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  • Writer's pictureIan Galipeau

Creation Stories: Burning Down

This entry will inherently be political, because “Burning Down” is a song aimed at the cowardice of many conservative politicians over the last several years. I don’t have a problem with conservative viewpoints inherently - I lean left on many issues, but I understand that we can have differences of opinion. I get along fine with my conservative family members and friends. I also understand that anyone in the political sphere needs to balance their ideals against practicality, and sometimes that means significant compromise. My point in this song is that compromise is one thing, but it’s a totally different thing to abandon democracy itself in order to curry favor with a cult of personality. It’s a different thing to grovel to a manchild who has no integrity, no regard for the law, and no respect for the founding principles of our country. If nothing else, I expect all of our elected officials to honor the results of our elections, to adhere to the peaceful transfer of power, and to respect the fundamental systems by which we govern ourselves. Up until 2016, this just felt like a given - everybody plays by a set of rules, and as adults we adhere to those rules - win or lose, without tantrums or conspiracy theories. My problem is explicitly with those people who knew better, but instead abandoned their stated principles in favor of ambition and expedience. Needless to say, this song probably isn’t about to trend on Truth Social anytime soon. But I’m optimistic that, in the wake of the recent midterms, integrity is going to see a mainstream resurgence on the right. We can hope, anyway. Let’s move on.

Musically, this song started from the intro riff, which my friend Jon Braught sent me in 2014 while we were playing together in a band called Honest Thieves. I liked it, but couldn’t immediately figure out what to do with it. Around 2018, I was on a Young The Giant kick when I remembered Jon’s demo. So I dug it out, learned how to play it, and started messing around with some melodic ideas. I found the chorus pretty quickly, then wrote the first two verses. I knew it needed a bridge, but I really struggled to work out the right one. Really struggled - over the course of two years, I came back to this song probably ten different times without making any progress. I even asked for ideas from other songwriters. Then I read a bit of advice from one of my songwriting idols - Dan Wilson (Semisonic). I’m paraphrasing, but it was basically, “If your bridge isn’t the most musically interesting part of your song, get rid of it.” That advice stuck with me. And it helped me to step outside the box in this song - the bridge ended up being one long 4-measure section, without repeats, in a 10:8 time signature, with a chromatic half-step descent. For those who aren’t into music theory… just know, it’s pretty unusual. I didn’t realize how weird this bit was until I was rehearsing for the album release show with the One Time Only Band. This was the part that tripped us up more than anything… but we nailed it during the show. Go, team!

This was the first track I sent to my mixing engineer Robby Miller, as kind of a ‘test case’ to see how we’d work together, and feel out how he would approach my songs. I was (and still am) very happy with the results - the drums sound huge, the bass drives, and his approach to processing vocals works beautifully to support the vocal. Plus, it was his idea to cut the bass out of the riff sections, and add a tambourine in the bridge - two very good production decisions that really elevated the final version of this song. If you need someone to mix a project, I can’t recommend him enough.

"Burning Down" is the opening track on my album Like We Were Never Here At All. Listen here.


In the end your innocence will fall apart

Fracture into fragments like the walls you built up

Fighting fire with your flame

Burning down all the lines in your way

Turn the heavens upside down if it fits your story

Boil the blood you know they can’t resist the dark

Fighting fire with your flame

Burning down all the lines in your way

Everybody bought it, we thought it was a game

That words are only word ‘til idle minds convert them to hate

In the missing words there is a silent demon

Spinning webs and theories out of lies and fear and doubt

Fighting fire with your flame

Burning down all the lines in your way

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