The story behind this is pretty short: I offered to write some lyrics for a friend to sing at a recent benefit show for earthquake and tsunami relief in Japan, and he didn’t use them. Oh, he thought what I’d written was lovely, but too long. And they just didn’t fit the tone of the blues music he expected to sing along with. And that was cool and I completely understood. I don’t like blues music much, so none was playing in my head when I wrote the lyrics below.
And it turns out my friend never ended up singing at the show anyway. Pity. I think he’d have been great.
As for inspiration, the story for that is equally short and simple. The lyrics are based upon news stories I read about Kunio Shiga, a 75-year-old farmer in Minami Soma, Japan who lost his wife and then lived completely alone in a crumbling farmhouse (without rescue) for nearly a month after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. His neighbors left because their town is only 12 miles away from Fukushima, and Shiga himself couldn’t cook any rice for lack of electricity and running water. It was one of the most grim, heart-rending stories I read in the weeks following the quake. If the link is still good, you can read the Time Magazine story here.
Mr. Shiga’s story is going to haunt me for a long time. I hope I did his tale some justice. I have searched the internet for some news of what became of this man, and if his wife is still alive, but have had no luck.
P.S. Likely this is purest hubris, but if you are a musician and are interested in recording a song using these lyrics, leave a comment and I’ll happily get in touch.