SONG: I Had A Fever


“I Had A Fever” [Download]

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Can Microbes Encourage Altruism?,” Scientific American, 17 Jul 2017, as used in the post “Does kindness come from germs? Are the better angels of our nature really a contagious infection?

This was another one of those nightmare zero-budget scenarios, where the charger for my 12-year-old laptop stopped working, so I quickly tried to record things on the 15-year-old computer we use as a TV streaming box (with Ubuntu) and, that basically being crash-and-crackle city, I wound up borrowing my daughter’s 2-year-old Windows 10 laptop… which only takes audio input from a three-ring mini plug: the one you get on earphones with built-in microphones. So the guitar loops on this were recorded without any real monitoring, and the vocals were recorded using iPhone earbuds in a bathroom.

Lo-fi forever.

All those challenges in execution aside, I really like this song as a song. I was basically going for an early Magnetic Fields thing, because why not, and it kind of does that. The little instrumental hook in the choruses is a harpsichord Soundfont put through three or four layers of distortion and filtering. The chorus melody is pretty hummable.

And I think it succeeds in telling its story, obliquely enough that it could be a love song, but is really about an infection that gets people to get along when it wasn’t typical to do that.


I had a fever – how typically mean
And yet the aches and shaking didn’t make me cranky
And I saw you – like I had never, ever seen
I asked myself how I could get you closer

I had a fever
And it would spread

Then you were friendly – it wasn’t typical to be
Yet somehow you and me could please each other
And we made friends – as if the microbes planned it
As if helping, holding hands could be contagious

I had a fever
And it would spread

We stayed in colonies – how typical it seems
But it wasn’t ever thus in the beginning
Till you and me – and this fever makes us three
We’re all on the same team
We fulfill each other’s dreams

I had a fever
And it spreads.