The sleeper song that almost got snoozed
Updated: Jul 21, 2022
The song that has become one of my favorites on my album is titled ‘We Can Fall in Love Again,’ and it almost didn’t make the final cut. I wrote the lyric a long time ago in response to consistently-themed comments my wife and I received when we started letting folks know that we would be having our first child. Along with the congratulatory comments and hugs often came a warning of sorts—‘spend as much time together as you can now, and remember that you were husband and wife before you became mom and dad, for once you are mom and dad you’ll be playing that role for a long, long time, and it can be easy to forget the husband-wife relationship.’ Of course we never thought we’d have that problem, but in time we came to know both the joys and challenges of raising children, and those "remember who you were before children" words often rang true.
(singing We Can Fall in Love Again with Kathy Mattea on Mountain Stage)
The lyric is a simple and honest reflection about trying to fall in love again. Something about the lyric and the accompanying melody struck my producer, Ron Sowell, and he chose the song as one of twelve for the album. I had rarely included the song in a live set, but could pull it off in an acceptable manner so long as the room was not too quiet!
When it came to recording, however—where there are no loud background noises to hide behind—I just could not make it work. I tried my hardest, but when I listened back to the rough tracks, it was simply not very good. I had written the song off in my mind, and when Ron called a few days after sending me the rough tracks, he said, “you know, I’m really happy with how things are going with all tracks expect for one.” I knew exactly which one it was and I finished his sentence for him. We talked about it and agreed that we would cut this one from the sequence and find a replacement among the other songs I had sent him.
A few evenings later I was sitting in my home studio (aka the downstairs bathroom) noodling around on the banjo. I’m not a loud banjo player and as I was working on a little pattern where I could let an open string ring while doing some melody note on another, something prompted me to start singing the lyric, “maybe when the kids are a little older, if we’re still together then...’ I think that is a powerful opening line and when paired with the pattern I was working on the banjo, it just felt perfect.
I ran through the full lyric and the banjo just kind of wrote its own accompanying part. I recorded it before I forgot it—though it was such a strong moment I don’t think there could have been any way I would have forgotten it—and sent it to Ron. “What about this idea?” I asked. Ron got back to me with an enthusiastic message, “Wow....I love it! It is back on the album!”
Once the banjo and lead vocal track was recorded at Mark Poole’s Zone 8 Studio in Granville, WV, we pondered what to do next. A female vocal duet would sure be nice and we mulled over potential voices. I had heard Ron's daughter, Mira Costa (of the band ‘The Sea The Sea’ comprised of Mira and her husband, Chuck), sing and suggested that if it was her key, she’d be great on this cut. Ron agreed and we sent the track to Mira, who confirmed it was a good key for her and that she’d love to have a crack at it. Working in her home studio, she sent back several takes and we settled on the one you hear on the album. Ron had a moment of inspiration when he suggested that we send the track to cellist Bob Webb our in Oregon. Bob laid down such beautiful layers of cello...gets to me every time I hear the song.
To my ear, it is one of my best vocals....just simple, plain, and honest. Mira’s powerful and soulful vocal counter to mine shocked my ear at first, not in a negative way, just in a “her voice is so very different than mine.” After a couple of listens, however, I could not get enough of it! She truly captured the longing in the lyric.
So, again...a song that made the cut, then was cut, found a way to get back in the line up. Thanks to Ron, Mira, Bob, and Mark for their parts in making this a special cut. Thanks also to Dan Bailey in Beckley for his masterful mixing of tracks from three different studios, and to Eric at Independent Mastering in Nashville for the masterful mastering of all tracks, but especially this one.
Have a listen and see if you agree!