The Song: “Saints & Angels”
The Artist: Brooklyn-based rock outfit Ace Reporter
Fun Fact: The songs on Yearling XL came from singer and songwriter Chris Snyder’s “threesixfive” project, where he wrote and recorded a song from start to finish every day for a year.
Sounds Like: A late night drive to clear your mind.
Songwriter says: Snyder has plenty to say about his writing process for this one, which he shares via e-mail.
“‘Saints & Angels’ started out as a sketch for a very different song. In July, 2013, the band was scheduled for a day of recording at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn, and I was hoping to start and finish a brand new song in a single day, much as I had done during the year of the threesixfive project. Drums went great, but when it came to recording guitars, we all started questioning if the chorus felt strong enough.
“After noodling in the control room for 30 or 40 minutes, we settled on a new chord progression, but not a melody. And as the day came to a close, it was clear that the song was far from finished. I put the song aside and only returned to it late in 2013. At that point, I more or less started from scratch, keeping only the drums and a few ambient guitar parts and basically writing an entirely different song over the skeleton of the last one. I had never written a song in that way, and it was a fairly torturous process: much less inspiration-based than revision-based. I think I wrote four or five different choruses for the song, none of which felt quite right. I usually write my lyrics last, but “Saints & Angels” really started to come together only when the lyrics solidified.
“I was back in my childhood home in Los Angeles over the holidays and, as one does in LA, I was spending a lot of time driving. Gliding through SoCal suburbia helped to inspire this picture of a couple wrapped in an unbalanced tryst of convenience (for one) and devotion (for the other). It’s something of a Christmas song in the way it imagines this couple reuniting once in a while when they’re both back home for the holidays, away from their normal lives (and presumably other partners). I don’t usually set out to write sad love songs, but for whatever reason they’re much more interesting to me than happy ones.”