As the title suggests, this song was inspired by the week or so I spent in Vegas in the summer of 2007.
Elie and I were sent over there to learn how to pretend to be Italian while rowing a gondola and singing cheesy Italian songs like “o Sole Mio,” or worse, cheesy Italian-American songs, like “when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”
So already, this was a pretty surreal experience.
Add to that the fact that the gondolier training took place from about 10pm to 4am.
So Elie and I would spend the days wondering around the desert in search of food. We didn’t have a car and it’s FAR too hot to walk for more than three minutes, so we would take the bus. Here’s a tip if you want to really get a feel for a place: take public transportation – there’s no easier way to experience the essence of a city, in my opinion.
So, if I had to describe Vegas in a few words, these are the ones that would come to mind:
LONELY. DESOLATE. FORGOTTEN.
Now maybe I missed something – but Vegas seems to just be Casinos, strip malls with chains or Chinese food, and housing developments.
There’s a very specific light in Vegas at a certain time of the evening – and walking those broad, empty streets, waiting by a bus stop with shattered glass on the ground, was very evocative for some reason.
Being approached by meth heads trying to sell us their food stamps every time we went to the store also added to the charm 😉
I apologize if I’ve offended any Vegas lovers, I realize that everyone has their own experience of everything, but that was mine.
The first two verses came to me suddenly and I started singing on top of a chord progression I had previously used in one of the embarrassing early songs I wrote (which no one will EVER hear). As often happens, I got stuck and had no idea where to go so Elie came up with the progression for the B section. I didn’t actually finish the song until we returned from China, seven or eight months later. I think I have a slight phobia of finishing songs – so they hang around open ended and full of possibility until I have some sort of motivation to “finalize” them.
The piano solo in the middle was originally just a place holder for a guitar solo – and to this day it’s the only time I’ve attempted a piano solo…hence the reason I play the same exact solo at every show 😉
You can read the lyrics here
I came across some lyrics which didn’t make the cut and I had completely forgotten about:
“Las Vegas, where’s your soul? They built a city upon your dusty bones, but I can feel you when the sun sets low over your city of gold.”
Reminds me of this feeling of ruin I experienced being there – and a feeling of the city being completely out of place.
Las Vegas seemed to me to have inherited the desolate, ghostly, quiet feeling of the desert despite the fact that its a massive, garish city – as if the city is just an illusion which could disappear at any second; a tiny, inconsequential moment in time. Like everyone there is alone in the middle of the desert, both figuratively and literally…but they’ve got an obscene and unsustainable amount of water being funneled in, and air conditioning, so they forget – but they are in the desert, alone.
That’s what Las Vegas awakened in me, anyway – and I think the song captures that vibe. Come to think of it, I must have seen some kind of sad, lonely beauty in the city in order for it to have inspired me.