This is actually a really old song. Dating back to ‘European Monsoon’ times originally. I put out Parts 1 & 2 (which are actually just one long song) on the bonus disc for ‘The Signal and the Noise’ last year. In those songs, in a nutshell, the protagonists inherit their grandparents’ house – (well… not their mutual grandparents, as clearly they’re a couple and that would mean they were having an incestuous relationship). In this song they take a look at their life and realise there’s nothin’ left (as Coolio once said), so they set off on an aimless adventure.
The genesis of all three of those songs was an experiment I did at the time in spontaneous composition. I wrote loads of songs by just turning the mic on and starting to play and sing. The original ‘Under the wallpaper’ was a challenge to myself to do an uninterrupted 20 minute long take in this way. I knew the title would be ‘Under the wallpaper’ (itself inspired by seeing an exhibition by Clay Ketter in Stockholm), but not much more than that. It was an endurance test, and actually significant chunks of the lyrics of all three songs came from that original improv – though greatly refined. It’s a fun thing to do. One day I’d like to actually do a gig where I just improvise the songs and lyrics live onstage. It’ll take some guts though….
Musically, what to say? It’s an acoustic guitar song. One of the most stripped back on the album.