Recording and Mixing Dates: October 29 and November 1, 2016. Mixed November 1, 2016.
Genesis: I wrote the lyrics on February 28, 2008. It was the last song I wrote for the FAWM (February Album Writing Month). The chorus is strangely prescient of the European refugee crisis of the past two years generated by the wars and atrocities in the Middle East.
I wanted to write an apocalyptic song, filled with the thoughts and lines I had been collecting for many years. I dispensed with narrative and let these random associations carry the day. The idea of “remixing history” is an update on how the victors get to rewrite history. The key line for me is “Of the old world learn to say goodbye. “
I tried to assemble multiple music, percussion, and sound effect loops for the musical bed, hoping I could wed the idea of remixing in the lyrics with the musical accompaniment. I got close (I still have the track and it is oddly compelling) but I eventually abandoned the song.
I gave the lyrics to Jan Hauenstein, in hopes he could come up with a tune. He did and he did a great job. Jan composed the music in 2014 and released it that same year on his Dreams and Nightmares CD. For my version, I made several minor tweaks in the arrangement and changed a couple of words.
Production: Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitars, Piano, and Drums.
WEST of BAGHDAD (REMIXING HISTORY)
Northwest Passage melting through
Empty heaven residue
Shadow bands across the morning sky
Dark shops selling damaged goods
Snipers nests out in the woods
Network failure we ask you to stand by
Kill the clock we’re quitting time
Behind each fortune stands a crime
Reason sleeps up in the old hotel
The price of culture is a lie
Sovereign tears shed for Versailles
The best revenge in life is living well
West of Baghdad, East of Rome
All God’s children are heading home
Past the point of no return they come
Remix history and change the sound
Turn things up and bring things down
Shift the weight of what’s been said and done
Countries of the shallow grave
Scorching earth and tidal wave
Elder statesman cross a strange terrain
Lost patrols without command
Unmarked cars in shakedown land
Pharaoh’s army rides the circus train
The house of cards has been foreclosed
The books were cooked and then exposed
Bite down hard on that poison pill
Yes I want it do you have some pull
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full
The coup de grace came in a coupe de Ville
Sacred precincts under guard
Admission with an ID card
Start looking for the Old Man in the Sky
Disregard what’s wrong or right
Download Babylon tonight
Of the old world learn to say goodbye
So I sit here mind ajar
Strumming on my moon guitar
Getting squeezed by the hands of time
All my life’s a shakedown cruise
What I found out I rarely use
I learned as much from a nursery rhyme
Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner and Jan Hauenstein All Rights Reserved
4 thoughts on “Track 44 West of Baghdad (Remixing History)”
Fred, another great song! I agree that the line you mentioned is a key one, but this song contains so many key lines, it is difficult to pick one above another. The song is oddly prescient of the many issues and the dilemma we find ourselves and our country in right now.
Thanks, Henry! Prescient is the word I wanted to use but it sounded arrogant. I left out a verse that foreshadowed the presidential campaign this year…
Excellent arrangement, Fred. The snaky strat is just right. That´s a song I like a lot.
Having listened to both versions yesterday night, I was mighty pleased to see (or hear) that this one song, but two quite distinct versions. The small changes you made all work well.
Listening again as I write, grinning from ear to ear. You did our song proud.
Thank you for the music, which fits the lyrics perfectly. Glad you liked my take on it.