Tommy Come Home – the history
Written by Ed Stone
So Tommy come home is the chordiest song I ever wrote. Completely un-intentional – I like a 12 bar as much as the next man – that’s just the way it came out.
It all started with me throwing down lyrics on a bus ride home from work one night. They were pretty crap, but they produced in my head the tune and chords for the first bit of the verse (“Born to a man of limited taste”). So once back home I sat down with a guitar, figured out what those chords were (took me a while as the first chord of the verse is not the root note of the piece – Cmin9 in a G min piece) and then took it from there. I was somewhat influenced by Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After all these Years – particularly the way he used the minor dominant chord half way through the verse – but for most of it was just keen on continuing the jazzy vibe of the first bit of the verse.
I had had the chorus chords for ages – was originally going to write a song called “The biggest, baddest, man in the room”, about Dennis Wilson (of Beach Boys drumming fame. He also did the fantastic solo album Pacific Ocean Blue – if you haven’t heard it, go get it) until I realised that was a silly subject for a song (thanks in no small part by Billy Hinsche doing a song about the exact same thing and it being possibly the worst song I have ever heard). I like the title though and may still use, but in some other direction…
Anyhoo, the chorus chords were just me messing around with the first 4 notes of a minor scale, and seeing what chords I could put on it. I liked the minor tonic chord going to the major 7th of the sub-tonic (having the 7th in makes it quite out of key), and then liked the idea of people expecting the chords to continue down the scale (G, F, Eb, D), but instead messing with that Eb chord and turning it into a Cmin7 by putting a C in the bass.
The real words (which replaced the lyrics of working title version “Pretty/ Petty Hyenas”) word a major labour of love, written over several weeks as I tried to repeat the jazz club feel that was so evident in the backing track demo I did with SMCC. I thought the idea of a guy going away from home and his mum having to deal with empty nest syndrome was a pretty good subject for a down beat jazz song. Once I was writing the lyrics and started using the words Au Revoir (a brilliant suggestion by the online rhyming dictionary I use), I liked the idea of having the sub-theme of how other cultures say ‘Goodbye’ by saying ‘until the next time we meet’ (Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen), thereby implying there will be a next time, where as English, with the simple ‘Goodbye’ is much more final. Probably doesn’t come across in the song as much as I wanted it to, but in a 3:28 pop song there is really only space for a few ideas!
Hope you like it. In case you want to play along, the chords are (these are the chords as they are played with capo on 3)
Verse: Amin9, Emin, B7, Emin, F#dim7, G6, Dmin7, C, Bmin7, Amin7, D9, G/B, A#dim7, E/B, B7, E
Chorus: Emin (e in the top), Dmaj7 (F# in the top), Amin9 (g in the top), B7sus4 (a in the top)
Peace, love and pancakes