“I Kill Giants (1 Year Later Remix)”
So. There’s a free single you can download. Now, I’m going to talk for a little bit. Hope you’ll indulge me.
A year ago today, my Aunt Margaret passed away. Starting with some headaches and vision problems, doctors discovered she had a brain tumor. An operation was scheduled, which required them to induce a coma. She never woke up from the coma. 8 days after her initial diagnosis, she was gone. I found out when my cousin Claudia called me. I was in Portland, Maine, preparing to go on stage for a show with my friend Shane Hall. I’d heard a few days ago that the surgery went “better than expected.” And then… she was gone. She left behind three kids and a husband.
I was in the middle of writing my next LP, You Dare Call That Thing Human?!?, and had already pegged a song called “I Kill Giants” as part of the tracklist. It was based on a book by Joe Kelly of the same name, which is one of my favorite graphic novels. It’s a story about a young girl who believes she’s a giant killer in her imagination. In reality, she’s acting out in school, struggling to fit in. In the end, you find out that she’s dealing with a lot of pain at home, a lot of death… a lot of loss.
I’d written two verses about the song, just general verses about growing up, feeling out of place, finding yourself. I knew the last verse had to deal with death, and I just felt like I had no place to speak on it in my life. I’d been lucky enough to never really lose anyone incredibly close to me. That’s a weird thing to say, but it’s true. My grandfathers both died before I was born, and my grandmothers didn’t speak English, I was never really close to them. Otherwise, the people that passed away were only tangentially related to me, and though I felt the pain of those close to me who’d lost loved ones, I felt it was pretty disingenuous to compare that pain with the pain of someone losing a loved one, someone they held close to their heart.
In one of those weird things about life, this tragedy hit my family at the same time I was writing this song. I wrote the 3rd verse as a letter to my little cousins; cousins I hadn’t talked to in years. I felt stupid calling them and saying “Hey remember me? Well, uhhh… I’m here now, if you, y’know want to talk about anything!” And I just poured my heart into the 3rd verse, just saying a little something through song in the hopes that it could help them, help anyone…maybe help myself.
A year later, it’s still confusing and weird for me to remember that night standing outside in Maine, coming off a 3-month consecutive tour, getting a call and trying to understand the loss of someone I was once close to but hadn’t talked to in years. I don’t know why I want to release this song today, but I do, and here we are. I hope you enjoy it, from a simple recreational standpoint. I hope if you’ve lost someone, it makes things a little less… painful? In any small, infinitesimal way.
But I hope if you haven’t, or hell even if you have, you find a moment today to grab the people who mean the world to you and you tell them how much you love them. How your life would be different if they were gone. How you love them and cherish them, and how when that day finally comes, when it’s time to say goodbye, you hope get the chance to say it, and you hope that the life you’ve shared up to that point makes the loss a little easier.
I never got to say goodbye to my Aunt. Hell, I hadn’t talked to her for years. But since releasing this song, I’ve had emails, or people at shows, come up to me and tell me their stories. I’ve had fans and friends tell me about their struggles losing family to cancer. I’ve had people tell me that they were suffering from brain tumors or other ailments and facing death telling me this song helped them. I hope if there’s some semblance of an afterlife, some way that Margaret knows that I did this, that she’s comforted to know that her loss brought others comfort, brought others closer together. I hope she knows how much I wish I could have said goodbye to her, and thank her for that camera and the girl advice she gave me when I was a stupid freshman in college, crashing at her house twelve years ago.
To everyone out there, whether you’re facing death, or you’re swinging a gigantic hammer trying to kill all the shadows around those you love, or whether you just feel defeated, feel broken down, battered, and beaten. Please, just know… Just like the book says: You’re stronger than you think.
I promise you… you are.
To Joe Kelly, for the wonderful email he sent me and his blessing to continue to have this song be on my album, and for creating such a wonderful work with artist J.M. Ken Nimura. Please buy I Kill Giants, not only because it’s so wonderful, but because it’s made by such wonderful people. (Buy I Kill Giants)
To Vince Vandal, for remixing this song and giving it an even more wistful, but strangely inspiring tone, and for his friendship and support whenever I feel like my music sucks and I can’t do it anymore. (Like Vince Vandal on facebook)
Sample Used: ”Dream of the Shore From Another World” from Chrono Cross
To Joe Hunter, for his wonderful cover art and for always bailing me out of a jam with art when I need it, and always being so enthusiastic and happy to do it. (See Joe’s art online)
And everyone who’s ever supported my music in any small way. I cannot believe that I get the chance to do this for a living. To the people who say these silly songs I make help them through anything in their life, in any tiny way, you have no idea how much it means to me.