Ten Years in a Hundred Dollar Suit

December 5, 2010 4:44 PM

So Aimee Mann and Bruce Springsteen are in a bar discussing the greatness that is Living on a Prayer, but what they haven't noticed is that Toto are at the next table, and Sonic Youth just walked in the back...

Joking aside this was a bit of a development for me. I've been obsessed with Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm concept album for months now, and the way it uses the songs to tell a story. I've been desperate to find a way to write about something other than my own micro-melodramas, so when I came across the main hook on the acoustic the other day ('I've been waiting..." etc) I decided to just spin a tale out of it, based on the idea of a guy who would say such a a thing.

I kind of want to hear a few more stories about this couple, but it remains to be seen if this was a flash in the pan or what.

I couldn't quite figure out how to resolve the song, but then I realized that 95 bpm can be thought of 190 bpm at half-speed, and given the 'burn it down' line, the ending became inevitable. I almost gave myself a heart attack doing the final solo...had to go downstairs and have a beer to calm down.

I was going to do the drums live as I can actually play the first part of this, even the little paradiddle groove in the bridge, but the 190 bpm section completely defeated me.

Bonus points to anyone who can figure out what Toto have to do with any of this.

I might post the acoustic version of this which I also quite like.

posted by unSane (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite


Ten years in a hundred dollar suit
Last three teaching substitute
School board never paid too good
If I could find another job, I would
Watch TV, drinking on my own
Four beers down when you come home
Working two shifts for the price of one
Five days later and the money is gone
I sometimes wonder how we carry on

Oh, baby I know this is not what you had planned
In Chicago, with that ticket in your hand

But I’ve been waiting for the world to change
And I don’t think it’s changing now
Yeah, I’ve been waiting for the world to change
And I don’t think it’s changing now

Twenty one when I met you
Hanging with the boys from the backstage crew
I bought some beer at the grocery store
We drank it all and then we drank some more
I was gonna write, you were gonna sing
Live in Paris or maybe Berlin
In a rented room with the mixtape hiss
I will never forget that kiss
How the hell’d we ever end like this?

Cause, baby, I know this is not what you had planned
There in the snow, with the suitcase in your hand


So let’s burn it down

Still got ten pages I wrote
On a pocketful of promise and a fist full of hope
But the little bit of money that you put by
Didn’t last too long before the well ran dry
And the band split up when the industry suit
Put a move on you, ‘cause he thought you were cute
Said “Come on, baby, we know you can sing
But you wanna get ahead, you gotta show a little skin”
Well, I still got a scar from what I did to him.

Oh, baby, I know this is not what we had planned
Ten years ago with those tickets in our hands


So let’s burn it down...

words/music © 2010 J Brownlow

posted by unSane at 4:53 PM on December 5, 2010

I love it! You've probably heard this before but your voice has a titch of Warren Zevon. awesome!

I think you should turn up your vocal track a bit though. It's harder to hear the words than it should be I think.
posted by ian1977 at 4:57 PM on December 5, 2010

Just for info, are you listening on phones or speakers? I balanced this on my 96-cent Spongebob Speakers but it's possible that on phones the center vocal may get a bit lost. Still trying to get the hang of my new monitors...
posted by unSane at 5:24 PM on December 5, 2010

LCD television (aka my computer monitor) Flat EQ, no surround or anything.
posted by ian1977 at 5:43 PM on December 5, 2010

Awesome, thanks for that.
posted by unSane at 5:47 PM on December 5, 2010

Great chord progression in the chorus. And "so let's burn it down!" is great solo kickoff exclamation, up there with "You bastards!"

Something about the vocal cadence reminds me of a pirate sea shanty. Speaking of which, they sound low to me, too, listening through some Rokit 5 studio monitors.
posted by ignignokt at 6:34 PM on December 5, 2010

Thanks! I think they are mostly low in the second verse but I will try +3db overall and see how it sounds. How do you like those Rokits? it was a toss-up between them and the HS50ms for me.

Yeah, "Let's burn it down" is quite the challenge for a solo.

The vocal cadence is stolen right off Aimee Mann's FREEWAY mostly.
posted by unSane at 6:50 PM on December 5, 2010

Great song.

I think you should turn up your vocal track a bit though

I'd say it's more an issue of everything else in the right and left is doubled or layered and so on, so the single vocal track in the middle might seem a bit thin in comparison. I'd maybe bump up the volume a bit on the main vox and fine tune the EQ so it stands out from the other tracks, and maybe double that main vox on the chorus when all the bg/harmony vox kick in.

Bonus points to anyone who can figure out what Toto have to do with any of this.

Stab in the dark, but the vibe of the bridge-type deal reminds me of the "I bless the rains down in Africa" part of Toto's "Africa."
posted by chococat at 6:51 PM on December 5, 2010


Yeah, the pre-chorus is exactly that chord progression from Africa with a different melody.

I did double the lead vox in the chorus just as you suggest but it sitill gets a bit lost. I think I probably should just ride the whole thing a bit more and look at the EQ. I tried to really empty out the middle so the vocal would have lots of space but as you say there's a lot going on. Whenever you double track things it just eats up the space in the mix. I'm still learning how to deal with that.
posted by unSane at 7:04 PM on December 5, 2010

How do you like those Rokits?

I think they're great, but they're also the only monitors I've ever had. I did listen to a few other monitors at the store, but I forgot what they sounded like.
posted by ignignokt at 7:38 PM on December 5, 2010

This is a real hit, unSane! My favorite of yours so far. I also agree with chococat's suggestions on the vocals and balancing.
posted by Corduroy at 11:51 PM on December 5, 2010

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