Album: The Trials of Van Occupanther (2006)
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  • Midlake lead singer Tim Smith explained to A.V. Club the genesis of this song: "Like most songs, it was an accident. It wasn't some magical thing, like, 'Yeah, that's golden!' On that particular day, there was a baby grand piano in the living room. We were borrowing it from someone, and we only had it for a few days. I was screwing around and came up with the riff, and I immediately thought, 'That's M*A*S*H! That's the theme song from M*A*S*H. It's very beautiful. I wish I could use this.' I recorded the riff on a tape real quick and put it away. Several weeks later, I came back to it and thought, 'Man, this can be a Midlake song. It doesn't have to be the M*A*S*H theme song.'"
  • Smith also commented on the lyrics: "It definitely has that feeling of escapism, of wanting to live in a different time and be a different person. Not being satisfied with the way things are. I didn't plan that. I guess I must just be like that."

    When asked where that escapism comes from, Smith explained: "The easy thing to say is that I enjoy classical music. I enjoy Renaissance paintings and medieval paintings. All of those put images in your head. When I listen to Prokofiev or Rachmaninoff, it's not the hardened streets of New York. It's out in the woods or something. That's my happy place. There's a real longing to be in that place, but people hardly ever get there. You get up and go to work instead."

    So what's Smith trying to escape from? He replied: "I don't know. I guess there's a lot to escape from, but that's not solving the problem, right? I probably shouldn't be preaching that to people. [Laughs] That's just the way I deal with a lot of things. I don't get involved in politics. I think most people who argue about politics don't really know enough about it to be arguing." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2
  • This was featured in the 2009 thriller The Cry of the Owl, starring Julia Stiles and Paddy Considine.
  • Tim Smith recalled the story of the song to Uncut in 2016:

    "The lyrics simply started with their first word 'stonecutters.' From that word everything else formed. The scene was set in my mind and the words came very quickly over a few days, which is pretty fast for me. My actual life has never been too exciting, so it made more sense to make things up from the world in my head. The lyrics comfy what I was feeling at the time, and still am, really, elements of the countryside, a simpler life, honest work, working for others, the excitement of embarking on a new adventure, and loneliness."


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