We’ve made it to September, and Can’t Live Forever is officially a third of the way finished! I’m amazed. Year-long commitments to creative projects are hard, and the fact that I’m typing this at 11:55pm the night before a release is a testament to that. So there’s my confession. On with the song!
After knocking out the complexity that was Older Than My Age, I was ready for a change of pace. That song has a meticulously constructed web of sampled sounds and parts, and I wanted to contrast that approach with something more straight-forward. I called my friends and collaborators Phil Rogers and Ryan Harvey, and scheduled a couple days to work together.
I sent over a number of voice memos & sketches, and they agreed that two ideas – ‘All I Want’ and ‘Omni 2’ were the leading contenders.
‘All I Want’ was something I sketched out last November as I was messing around with a harmonizer patch in a borrowed multi-effect unit (a JHV3-modded Line 6 M5, for the nerds). The harmony setting was for the key of C major, but the part I played was in G major, so the chord voicings wound up sounding more unique. I paired it with a dotted-eighth delay on my Strymon El Capistan, giving it a kind of weird sampled house music vibe. I came up with some lyric & a bass line later, both of which wound up in We’ve Got Forever.
I wrote ‘Omni 2’ on my Suzuki Omnichord OM100 in February, using the chintzy built-in drum machine & playing a few of 7th chords in C minor. I showed it to Phil at someone’s birthday party around then and I think he said it reminded him of Prince, in a good way.
On writing day, Phil suggested we mash them up, using one for the verse and the other for the chorus, which I told him wouldn’t work. But after transposing ‘Omni 2’ into a new key and sacrificing the actual Omnichord part (murder!!!) I started to believe him, and We’ve Got Forever started to take on its present sunny state. Over those two days we tracked guitars and bass (I played the verses and Phil slapped the choruses), and Ryan plugged away at drum parts in between car-buying shenanigans.
It was a scary predicament for me after the fact. I had a theme from the first verse – a sort of existential ennui (sorry for the vocab) – but the song was still missing two verses and the chorus, and the structure was already set in stone. That’s not how I usually go about writing, but I think it actually gave me some healthy constraints; after a FaceTime writing session with Candi the song was 90% there. I wrote the third verse the same day I recorded the vocals.
I had a great time arranging the vocal parts for the bridge. Multi-part harmony is one of my favorite things on earth, and I love the sort of jazzy, retro, Beach Boys thing that came out of the song. My wife Lindsay and our friend Juliet did background vocal honors throughout the song, but their contributions really made this section special.