Want and Able

Album: Lazaretto (2014)

Songfacts®:

  • White sings on this piano ballad about the conflict between desire and duty. "'Want and Able' is interesting, since we've got this left channel thing going," he told NPR. "I wrote this with these two characters in mind, almost like they would be names, like 'Pancho and Lefty': 'Juan' and 'Abel,' but 'Want and Able.' But by the time it had gotten finished, it felt like I almost should go approach like a gay rights organization or something like that. It feels like something that could be used as a theme for an idea about fighting against something else. And these two characters are talking to each other, and they aren't able to do what they naturally already want to do, or need to do. Outside forces are not allowing it. And these two characters are telling each other how they either have the chance to fight it or that they're unable to fight."

    "I think the left channel has a low vocal and piano, and the right channel is a high vocal and guitar," White added. "And they're completely separate from each other, so that if you just turn the knob either direction, you either hear one or the other."
  • At the start of the song the listener can hear the sound of crows. "Those crows are coming from these old hunting records that I found," White told NPR. "I found a portable record player from the '50s that you'd take out when you go hunting, and these are records that you'd play to get crows to come around."

    "There was a death cry of a crow, and a crow and a raven [or] a crow and something else fighting each other," he continued. "So those are two different old records played at the wrong speed - they're played very slowed down, like 33 [RPM] when they're supposed to be 45's or something."

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