A Q&A With the March Forward Lyric Contest Promotion Winner, Matt Jaffe

“Tomorrow’s On Our Side” 
Written by Matt Jaffe
Interview by American Songwriter

Matt Jaffe is the American Songwriter March Forward Lyric Contest Promotion winner with his song “Tomorrow’s On Our Side.” American Songwriter caught up with him to get the story behind the lyrics.

How long have you been songwriting? 

I started writing songs in earnest in 2006 when I was eleven and began performing at open mics in and around San Francisco. At my first few open mics, I played Talking Heads, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty songs, but soon I wanted to split my two-song sets between originals and covers and tried to introduce a new song each week. Before 2006, I had tinkered with songs that were sillier (almost like immature nursery rhymes), sometimes to keep myself entertained while hiking with my family. However, I didn’t get any tunes into fighting shape till I started playing them in public.

Why did you enter American Songwriter’s March Forward Promotion?

It’s a goal of mine to be part of a songwriting community of mutual appreciation. Given the solitary nature of my writing, the process can feel like staring into a blank space if there isn’t a planned outlet for sharing the music. Though I write primarily for my own enrichment, it is an added bonus to know the music has the opportunity to connect with others, and fellow writers can be the most rewarding people with whom to connect.

What was the inspiration behind your song, “Tomorrow’s On Our Side”? 

The songs of Bruce Springsteen were the immediate impetus for my song. His writing on The River had a major impact on me as a freshman in college and I drew on the subject matter and progressions of those songs, including the minor 6 to major 1 chord change and the central position of car culture he embraces. I was on a sponsored trip to an apple picking farm, listening to that record and gazing out the window of the yellow bus when I started crafting “Tomorrow’s on Our Side.” Most of the apples picked sadly went to waste in my dorm’s common room.

Who are your all-time favorite songwriters and why? 

Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields, David Byrne of Talking Heads and Elvis Costello are some of my favorites. All of them combine pop sensibilities with literary lyrics and there are multiple avenues by which to appreciate their songs. I believe that lyrics should generally be subordinate to melody, as the latter is immediate while the former is a secondary discovery. While those three artists have phenomenal melodies, their words are also littered with Easter Eggs that make repeat listens worthwhile. Furthermore, they all exemplify exploratory songwriting with new styles spanning their careers. However, while the genres shift, the songs alone continue to inspire me, cementing that substance always outpaces style.

Are you planning to release any new music this year? 

I am in the process of releasing singles from my seventh album. They are coming out every month and will culminate in the full album release in the early Fall.

What would you tell other artists who are considering entering the contest?

I would say that it is a valuable way to engage with a broader community of like-minded people. I often identify with creativity in that it is a solitary activity, but this contest encourages a hybrid between individualism and comradery. Having a concrete outlet for my songs is valuable and it’s gratifying to know that I have listeners who truly care about the art that means so much to me.


Read the winning lyrics to “Tomorrow’s On Our Side” below: 


They can kick me off of Main Street, they can kick me out of town

They can stick me in the locker, they can kick me to the ground

There are things I keep inside me that no man can ever steal

You can try to cut the engine, but you cannot stop the wheels

Because they’re already spinning, they’re already on the track

And if you’re not going forward, then you might as well go back


So let’s drive to the border, let’s drive to the county line

‘cause tomorrow’s coming quickly and tomorrow’s on our side


I’ll hop every single boxcar, I’ll hop every single fence

I was feeling so exhausted in the world of common sense

There’s no feeling like a belly when it’s full of gasoline

They do everything they can to turn you into a machine

So you come when you are called for and you whistle while you work

And I know they call it business, but you know that it’s berserk


So let’s drive to the border, let’s drive to the county line

‘cause tomorrow’s coming quickly and tomorrow’s on our side


Now we’re far from San Francisco, and we’re so far from the stars

And I traded in my future for a little, beat up car

And it took me took to the mountain, it took me to the mountaintop

But I overstayed my welcome, now it’s such a heavy drop

And your ghost was at the bottom and it tried to break my fall

But the ground keeps getting bigger and the sky is getting small


So let’s drive to the border, let’s drive to the county line

‘cause tomorrow’s coming quickly and tomorrow’s on our side

So let’s drive to the border, let’s drive to the county line

‘cause tomorrow’s coming quickly and tomorrow’s on our side

Since 1984, American Songwriter’s Lyric Contest has helped aspiring songwriters get noticed and have fun. Enter the 2024 Lyric Contest today before the deadline:

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