Hit Me Back
Produced, Engineered, Arranged and Mixed
by C.J. Eiriksson
Also available on iTunes now
Hit Me Back
For as light hearted as it seems - Hit Me Back is actually a fairly dark song. I was driving 2 hours everyday to see my mother in the hospital - was 6 weeks from when she broke her hip to when she died. I was destroyed by seeing her slip away. As she shuffled off this mortal coil.,,,, I shuffled some things off too. 2 hours in the car listening to the radio and hearing these pop songs gave me the idea......I can write me one of these .... So I did..... The lyrics to the chorus came first, driving down LaGrange road
Let It Go
Let It Go.... Was originally called Incantation, upon much urging I decided to change it. Song is about the beauty in surrendering to the avalanche of emotion when love comes to town, October was the month Heather and I met. I was resistant to my feelings for her but ultimately love won and defeated my doubts and fears and vulnerabilities . We approached this song quite differently then I've ever done a song- the instrumentation is driven by a string section, then bass and drums and an acoustic guitar
The Prettiest Girl In The World
Originally started out about a song about Willie my daughter but then i kind of felt trapped by it and after the first verse i felt like i had nowhere to go really......so abandoned that and made it about a young romance in our neighborhood where there is a real clash of cultures...... probably the most fun sounding song i've ever done next to Gonna Be Good.....and was a real fun departure of doing more serious sounding stuff....
Dreams About Trains
Have talked at length about this one but suffice it to say, was inspired by, Robert Frost, Abraham Lincoln, Bobby Kennedy, The Blues Brothers, and the fact that I've always lived near train tracks my whole life, it's part of my make up - seems like if I don't hear trains, I get anxious. Marty McCool showed me a clip, after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, they took his body cross country via train - thousands came out of their houses all along the journey to salute him in his casket - very powerful footage, I guess that sparked the song.
I Know A Place...
It's fairly well documented that I frequent watering holes. In not too distant a day I was what people refer to as a Barfly. The stories about the places I would frequent are too many, and in most cases are peppered in songs throughout my career. Something was compelling me to write a good old fashion bar song. How, I wondered, haven't I " been there , done that?" Turns out, maybe now I can say I have, perhaps this is my bar song swan song. Recorded live in the studio in a couple takes.
My mother fell and broke her hip and 6 weeks later she died. I was devastated - had started a couple of songs and heather heard them as I tinkered with them. The further along the songs got, she felt me paying a little more attention to the other one and told me I was missing an amazing opportunity with the B minor one (the key this song is in) so I explored it further. When my mom passed away I finished it within a week. I can sing this song easier than talk about it.
Scars From Another Life
I lived over at Kenmore and Montrose in a shitty little studio apartment across the street from St Mary of the Lake. I got the apartment solely because I could see the steeple of the church. I thought that if by some way I was near a church, or something divine, if through osmosis it might come into my life. At some point you gotta stop carrying around that which weighs you down. That the scars of your past should be left exactly there. They were scars from another life.
She's Gonna Kill Me
There's a reason this song and the song following it are next to each other. Any guy I know has been in this situation, you lose track of time howling at the moon and the next thing you know, you're creeping into the house in a whole lotta trouble. This was recorded for Hey La Hey but I felt we just missed it, this is how it was supposed to be.
Is There A Kiss Left On Your Lips
The adjustments to married life was fairly easy for me, cept that whole " staying out late" part of it. That took some work. I had returned home pretty late one night to find the welcome wagon had left town. I sat in the kitchen cuz its the only place I was welcome in.Sat in the dark and the street light outside my window was the only light I had to use. I finished the paper I could find, as I always over write songs, always like to have more material and edit it down. Even had to use some of the table and wall to finish it, Was in pencil so was able to erase, most of it. Got some of my security deposit back when I left. I'd heard Henry Miller used to write on the walls of his garage. So I stole that from him. I don't recommend it though.
Deal With The Devil
Been writing song about Jesus so long - figured it was time to talk about the other guy - you can't write songs about happiness without, at some point talking about sadness-
The visual of my father at the gravestone of my mother has been in my head for years-
The devil is still a very important part of my life-
I'm haunted by our similarities,
I feel his breath on my neck,...
His tattoo is branded on my back-
I know not God without him
The Silent Will Soon Be Singing
I think I was in el paso that night when this line came to me. I recorded it for what would later be known as Ashes, but the song didn't quite " do it" for me. There's an assisted living house not far from here. In the heart of a Chicago winter, we would see these elderly people pushed outside in their wheel chairs and if almost by some strange design they were hurled out there. We could see their breath, as we waited at the stoplight by the home. Heather and I would comment on it, and how cruel it all seemed but even beyond that, how sad it was.
Last Christmas eve, heather told me she had a gift for me and that I should put on something nice and that she had got a sitter. I was excited, not knowing what was in store. The sitter came and we left the house, she said she wanted to drive. I flipped her the keys and we started off down the road. I noticed my guitar was in the back seat and thought it queer that I had left it back there after an underground wonderbar show with Heather the night prior. Only a half mile into our trip, she pulled over and parked.
We were in front of the nursing home.
" aw shit" I thought,
I was pissed
We went inside and sang some songs
After we finished, I walked outside and cried
All the lonely people, where do they all come from.
Heather is the best
Where The River Meets The Sea
There are some songs that just appear.
This being one of them. Certain times for whatever reason you can barely even recall how they came to be.
What I do recall was thinking about Eric Lowen who had been diagnosed with ALS. I remember how brave he was in the face of that. Being carried on stage each night and wondering how that must have felt. I was more pissed about it than he was.
My mom really liked this song, thought it would make a great church song.
I sang it at my mothers funeral this past October.
I sent this version to Eric Lowen before he died and he wrote me back.....
" I'm soaked "
I've said it before but I'll write it again. Never thought in a million years I could say a geographical location would turn my life around. It did. The love and lust for life that I witnessed over there totally changed the course of my life. We were playing this town called Rocco San Casciano. Was near the front lines of WW2 - we played in this town square where a dozen Nazi soldiers had been executed. After the show, they had a party for us. 25 -30 of us in a cantina below street level. Dinner, drinks and conversation flowed with vigor. I was pretty beat and sat at one end of the table and didn't say much. I had an idea. I went to the van, got my guitar, ripped off a flap to a cd box and jotted what came. Found Heather, she figured out a harmony part and we went and performed it. Was a moment I won't forget.
The IV lab is a awesome studio hidden in plain site. Chris Harden was our guy there and had an amazing array of guitar amps and guitars, and gear that would be difficult to go through it all because of our time limit. Heather and I split up our time because of WIllie and it would be impossible to get anything done with her there.
CJ had come up with some loops already but on day one we had Larry Beers come in and we started there. Larry is great, and great with playing to clicks and loops and really just killed it. The first two days were spent with Larry.....getting all the drums finalized. I'd put down an acoustic guitar track just to break the monotony for everyone.
Day 3 i started with guitars and vocals. It was early winter and my voice was not adjusting to the cold and studio's are notoriously dry and cold anyway. End of day 3 i even tried some booze to loosen it up ......that didn't work either. As we went along putting colors on the canvas, we had Klem come in next and after one day with Klem we were in really good shape.
Days 4 and 5 were spent completing the puzzle.....we had a thing were we would not reference ANY male singer songwriter......Dylan, Bruce, Waits, Van, Gabriel........instead we made a deal to look to the woman of the genre for inspiration......Sinead, Sarah M, Florence, DIdo, instead.....
We check in with fans who've had a chance to hear Hit Me Back
I received Hit Me Back two weeks ago and since then, any time I have wanted to listen to music, it is the only thing I have played either at home or in my car. For years Ashes was my favorite MM album; the releases of Noise From Words and Hey La Hey, which are beautiful works of art in their own right, didn't change that. However, the release of Hit Me Back has. - Jessica
I have waited so long for Scars From Another Life to appear on an album, and this version is completely amazeballs! Oh wait, there are 12 other tracks on the album? I'll have to get back to you on the rest of them. - Pam
It's hard to choose a favorite song, because they all resonate with an emotion i'm feeling. if i had to choose i'd say my top 3 songs are "ever after", "hit me back" and "scars from another life." michael's music touches the soul. it's a powerful cd. there are many layers and each listen peels back another one. i think this cd will hold up as one of michael's best. period. heather's contributions really enhance the music. ethereal vocals, evocative violin playing, adding a depth and emotional layer to all the songs. - Mary
I gave the CD to a friend today and said turn the loudness to more than normal so it fills up the room and you can concentrate on voice, lyrics and sound. Then think about someone who walked many dark paths. Be prepared to sing along loud to the powerful songs, to cry tears on the ballads. - Ralf
It would be a crime if an album of such quality as the newly released Hit Me Back could not have been made. Hit Me Back is terrific from beginning to end. - Michael
I love all the songs but I Know A Place and Italy are my favorites. Your music keeps me connected to Chicago and keeps Chicago in my heart, thank you for your brilliance. McDermott, shuffle all songs, gets me through my morning run. - Carol