Naturally, every song has an implied meaning to the author.
It could be about feeling, mood, or set of events… but is always about something.
[Saxton] [Lox] [Young Savage] [Spam]
Bayonet – Saxton – Called “Bayonet” because it hurts. Or more specifically, because losing love in the way that men sometimes do is like a bayonet wound to the stomach. Their friends tell them it is going to be alright, but they are really just trying to comfort them in their dying moments. Everybody knows quite well that it’s not going to be “okay”. The song is not really so much about dying as it is about not being OK when bad things happen. The heart-breaking lyric? “Sing our lullabyes for one last goodbye”. I used to sing to this particular young lady the same lullabyes that my mother sang to me, sometimes even just over the phone, and she would sing them to me at times. This was a very intimate act for me, and in some ways one of the most devestating things about breaking up.
A soft kiss on her sleeping cheek as you whisper goodbye. That’s what I see. Confession time. From when I first heard this song up until I read the lyrics, I thought the phrase “Sleep like a kitten sleeps” was “Sleep like a kid in sleeves”. Somehow, that makes more sense to me…
Yes I did put this down as my least favorite Pagoda song, but it’s just a case of having to pick the worst of the best. “Hey Saxton, why is it called Bayonet?” (and give the long answer dude, the chicks dig it!) But for heaven’s sake leave Nate Dogg out of it. Has one of the sweetest bass lines in Pagoda history. Doo doo doo dooooo….
Blindess – Saxton – The Apostle Thomas is never scolded by Jesus when he asks to see the holes in our Lord’s hands. And sometimes, I long to see the holes in the hands of Jesus. However, I am also wise enough to know that I am not likely to see such a sign in this life. This song’s simple lyrics are both lamenting and accepting that.
The song that needs to come back. This song has been abandoned by Lox, and is constantly seeking revival and revision by yours truly.
Deeper than our Senses – Lox – I am told I wrote a darker version of this song originally, but alas I don’t remember that. This song brings together a variety of different impetuses. It talks about a day that is coming where things will be revealed for what they really are – and my serious doubt that science will play a major part in that. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair that science is, at a bare minimum, where the world of economics is heading. And then, there is a part of me that thinks life might be more beautiful if the mystery remains forever buried deeper than our senses. Call me a bleeding heart Buddhist sympathizer.
Another abandoned song that needs to come back. Bloody Capitalists.
A little end-times prophecy for anyone? Good lyrics, nice bass line, simple to drum, what else could anyone ask for?
Harper’s Fairy – Lox & Saxton – The song is about a man finding that he is gay, and leaving his wife and child. I saw this situation happen, and let me say that it is a messy, painful situation. The song sounds very angry, but I always see it more as an expression of pain. More than being judgemental or angry, this is a lament for a situation which leaves everybody hurt.
The one original Pagoda song I’ve never been able to write a part for. Simply does not fit the keyboards at this point.
It’s just fun. Loud and fast, no questions asked. Get up out of your seats and jump up and down for this one, you’ll thank me for it later. Oh and guys, did I mention we’ll be playing it double speed? muahahaha!
Hiram and Summer – Lox & Saxton – In high school, I had a dream about recording a concept record about these two young kids
who met at college, fell in lust, then broke up, only to find that they really did love each other despite all their differences. Hiram, for some reason, was from Canada and Summer was from Asia. More than my adolescent romantic fantasies, this song took on new meaning when Young Savage joined the group.
This song is scarily serendipidous, you switch the names of the characters and you basically have the story of my failed relationship with Caroline. I pressed Saxton to dig it up again, and he honored my request to bring it to what it is today. I can’t help but feel a longing that things had at least ended better when I play it. The part I play on the keys is actually a revision of a song I wrote for her over the phone while she was studying in Philly. It… just… fit…
Another golden oldie. This one I think had gotten tossed into the trash pile, but Dame Fortune (or Ben) dug it back out again. Why we ever forgot about it I’ll never understand. The scat verse is fun too.
I am of Age – Saxton – Somewhere in me, when we were writing this song, I must have been very frustrated with somebody or something. Whatever that thing or person was, I no longer have any memory of it. I have become much more mellow in recent years, however, songs like this are good for venting the heat that still lingers inside of me. You can take whatever meaning you want from the lyrics, but they are simply what was flowing from my pen as I tried to “feel the song out”. The title “I Am Of Age” was suggested by Lox: who at the time was so excited by the song, believed that Pagoda was “of age” musically. We generally explain this song as a “blistering attack on nobody”.
This blistering attack practically murdered the tendons in my hands when I first began playing it. Fortunatly I was able to work in some softer melodies into it. It takes an awful lot to really get me angry, so consequently I rarely feel this song. It is fun to play, though, because I get to jump around a little bit (rare for a keyboardist).
Let’s hear it for playing 3 chords! So simple and yet so good. The kick drum line in the last chorus is from the Wednesday Night Blues Band’s rendition of Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. Those were good days for me musically, and now I get the chance to mix my past, present and future in one great song. Remember it sounds better when you play it naked.
Killing in Cotton – Saxton – A song about the racism that still exists in the world today. Especially that which I have seen with my own eyes and, to my dismay, which I am a part of. It is not written with any particular racial group in mind. I don’t know if I feel comfortable saying much more… the lyrics essentially speak for themselves.
Another song seeking revival at the hands of Young Savage.
Love Song for No One at All – Young Savage – I remember Young Savage sending me the lyrics the first time. And it takes a while for one musician to like another’s lyrics, I think Lox is only now starting to like mine. But when I first read these lyrics, I both smiled with delight and cringed with horror at the same time. Why cringe? Because this song is pure bubblegum. My face is all smile now though, and it went from feeling side-projecty as Spam said to a true Pagoda staple.
This song was the first I wrote for the band. It was for a girl I knew at the time, but repeats itself every time relationships get close. It’s about being in love before you’re “supposed to”. Apparently, crushes are taboo; you can’t express your feelings for a person before you know they feel the same way. It’s the battle that goes on in my head that no one is ever supposed to hear. Everyone feels it; when they first lock eyes with someone; and every fuse in your head blows… but no one talks about it. Technically, I’m not talking about it…
It has a bit of a “side project” or experiment feel to it, just because it sounds quite a bit different from the rest of the stuff we’ve written. Chalk that up to Ben’s style or whatever. Don’t worry though, I still like it, it’s a fun little ditty that’s very infectious.
Miracles Dance in the Alleys – Lox – In my humble opinion, a lot of Lox’s songs have a common theme: that there is something missing (ie Pulse, Shame Shame, Deeper Than Our Senses, etc.) But this common theme is never more beautifully or simply expressed as in Miracles. And it is never expressed with more of a sense of hope. Which is why this song is so wonderful, and a great closing number.
This song is my frustration about how love (between two people) seemingly gets in the way of so much other good stuff occurring in the world. It seems like if we were all rationalistically positive, things would be better. I guess this is my cynicism and hope for a world where we fell in love with each other on a more global,, holistic scale the way boys fall in love with girls.
The Harrisburg waterfront at night, the lights of the arched bridges echoing on the inky blackness of the Susquehanna. Lover meander up and down the paths, and across the bridges. But the bridges merely lead to an island, and no matter what, they never really get anywhere. This song makes me long for love where there is true companionship along with the romance.
I think I liked it from the first time I heard it, despite the fact that it sounds eerily like something that might get played at Messiah College Chapel. I’m glad that the guys see fit to let me add some vocals to this one, you guys\ know that you have no obligations to do that right? The Nirvana tag is a nice touch.
My Heart Set With The Sun – Saxton – A dog is released from a chain, only to find that he is indeed a wolf on the prowl. This song is a little hard to swallow sometimes, because it is as dark and sexual as a frustrated young Christian virgin like myself cares to be. There is something inherently predatory and selfish here, and there’s no apology for it. It acknowledges both id and testosterone. However, it does not boil down to criminal, psycho or even un-Christian behavior. The feelings may not be helpful, but they certainly do feel good. And after all, the song is ultimatley about loving yourself, even if it doesn’t take the healty road there. But they say that you must learn to love yourself before you learn to love others. Best line? “Now they say yon Cassius hath a look that’s lean and hungry, if I’m to be alone then I’m in the best company”. There is definatly a hungry feeling to the song.
This song was seeded from an organ riff I came up with; which was my effort in making an “angry song”. I was shocked to see it actually succeeded, after reading the lyrics Saxton came up with. As much as it shook me, it helped me to recognize the power the music had on me and made me realize to treat it with more respect. This song brings up imagery of a symbiosis between Captain Nemo and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast.
Responsible for our first official band controversy! It’s a ton of fun to play, and always good for a laugh to see the guys’ eyes bug out of their heads when they find out how fast I’m going to play the ending. All together now: YEAH!
Of Things to Come – Saxton – Essentially a plea to things that were very important to me to stay with me. As the chorus “Stay, here with me” might suggest. The song was written for two of my great loves. One of them was a young lady, and in this instance (although she loved the song) the plea fell on deaf ears. The other love was Pagoda itself, and while not all the members of the band that were around when the song was written are still there, Pagoda still is. The lyrics were originally something like “Lox has got a red guitar, and I can’t find the words without him. Without Spam we’d never go far, and I can’t find the words without him.” Everytime I hear the song or we play the song, I rejoice in what Pagoda has become. The other band members might not know this, but I never love them quite so much as when we play this song live. The song is very hopeful in nature, but there is also a little bit of a veiled threat in the “cause I won’t be alone” part. In the event that things do fall apart (in either of the two loves), I am able and willing to move on. But again, even the title “Of Things To Come” expresses hope and excitement for a future together.
One of the most fun to play songs, most likely because it actually has a real piano part. A song to be played driving through the country with the top down on the way to a picnic with your lover by your side. It’s a happy song. I like happy songs.
Our very first “radio friendly unit shifter”. This one still brings back memories of Hostetter Chapel at 3 AM. Just be grateful that
Saxton wrote different lyrics than the ones he had when we first started. The band’s love/hate relationship with this song seems to be swinging back toward love these days, I guess we’ll have to see how long that lasts. But I like it, it’s upbeat without being saccharine, and is low-impact on the drums too. Watch out for the “Drunken Irish Singalong”.
Pulse – Lox – Better suited for Pagoda than GSC, really. A very comfortable song to play (in that we’ve played it a million times) with a very uncomfortable message.
Pulse is about the own guilt I feel for being a wealthy white man in a world where 40,000 people a day die from starvation related illnesses – My guilt about worrying about a tan and a six pack when most people in the world have those things through no choice of there own.
A spooky and sad and remorseful song, an billowing nuclear powerplant overlooking a mutated swamp.
An oldie but a goodie. I like the fact that some parts of other Evans/Laux productions seep through into Pagoda, including the GSC-influenced Pulse. Some good rock here.
Rumors Of My Demise (Have Been Greatly Exaggerated) – Lox, Saxton & Young Savage – Building on Laux’s concept of everybody walking around the nation, I thought it was very funny that they would be walking over the hidden nuclear missiles that are supposedly in a cornfield in Iowa somewhere.
This song was sort of loosely based on the concept of everyone in America quiting their jobs for an entire summer, and despite what economists predicted, it ending up being the best summer on record. Needless to say this song is mythical.
Walking down the highway… if everyone just lived how they were meant to, somethings would simply be rendered pointless. That’s what I think of every time I pass an abandoned gas station. It’s kind of sad that it’s closed, but is beautiful at the same time..
A great opener. I know we have to vary the way we play our shows, but it just works so well! The imagery of old ways getting reversed, and the natural order of things turned upside down is both fascinating and horrifying. Then again sometimes a shake-up is what we need. Good to finally know what the lyrics are, I knew they were good in general but could never hear the details from behind the kit. “Drunken Irish Singalong” Part 2. The neighbors have gone mad, indeed…
Shake Your Fist – Saxton – Not living in the Harrisburg area, I end up doing a lot of driving. In doing so, I listen to music, but often I just think to myself as I’m doing the driving. And being a Theology major, the topic of God comes up in my musings quite a bit. So the song is really about driving home on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at 2 in the morning, the only car on the road, and thinking about God and life. What exactly am I thinking about God? Well, I asked Franchina what the song was called, and he said: “Shake your fist”, without knowing what the lyrics were about. He was like: “You know, like an old man screamin’: ‘Darn kids!'” And that’s the extent of the deep theology behind the song… that God is not like the old man on the porch shaking His fist at the unruly kids. God does not look like Ziggy with a big white beard, and He does not throw lightning bolts at sinners. When I’m driving on a deserted highway in the middle of the night, I’m not driving to God, God is in the car with me. God is in those lonely nights… and ultimately, makes them less lonely.
I’m really glad we finally finished this one, because it has potential. Thank God we finally managed to funnel Franchina’s incessant bass twitch into an actual song. Now if only we can get him to stop playing when the song is over…
1970’s synth. Ride across the desert in your spiffy black stealth hot rod blasting bad guys from helicopters with your hidden rocket launchers. Yeah. Shake your fist, suckas.
Shame, Shame – Lox, Machlan & Saxton – Shame shame is a song about all the different evil dialogues that play into war … about the hypocrisy of protesting, the hypocrisy of killing, the hypocrisy of exploiting, the hypocrisy of making a profit, the hypocrisy of singing songs like this, the hypocrisy of thinking young men and women enter the Republican Guard in Iraq with motivations any different than our Marines here at home … It isn’t a tisk tisk kind of song.
History lesson! Dien Bien Phu was the battle in which the Vietnamese finally defeated the French colonists. However, it is what got the United States interested in Vietnam, and some historians argue was in some ways the beginning of America’s involvement in Vietnam (if not for Dien Bien Phu, the French still would have been there). The metaphor is that the War in Iraq would be the beginning of a big mess that the U.S. didn’t really want to get itself involved in. Unfortunatley, history seems to be proving me right on this one, as the death toll mounts in Iraq, long after the “end” of hostilities.
A song to be played live on the front lines of Palestine. Iraq. Korea. Israel. Bosnia. Indonesia. Venezuala. Vietnam. The front steps of the White House. The song in itself is more of a plea than a protest or an accusation. It’s a recognition of the hypocracy in all of us.
Another long epic, this time with a nice anti-war sentiment. Now the guys are going to start snickering at me for liking this, but though I’m a diehard Republican, I can still open my eyes and see some of the inconsistencies in the world. I think this song illustrates that you can change the names, the dates, and the places, but the story of war is still the same, and still just as sad. When we talk about war as a necessary evil, I think we still focus too much on the necessary and not enough on the evil.
Tabula Obscura – Saxton – I hated this song when it first was written. Too loud, too fast, no melody, and boring as garden parties to play on the keyboards. Then I started adding “Everything you told me was a lie about you” in the background. Then it was fun.
Tidal Machines – Saxton – Sort of a dualistic view of the world, mechanical and natural. The rhythm of the waves versus the rhythm of a machine. I feel like it contrasts the creation of humanity and the creation of God. Not that the things humans make are bad, necessarily, but they are feeble compared to something as cool as the ocean. Nothing humanity ever makes (Colossus, factories, pyramids, atom bombs, etc.) is as awe-inspiring as the sea that we sometimes look at and don’t give a second thought to. There is a sense that the ocean was here before us, and if everything were left to its own devices, it would outlast us as well. The lyrics really ought to be read as poetry rather than sung, because they are beautiful but don’t sound quite as good put to music. If I die on a ship, and am to be buried at sea, this song will be playing in my coffin.
A set of battered machines hobble along a twisted Oregon coast, metal bit and flames of a great battle subsiding around them. Though from different sides, their crushed limbs support each other arm in arm. Each has lost, and only in their loss can they see that the patient constant sea is the only one who has won the war. Crashing, caressing, reclaiming the destruction of man.
The ten minute epic. Another great lyrical expedition by Mr. Evans. Thanks to the Smashing Pumpkins for giving us Porcelina to rip-off here, as well as my tribute to Jimmy Chamberlin (as if I’ll ever be able to play like that <sigh>). “Rhythmatic…” <— insert joke here
Where is my Mind – Pixies – Chaos always ensues with this song. It is so, so beautiful. Yes… we know Ghoti Hook covered this song too.
Fun to play. Was scared of this song at first, because Spam yelled at me for singing backup vocals. Then I learned a keyboard part. A definite crowd pleaser.
Pixies cover, brought to us by Jeff Bonderew, kept alive by… me? Crazy… Thanks guys for throwing me a bone now and again. As usual I love the chance to sing, but you know that I don’t think you guys owe me anything. I’m here to drum, anything else is icing on the cake.