"Big Sur" from Line of Light
"Big Sur" was the first song we recorded with Carl at his beautiful home studio, and that experience set the tone for the whole album. It was like taking the first step into a sonic world together, and immediately, we knew the collaboration was going to be characterized by a real ease and comfort. We also realized that Carl could quickly create such warm sounds as a very intuitive engineer, and that we could lean heavily on ourselves as a duo and build up gradually from there.
It's always fascinating to me how porous the songs are, by which I mean that two or three songs can easily become one in the studio, or an elaborate song with many parts can be simplified down to the strongest section. Sometimes it takes being in the studio before you start to realize this. With "Big Sur," it wasn't until the night before our session with Carl that Suz suggest combining a triumphant love ballad about an elopement on the California coast with a song about doubting one's love. At first, it was just such an intriguing idea to stitch together these two songs with their seemingly incongruent takes on a love affair. But ultimately, to settle on this decision, we had to construct a story in our mind that would help it make sense.
I've always been drawn to writing songs that delve into the push and pull of conflicting emotions. As soon as the song seems to settle on one emotional current, I love to undercut it or complicate it with the next verse or bridge. Thus, it felt honest and natural to me to make "Big Sur" be both about the romanticization of a partnership while also acknowledging the doubts of the speaker. In dealing with Suz's bipolar disorder, I never question the steadfastness of my love, but I do struggle with the limitations of love and coming to terms with the fact that love can't fix everything. Over time this song has become more and more poignant and resonant for me, and it reaches it's emotional climax most in the sections where the speaker admits his uncertainly and the struggles with the fragility of it all.
"Is my love strong enough
Is it strong enough for you?
Is my love strong enough
Enough to get you though?"