I dug through our old emails this morning and I found the first one I sent you about the song that would become Smoking Weed Alone. It was originally titled, I’m Alright, I’m Okay. I started writing it in the studio last fall when we were down in LA working with John Congleton. I don’t remember why but John went home to work, and you went back to the hotel, and I stayed in the studio alone. I didn’t feel like writing something new on the guitar, but I had some tracks that Sultan and Ned (who co-wrote Drove Me Wild) sent me. I ended up just playing one section of the track, again and again, singing a melody with these words about my dream.
I’m walking sidewalks I used to run down
Dreaming in backyards I used to hang out in
I’m in the woods smoking weed alone
Wondering if it’s time to get clean again
I went back to Vancouver and experimented with the melody I’d come up with, moving the chords around and changing the key. I moved to the guitar and wrote the pre-chorus and a chorus we’d eventually cut. I changed the lyrics and sent you four versions of the song at different tempos. The song was inspired by a dream I’d had while I was in LA. I dreamt that I was stoned. I don’t do drugs these days; as you know, I left weed smoking behind after high school.
But in the dream, I was in our old neighborhood in Monterey Park. Even though I was overjoyed to move away when we were 16, it felt familiar to be back in my dream. And I was happy. I ran up the street, laughing, free. But then I had the strongest desire to wake up. When I did, I thought about the fields behind our house. You and I used to sneak through a hole in the fence that surrounded the neighborhood and smoke weed there after school. Our backyard looked onto three others, but no one had fences; it was all so new. So we’d hide in the fields to get high. All I remember is that the wheat or whatever it was stood over six feet. And you and I’d tuck ourselves into the brittle hollow stocks and smoke ourselves up. I used to love smoking weed. Before school, during school, and after school. I was in a constant state of either being high or burning out through most of the tenth and eleventh grades. Same as you. But the more I played guitar, the more I made music, the more you and I worked on our songs together, the less I wanted to get high. I hated touching the guitar when I was stoned. It was a complete mystery to me, as opposed to when I was sober, and it felt like a part of me. I am very grateful to have found that part of me, so I didn’t go down the other path I was on—that we were on.
Anyway, when I went back to Vancouver to finish writing Smoking Weed Alone after our second recording trip to LA, what I hoped for was a song that captured my biggest fear. That I might be losing some of my light. I’ve always felt so optimistic, so happy, so creative. But I was losing that. The last few years have been so wonderful on one hand—being home with Sofia, getting a dog, and having years of time to connect and create. But on the other hand, it’s given me a lot of time to worry and wonder about the what-ifs. What if touring never recovers? What if no one likes our new music? What if our TV show bombs? What if we’re too old to be cool or relevant? What if we have to find some other job to fill our days, to pay our bills, to keep the lights on?
Ten years ago in a coffee shop with our managers, after a dismal and emotional band rehearsal that ended in you and I screaming and crying with one another, I admitted that sometimes I just wanted this all to end. The band. Our career. The pressure. The constant touring. The disappointment. The fights. The conflict. The compromises. One of them said, Why not quit then? Do something different. I was astonished they thought that was even possible. How, I cried, how do you quit your family? I rambled on for some time about the repercussions of quitting, what would that do to you, to our family, to our management and the team around us. We owed our label albums. We were expected to tour, to work, to drive sales, to market ourselves, to update our social media constantly, to make things, to sell things, to perform, night after night after night. Year after year after year. How could I let all those people down? And worst of all, who would I be if I wasn’t this person? I didn’t have a choice. This was not a choice anymore. This was something entirely different. These last few years at home, I asked myself a lot of those questions again. You and I sat and wondered about them together. Why are we still doing this? If we are doing it, what should we make? What is our purpose? Our intention? Our hopes? Our dreams?
The final version between you and I was Smoking Weed Alone Version One Million. The chorus ended up being your idea, but I was the one who suggested we sing it as a duet. A Call and Answer. It was full of the questions we’d been asking ourselves all these years. At least that was my interpretation of your lyrics. Whether it’s choosing to smoke weed, or skip school, or play music for a living, or write a book, or live in the city, or get a dog, or stay in this band, I’m perpetually wondering. But ultimately, I’m here and there’s nowhere else to go. If it’s a choice, it don’t really feel like it. But I’m glad.
PS Thanks so much to all of you for subscribing and coming on this journey with us as we released songs from Crybaby. The album is out at the end of this week! Please go stream Smoking Weed Alone. Hope you enjoyed the demos. Thanks to each and every single one of you. ❤️