SONGBOOK: JUST KIDS

"Just Kids" was originally written for Star Anna. Star and her band at the time, the Laughing Dogs, were in studio B at Avast working on a new record while the Honkies were in studio A working on Let the Bloody Moon rise, and Star had asked if I had anything she could use for her record. At the time, everything I had written was going to be used for the Honkies record so I wrote "Just Kids". Star's band was in a seemingly constant state of turmoil so my tune, along with a fair amount of the material they were working on, got scrapped. I liked "Just Kids" too much to just toss the song so I cut a quick, acoustic version with Ty Bailie and Jeff Fielder, for posterity's sake, and that became the b-side of the "Heavy Heart" single.

I tried to write something that was specific to Star's voice as a writer, and that drew from elements of her approach to writing characters and relationships, but I think the the realization that one's own love, well-meaning or otherwise, can be toxic to others is pretty universal. Most folks have been on one side, the other, or both sides of that realization. I'd had bits and pieces of the last verse lying around for a while but I never had a place for any of it until I started writing for Star. From my perspective writing and performing the song, everything is leading up to the payoff of the lines "you said that when we kissed you took the poison from my mouth / maybe that was all I had to give." For me, that's the harder lesson in the song: the problem is me. And again, I think the song works because that's something most people can get their heads around, from one angle or another.

The Honkies arrangement of "Just Kids" came as almost an afterthought. There was an afternoon at Avast when a couple of guys had to split early, so the idea was to just take care of some overdubs and vocal stuff and call it a day. While getting things arranged, though, Ty Bailie and I started to try and find a groove for "Just Kids" - as both of us believed it was just too good a song not to try with the band - something that would lend itself to what the Honkies did. Musburger settled in behind us and it very quickly became that sort of Stax groove you hear on the record. It took us probably four or five passes, playing with the groove and tempo a bit, before we settled into a take. That kind of thing is the biggest reason I've always more or less insisted on recording live. To me, that's the whole point of being in a band.

The Honkies arrangement of "Just Kids" came as almost an afterthought. There was an afternoon at Avast when a couple of guys had to split early, so the idea was to just take care of some overdubs and vocal stuff and call it a day. While getting things arranged, though, Ty Bailie and I started to try and find a groove for "Just Kids" - as both of us believed it was just too good a song not to try with the band - something that would lend itself to what the Honkies did. Musburger settled in behind us and it very quickly became that sort of Stax groove you hear on the record. It took us probably four or five passes, playing with the groove and tempo a bit, before we settled into a take. That kind of thing is the biggest reason I've always more or less insisted on recording live. To me, that's the whole point of being in a band.

the stars were torn up paper, and the sky was painted black / i threw a penny in the fountain, you said i'd never get it back / we must've tossed a million wishes, i guess they all fell flat / we were younger then, just kids

you went rushing down the hall, i stopped to knock on every door / you were staring at the skyline, my shoulders pointed to the floor / we took one last look at winter and said we won't come back no more / but we did, of course we did

chorus: 'cause i had your breath in my hair, your light in my eyes / but it was over before you know it / i never meant you harm, no i meant to say goodbye / i guess i got a funny way of showing it

now i'm standing on the corner and i'm running out of dimes / and i'm waiting on the weather to just make up its mind / you listen long enough to anything, you're bound to hear a lie / i wish it wasn't, but that's how it is

now the wind is playing tricks, it's tugging at my sleeve / it took all my little promises, dead and scattered like the leaves / and pushed 'em right back in my throat with ever word you once believed / yeah once, but not again

chorus

maybe i'll go east tonight, maybe i'll go south / maybe i'll just stand here twisting until everything's sussed out / you said that when we kissed you took the poison from my mouth / maybe that was all i had to give

but in every hollow footstep, every muffled conversation / in every broken streetlight, every midnight celebration / in the dogs off in the distance, in the static between stations / that's where we'll always live

chorus