November 10th, 2009 | By Rob
Here we go then! The first blog in the Can’t Help Me Now series – the lyrics! If you’re not there already then you might want to open up the Can’t Help Me Now song page in a new window so you can follow along.
As you may have guessed this song was inspired by and is itself the recollection of a dream. It was written at 3am in the morning after waking up in the middle of the night. I like to write late and already having some of the chords written from the day before, I decided to start penning the words while still half asleep!
The verse refers to a girl who’s supposedly not ordinary yet in the name Mary-Jayne she has one of the most common names possible in English speaking countries! Quite honestly, this was the name of the girl in my dream which left me with a dilemma – do I change the name and lie to myself and the expression of my dream or do I change it to satisfy my desire for being more creative as a songwriter?
As you’ll hear in the recording, for the moment I’ve decided to say it how it was. This choice will inevitably offend many but hopefully for those that read my explanation some of the purists among you will be satisfied. I want to be true to the dream and the mere contradiction itself in my opinion is also reflective of this. It’s a state in which more often than not reality is distorted and things don’t always make sense.
Equally the use of the Spanish name Ana Perez is something that is worth discussing. In this case again, in the dream there was indeed a Spanish girl on a bus but unfortunately she wasn’t kind enough to tell me her name so I’m left with the struggle of having to invent a name for her.
At the time (half asleep still!), I chose Ana Perez because I know that’s a common Spanish name and therefore thought it would fit nicely with the whole Mary-Jayne thing. However, I’ve since changed my opinion and in particular while I’ve been writing this blog I’m realising that if I truly want to be faithful to the dream then I need to somehow convey that I didn’t get told her name in the lyrics and not just make something up for the sake of it!
It’s worth noting that because the vocals on all the recordings are only guides and due to be replaced at the final stage of the recording process, it’s still possible for me to make these changes before the songs are finished. One of the benefits of Mubla 2.0 – music made in front of you, is that you get to see the changes that happen in song writing and recording that until now haven’t really been discussed or talked about.
Moving on to the chorus: “you can’t help me now, you can’t help me now”. What does this mean and how does it relate to the verses. Well, the truth is…I’m not sure if I actually know myself.
“He wrote the song and he doesn’t know what it means?!! Shoot him! He’s not a real songwriter!!”
That’s right, those words were what came to me at the time and weren’t something that I consciously decided upon. I didn’t set out with the intention of writing a song called Can’t Help Me Now. Instead a song called Can’t Help Me Now wrote itself for me. I wish I could explain better how this happened and I know I’m not alone in feeling this because you’ll often hear songwriters in interviews saying how their best songs often seem to write themselves.
Anyway, they made sense to me at the time and still do. When I sing these words I’m imagining looking at myself in a mirror saying them. I see it as self admission that you can’t go looking for love and most definitely not in your dreams. A bit like those great songs we just talked about, I’m of the opinion that love is something that will come to you and not you to it!
Finally, we should probably talk about the repetition of the first verse near the end. It’s always been in my mind to write a different third verse or a modified version of the first verse that maybe ties things up a little. As of now I haven’t managed to sit down to do this just yet but I will and re:guide vocals mentioned above, this will of course be possible. The guide vocals on tracks at the moment are merely there to help us in coming up with extra parts and as stated previously are not the final version!
Right so there we go…that’s the story behind the lyrics to Can’t Help Me Now…so far. If you already had your own interpretation of them then please don’t let what I say affect you too much! If life was meant to be interpreted in one single way then we wouldn’t have all of the differing world religions, cultures and languages. Music holds true to this and if you disagree with what I say then I’d love to hear from you through a comment at the bottom of this blog post. I’m a real believer that songs are never truly finished and the meanings we pertain from them can change and evolve over time. I’m in no doubt that Can’t Help Me Now will be a further example of this. Enjoy!