Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies recently talked about the band’s debut major label album on DGC Records. Dear 23 was produced by John Leckie (XTC, Stone Roses) and recorded from March to April 1990 in Seattle, Washington. Auer and Stringfellow wrote all of the songs. “Golden Blunders” is the first single.
“My Big Mouth”: “Songs have a tendency to sneak out of the back of my mind. Words start shooting out, little puns and pictures. This is about infidelity: a guy walking through the door of his house and there’s the proverbial wife-with-a-rolling-pin-in-her-hand.” (Stringfellow).
“Golden Blunders”: “A created scenario. There are elements in the song that actually exist but the whole story doesn’t – but it could. It’s about two kids in high school who mess up the rest of their lives. There’s the implication of a teenage pregnancy but there’s not any amazing message here. (Auer)
“Apology”: This is pretty heavy for a pop song. It’s about regrets. It says ‘sorry’ to everyone you misunderstood but never had a chance to work it out with. It’s about mortality and how you might as well apologize now, while you’re here, and get it over with, before you can’t anymore.” (Auer)
“Any Other Way”: “Milking the irony factor for maximum effect, the protagonist here seems to revel in the misery of a painful breakup as it provides ample creative fuel. Hardship as the ultimate cause for growth. As heavy as the song may sound, it’s actually optimistic because the implication is that there’s a hidden reward behind the most negative experiences.” (Stringfellow)
“You Avoid Parties’: “People get stuck in a pattern when they’re young by how they’re treated by their parents or their peers. They get so messed up they go out of their way to act like the craziest people you know. Pavlovian lower-brain psychology. Then later in life what they think they’re acting on is really just a reaction to what’s happened earlier. They stay messed up until they break those bonds to the past. That’s what it’s about-kind of.” (Stringfellow)
“Suddenly Mary*: “This rolled out in an hour – an unconscious attempt to write indirectly, But when it was done, we read a lot into it. So now, I guess, it’s about marriage and re-marriage. It’s a weird song and the imagery’s ambiguous. But we write songs and think about them later. It’s a process we don’t question.” (Auer)
“Help Yourself”: “Remember the couple in ‘Golden Blunders’? This song tells of the other possible future, where one of them says let’s not blunder along forever, twisted by the forces of guilt and lower expectations. Someone finally wakes up and severs a relationship that’s not progressing.” (Stringfellow)
“Mrs. Green”: “A David Lynch-‘Twin Peaks’ jazz song. A surreal semi-malicious overtone to it. An older generation’s indignant attitude toward a younger generation. Someone who lives in the past and uses that boast against people in the present. She’s held a lot of stuff inside and never released it. It’s a young generation saying, ‘I’m never going to be like that.” (Auer)
“Everyone Moves Away”: The purgatory of growing up. You’re between leaving home and being there, being out on your own. When you move away from someone or something you have to sever an identification with what that is. It’s a reassuring song, but also realistic.” (Auer)
“Flood Of Sunshine*: This song’s been around for six years, well before The Posies. It’s one of the first I ever wrote, but we revitalized it and here it is. It could be about the search for freedom, being able to go anywhere you want. But, I was 15 years old and the title’s from a chapter heading in a book for English class so it’s probably about being free enough that I didn’t have to read that book.” (Stringfellow)