Thursday, February 12, 2009

Forest: I Know Me

There's lots I like about this song, and plenty I don't like about the recording. But the former definitely trumps the latter for me.

I Know Me

The song also has a special significance for me. When we recorded this in August, 1995, Johanne and I had been dating for about four months. But our pre-dating "courtship" took place over winter 94-95. We were Ph.D. students together at the University of Ottawa, with the Rideau Canal just outside our office. Most days, after work we'd lace up and go for a skate down the canal in the dark, getting to know each other, falling in love. The line:
And where ice on Rideau Canal lights
Glistens in skating lovers' laughin' eyes
can still make me mist up a little.

Thom's voice kind of cracks on the word "free" at 3:31; I remember lobbying to re-record the line, but we left it in. I don't remember why we did, but to this day it's my favorite moment of any recording of Thom's vocal. It's raw emotion in a song that's already emotional for me and I honestly still get a chill when I hear it.
Where the snow flies free,
Where the cold cuts the skin...
It's the only cold weather imagery that makes me miss the Canadian winter.

As for the technical side...

There's way too much compression on the acoustic guitar; this sparse arrangement didn't really need much.

I think I came up with the string parts in the studio. We decided the track needed something extra. Marty found violin and cello patches on the Roland JV-1080 and I noodled for a bit and then recorded them. They're simple and they build verse-by-verse until dropping out to let Thom finish alone. I like the counter-melody they add.

We also re-recorded this in a more radio-friendly arrangement a few years ago when Thom was still in Austin. I should try to find the newer version.


  1. I love this song, because even though you want your kids to explore the world and discover new things it is wonderful to know that they like to come back to their roots occasionally. I always get a lump in my throat when I listen to it.

  2. Home, sweet home! I really feel good when I listen to this one.