This song is completely about paranoia. The lyrics to this song are to this day my favorite, though I’m still not entirely sure what they mean. The first verse goes like this:
I don’t know why you pray
Just because your padre say
But he don’t know about the CIA
And all their mystery ways
As far as I can tell, the song mixes fear of the government, a sneaking suspicion that Elvis is still alive and well, religion, and the Freemasons together. I think paranoia is really a process of making connections even when there are no connections present. The paranoid believe that they have access to some truth that others are not privy to; these feelings can result in a god complex, fear of others who might be “in” on it, and a constant nervous watchfulness. To bring this back around to our hero, Clusterfuck, it seems that his paranoia is increasing, perhaps because of some mental breakdown, or perhaps because of some mythical plot unfolding deep beneath the surface. Elvis was still alive, religion was a hoax, and the government was behind it all.
This song itself was written and recorded on my 28th birthday. It was the first song recorded at my house. For the rest of the process, we would alternate between Chas’s house and my house, which allowed both of us to retain a certain amount of stylistic and creative control.
It’s very clear that at this point, I was still relatively new to the recording process, so I had no concept of levels or mixing. Everything on this song is overblown and redlined from beginning to end. The aggressive sound, though, seemed to fit the raucous, bluesy nature of the song.
We used a cheap Casio keyboard for the drums. Because I lived in an apartment at the time, I couldn’t set up my drumset. I took a microphone and recorded a cheesy drum demo built into the keyboard, a shuffling snare part. I recorded a bass line and Chas added a bluesy lick that sounds like it could come from a Black Keys album. I finished the song with a reverby, trebly guitar part to fill in the background.
“Elvis” was the second song we did, at the Freedom’s place on his birthday. Vocals didn’t come till sometime after, but I distinctly remember almost wetting myself with joy after the first time I heard them. Not sure what else to say about this one other than I was trying my best to audition for the Black Keys.
This was also before we realized we were doing a “project” together, so after I left his place that night, I wasn’t expecting to hear anything from this song again. It didn’t really feel completed, and I had no expectations. Then about a week or two later, Jake sent me the completed tune, and I think it was that “aha” moment that propelled us into formalizing the game. It’s also what prompted me to finish “Messiah,” which had also been kind of left twisting in the wind.
Up Next: “We Put the Mess in Messiah“