You Can't Count On Me

Album: Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings (2008)
  • Frontman Adam Duritz in an interview on Ryan's Smashing Life told the story of how he came to write this: "I started writing it a few years ago sometime during the latter end of the long touring period that followed Hard Candy (2002-2005), probably around mid-2005. It fascinated me that I'd written four entire albums worth of reasons why any sane woman should stay as far away from me as possible and that THAT was somehow still 'romantic.' I wanted to write a song about leaving someone that alternated between honest sad feelings about the loss and brutally honest admissions about the damage done. However honest my regrets have been and however much I 'did the right thing.' I don't cheat. There's still no changing the fact that people I cared about were hurt very deeply. So I wanted to write lyrics that drew you in with the honest beauty of the reminiscence and then punched you in the face with the truth about my own culpability. So in the first verse: 'You watch the sky/It's a pale parade of passing clouds/That cover the bed upon which we laid in the dark/And the memories that I made of a laughing girl/But you're just my toy and I can't stop playing with you baby. Or in the last verse: 'I watch all of the same parades/As they pass on the days that you wish you'd stayed/But all this pain gets me high/And I get off and you know why.' It pulls you in and then punches you and both sides are just statements of honesty. They're contradictory but they're still true. And that's why the 'Can' in the chorus has a 't' on the end of it. You'd almost always expect the line to be 'You Can Count On Me' but it's not. No one ever says 'You Can't Count On Me' because it's not a very nice thing to say about yourself. It's also not as 'hit single'-y in people's minds. I know this because people actually suggested removing the 't'. I know some of them were joking but not all of them."
  • Duritz was then asked how the music and the words for "You Can't Count on Me" finally came together. He replied: "I wrote the song on the piano and my original music was very much like a combination of the picking acoustic guitar part and the piano part Charlie (Gillingham keyboardist) plays on the record. The two parts are, in fact, derived from different parts of my original piano recording. I always knew the song was never supposed to be pretty. The music had to be like the lyrics: sentimental, punch, sentimental, punch. This proved to be harder than I thought. We tried it a few times over the years at sound checks and it always sucked. Eventually I gave up on it and completely forgot I had ever written it."
  • Finally Duritz outlined how "You Can't Count On Me" came to be on the Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings album: "When we were beginning to work out the songs for Sunday Mornings, my friend Dave Gibbs, formerly of Gigolo Aunts and now Low Stars, said 'Why don't you record 'You Can't Count On Me'?' I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. He said it was one of his favorite songs of mine and sent me an mp3 of my original demo. I listened to it and realized it was the perfect song for the middle of Sunday Mornings because Sunday Mornings needs to NOT be a record about redemption. It's a record about struggling to get your s--t together after you've wrecked your life; not necessarily a record about getting your s--t together. But the songs are mostly very sad and very beautiful, especially in contrast to Saturday Nights, which can land you in the trap the song's about. Sunday Mornings needed 'You Can't Count On Me' for the same reason I needed to write 'You Can't Count On Me.'"
  • The album is divided into two sections. The electric "Saturday Nights" and the more acoustic "Sunday Mornings" Duritz explained to Billboard magazine: "This album is really starkly divided, not just musically but thematically. The first half is pretty dark stuff and 'Sunday Mornings' is not a side about redemption either. 'Sunday Mornings' is about sorrow and grief."
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