Stories Behind the Songs: “Turn Away”

Posted by  Grand Poobah  July 15, 2013  •  No Comments  • 

Pointing at the MoonThe Zen-like “Turn Away” was written during the prolific month of January, 2005, when songs were coming so quickly it was almost scary.  This particular one made me late for work, in fact; the melody and some lyrics flashed into my head and I had to record them before they were forgotten.  I think this is the first song I wrote using a diminished seventh chord; you can usually tell when I learn new chords when they start cropping up in my songs!

I regard this as one of the most spiritual songs I have ever written; I have performed it in church several times, in fact. The first line of the third verse is derived from the Tao Te Ching, chapter 32: “Once the whole is divided, the parts need names.”  The next line refers to the punch line of the old Zen parable: “Truth is like the bright moon in the sky. A finger can point to the moon’s location, but the finger is not the moon. To find the moon you must gaze beyond the finger.”  I probably first heard it from Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, though.

The weird-sounding guitar solo is actually playing backwards, a favorite device of mine; as far as I know, the Beatles did this before anyone else in “I’m Only Sleeping” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” on Revolver.  The way it’s done is to record a guitar solo while the whole song is playing backwards, then flip it all around so that the backing tracks play normally and the guitar solo is backwards.  For some reason I always play a good solo when I do this!

“Turn Away” was another of the Transposition songs on the set list when put together a short-lived performing version of Chameleon Red in 2008.  It was performed live a number of times by our other band, Mother Zephyr.


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