Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? Did you ever realized that the person you have spent so much time with is someone you truly do not care about being with anymore? Have you ever lived through the waking nightmare experience of being involved with someone who brought out the worst in you?
Well, I have. On our first date, she walked over to the stereo and put on Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe”, I just wasn’t listening. She was a smoker who drank like a fish and became a nasty drunk after downing one drink. There were a million reasons why we were not a good match. I chose poorly and suffered because of it. We both did. I am sure my ex-wife wanted me gone as much as I wanted her out of my life.
I wrote the song “Leave Me Alone” in the late 1980’s when I realized that my wife at the time was someone I did not want to associate with anymore. The words flowed out of me quickly with such pure emotion. I knew I had something that other people could relate to so I picked up my acoustic guitar and strummed along. I grabbed a pen and a spiral bound notebook. The whole process took about ten minutes.
My enemy’s prophesy
Years before I met the woman I wrote the song about, I was a college student at SUNY Oneonta. One frosty night I was walking around outside one the many bars that lined the streets downtown when I met up with my nemesis. This guy did not like me and I did not like him. I was a little tipsy and said something goofy with a faux British accent. He called me on it, telling me I was a fraud. If that was not enough of a cut down, this same dude once asked me how the songs I wrote came to me. I told him how I worked ideas into usable forms and wrote and rewrote lyrics until they flowed over my melodies. I was a songwriter-craftsman and proud of it.
He said the only “good songs” come quickly from pure inspiration. That stuck with me, I never forgot it. It was a catalyst that moved me to doubt everything I believed about my identity as an artist at that time. Recently I remembered how the words for “Leave Me Alone” came to be written down, so fast, decades ago on that weird and fateful night. My enemy’s prophesy came true in the glass-enclosed kitchen of the house my soon-to-be ex and I had just bought.
During the divorce proceedings I was forming a band with a guitar player who worked on the tune with me. When I brought it to him the music was more like an angry folk song than the rocker it is today. He added the line work and the “iron hand” palm-muted, electric, rhythm guitar style to it. We filed form PA, splitting the music writing credit in half with me claiming 100% of the words.
Toward the end of 2014 I decided that I wanted to have a really good version of “Leave Me Alone” to share with the world. I recorded the guitar part, sang the lead and sent it to Matt Dean to add live drums. Then I overdubbed the bass line before sending the tracks to Patrick McGuire to have Andrew Frye add the B3 part. McGuire has a beautifully reconditioned Hammond at his studio. Patrick mixed and mastered the recording and that is what you can listen to here: Leave Me Alone