this is the first monday song i ever wrote. of course, i didn’t know it at the time.
it was 1990 or 91, and i was playing in the smokin’ rhythm prawns. we didn’t really do country music. still, we were listening to a lot of willie nelson’s “red headed stranger,” and i was inspired.
i think we even played it live a few times, with matt playing the solo on the guitar.
i actually took the entire piano part from the first time i recorded the tune, back in 2001. it was on my second demo, alongside ‘gay,’ ‘charlie patience,’ ‘i want u’ and a number of others that have found their way onto albums of mine. i’m actually impressed at how well the piano sounds, as i was never all that good at miking my upright piano. the nord has saved me days and days of frustration over these past few years. the honky tonk playing holds up pretty well.
one important note: the original tune was much lighter in subject matter, with the protagonist simply standing there in the rain when he sees his girl with her new man. the original line read, “you beamed, turned off the light, yes, i’m a dope.” it always struck me as wrong. but i wasn’t sure why. it just felt like the cute way out.
well, after all the prison documentaries and hob series i’ve watched in the last decade, i knew where the story needed to go. the guy has been obsessed for a year. he drove all night. when he sees his girl with another man, he thinks for a moment that she’s sad and alone, that he has a chance. and then his replacement saunters in. the guy has an anger problem. it’s a country song after all. could the answer be more obvious? once i realized rope rhymed with hope, it was a done deal.
in the original, it was the same emotion over and over, but now, with the new line, every word that comes after has a different, and more sinister, meaning. so with the new lyric, i think this is the new award winner for darkest monday song. though it’s now much more closely aligned with “the red-haired stranger.”
i blame it on “game of thrones.”