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Apologies to readers for the slight delay with today’s post. It was a grueling but productive week, and after teaching eighteen lessons in five days to seventeen students (and it would have been twenty lessons and nineteen students, were it not for The Virus), I fell asleep a little before 8 PM last night, and slept until around 7 AM this morning.
Today’s post is the penultimate in my Behind the Songs miniseries. I’ve been going through the stories behind each of the six songs on my debut EP, Contest Winner EP. With “Funeral Pyre,” the fifth track, we’re nearly through the entire release!
I often conceive of “Funeral Pyre” as a companion piece to “Ghostly,” which I covered in detail last week. Both are unusual songs, and it’s pretty easy to link ghosts and funerals thematically.
I thought I’d written “Funeral Pyre” last among all the songs on the EP, but it appears that I wrote it roughly three weeks before “Ghostly.” Both tunes date to January 2014—6 January 2014 for “Funeral Pyre,” and 30 January 2014 for “Ghostly,” according to the original lead sheets.
Regardless, the two songs share some similarities. Besides the thematic similarity, both are fairly dark in tone compared to the other songs on the EP. They also were late additions: originally, I think I was just going to record “Hipster Girl Next Door,” “Greek Fair,” “By the Light of the Laptop Screen,” and “Contest Winner,” and release a single.
But a gnarly ice storm meant that my recording session was delayed, and I wrote “Funeral Pyre” while sitting at home in my tiny apartment in Florence, South Carolina, while the world was covered in ice. I was supposed to go that night to start recording the record, but the foul weather meant a postponement, which allowed time to write the song and, it seems, “Ghostly.”
One other similarity: “Funeral Pyre” and “Ghostly” are the songs from the record I play live the least. “Ghostly” does enjoy a lot of playtime during the spooky season, but for many years, I neglected “Funeral Pyre” in my live sets.
As we’ll see, I now think that was a mistake.
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