Even Steven

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  • This song was the first collaborative effort between Larry Burnett and Rick Roberts, the founding members of Firefall. Collaborative songwriting does not come easily to Burnett, and he prefers to stay away from it. So he was less than thrilled when Roberts came to him one night and suggested they collaborate. He tells this story: "For years I write my songs, and Ricky writes his songs. Then we as a band get together, we do them, and never the twain met. And then one night in Florida, Ricky says, 'You know, we really ought to try to write something together.' And I immediately kind of went Oh God, I knew this was coming. And the only reason the 'Oh God' response was there was because I know how Ricky writes songs - at the time, anyway. He gets a big bag of cocaine and gets real high, and then he gets papers and pencil and starts writing down rhyming words on the right-hand side of the page. And then tries to attach sentences to each rhyming word. And then he pushes everything around and tries to have it make sense, because, as you might imagine, it's not going to make sense right away, considering his approach to songwriting. So anyway, he said, 'Okay, you and I should try writing…' boom - here's this big bag of coke. And I'm going, No, Ricky, I don't do this to make me perform better. I'm not that stupid. I get high, but not because it makes me better at anything. So we struggled. Boy, we wrote for a long time. And for me it was an enormous struggle. For him it was just what he does, it was no big deal. And he kind of kept the thing going. So that's how we came up with this song, 'Even Steven.' And there again, even the title - the 2 words in the title - rhyme. And if you read the lyrics it's, in my humble opinion - or not so humble, very often - it's just a silly, dumb song. And so, when we were done with this, and we're singing it and kind of burning it into our brains so we remember it, and I'm going, 'This ain't cool at all. I do not want to be associated with this song ever.' It's a lame, stupid song. At any rate, there it is, my name on it, it's on the record, you know. It went nowhere, really, as a song."

    "You may or may not be pleased to know I haven't done any dope, or drank in 23 years. But that's what 'Even Steven' was all about. That's what fueled it, just because Ricky felt obligated for us to collaborate."
  • Burnett says it takes a special talent to be able to collaborate well - and it's a talent he doesn't possess. "I just have to sort of adjust myself, and I just have to not even think about what happens when I write," he says. "There's also a skill set; if you can learn things, you can learn this skill set, and sort of pretend your way through the skill set. Which is how I characterize it: I'm just sort of using this skill set instead of actually writing the song. And it comes in handy to know how to do that. And the guys who probably make the most money are the guys who know quite a bit about that skill set. They can sit down and just look at anybody, whether they know it or not, and both of them use that skill set and end up with a song."
  • The "Steven" in this song is "nobody," says Burnett, and he's neither particularly proud of the way the song came about, nor the end result. "We grabbed a household phrase, 'even Steven,' and then we thought, Oh, Steven, we have a guy here. Let's use 'even Steven' - this silly cliché - and create a character, and just keep snorting coke until we have this character."

    "It was kind of horrible," he adds, laughing.
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