A little ahead of my imaginary off-the-cuff schedule, but today we’re getting into the reproduction of Jimmy Eat World’s “Delivery” as the second cover we tackled off of the band’s most recent “Surviving” record.
Check out the original recording by Jimmy Eat World:
I’ve been battling a cold that just won’t quit since Christmas so I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to track this one this week but I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a go.
A few months back I had reached out to the folks over at the Jimmy Eat Pod (the first and only Jimmy Eat World podcast) to start a conversation about this project. The guys got back in touch early this January offering an interview spot of their show and I suggested, if it made sense to, that I could premier a new cover on the same program, assuming it aligned with their schedule.
Of course, none of the tracks they had listed for upcoming episodes were on my immediate list (imagine the odds!) but since I’ve meddled around with an acoustic cut of Delivery a couple times now, I thought it was do-able. I say this despite not having in any way determined where I wanted to take this cover aside from wanting to try a full-band cut, but now here we are.
Listen to my interview and stream my cover of “Delivery” on the Jimmy Eat Pod
I’ll get into some of the decision making behind what made the final version in a sec, but as we do, let’s take a peek at those lyrics first.
I’ll preface this lyric breakdown by saying I am a little obsessed with this one in particular. Have you guys ever woken up from a dream that was so enthralling that you immediately put your head back down to try to fall back into it? I’ve done this often – sometimes it works (and that’s weird), and that’s immediately where my mind wanders to off the top of this song. Here it’s sung so casually and cooly but the gut-feeling of that in the moment is so urgent and demanding – take me back there now!
The over-thinkers listening to this one no doubt relate to this one a much as I do. Speaking of over-thinking, have you ever stopped to consider why you do that? Why’s it so hard to stop?
Where was I going with this.
Oh right, there it is.
It’s only special once ’cause there’s an ending.
I don’t have much to say about this verse yet as you can see, but I like where it immediately takes you, and it ends with a line so simple yet so poignant that I’m already itching for more.
Lyrically this might be Jimmy Eat World at their best, let’s see if it keeps up.
The writer themself seems to have gotten lost in the same alternate reality as we did but we’re brought back to Earth here with this line contemplating the what if’s and what could be’s, but in a way that suggests we’re smarter than we are and we know exactly where this pathway is leading us.
But no – we don’t know. As quick as we are to assume we’ve seen the future we’re quick to remember we’re only as smart as our teachers, and those things we can’t quite explain or make sense of just sit inside us, slowly chipping itself away as we comes to terms with them and accept them for what they are. Or, for some us, never quite accept them and instead let them sit in our stomach’s like that never-eroding gum we swallowed by accident in the 4th grade and compounding with the gum we swallowed on purpose in 8th grade to avoid detention.
This is how you all think about the chorus of “Delivery” right?
This verse was a tricky one for me to nail down when I first heard this song and is probably the biggest reason I kept coming back to it again and again.
“Surviving” flung itself onto me at a time where I was facing an incredible amount of uncertainty and questioning just about every little thing in my life that had occurred until that point, and “Delivery” meets me right there and asks me all the questions that I wasn’t asking of myself while simultaneously offering an alternative way of thinking about the life I’m living right now – and it asks me to think of it as both one without a finish line and one with never ending obstacles.
There’s an old writing prompt that asks of your to write your own eulogy and that prompt sort of evokes in me the opposite questions as the first half of this verse does. In short what it’s really asking of you (the prompt) is to think about what you want to be remembered by when you pass; How would you want people to speak of you at your funeral? And to do it in an honest way, which means first thinking about all the things you absolutely hope they don’t say at your funeral.
I find it basically impossible to think about my own life without thinking about both of these realities: it has a finish line & it has never ending obstacles, but just as we came from virtually nothing we can be reborn into something, and in that sense it’s true that the life we build we never stop creating.
When you’re facing as much uncertainty as I was when this record came out, this line in particular is arguably the most important of the song because it provides you with some semblance of hope and faith.
It also largely laughs in the face of everything I’ve always been taught and known – things don’t come to you, you go to them.
You don’t get a job just while walking down the street, you go out and apply for them, work your magic in the interview and, if everything aligns just so, you get the job.
I’ve always said that patience is the only virtue I do not hold and that’s largely because I’m not someone who has ever been great about sitting around and waiting for something to happen. Those that aspire to do great things don’t do it from the sidelines, it’s just never been true ever in history.
But, that all said, this lyric reminds me that sometimes you can just keep doing all you can do and that some things take longer than others to come to fruition. I still largely sit in this headspace these days, plugging away every day, waiting in the only way I know how (by working), and hoping that eventually something positive will transpire.
I largely think that the only people that ever say these types of things, this type of line, are those that have already seen their wants and needs come to fruition.
For some of us, that future is still very hard to see.
With all that in mind, the chorus takes on a bit of a new light for us here. I spent a lot of my own life quietly accepting the realities of my life and taking ownership of only myself and my own actions, assuming that was the right way to go about things.
I also spent a lot of time listening to the wrong teachers and seeking refuge from the wrong support systems.
And I largely don’t believe either of those were the right things to do now. There comes a point where taking ownership of yourself negates the reality of the systems in place that create those very obstacles, however predictable (those freezing drives here in Canada), doesn’t make them some sort of necessary rite of passage to overcome – they’re barriers that need to be upheaved entirely to make way for not only ourselves but those that come after us.
And you can wait all you want for those messages to come back with an answer, whether that’s literally a message (or messages) to someone’s inbox or a prayer you send up to your preferred religious entity, but they might never come, and that’s something you really have to remember when you’re putting blind faith into anything – because hell, you may have sent it but that doesn’t mean it was ever received.
I mentioned at the top of this breakdown that these lyrics are some I’m absolutely obsessed with and then proceeded to say how verse x and verse y and then verse starfish were the reason that I love the songwriting in this one so much, but actually it’s here in the bridge.
I’ve struggled a lot in my own life with feeling like I was not and may never receive back the type of love that I try to show others and I’ve grappled a lot with why that is.
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”Stephen Chbosky
And as I mentioned above, I’ve spent a lot of time in the headspace of, “I am responsible for myself and my actions” and I take a lot of ownership over things, even at times things I probably shouldn’t. And so it’s become even more challenging to accept the idea that I am one of those who is still not ready to “be found” as this lyric suggests.
But as we are still where we are, still chipping away at our faults to create the best version of ourselves for that pending eulogy, we fall back into the chorus awaiting our own delivery.
In my version of this song I cut out “patiently” at the tail end of the song and that’s on purpose. For me, it heightens the initial urgency I fall into when I’m in that “take me back to the dream” stage.
I understand entirely why the band chose “555” as the lead off single for this record but I think that’s a mistake. It should’ve been “Delivery”.
Let’s get into some of the production process now.
Check out the cover:
For whatever reason when tracking got under way for this one I was having the most trouble getting the drums to gel with my rhythm guitars in a way that sounded “right” to my ears. It ended up taking a lot of frustrating finessing throughout tracking with me regularly stopping whatever next-element I was tracking to revisit them and shuffle them all around before I settled on what you hear in the mix.
The one good thing that came out of this is that I realized the way I was putting together the drums for these covers wasn’t going to fly for me going forward; I went back to my initial drum-programming method for the subsequent release and it’s made a world of difference in the entire process. For that reason, I’m not going to say much about the drums here but I am definitely going to get into them a bit more in the next couple blogs, especially as it pertains to mixing them.
Ughhhhh who even cares. I played root notes the whole time.
I’ll let ya in on a terrible secret right here guys – I don’t own any guitar pedals.
I rarely ever have. When I was younger the only thing I picked up was a BOSS DS-1 distortion pedal (it’s ALL you need for punk rock) and I’ve otherwise always been more drawn to all-in-one guitar amps that can shuffle through a wide variety of tones.
The first guitar amp I bought once I got my band underway was a Line 6 Spider II – it was a beast to carry but had so many cool tones. A lot of people said they were shit but those people would be wrong because they’re just guitar-amp-purists who are all “play a JCM-900 through a Marshall 4×12 cab or burn yourself alive”, thank you very much.
Let me introduce you to what I use now:
Any and everything you’ve heard so far has been produced by this little guy (who, by the way, is way easier to lug around then that Line 6 I used to gig with) and I just want to mention it in case you’re a newer guitar player looking for an affordable amp option that you can pull in and out of a wide variety of genres with ease.
Honestly, I wish I had some guitar pedals, but the Mustang here has a lot of cool onboard effects that I haven’t even gotten around to properly exploring yet and that’s on me – we’ll be exploring them more as we go along.
For that lead guitar line through the verses I ended up cycling through some flanger and chorus options and what you’re hearing on the record is exactly what came out of this amp with very little post-processing. I tried to make the verses have that same airy/ambient feel as the original but with adding an original line, hopefully that came across alright.
Do we wanna talk about that line that starts in the bridge and goes through to the outro? I may have gotten carried away. You get the idea, though.
On the Jimmy Eat Pod I was asked at one point if there were any songs that I have any sort of reservation or hesitation towards tracking for any reasons; for them, it was talking about the major singles like “The Middle”, for me, it’s songs like “Delivery”.
It was the song I was most drawn to on first listen through 50th listen of the “Surviving” record and while a chunk of that can be accounted to the production itself, which I describe as more airy and is arguably the style that Jimmy Eat World excel most in, the rest has to do with the lyrics. And those lyrics, and the way Jim tackles them vocally, are where I find my reservations with these types of songs.
You’ll probably note that my cover is a fair bit slower than the original version and in all honesty I’m not sure that was the best approach for me here. Those drawn on raspy vocals are harder to pull off and don’t quite hit the same way as the original does and for me I’ve been grappling with whether or not that was a poor production choice. In the choruses particularly I tend to drag along and while it could probably get kicked up a little nicer if I’d spent more time on the transitions in the mix, I think it’s a great example of how song tempo can drastically alter the feeling of the song entirely.
It all comes together a little nicer for me in the bridge and outro but, does it feel like it takes too long to get there? Does that help or hinder the song? I’m still not sure.
Depends when this blog gets released, honestly… there’s a little box of mixes over here right now just bursting to get out of their trunk.