In the studio, you build a song layer by layer: cement to mayonnaise, as it were. You start with the basic structure and develop the feel over a series of sonic events that eventually lead to, well, goo. Whether your goo is a room mic or a reverb, the sheen is not musical, but it holds the track together. When you’ve reached goo point, it’s time to go back to cement and start peeling away layers that serve no purpose.

“Opiates” reached goo point rather quickly, as it seemed determined not to shine, and began asking for less and less. I pared my guitars down to a couple of acoustics and a couple of electrics, the bass part was refined until it attracted no attention whatsoever and my already character-free drums became percussive wallflowers. Only the lyrics would stand out, and they go by too fast to attract too much attention.

Then “Opiates” suggested that it’s outro should be the star of the show by refusing to accept my background drumming and demanding that Rizzo sit in with his live, drunken, seventies, free-for-all technique (see “Trouble” – Sunny Border Blue). Rizzo gracefully accepted the challenge and the outro was laid to sweet waste.

As an anthem for feeling over numbing, “Opiates” does actually shine. It sets the stage for every body‘s question, to feel or not to feel? and then helps you make the choice by example. It dances away.


Find this song and all my recent work, in multiple formats – including lossless, free for download on my CASH Music pages. Information on how you can support the creation and distribution of this music by becoming a subscriber is here.

Posted in: Kristin Hersh, music, words on June 22, 2009