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Passion Pit are a vehicle for Massachusetts auteur Michael Angelakos, who writes all of their songs. He enlisted Ian Hultquist, Ayad Al Adhamy, Jeff Apruzzese and Nate Donmoyer for the band in 2007.
Angelakos explained the band's name to The Sun newspaper December 26, 2008: "It's an old slang term that refers to the area in movie theatres and drive-ins where teenagers would go to make out."
This song was originally included on Passion Pit's debut EP, The Chunk of Change, which they released in September 2008. The set was originally a belated Valentine's Day present, which Angelakos put together for his girlfriend at Boston's Emerson College. He explained to The Sun: "Originally it was a Valentine's gift for my girlfriend that was never supposed to go beyond her ears. She put up with a lot of my s--t and was a saint for it and that is the theme of a lot of the EP." The French Kiss label liked it so much they gave it a general release and watched as this song caught fire on the net.
This song samples Irish folk artist Mary O'Hara. Angelakos explained to Ireland's State Magazine: "I'm big fan of '70s singer/songwriters and just general folk artists. Mary O'Hara was part of the revival over seas and also in the American '70s folk scene. When I came across her traditional folk stuff and I was absolutely blown away. Everything on the record is, it's like 25 tracks, everything is just utter perfect folk music in Gaelic. I was like 'Oh my god, this would be so perfect for me to sample right now. I need to sample this.' I cut it up, worked with it and I finally figured out a way to do it. I never thought I'd have to deal with copyright stuff y'know, the issues that come with another artists publishing. It's a traditional song, she didn't write the song, but I used her actual recording of it. I was a huge fan, a really big fan. I loved her voice. I loved her work with harp so I wanted to integrate it into a song."
This is the only track on Manners, that was originally on The Chunk of Change EP. Angelakos explained why to The Sun May 15, 2009: "A lot of hyped and buzz bands throw all their material on to a full-length CD, add a couple of songs and call that their debut album. That doesn't make sense to us." He added that the only reason that the band put this song "on the album is because it's a beautiful song and we had it mastered. Nothing on Chunk Of Change was mastered, so we opened it up a bit in the mix and it was a great way of seeing the song in another light."
The song was licensed out to a Palm Pixie commercial. Angelakos explained to Artist Direct
why by doing so he didn't feel he was selling out: "The only way to generate money these days is to do these things. I didn't think people were asking why it is in a Palm Pixi ad, since who would want to be associated with that product or a corporation? It was about the demographic that we would not have been able to hit without it, and it was a colorful, pretty commercial that lent itself well to the commercial. Behind the commercial were some great artists working on something corporate, at the end of the day, but still. Tom Waits will never license his music to anyone, but in order for us to hit the audience we want to hit, it is a great way to do it."
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"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.