Matt Baron traces the meaning of his lyrics by looking backwards.
Like most of the tracks off Young Man in a Hurry’s debut album Jarvis, out March 27, the singer and songwriter can pinpoint every step in how each track came together, including the Chicago indie rockers’ second single “Meadow,” a tale about getting older, wrestling with the autopilot of everyday life, and doing it all over again the next day.
“The words to ‘Meadow’ sprung up in a similar way to the lyrics for all our tunes,” Baron tells American Songwriter. “They have generally come out in a burst, hardly any editing or preemptive thought, more a representation of what’s going on in the recesses of my mind and due to an amalgam of experiences, sometimes over short periods of time or, in Meadow’s case, long stretches.”
The song riff was written during an impromptu, one-off jam session with Baron on guitar and friend, Fake Limbs’ drummer Bryan Gleason, years ago. “The riff came out of nowhere but felt like it’d been there forever,” says Baron. “Years later, when Meyer [Horn] and I started jamming and developing YMIAH, I brought the underdeveloped tune, the riff, the chord change, and the minimal lyric sheet…so we would have more material available to flesh out an LP.
Baron had saved the lyrics for posterity, and never forgot the chords, but says he never intended to turn the sketch of lyrics of “Meadow” into a song.
“As we progressed in the Jarvis sessions, ‘Meadow’ became a song that benefited greatly from ample session dates and really gelled in the studio,” says Baron. “It became one of the most adorned, powerful, driving tunes of the bunch.”
Produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine) and mastered by Greg Calbi at New York’s Sterling Sound studio, the band—Baron, along with Meyer Horn, Nick Harris, and Teddy Rankin-Parker—pulled in some accomplished musicians around Chicago on Jarvis, including Ryan Keberle (David Byrne, St. Vincent), David Vandervelde (Father John Misty), Sima Cunningham (Jeff Tweedy, Chance The Rapper), and Jon Graboff (Willie Nelson, Norah Jones).
“Meadow” encapsulates how Jarvis came together as a whole, says Baron. By June 2017, songs were tracked, and all the bases were set before the band spent the next year and a half adding in its “extras”—woodwinds, strings, backing vocals. Inspired by Amen Dunes’ latest record, Freedom, Baron also wanted some harmonica on Jarvis.
“Some of the overarching themes on Jarvis come alive in ‘Meadow’—time passing, realizing this is all going by so fast and wanting it more the longer it goes on,” says Baron. Swelled by poignant lyrics I passed my prime this year / Or is that you deep-seeded fear through chorus I want to work in the Meadow one more day / It’s a machine, there’s a matter of fact ebb and flow on “Meadow.”
“Despite the coming of (older) age, the juxtaposition of the tenderness (a pastoral meadow), and repetitiveness (machine, chopping wood and carrying water elements), we want to do it again, the next day, at least one more time,” says Baron. “[It’s] the auto-pilot, the duties associated with working in the proverbial meadow, and the increase of said responsibilities as we age, [where] we find that the autopilot, the structure, the duty is really where the freedom, albeit internal, abounds.”