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Switchfoot - Behind the Songs - The Beautiful Letdown

By

Switchfoot

Switchfoot

Courtesy of The William Morris Agency
Switchfoot's lead singer and songwriter, Jon Foreman, takes us behind the music on the album The Beautiful Letdown.

Meant To Live - A while back I read a TS Elliot poem called "The Hollow Men." The imagery in the poem continues to haunt me: "we are the hollow men/ we are the stuffed men..." I look at our planet and I see a horrible, beautiful world... where love and hate breathe the same air. This is where we wake up everyday; this is where we live. Maybe the kid in the song is me, hoping that I'm bent for more than arguments and failed attempts to fly. Something deep inside of me yearns for the beautiful, the true. I want more than what I've been sold; I want to live life.

This Is Your Life - Music holds her cards close to her chest; she always maintains the element of mystery. Sometimes everything feels so right and you can't explain why. This album felt that way for us. We only spent around two weeks in the studio but I wouldn't have spent another minute. This tune is a good example of the mystery of sound. We started messing around at my house with different low-end synths and lo-fi beats and this mellow acoustic song became transformed. I'm not quite sure how we got here but I'm glad that the song arrived.

I flew out to South Beach in Florida, (where Tom Lord-Alge's studio is) to be a part of the mixing process for this track. We could only afford one ticket so I went solo. Stayed at a funky hotel a few blocks from the beach, delirious from red eye flying (and a crazy conversation with the cab driver), watching a guy I've never met mix our song. I remember thinking, "This is crazy. This is my life!?" Sometimes the simplest questions are the hardest to answer; kind of like the way the night sky can still shake me up.

More Than Fine - I spent much of my childhood watching surf videos, fixing dings, and looking for waves. Taylor Steele's videos were always supercharged with a punk rock soundtrack that would fuel your next surf, becoming the background music of my high school years. Several of the short-lived garage bands that I was in wanted to play only punk covers. But I never really wanted to be punk rock; I just liked the energy in the music. I think part of what attracted me to bands like Op Ivy and Minor Threat was their commitment to change. But so much of what I hear today is content with things the way they are. I feel like contentment can be a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Now is the time to change. If punk is dead (and I'm not talking about whether it sells!), maybe this is a punk tune disguised as pop.

Ammo - Einstein said, "Without belief in the inner harmony of the world there would be no science." Maybe. I say without the dissonance of our modern age there would be no rock and roll. There lies the tension: between the harmony and the dissonance. We're the problem, we're the issue. I can pin the blame on whomever I want but the mirror still points my direction. This is a tune that really feels great to play live: step on a distortion pedal and scream about the dissonance.

Dare You To Move - I love to write songs; I've been at it since I could reach the piano. It's one of my favorite ways to pass the time. Music helps me sort out who I am so my songs usually end up being somewhat autobiographical. I've always felt the deepest connection with honest songs so I try to write with sincerity. This song is an attempt to honestly face the gap between who I am and who I want to be; between the way the world spins and the way it should be. I've heard that we only use a small part of our brain. Maybe our soul is the same way. And maybe we're half asleep most of our lives, simply reacting to the stimulus our brain receives. Action, true action is rare indeed.

Redemption Side - 4 AM is a great time of night. The day before is long dead but the morning is yet to come. All the commotion from the night before has died down and every sane upstanding citizen is asleep. It's a great time to go for a walk. You've got the planet to yourself for an hour or so, so peaceful... even the stars look different: waiting for the dawn. I feel the same way that the stars do sometimes. Anticipating... the night is nearly over, the day is almost here.

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