About the Song
Jazz is one of those musical genres that I’ve never felt a real kinship with. Outside of classic big band from the 1930s and 1940s, it’s always seemed a bit difficult for me to get my head around it or find something I could relate to, which may sound a bit strange coming from a guy who grew up listening to the complex, oftentimes-improvisational progressive rock strains of bands like Yes and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. From a musical standpoint, the two genres do have some things in common – I’ve just never found the same kind of emotional connection with jazz that I consistently find with prog. Yet here we are with a song that represents me at my jazziest. How on earth did that happen?
A major shift in my approach to songwriting occurred in 1988. Armed with some fancy new equipment (in this song’s case, a Roland D-20 workstation) and the ego-bred confidence that I’d be able to find my own place among the commercially-successful recording artists of the day, I began focusing less on allowing my muse to guide me and more on trying to turn music into a full-time career. As the 1990s kicked off, my confidence in my writing abilities had grown to the point where I decided to put together a demo to shop to some of the New Age record labels that were all the rage at that time. I had an abundance of slower and mid-tempo songs to choose from, but my roster of more energetic fare – at least the kind that I believed a New Age label might be interested in – was woefully lacking. With this in mind, I sat down to do something I had never done before: write a song to serve a specific and entirely practical purpose.
The other two tracks on my demo were taken from 1988’s Images of Autumn, and as a result, they were mutually consistent in terms of style and sound. “Automotive” races off in a completely different direction, and in hindsight, I believe that might have caused a bit of confusion regarding my true musical identity. Perhaps wandering off the path isn’t such a bad thing every now and again, however, as doing so can remind you of why you were following it to begin with. The verse melodies on this song still strike me as being infinitely more “crafted” than they are inspired – chalk that up to my complete inexperience with writing those kinds of improvisational lines. Nevertheless, I think there are some very memorable moments here: the intro and breakdown call and answer sections and the brass riff that comes in to drive the last section home among them.