SONG: Remember Your Hands


“Remember Your Hands” [Download]

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Science News 31 Jan 2022, “A new device helps frogs regrow working legs after an amputation,” as used in the post ‘Drug device spurs lost limbs to regrow… in frogs, at least.

This is one of those songs where I didn’t feel hurried at the end, but still wanted more time for it to percolate. In other words, I think it sounds right, strong demo, but I think some minor tweaks (especially with lyric phrasing) would make a greater difference than one might expect.

I started with the drum beat. In a grocery line, some song came on that had the thing where there was some big, reverby hit on the four (one-two-three-FOUR), which is a sort of slow, dreamy, 60s-ish foundation for a song.

Then, I had this guitar idea – an A-minor thing that descended to G, then F… but sounds like it’s going up rather than down because it’s an unbarred F (the A and E strings are open to ring – I think that makes it a major 7th or major 9th), and then if you also open the G string, it has that nicely wistful-yet-not-minor sound that makes me think of half-forgotten Sunday afternoons. There’s a chord like that in “Ride With Me” by the Lemonheads.

But for some reason, the first couple times I tried to record the guitar thing, it came out of my fingers in waltz time instead of 4/4. So now that accented snare wasn’t on the 4 any more – it was moving into different beats every measure. OK.

The synthy bass line came next for the choruses (it’s actually a lot of distortion on a clavinet that’s been split into two tracks, left and right, with a wobbly filter on left side), and then a mellotron line. There was a distant distorted and echoey guitar for a while, meant to put accents in the verses for maximum loneliness, but it never sat right, so out it went. A vocal melody was mocked up on a piano and then tossed out.

Then, well, huh. What was worth singing about? The pandemic has made finding non-paywalled science writing hard, since so much public attention is on epidemiology and pharmacology now. At the same time, it seems like a few journals and respectable mags have changed their editorial stance (like, Nature seems to be more technical, while Scientific American posts excerpts more than full stories now). The regenerated limbs… there’s a story in there.

So, these lyrics are a story, or intended to be a story, rather than just an imagistic or metaphorical collection of verses. The last verse is supposed to reveal what really happened, what the narrator is recovering from, what the narrator regrets having done. The narrator loved someone and lost someone, and the thing that drove him over the edge was remembering what it was like to hold hands. So now he wants his fingers back to have something more than phantom pain as a memory of holding hands, twining fingers together. I’m not 100% sure that story comes across, and the fact that there’s that wolf metaphor in verse two seems… uh… well, I’m not sure about it, but I can’t think of a better way to get from point A to point B, to suggest what went down or is about to go down in flashback in verse 3. It’d take a few months of sitting with it to get the phrasing down to a regular meter and to clarify the outline of events, of emotional stages – I felt bad, I did something stupid, I’m trying to undo that, because now I know I wouldn’t feel quite as bad any more if only I hadn’t done something stupid.

But the sound is nice.

I think I’d also like to try layering many tracks of vocals to get that My Bloody Valentine hushed masses effect, but I’d need a more regular meter to get the pacing right while doing it over and over again. Instead, I’ve got the Martin Eastwood Duet effect on it – a handy effect – and triple-tracking on the choruses.

The very last thing was the strummed electric guitar, even though that part sounds like it should have been the first rhythm track after the drums. Go figure. It’s just there to flesh things out a little.

I think this is probably the only song to use “Bio-Dome,” at least in the sense of the regeneration device. I’m not sure the inventors would really be into the way it’s featured in this story. Even if it is a love story – kind of. Dirges don’t sell drug patents.


The doctors said, “It’s phantom pain.”
The hand I gave you can’t come back again
At the time I was glad, no regrets it was gone
There’d be nothing left to remind me from now on
But now…
CH: I will grow back these fingers
To remember your hands
Bio-Domes for my fingers
To remember your hands

So I held onto phantom pain.
All the same, decisions got made
A wolf in a trap will take the trade
Leave a paw in exchange
But now…
CH: Now, I’ll grow back these fingers
To remember your hands
Bio-Domes for my fingers
To remember your hands

There were screams, steel and diesel, then phantom pain
EMTs on the platform, my blood on the train
And sure, I was stupid, and I was out of my brain….
But now…somehow…
CH: I will grow back these fingers
To remember your hands
Bio-Domes for my fingers
To remember your hands