On ‘Intent On St. Paul’
I had an afternoon to kill in Chapel Hill during last fall’s Summer’s Gone Tour, so I found the local coffee shop. I met Lisa behind the counter. We got to talking about music (she was playing The Pixies), painting, books and such, and she mentioned that she was working on a novel called ‘Intent On St. Paul.’ I thought it was a great title.
So Lisa brings her entire family — visiting from (you guessed it) St. Paul — to see my solo acoustic performance at a place called The Cave. We talked more about her novel, a story about a waitress, and a rock band passing through town. Then I asked her if I use some of that stuff. She said sure, so I went and wrote the song, ‘Intent On St. Paul.’
I tried to imagine a waitress somewhere in, say… Los Angeles, or New York, who hates her job, and her life, and just wants to be anywhere but where she is. She wants to go back home to the Midwest, to “the heart of it all.” She’s all about what AA calls “the geographic.” If she could just be somewhere else, everything would be better. Of course, that’s never true, ‘cuz you follow you there. And over the course of the song, I think she figures that out. And so did I.
And the view out the window means nothing at all
Standing all day with your back to the wall
Now you’re running away to the heart of it all
You’re intent on St. Paul
So, we mixed it last night, and it sounds great. We kept it pretty simple: a fistful of mostly acoustic guitars, bass, drums, shakers, tamborine, and Leslie doing some harmonies. It builds through the bridge, then breaks down to just shaker, acoustic, and vocal for the last verse before going big again for the last chorus. Yeah, it’s pretty much as I’d imagined. I just hope Lisa likes it.