SONG: “Inside the Box”


“Inside the Box.” [Download]
(To download: double right-click & “Save As”)

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “CEOs and the Candle Problem”, Nature, “A Mad Hemorrhage” blog, 2 Apr 2012, as used in the post “About those CEO bonuses: How financial incentives make us less creative.”.

ABSTRACT: This song was a response to Mike Phirman’s SongFu prompt, “Write a song about your last day at work. Any style you choose.” So, it seemed like a natural fit to apply that idea to the implications of the Candle Problem. Although this song is, strictly speaking, not autobiographical (for one thing, my office doesn’t have regular time-wasting meetings like most corps I hear about), I do work in the print media. You might have heard about that industry lately. And I kind of figured most people seeing that prompt would zig into “Take this job and shove it!” territory, so it seemed like the thing to do would be to zag into the “We’ve laid everybody off, so who’s going to write this?” territory. Especially since I like what I do. I’ve also been paying attention to David Lowery’s recent thoughts about the problems musicians face with the rise of digital distribution and the fall of corporate record labels, which seems to be part of the same Candle Problem phenomenon… profit vs. creativity vs. focus.

This song started with the mellotron and drums and Rhodes piano, but then this sort of Tom Petty-via-Cracker guitar thing happened (with the distortion way in the back), and then I kind of figured out what the words would be last of all. I knew there’d be something about inside the box or outside the box kind of early on, but wasn’t sure about the weird math of the chorus until the day before I recorded it. And the end kind of fell together on its own – I don’t like writing bridges, and had two rough ideas still when I sat down to record… then wound up snipping a verse out and letting that trail off the end of the bridge instead. This is also the first song I’ve recorded since the death of my little Acer netbook. Its hard drive lives on in a $9.99 Rosewill enclosure hooked up as an external drive to a second-hand Dell Inspiron 700m, which has proved (once RAM was upgraded) to be more than up to the task of turning electrons into sound.


We know – you’re not a quitter.
But you know – circulation’s been in the shitter.
So while we’re busy chasing everything that glitters
We’ll leave you in the cold.
Sorry, we have to let you go.

We can’t think – we can’t
We can’t think – we can’t
We can’t think – inside the box.

Maybe we’re shortsighted,
maybe our models are flawed.
But we hired focus groups,
so while this outcome may be odd,
at the next stockholders’ meeting
we’ll smile and we’ll make them nod.
And the product? We’ll have to let it go.

We can’t think – we can’t
We can’t think – we can’t
We can’t think – inside the box.

To keep the wax off the table
Snuff that candle out.
Don’t we all have a meeting
everyone should think about?

Where did everybody go?
How could anybody doubt
we’re on the road to riches now?
We’re on the road.

We can’t think – we can’t
We can’t think – we can’t
We can’t think – inside the box.