Bad Day

2009
Perpetual Emotion Machine
from The Unforetold / Released as a Single

Bad Day was the second song written for the 2009 album The Unforetold, and probably the piece I’ve spent the most time on since The Flight Deck.

The track originated from several fronts and inspiration points. Actually, the whole concept of the track originally stemmed from a point of anti-inspiration: my job. Basically, I hated my day job, and I had for some time. So the lyrics basically narrate what was going through my head during a typical weekday when I had to go to my job.

When I began this song, the lyrics were written at the same time as the music, which is a first for me; usually the words come after, because I find them so hard to write. For Bad Day, the lyric writing was almost effortless, because it was something I had been dealing with for a long time. The style of the vocals, either by accident or subconscious intent, ended up featuring spoken vocals, a concept I admired from the Pet Shop Boys‘ ‘Left To My Own Devices‘, as well as Karl Hyde‘s lyrical creations for Underworld.

The other concept behind this song, besides the job-hating, was that of being trapped in a place when you would much rather be somewhere else. In this case, I was feeling rather distant from my daughter, living several provinces away, and I was wondering if she felt the same thing I did. At the age of five, memories can be fleeting and I often wondered how much of me she retained. For myself, I felt that the whole experience of visiting her was kind of a dream, and that’s where the lyrics for this section came in.

I wanted a female voice to accompany mine for the singing bits. I was hoping that a female voice would play the part of my daughter in the song. Her and I would both be singing the same line, but in harmony. So I enlisted the help of Catherine Goodrick, the wife of a good friend on mine, and we recorded a couple of brief sessions. I loved the sound of it, the two parts sounded great together, and it was just what I wanted.

Shortly after beginning work on this, I realized that this was going to be a trilogy — a three part opener to the album, and that the whole thing was going to be in excess of twenty minutes. I had two other songs I was working on that were roughly the same key and tempo so I retooled them with this in mind. So once I was happy with all three, I went to work on the other successive parts, which ended up being Dad’s Day and Hard Candy, with the entire suite being entitled The Unforetold, and also the name of the album, ultimately. The three sections share elements from one to another which make them cohesive — the suite begins and ends with the same bass sound and sequence.

I experimented with this song, more than any other, and lived and breathed the track for weeks, even months all told. Thus, there are many versions and many more that didn’t survive a hard drive crash.

Bad Day also has its own music video and here it is.


Perpetual Emotion Machine

The Unforetold: Bad Day / Dad’s Day / Hard Candy

Bad Day (Isolated)

Bad Day (Instrumental Pre-dub) *

Bad Day (New Version)

Bad Day (Video Edit)

Bad Day (Earl Three’s Earban Mix)

The Nine-Oh-Five: Hard Candy (Stripped) / Dad’s Day (Extended) / Bad Day (Overloaded)

Bad Day (2011 Version)

Bad Day (2019 Instrumental Redux)

Bad Day (2019 Percapella)

* track unavailable


Credits

written, produced and arranged by Perpetual Emotion Machine. additional vocals by Catherine Goodrick. mix and additional production on New Version, Video Mix, 2011 version and 2019 version by Perpetual Emotion Machine. additional vocal on Earl Three’s Earban Mix by Dave Parkinson. remix and additional production on The Nine-Oh-Five by OCIII. remix and additional production on Earl Three’s Earban Mix by Earl Three.

Lyrics

eyes drift open
the television babysitter
cigarette smoking halo
around my sorry lips
someone take that mirror down
there's blood on my toothbrush

the bus driver meets
your half dead stare
polyester airholes up and down
greasy window glass
where someone's rest his head in shame
you think too much

horses graze by the roadside
they don't know when their time will come
rising up the hillside
at one foot per second
watch and wait 
while the seconds wander by
slow motion girders
a concrete line
cutting it's way through the green
grey clouds and shadow
a psychological echo
just get to the safe house on time

you are near me
you are far away

haphazard greetings
and lumbar support
new age screensaver
and a corkboard shrine
peanuts in a plastic jar
how did you get to where you are?
the photographs stare at you
while the fax machine whines

i let my fingers do the talking
solving the problems of the world
i pick up the phone
but there's always no one there
a DTMF nightmare
somewhere in my mind
an oasis of calm
among the mental wreckage
and cross-circuited imagery
an island of serenity
with all of the amenities
of a life I think other people have

but it's late now, too late
the deadline's passed
and you've begun to realize
that you've forsaken everything you once held dear
your prison is this chair
inside this room
you can't escape the status quo
the pictures mock you
but you can't turn away

can't remember
are you just a dream?

you are near me
you are far away
can't remember
are you just a dream?