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Album: Hope for the HopelessReleased: 2008
This features Afro-Beat musician Femi Kuti. Dennen told About.com about working with Kuti: "That was one of the most positive, intense, creative experiences I've ever had. He comes from an incredible family of musicians. His father's a highly respected musician... I think he's a really powerful person. Everything he says is full of similes and metaphors, and it's really inspiring to be around him. I was really inspired." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Dennen told Rolling Stonemagazine: "I made the song catchy but it's about all the injustice in the world."
The pairing between Dennen and Kuti was orchestrated by Downtown head Josh Deutsch, whose company publishes Kuti's music. Dennen explained to Billboard magazine: "He's been wanting to break me into a mainstream format, but to also break Femi that way as well. When he heard me demo the song, he was like, 'Man, I hear Femi on this. I was like, 'How are you going to get Femi Kuti?' He says, 'Well, I happen to publish him.' So we met in the studio -- he flew in from Lagos [Nigeria] to be a part of the record."
Dennen told the The Austin-American Statesman: "That song came to me in a couple different stages. I wrote most of the lyrics sitting at my desk in my bedroom looking out the window. I was thinking that I wanted to write another song like 'Ain't No Reason,' which is about a lot of different things in the world happening at once. But I wanted to show a different side of it, so I chose to look at the psychological effect that social issues have on people. I was asked to play a couple songs at this awards show honoring people in film and TV industry that were dealing with issues of mental illness. Right after I played, this woman said to the audience, 'All the pressures in the world and the modern corporate culture and all the stress and strains, that alone is enough to make somebody go crazy. On top of that, you add social injustice.' She made the point that she didn't understand how more people aren't going absolutely insane. What kind of drugs are we using to suppress that? I immediately had to write that down. I was like, #Yeah, exactly!'
So, I wrote the lyrics in one sitting, but I didn't have a melody. Well, I had one, but I didn't like it because it was a slow folk song like 'Ain't No Reason.' I wasn't really interested in doing that at all. We went and recorded the whole album and I still hadn't (finished) the song. I didn't think it was going to make the album, but a melody popped into my head on the second to the last night of recording.
I was really inspired by working with (Femi Kuti). I wanted to do a sort of Brazilian dance pop song. I came up with the melody on my bike ride home and immediately found the lyrics that I'd written before and worked them together. I took it into the studio the next morning and we all learned it and cut it that day. We sent the mp3 file to my label, and they were like, 'Keep working on this song. We want it to be the first single!'"