When Candlebox hit the ground running with their self-titled record in 1993 grunge lovers everywhere were singing the crashing chorus in their hit “Far Behind”, but the ‘Now Maybe’ line in the chorus was not what it was intended to be in the original version written by vocalist Kevin Martin.
When recording the song, Candlebox knew they had something massive on their hands, but at the time they were banking on “You” being the lead single for the record, which only climbed to No. 78 on Billboard charts. But “Far Behind” would end up becoming the single most popular song of Candlebox’s career to date, spending 23 weeks on Billboard charts, peaking at No. 18 on the Hot 100 in 1994.
“Far Behind,” now often taken at first listen as a lost love song, looked back on with regret, is actually about a dear friend of Martin’s, Andy Wood, singer of the co-Seattle band Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone.
Martin and Wood had been friends for many years, but when Wood began using heroin, their friendship took a turn for the worst. Martin would go on to neglect their friendship and say things he would regret and push Wood away. Which is where the chorus in “Far Behind” would get its context. Martin never initially told anyone the song was about Wood, and no one would know the difference, since he changed the lyrics, last minute during the recording session. And with only twelve hours to record in the studio, the new lyrics stook.
“I didn’t want to be that obvious and changed the lyrics to ‘now maybe’ so it could be interpreted in any way,” Martin told American Songwriter.
The vagueness in lyricism, is an approach Martin also took on other hits from the record, like “Cover Me,” which was about a discussion on religion between him and his bandmate, though the lyrics never clearly alluded to such an idea. And with “Far Behind,” though the sudden lyric change was said to have been spontaneous, the style of broad lyric writing would ultimately become a staple in Martin’s music.
“Initially the lyric was ‘Andy I didn’t mean to treat you bad’ because the song was about the heroin addiction and how I spoke to Andy. It wasn’t me; it was (because of) heroin.”
But the song was about more than just a broken friendship. Wood passed away in 1990 from an overdose, so that too weighed on Martin’s conscience and packed more onto the song’s connotation. Before Wood gave his life to heroin, Martin remembers meeting Wood when he was 16 and still a drummer, long before he would front Candlebox and looking up to him as a kind of role model in the Seattle music scene.
“He was such an enormous human being,” Martin said in an Artist Waves interview. “Everything about him was a fucking rock star.”
Wood would go on to influence Martin’s life and music long after he departed this world, with his honest and invaluable words of advice. ‘Do what you want to fucking do, how you want to do it. Don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about it.’ “I never forgot that,” Martin remembered. “That sat with me my entire life, up until today.”
And looking back on near thirty years since the song was written, Martin says it’s one of those songs that you can only hope to ever write as a musician. It’s a song he never tires of playing and hundreds, if not thousands of shows later, Martin still thinks of Wood every time, it has lost no meaning. And Martin said he couldn’t be happier to have had “Far Behind” be ‘that’ song for Candlebox.
To see what else Candlebox has been up to since their debut hit, check out what Martin had to say on their latest single, “Let Me Down Easy,” in our interview with him here.