Track by Track 2/10: If It Was You

In an attempt to shine a light on each individual song on Starlight, we’re doing a blog series entitled “Track by Track.” Each week a different member of TRN will write about the 10 songs that make up our new album.

Write-up by Chris Corsale

The fifth song on Starlight bears an important message mixed into one of the groovier arrangements on the album. There's a slow burn to the verses that gives way to a more openly passionate chorus, and it all bears the weight of some fundamental questions about race relations in America. It's a song I'm really proud to be a part of; Brendan's lyrics and the band arrangement along with Vijay's mix and production ideas really worked well together. 

As the murders of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin and an alarming number of others gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, there was the some-would-say-inevitable countermovement, and it left a lot of us baffled. How did "Black Lives Matter" become an arguable debate? We in the band understood that the countermovement was a call for peaceful protest, but could not imagine prioritizing a busted window over a state-sanctioned murder. So Brendan started asking white America a hard question: If it was you, wouldn't you want to burn it to the ground?  It's a fair question, and points out problems that don't affect you personally are still your responsibility as an American. (I hope it's clear that the song doesn't advocate violence, - "want to" is repeated, because we're talking about feelings more than actions here.)

Musically, I think we got something cohesive here. The string intro was composed by Vijay Tellis Nayak, our producer, but only after I insisted the song needed one. The result is pure purgatory - well done, Vijay! - and there's something groovy and spooky about the whole song; I think it fits the message very well. And I get to rip some solo guitar at the end...hey now! On the vinyl edition of Starlight, "If It Was You" is a nice side-B opener.

We hope you like it. We hope it starts conversations - and that those are constructive conversations!