Ten Year Tin

This is the first in a series of posts about the songs on our new CD The Full Catastrophe which is due out on April 1 2012. Today, Dave Chalfant did what may well be the final mixes of the last song. As I write this, Katryna is making a valentine for our fans: a video for Ten Year Tin, which is a song about marriage. Here are the lyrics and video.

Ten Year Tin
Fill me up
Till I’m overflowing
Fill me up
Till I can’t take anymore
Fill me up
Everything is growing
In the garden, in the bedroom
In and out our front door
Wake me up
On our 10 year anniversary
We’ll save up
And take a trip across the sea
We’ll leave the kids with someone vaguely competent
Bon voyage, it’ll be just you and me
I want to swear like a sailor in the storm
I want to stare down the forces of the wind
I want to make love on deck and watch the moon across the sky
I want to put all our pennies in our ten-year tin.

[I see you
I see the man I married
I see you
I see the noble and the beast
And I see the way you treat the one who is serving you
With tenderness and humor, always last but not least] {we cut this verse for the CD}
Look at me
I can’t see my own face
Look at me
You see everything I am
And I’ve seen your worst, and babe, I’d have you anyway
Things do not always go according to our plans
I want to swear like a sailor in the storm
I want to stare down the forces of the wind
I want to make love on deck and watch the moon across the sky
I want to put all our pennies in our ten-year tin.

I want to storm, I want to swear
I want to make sure I get my fair share
I want peace–that’s why I hide
I want to know that you’re on my side.

Fight with me
I’m not afraid of fighting
Cause I see
That I am safe inside this ring
Fight with me
And I will welcome the battle
Even tell you I’m sorry when the storm is finally passing
I’ll be wrong again
I am wrong so often
Tell me when
You can’t take it any more
I’ll remind you that you took me for better
But when I am worse is what those blessed vows are for

I want to swear like a sailor in the storm
I want to stare down the forces of the wind
I want to make love on deck and watch the moon across the sky
I want to put all our pennies in our ten-year tin.

Nerissa and Katryna Nields
Feb. 2, 2010

History and Writing Process
Katryna called me up in Sept. 2009 when she and Dave were celebrating their 10th anniversary. “Kathy and Henry [Dave’s parents] gave us a ten year tin!” Apparently “ten” is the tin anniversary.
“I think we should learn to play it! I think we should name our new CD Ten Year Tin! I think you should write a song called “Ten Year Tin”! And it should have this line:
“I want to swear like a sailor in the storm…” And she sang the line over the phone.

I wrote this song late in the game, relatively. We started recording the new CD in December 2009 and this song came in February 2010. By that time, we’d already done the basic tracks for many of the other songs, and we thought we were done, though in retrospect, we still hadn’t written “Creek’s Gonna Rise,” “The Number One Reason That Parents Are Cranky Is Because They Didn’t Get Enough Sleep,” or “Your House Is Strong.” But we were so giddy about having come up with this one that for a while we really did think we’d name the CD Ten Year Tin.

At first, it was missing its bridge. Dave said, “I think the song needs something. Some progression.” Usually, I need to hide away to write something; I remember reading about how Dylan would compose whole sets of lyrics on the spot in the studio. I never thought I’d be able to do that, but for this song, I ducked into the recording booth, sat down with the guitar and wrote the middle eight, which is now my favorite part of the song. We performed “Ten Year Tin” at Falcon Ridge 2010 and then got our rhythm section (Lorne Entress on drums and Paul Kochanski on bass) to record live in Sackamusic studio a couple weeks later while the arrangement was fresh. As I recall, Lorne, who is a wonderful producer himself, helped us figure out the feel.

While this song is for Katryna and Dave in celebration of their amazing, inspiring marriage, I feel funny writing about Dave and Katryna–not being either of them–I will write about myself. I have been married twice. If you add up my married years, I have been married for over a third of my life. And once I celebrated a ten year tin, though we didn’t know it, and it was tinnish in a not-good way. But this I know about marriage: it doesn’t work to try not to have conflicts. Just as in skiing it’s essential to learn to fall properly, in a committed relationship, it’s essential to learn to fight fairly. Or if you don’t like the word “fighting” then try “exercise ego dominance until you remember that doesn’t work for the long term.” In my first marriage, I was an excellent jouster. He and I would go at it, and I would best him with my court room logic. That did me no good whatsoever when the marriage fell apart and I was left sputtering at his back. You can win every battle and lose the war.

So I wanted to get at the idea that in a passionate relationship, there are going to be big waves. And in a healthy relationship, there is growth, sometimes an abundance of growth. And what I learned from my first marriage is this: if I wanted a relationship to last forever, I would have to invest in it every single day. This time around, I take nothing for granted.

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