Bono sings that “Freedom has a scent / Like the top of a newborn baby’s head.”
I always found that lyric just a little bit hoakie. I still do. But I checked out the top of Ethan’s head this afternoon and, sure enough, it smells pretty good. I dunno’ about freedom, though. Maybe opportunity. Limtless, blank-slate opportunity.
My family makes fun of me because I’m always taking photos of the kids, especially Ethan. I realized why today. They’re guileless. Their expressions are real, not manufactured or immitated. They can only know what they know in that very moment. They can only be who they are right then. I envy that lack of perspective, context and artiface. I envy the clarity with which they look neither forward nor back, but exactly where they are.
It being Easter and all, and my family being somewhat Catholic, we gathered for brunch and dinner. I got to hang out with Ethan, Hanna, and Mary Kathrine. Toddler watching is better than television, better than film, better than books. Their energy and curiosity is boundless. They really leave me awed. So does the responsibility. Ethan was sick, and had been throwing up all night. So, then, were Chris and Jen. Still, he was still happy to stack blocks as high as possible, knock ‘em over, and start again.
It obviously wore off on me. In between familial engagements, I sat ensconced in my bedroom studio recording. At first I called the new song, “Crushing.” But by the time I’d mixed down the twenty-eight (28!) tracks, it had become something different, something new. I gave Heather a first listen. I prepped her with the suggestion that I thought it sounded like sunshine. I told her it’s called “A Simple Life.” She said, unprompted, that it sounded like babies: fresh, beautiful and innocent.
Fresh, beautiful and innocent. We should all be so lucky.
It occurs to me just now, sitting here at 9:58 p.m. listening to my new song, that this is the sound of sunshine streaming through my windows on a Sunday afternoon.
I started recording this fresh from Easter brunch with my mom, Chris, Jen and Ethan. I wasn’t inspired by anything specific, I just had a simple progression in my head gnawing its way out. The real breakthrough occurred when I started strumming an open D over everything. All of a sudden it sounded wide open.
The lyrics came last, and frankly, I’m not thrilled with ‘em. If you have anything better, send it in. I swear I’ll give you co-songwriter credit.
Anyway, it’s really pretty. I can’t believe it’s mine. It makes me feel happy. 28 tracks — 10 guitars, 12 percussion, 6 vocals — of pure sunshine.