Thirteen Songs About Love

by Justin Winokur

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  • Digital Album
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    Here are the notes the producer and I made on each song. They've never been published before, so you're among the first to have ever read them.
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    1) No Truth Anymore
    From Justin:
    I wrote this song at Clear Lake in Northern California. I was on vacation there with my friends Adam and Boris, just like I had done every summer for so many years. In the evenings I like to go out on the dock with my guitar and sing and play. I'm only there one week a year, but I always write so many songs in that short time. I never intended it to be such a creative time and place. I meant to just go and have fun and swim and laugh and fend off mosquitoes. The songs must love it there, though, so they come out, too.
    I wrote the first half of the words. Andie Grace wrote the second half. This is the only lyrical collaboration I've ever done.
    From Christoffer:
    This was the first song of Justin's that I heard. When someone from across the Atlantic contacts you and says he wants to make an album with you and he has no record company or money but is the proud owner of an extremely expensive tube microphone, your first reaction is to write him off as a madman. So when I first listened to the demos Justin had sent me I didn't have any great expectations at all. But then you never have when you listen to demos anyway. It pretty soon became apparent though that this was different. Justin's demos were simple and somewhat rough but there was just something there that was impossible to ignore, a naive, passionate beauty. No Truth Anymore was the first song on the demo CD and I think it is a truly great song. And I think we did a good job on it too.
    2) Shooting Star
    From Justin:
    Another sad song, I guess. Just what the world needs, right? Like many of my songs it's not about love, though. It's about time. Love lost is nothing compared with time lost.
    From Christoffer:
    This album was recorded in two major sessions, the first being considerably longer where Justin and I finished seven songs, working closely together on every little detail, and then a second shorter session where we recorded the basic track (drums, bass and Justin's acoustic guitar) for another five songs after which I was left to flesh out the arrangements on my own. This is one from the second session. Although I very much missed collaborating with Justin on all the parts that make up an arrangement, it can also be intriguing to work on music when there's no one else in the room. This is one of the simplest songs on the album, but also one of the most beautiful.
    3) Blue Eyes
    From Justin:
    Surprisingly this love song is not about Andie. Ok, just kidding. Of course it's about Andie. I wanted to dive into her huge, blue eyes. So much so that I wanted to sing a song about it. So I did.
    I wrote most of this at my home in San Francisco, but I ended up finishing up some of the lyrics a few months later while staying in the mansion at St. Dorothy's Rest in Camp Meeker, California. My original plan was to see if I could get Lenny Kravitz to sing it, since I didn't really think my voice suited the song. But, Christoffer insisted that I put it on the record. So, here it is.
    From Christoffer:
    When Justin first played me this I didn't quite get it. Why go into Lenny Kravitz mode on this lyrical, sensitive record? It didn't take me long though to realize that this song has loads of charm, and when Jens came up with this brilliant drum part it all took off. Justin's way of singing this makes it very much more interesting than if, say, Lenny Kravitz would have sung it.
    This was the last song on the second session because we felt it had a lower priority than other songs, and we only had half an hour to arrange and record the backing track before Jens had to leave. And of course it turned out to be probably the best band performance on the album. This is of course always the case; the more effort you put into something the worse it comes out and vice versa.
    4) Lullaby
    From Justin:
    I've always been fascinated with lullabies. I fell asleep to music almost every night of my life since my dad bought me my first CD player in 1987. I'd put my favorite slow songs or albums on repeat—hypnotizing me, luring me into the world of sweet dreams.
    I wanted to make my own lullaby. And I tried. But, something went wrong. The song that came out just wasn't the pleasant, calming thing I'd planned. It was sad, desperately sad. Not the sort of words I would want to carry me to sleep. But, it was what was inside me and I had to be true to myself and let it out.
    From Christoffer:
    A lot of the time Justin's songs are built around a very carefully crafted part for acoustic guitar and this song is one example of this. He has a way of making something that is actually quite intricate flow very naturally. I'm a big fan of the guitar part in the middle eight which we double tracked with the clavinet. It's a strange lullaby in the sense that it's more likely to wake you up than make you go to sleep since it becomes louder and louder all the time. Of course we couldn't resist the temptation of making hundreds of overdubs towards the end of the song and in the process turning a perfectly gentle tune into (another) over–produced monster!
    But it's great, isn't it?
    5) I Loved You More
    From Justin:
    This is another Clear Lake song, written the same week I wrote No Truth Anymore. At the time I wrote it I really thought it wasn't about me. I felt like I wrote it for other people, friends of mine I've seen feel this way. Since then I've changed my mind. It's about me.
    From Christoffer:
    OK, this is one where we didn't add loads of stuff. We actually took some overdubs off it instead. It's also another one with a great guitar part. It's written so it can't be played by just one person so we recorded it with the two of us playing one part each live, me taking the simpler basic part and Justin the the tricky, show–off part.
    I had to spend ages persuading him to record it freely without a metronome, but then he's American, isn't he? The old classroom barrel organ adds a great character to this one I think.
    6) Just Be In Love In My Dreams
    From Justin:
    This is dedicated to Tollef Biggs and every other romantic and dreamer in this world. I long for the day when they will tell that girl what they really think. I long for the day when they will take the risks. I long for the day when nobody will relate to this song anymore.
    From Christoffer:
    This was originally going to be recorded with just Justin's guitar and voice and then be put at the end of the album as a little bagatelle, but one late night we decided to have a go at turning it into something else completely. This is what we came up with. It is actually the by far most harmonically complex tune on the album. There's as many chords as bars in it and no chord is ever repeated (almost). It is beyond human intelligence to play it correctly all the way through. Yet it sounds totally natural.
    7) Fly Away
    From Justin:
    I had this friend who once told me about how her boyfriend was mistreating her. I remember encouraging her to move out from the place they lived in together. She admitted that she knew she had to leave, but she was having difficulty getting up the courage. You need to fly away from there, far away, I said.
    I suggested she should at least get out of the house for the day and go do something fun like go to the beach—something to soothe her soul. "How am I supposed to go anywhere? My car broke down, too." I asked her, Why not fly?
    From Christoffer:
    Fly Away is the only track we went digital on. I always record on tape. I'm persistently conservative and I hate being stuck in front of a screen instead of running around doing stuff in the studio. But, in this case there was no question. We recorded the ambient guitar first—where a couple of tape delays, the echo chamber and a plate reverb blend and feedback into each other, creating a dreamy landscape of sound. Then Justin came up with the idea of suddenly muting this whole thing and instead go into three little intertwined minimalistic guitar parts (the sound you hear in the very beginning). To be able to switch between those two worlds every now and then we needed the editing facilities of the computer.
    This always sounded like a drug song to me but then it's probably about love (as is every other song on this record).
    8) Never Go Back Again
    From Justin:
    So, I broke up with this girl Sharon some years ago. I was really resistant to our separation. I didn't want to be broken up! I wanted things to be the way they were before! Then, one night it hit me that I was clutching to the past—trying to hold onto something intangible, something which was already long gone. I laughed until I cried. Then I wrote this song.
    From Christoffer:
    This is my favourite guitar part of Justin's! The whole song and arrangement revolves around and I think it's all brilliant. It took quite some time to work out how the drums should go in order to follow all the nuances of the guitar but I think Jens did a marvelous job on this. It was indeed an unsettling experience having to watch Justin scratching his hairy little arm, playing different rhythmic patterns for ages and ages, but then we couldn't just use the maracas, could we? It would have been sooo conventional.
    9) Just Go Out With Me
    From Justin:
    This song was sort of a little gift for Andie Grace. I wrote it when she was at work and played it for her when she came home one night. I never actually told her that I wrote it for her, but I always imagined that the part about the seven red rocket ships would've given it away.
    From Christoffer:
    I had lots of fun working on this. It's from the second session and I really wanted to give Justin the twenties–style silly arrangement of his dreams. He recorded his voice through a megaphone for authenticity.
    10) You Took It All Away
    From Justin:
    I wrote this upstairs at the house of my friends Dave Oppenheim and Ray Spears. I had this idea that I would write ten songs in ten days just to see if I could do it. This was one of them.
    From Christoffer:
    I haven't told Justin this but this song sounds a lot like one of my favourite artists, Peter Hammill, and his band Van Der Graaf Generator. I love this song. So, I decided it needed a string arrangement like those of one of my other favourite artists, Nick Drake. So I wrote what I considered to be The String Arrangement Of All Time. I recorded it with a mellotron sound, then sent it to Justin for approval. In return he sent me a music example of some syrupy shallow crap with nothing going for it at all and a suggestion that maybe I should think a bit more in this direction instead? Can you believe that? It took weeks of hateful mails, emotional blackmail and general unpleasant behaviour on my part to finally have it my way. Normally the producer's role would be to please the Artist and bring out the best in him, but this only applies as long as the Artist is not STUPID.
    11) Celestial
    From Justin:
    Celeste Varljen is like a sort of magical forest fairy from a storybook, except that she's real. And there is somehow a spirit of dance that permeates her every action—speaking, hugging, cooking, swimming. Where others merely walk, she dances. Her voice is so kind and sweet, and it dances too. Simply being her friend made me want to sing. So I did.
    From Christoffer:
    A really nice, classic, simple pop song. This has some kind of relationship with "Shooting Star" in my mind, those two songs are branches of the same tree to me. This is one from the second session where I particularly missed the close collaboration with Justin.
    12) I Run Away
    From Justin:
    I was really thinking of pianos when I wrote the chords for this song, even though I wrote it on guitar. You know, like Elton John and Billy Joel and their sorts of chord changes. That's all I really remember from writing it. The words just sort of came out. I was surprised at how hopeless they were, and I wondered if they really came from within me. They did. And so goes another sad, sad song.
    From Christoffer:
    This has a really intricate chord structure that really lends itself to big arrangements and suggestive atmospheres. I'm very happy with the way this turned out, but it was a long way there. It went through a number of quite different phases before we stumbled upon something that made the song justice.
    13) Every Day Is Roses
    From Justin:
    I think I was seventeen the first time anyone ever told me that I had changed their life for the better. I was on my bed at my mom's house in San Jose, California. My Swatch phone rang. Theresa Askins was on the phone for me. She'd been my girlfriend the summer before. We broke up because she moved away to Oregon. I always had felt she was so much more artistic than me, more worldly than me, and more experienced in every aspect of life than me. So, to have her phone me and tell me that little seventeen–year–old me had changed her life was a huge deal. It felt like getting a thank–you card from an angel.
    I wrote this song the very second I hung up the phone. It was a song of thanks for the wonderful friends who made wonderful, life–changing moments like the one I had when Theresa called me that day so many years ago.
    From Christoffer:
    Funnily enough, on an album full of arrangements and production, this is maybe my favourite. It's basically just Justin's voice and guitar with some minor additions of sound to create a little tension, but it's stunningly beautiful to my ears. The demo sounded a lot like this except for the little sounds, and it was one of the songs that really caught my attention when I first listened to Justin's music.
    ... more
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    Are you old enough to be buying this? Do you know what a CD player is? Have you ever used a compact disc? Did you know that "compact disc" is what CD stands for?

    If you are OLD or you enjoy OLD-person technology, like stone tools, fire, and houses made of reeds and mud, then you might enjoy buying one of these CDs.

    I would like that, so that way I wouldn't have this stupid box of CDs in my closet anymore.

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about

The kind of music you'd get if Brian Wilson and Sigur Ros drove an ice cream truck into Fleetwood Mac. Indie-pop love songs with lush production.

Perfect soundtrack for:
• Falling in love in the summertime
• The love of your life falling out of love with you and dumping you and kicking you out
• Utter despair, seemingly endless heartbreak

credits

released August 27, 2004

Justin Winokur: vocals, guitars, random ridiculous instruments
Christoffer Lundquist: guitars, background vocals, keyboards, horns, bass guitar, percussion, and too many other instruments to list
Jens Jansson: Drums and percussion

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Justin Winokur California

Justin Winokur's lush, quirky indie-pop shines a light on the sad beauty of heartbreak. He recently finished his third full- length album, Throwing Paper Airplanes Off A Bridge, which for him, became its own journey of self realization. This intimate tour of his loves, losses, and hopes feels like reading a stranger's diary—and realizing that the handwriting and every single story is your own. ... more

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