The lyrics of the first single

Sans Parade’s first single includes two very different songs: “The Last Song Is A Love Song” and “A Ballet In The Sea”. We thought that it might be of interest to read about the stories behind the two songs (written by Jani Lehto). First, the lyrics are presented and then you can read Jani’s comments regarding the writing process.

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The Last Song Is A Love Song

all the incidents that were to be so you could be you
against all the odds
from the big bang
from your mothers arms to here and now

I put my arms around you
we walk away like lovers do, lovers in the night
solemn steady heart beat
shining eyes say it all, loud and clear

and we are no more
and we are no more

so waltz with me
please stand between us and death
waltz with me oh

waltz with me
i’ve stopped dreaming, i’m not okay
so waltz with me oh

waltz with me
i don’t believe in much
waltz with me,
cos this is the last song

waltz with me
it’s so cold outside,
waltz with me,
cos soon it’s too late

i’ll hold your hand
i’ll hold your hand when no-one sees
tell me what you want, that’s what i want
let me hear the sound of your breathing when you fall asleep

teach me everything
show me every hidden detail, imperfections, where the beauty lies
and when i see your naked back
in the morning light lying in my bed

then all is new
then all is new

so waltz with me…

Comments:

The starting point of the lyrics was a dialogue line from a beautifully grey 2008 film “The Reader” (directed by Stephen Daldry). Near the end of the film the imprisoned main character, who is an illiterate woman convicted from war crimes, says to her ex-lover: “Love – what else there is between us and death?”. This melancholic observation leads the film to it’s sad ending. In “Last Song” this line is turned into a plea that opens the chorus. The rest of the chorus is pretty self-explanatory, but the line “i’ve stopped dreaming, i’m not okay” summarizes my own feelings (at the time of the writing) very well.

The chorus and the overall atmosphere of the song also ove a lot to the greatest depressing songwriter of all times: Steven Patrick Morrissey. And especially to his song “Life Is A Pigsty” (from the album Ringleader of the Tormentors¬†). Oves in my mind, at least.

The verses instead have been inspired by the novel “East Of Eden” (written by John Steinbeck). In the book there is an episode where the main character imagines ideal life with the woman he loves. In “Last Song” this idea of a great true love is also constructed from various bits and pieces I had overheard, been told, experienced or otherwise seen or heard (and written in my notebook) in 2008-2009.

– – –

A Ballet In The Sea

all those shimmering lights
all those shimmering lights, like a ballet in the sea

and the darkest fishes
swim in the deepest of the seas
swim with me

and the water was dark
and the water was waiting
and nothing worth fighting for
nobody was waving

and water was cold
and the water all around me
and nothing worth waiting for
nobody was watching

but all those shimmering lights
all those shimmering lights, like a ballet in the sea

and the brightest fishes
rise to the heavens above
rise with me

and the water was dark
and the water was waiting
and nothing worth fighting for
nobody was waving

and the water was cold
and the water was below me
and nothing worth waiting for
nobody was watching

but m.o.b.s speeding
and searchlights scanning
and helicopters circling
and nothing there to find but the sea, oh sea
endless sea, oh sea, luminous

oh set me free, oh set me free…

Comments:

I have always felt that the best lyrics I’ve written are always the narrative ones. I have also experienced that having a song based on real events makes the musical work much more easier. The musical decisions (e.g. instrumentation and length) can be based on a question: “Does this help to project the picture and emotions that i wittnessed?” instead of just the usual “Is this sounding better or worse now?”. Of course “the format for nice pop songs” is lost immediately when using this method, but that has not been a goal for Sans Parade anyway. Usually I prefer that the subject (of the lyrics) stays behind the curtain. I’m mostly concentrating on describing things such as “how it looked and how it felt” and trying to avoid the “what actually happened”-factor.

“A Ballet In The Sea” is an exception: the story contains elements like a rescue boat and helicopter. These leave no questions.

Though the story is told in first-person point of view, the structure of the music is based on the feelings of an random (outsider) eyewitness:

  • First the beautiful sight to sea from a cabin (calm night and moonlight).
  • Then the creeping doubt that something is wrong (why are so many big ships slowly steering in a circle in the middle of the night?).
  • And finally the spine-chilling understanding of the situation’s hopelessness (a helicopter with a searchlight suddenly passing by at low altitude and a thought of the water temperature in late autumn).

Besides the forementioned events, the one big influence for this song was a impressive scene in Hayao Miyazaki’s film “Porco Rosso” (from 1992). This scene takes place after an air battle and shows how all the dead pilots rise to heaven in their bullet battered biplanes. The only survivor of the battle is not able to steer his plane any higher and has no choice but to let his friends (and also enemies) all go, somewhere, up and away. So, Miyazaki’s extraordinarily beautiful interpretation of the fictional deaths changed, just a little, how I interpreted these real-life events.

But why write such a song? Do I need to deal all the dramatic events by writing them into songs as a some kind of therapy? Or am I banally stealing other peoples tragic lifes just to get some substance into my writings? Or am I nobly trying to find common denominators for different sides of human life and share them to fellow human beings? Maybe somewhere in between. Who knows, the jury is out…

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