“If you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, if you can't crawl then just kind of squirm and gargle, but whatever you do you have to keep disobeying the laws of thermodynamics.”
I like the idea of recording a "live" song, but it may be a year or two until I'm actually packing a stadium, so I may have jumped the gun a bit.
I was really pretty stuck trying to come up with a protest song. This may be the latest in the week I've ever gone without any hint of a solid idea. Then I remembered the Zombie Walk for Hunger last year. Zombie walks are usually done for fun or performance art, but on this occasion they did it to protest hunger and raise awareness and donations to the cause. I really liked the metaphor. Taken directly, who is more hungry than a zombie? And on the ironic flip side, it casts a light on the inhumanity with which we tend to view the hungry, so as to justify ignoring them. By taking something inhuman (and hungry) like zombies and protesting for their human treatment, it makes giving to the human needy seem more possible. All kinds of parallels, like their lack of a voice, groping for a way out, etc.
I thought it was an awesome metaphor, so decided to write a song that could work on both levels. Either it's a literal zombie rights song (at a benefit concert in the town of Woodbury from The Walking Dead), or a protest to raise hunger awareness at a Zombie Walk. For this reason I intentionally used an outdoor setting (long city-street reverb, crowd noise) to support both ideas.
I think the 9/8 time gives the whole song a kind of lurching, unsteady feel that fits with the concept, especially with the rhythm pattern of 2's for the first 2 triplets and 3's on the third. You almost expect it to be in common time and then find an extra 8th note at the end.
The overall structure was uncomfortable to me, being used to verse/chorus/bridge. But I wanted a lot of energy right at the beginning, so I started with a high, loud note and ended the first stanza with the hook. I felt a thematic repeat at that point would be tolerable, then a different movement was in order before returning, completing an AABA block. I could have done a second bridge after that, but decided that in a live concert setting an instrumental solo (over the bridge chords) would go over better, then return to the main theme to end it. Overall, almost like the structure in One of Us, but I hope done in a manner that gets less repetitive.
It seems in every song I do there's one little word or phrase that I really like. Typically it's some kind of double-meaning, and I know what it is in this song: "dispossessed." In addition to the actual meaning of "physically or spiritually homeless or deprived of security", it occurred to me that when a person is "possessed", they have a second consciousness in them. So what's the opposite? Having the first consciousness removed of course! So zombies are "dispossessed". Heh.
Here we are at the end of things,
Your heads on the chopping block.
Who gets pulled, and who pulls the strings?
It starts here. Walkers gonna walk.
To the light, undead brethren,
Robbed of faculties, sentenced not to talk.
So let us be a voice for you.
You do what you do. Walkers gonna walk.
You're out there starving in the wilderness,
You're out there groping in the dark.
We're here to represent the dispossessed.
So stand up!
Now's the time for equality.
You were people too, made of common stock.
So collect yourselves and take your plea
To the streets. Walkers gonna walk.
To us norms: lay your conscience bare,
And rage against the ticking of the clock.
Hearts and brains… we've got lots to share.
It's only fair. Walkers gonna walk.
Walkers gonna walk.
Walkers gonna walk.