The 12 Weeks of Fate Line (aka Fate Line Fridays) – Fate Line
I had the bright idea after the release party to keep going with our Facebook band page postings – Fate Line Fridays – but instead of songs and music that influenced the record, we’d feature a track a week and give background and Shiner perspective on each tune.
So to start things off, the first and title track of the record is Fate Line. Written on the shores of Lake Skootamata a few summers ago, this song was an exercise in unpacking what it meant to have been told by a palmist that I had a long fate line. What evolved lyrically was a study of the forces at play on our lives – and the compulsion to seek or flee the ghosts that haunt us now.
And Lord knows I love alliterations and word play, hence the bridge:
I can’t escape
That I eschew too late
To predicate my fate
One musical detail or influence I remember, perhaps if only by osmosis, was that that summer I was listening quite obsessively to a new release from Elvis Costello – his bluegrass or old timey country album Secret, Profane and Sugarcane. I feel that the stripped down mood of Fate Line (at least at the start of the song and in the bridge) emanates a bit from that steeping.
The Good Doctor John’s take:
Fate Line is a relatively old song, so I originally started off playing bass on it. When I switched over to guitar, I had to come up with something that fit into what was a fairly established arrangement by that point. I particularly didn’t want to take away from Jonathan’s lovely violin parts – both the serene harmonized sections in the chorus and his melodic lines elsewhere.
I decided that it might sound nice to have a very repetitive pattern on high notes to complement a fairly mobile, often descending bass line. Initially I just played the high notes, but that started to get a bit lame. So I decided to double up the descending bass line and play the high notes at the same time. And that is what I play now. My only moment of doubt came recently when I realized that what I play veers fairly closely to the guitar part in Tal Bachman’s She’s So High. But since no one else appears to have noticed the similarity, we’ll just keep that our little secret.
Fate Line (or Phattalina as it’s known in our band?!) evolved over quite a few years, with each member of the band finding their parts as it developed. We did a demo of it in 2009, Jon’s beautiful Bach-like violin part he created was there at that stage but the groove and feel wasn’t defined until later. The rhythm section vibes came later as we played it live, honed the feel and Astrid and I found our flavour on Bass and Drums.
There are three interesting peaks in the song structure: I love the way it drops into the groove for the first verse (this moment always feels good live, the sound of the Shiners getting down to business!)…then the movement into the bridge after Jon’s solo for a big change in mood and then when remerges into the broken down exposed chorus: Jen and her guitar, harmonies and the Violin theme. It’s also special that the song starts with just Jen’s guitar, as all of her songs are written on her acoustic guitar!