I've mentioned that occasionally I write songs that I'm not sure about, and for some reason they become the songs people resonate with. Mr. Gray happens to be the best example of my discography. Any time I write a song that I assume is a little too "poppy," I assume people who listen will feel the same. But then again maybe pop isn't always a bad thing. I dunno.
"Mr. Gray," the song that "Another Anodyne" derives it's name from is another mostly autobiographical song. Back in college, I went through a pretty depressive stage. The girl that was supposedly "The One" had left, my friends were all trying to discover who they were, and because of that we were all a little selfish and oblivious of others. But most importantly, I started to take comfort in my own depression. I embraced the darker parts of myself, and, while hiding it from the people around me, I certainly became what I consider to be the worst version of myself. I wanted to write that into a song. The premise is pretty simple. I personified depression as a friend who comes into your life. This friend is seductive. He starts by saying that all these things that you're feeling are not just normal, but good, and you should embrace them. And he isolates you. Over time you begin to lose yourself in these dark feelings.
The song started with the phrase, "And so I breath you in like a cigarette. With every breath you're killing, but damn it, if you don't taste so sweet." I was also playing a game titled Anodyne, and I liked that word. The definition is either: not likely to provoke dissent or offense; inoffensive, often deliberately so, or: a painkilling drug or medicine. I tried to write a sarcastic song about trying so hard to be inoffensive that you end up standing for nothing, and therefore are now offensive. But that didn't pan out, and so I ended up taking the second definition and running with it.
The first verse introduces the character of depression being comforting, with the chorus being "You promised me you'd be my anodyne." The second verse has the character acknowledging that this depression is isolating and damaging, but also remains comforting to an extent. And the chorus shifts to "You were supposed to be my anodyne." As we get into the bridge, we get the song title. "Now I'm looking in the mirror like a modern Mr. Gray." This is a reference to "The Picture of Dorian Gray," by Oscar Wilde. In this book, the main character Dorian Gray has a portrait of himself painted. As he slowly commits more heinous acts and becomes more evil, the picture starts to become more deformed and ugly. Dorian Gray himself never ages or becomes ugly. Eventually he sees the picture and realizes what he's become. I liked this as an image of depression taking on the ugliness subtly and you never realizing what you're turning into. The next line is "The more I feed into your image, the more I quickly fade away." So the metaphor set up by Oscar Wilde continues into my song. Looking in the mirror shows who you really are, and you can either decide to continue on that path, or tear yourself away. The final chorus combines both previous choruses; "You were supposed to be my anodyne. I need to find another anodyne. You promised me you'd be my anodyne. I need to find another anodyne."
The title track also carries the entire theme of the album. It's easy to self medicate, or withdraw into yourself, when going through pain and struggle. It's simple. And it helps for a while. But we should always find other ways of relieving pain. Healthy and long term methods. That might be different for different people. That's up to the listener.