the US of A

The torture of eight days straight
Without sight of your face is so frightening
Hoping to make it straight
Or find signs of a bite that wont taste like poison

In London we played half an hour a day
For a house full of neds who are wanting us dead
In Glasgow and Leeds we find signs of relief
An escape from our grief with a fistful of E’s

Eight day hell
You’re in an eight day hell

Annotations

The cheery-sounding tone of the song belies the dark undercurrent of the lyrics, which again revisit the band’s difficult tour opening for Audioslave. These particular lyrics allude to a specific experience of playing in London, where Trail of Dead were heckled and booed for two nights in a row. On the third night it was decided by the band that they would not bother playing a rock set at all, and instead play only slow, quiet songs. They ended the evening with a cover of The Band’s ‘The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down’. Oddly enough, the audience was quite receptive. The band later discovered this was only due to the fact that the first two nights had been sold out by Audioslave fans, and the third night was the only one that fans of Trail of Dead had been able to buy tickets to.

Keely in particular felt betrayed by the country of his birth, and the original lyrics to this song were so anti-British that he felt inclined to soften them up, on the suggesting of his London-based press officers. The chorus was meant as a jab on the quality of food in the UK, a phenomenon that still bewilders the world at large.

The recording was styled after the Beach Boys, as well as The Kinks.

This song is unique to the output of Trail of Dead in that no band members actually sing on the track, the lead vocals being done entirely by Will and Lily Courtney and James Olsen.

Witch’s Web

Lyrics

Told a lie about yourself
It felt so good to deceive
You pulled the wool over everyone
Told them whatever they’d believe

You missed the train and now you’re gone
To join the faceless everyone
You’re a name on a phone list I’ve crossed off
I’ve pushed you back to square one

And if I fall then I’ll stand back up
Because learning how to run is half the fun
Somehow I know that there must be something better
No one’s gonna have power over me

If there’s a sign above the door
That says you have to hang your coat
But you’re wanting me to pay the doorman with my soul
I think that I’ll be moving on

Your witch’s web is hanging over my sleep
My one half lies awake, the other in a dream
Somehow I know that there must be something better
No one’s gonna have power over me

Annotations

Many people who had heard the original demo of ‘Witch’s Web, recorded by Keely and Allen in Keely’s living room, unanimously agreed that the album version came nowhere close to topping it. Keely felt inclined to agree, and blamed much of it on the contentious relationship the band had with their difficult and ill-spirited producer.

Still, that this should be an issue is strange considering the amount of talent on the recording. Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls contributed the piano playing, and Hilary Hahn played several layers of improvised violin, most of
which were omitted from the mix by McCarthy despite Keely’s protests.

The song itself is a reference to sleep paralysis, a syndrome Keely had suffered since childhood. An acquaintance once told him that her grandmother was a fortune teller, and she referred to the state of being half-asleep, half-awake as a witch’s web.

The song was originally written back in 1997, during Keely’s Oasis phase, and more than likely inspired by the band.

Sunken Dreams

Lyrics

I remember dessert places
Shadowless and cold
Where heaven looks down
On this empty hole
Lovers here to taste the ruins
Dark and obscene
But all I want is you
In my sunken dreams

I remember all the places
I remember when we met
You alone and graceless
We covered in sweat
We hid among the empty isle
Shuddered ‘neath the scene
And your lips reached out
In my sunken dreams

Annotations

Although Keely and Reece both sing in the outro-refrain, along with the Courtney’s, the lead vocal on the track
was actually sung by James Olsen.

There was a deliberate attempt made to make the track sound like a song off of Fascination Street by the Cure, and Olsen was asked to do the lead after two failed attempts by both Jason and Reece, because he was able to get the closest to a Robert Smith impersonation.