THE STORIES BEHIND...
THE LAST SESSION
SAVE ME A SEAT
words and music by Steve Schalchlin
It all began when Jimmy said to me, "Hey! Write a song about your own memorial service and call it 'Save Me A Seat!'" I wrote the title down in my little yellow legal pad carried it around for a few days.
And then the day came...
As I mentioned before, my process was to go to bed way early and then wake up about 3:30 am when it was dark and quiet and I could be essentially alone to work without interruption.
And as with most of the songs, I wrote the lyric linearly without a plan or a final destination. My underlying thought was, "Memorial services are boring and depressing. So I put myself into a little creative trance and started telling the story...
Perhaps some day for several hours
You'll fill some church with lots of flowers
That made me laugh. (The rhyme or something.)
And display some saintly shot of me
Somewhere in the hall
I loved "saintly." Made me laugh again. Then I added, "...and stick a tray of noshes up against the wall." Though I am a southerner, I've been in the music industry and I love the Yiddishism "noshes." And it stayed that way (it's even on my CD that way) until New York. We were auditioning Gideons for the Currican production. I gave one of the guys the sheet music and asked him to sightread the song. He sang...
And stick a tray of NACHOS
up against the wall.
I fell off my chair collapsing into laughter. I looked over at Jimmy and said, "It's in!!"
I bet my mom will tell a story
Endowing me with lots of glory
The word "mom" came from the NY experience. The original lyric was, "some ONE".
And punish you by making you listen to my song
Or torture you by forcing you to have to sing along
Just more stuff that made me laugh when I wrote it. When I got to the chorus, though, I remembered one time someone asking me, "Wouldn't you love to attend your own memorial service and see what everyone has to say about you?" And I thought, "No."
Somebody save me a seat
Somewhere in the back
Cause I'll get bored and go across the street
And eat a snack and grab a beer
At the bar
Find a piano
Get out the tip jar
Notice the internal rhymes. Not perfect rhymes, but the vowels are similar. You'll see a lot of that in my songs. "bored -- go". (long "oh" sound). "snack -- grab."
Somebody save me a seat
at that piano across the street
I'll look back and laugh at you
cuz you'll be bored as hell
And will you wonder if you ever knew me
Will you wonder if you knew me too well?
We're all islands on this planet, you know. I remember thinking how horrible it would be to die and for no one to REALLY know you. I was picturing this service where these colorful, cleaned up stories were being told about me but across the street I was having a memorial service of my own, telling the TRUE stories.
I'll sing all the secrets I'm too ashamed to share
I"ll sing about courage that came from God knows where
First time I sang that phrase I broke down crying.
A revue of all the hearts I've broken
All the songs I've sung
Foolish words I might have spoken
When I was very young
There's a verse after this that I cut. It went:
I'll sing of the places I got to play
And all of the faces I met along the way
I'll sing of all the cities
I saw from speeding cars
I'll sing of taking cruise ships
Out beyond the stars
(I liked this verse but it was unnecessary. The song played much smoother without it.)
Somebody save me a seat
On a roller coaster somewhere
(I love that line.)
We'll fly around and we'll have some fun
And we'll think about the miracles we could have done
and the people we could have become
(I love that line even more. We do have the power to perform miracles in this life. In fact, we could perform miracles every single day if we took the time and claimed the power.)
***Here in the original version of the song, I had a whole 'nother verse about my childhood. This was written before we began incorporating the songs into TLS. We eventually cut it for length and relevance.***
When I came to this point in writing the song, I realized I had strayed off track and needed to get back to the story. But even more, I was feeling like I needed company again. I was missing all my friends over there in the memorial service. I also felt it was time to lighten things up again.
Well, the beer's made me silly
And I feel kinda guilty
cuz I left you alone over there
So I'll slip back inside and stand by your chair
And just for a moment I'll goof with your hair
(I always imagine that Gideon has scratched this song out minutes before the session -- and when he comes to this last line he hasn't put a word in so he improvises the word "goof" on the spot.)
Then I'll find my way back to the seat in the back
And I'll be a good boy til it's over
I always try to be a good boy in public.
Then I'll get to do something that you cannot do
I'll follow you home everyone of you
Story: I had a plan back then back when I thought early death was so inevitable. I decided I would get cremated, put the ashes into little souvenir bag-lets and have them given out at the memorial service so everyone really COULD take me home. See how insane you get when you're sick?
Then on a day when you feel lost or hurt
Go to the kitchen and get some dessert
Then sit at the table and eat
Just remember to save me a seat
Please remember to save me a seat
As I said, when I began writing this song I really didn't know where it was headed, so when these words began pouring forth I remember breaking down in huge sobbing tears. Why? Because I realized what I had been trying to say through the whole song, that I didn't want to be forgotten -- and that the way we make our friends live forever is by remembering them.
Save Me A Seat copyright 1996 by See No Evil/Lil Shack O Tunes