“December Roses” is a song that went through a long gestation period before the final version was reached, and even then it waited over ten years to reach the public with the release of the simply fabulous December Roses mini-LP two weeks ago.
Originally intended to be part of a quite long and ambitious medley, the song now exists as a quite concise three-minute exercise in everything Native does well, whilst also treading very new ground.
I remember very well the occasion of recording the original demo of the song, shortly after finalizing the Exhale On Spring Street album. In a fit of nostalgia, Mike Jaimes & I had set up the old analog tape machines we had lying around, one at his house & the other at Marmfington Farm Studio. This enabled Mike to work at home & allowed me to do follow-up work at the Farm. The plan didn’t last long however, as the device at Mike’s place broke immediately after our first endeavor with this set-up. That singular piece was the December Roses demo.
In that first attempt, my ambitious structure for the song ran close to eight minutes long, and incorporated a short section entitled Thunderstruck. (The demo is still in our vault, and I intend to put it out in a future Nativology post.)
The band thought the whole thing a bit, shall we say, lugubrious and not unjustifiably so. It featured a long verse section before getting to what was for all intents and purposes two back-to-back choruses – plus the aforementioned secondary song in the place of what normally would have been a bridge of no more than eight bars.
The first thing cut was the verse, which admittedly was very autobiographical on my part. The next section that got axed was the lyric to Thunderstruck which was quite good, but had the sad distinction of sharing a title with a famous AC/DC song. So long, Thunderstruck!
What was left was the two choruses, the first of which became the verse, while the now-wordless chords to Thunderstruck remained as a bridge.
This is what we recorded in 2001.
Now, jump-cut to 2004, wherein Mike & I have revived the project. Not much was done to the track with the exception of adding some background voices (myself & guest star Lizzie Loves). At the mixing stage, engineer extraordinaire Craig Randall and I noticed that there was a very good acoustic version of the song laying there under the electric version. In a fit of genius, we made a mix of the under-mix. That became what we now have —