Should I dedicate my album to The Girl or not?
February 28, 2005 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I recorded a solo album, the first recording I've done since the dissolution of my old band after 8 1/2 years. It's a typical breakup album, in the sense that most of the songs are in some way connected to the relationship I had with my ex-girlfriend, the breakup, or my life since. Should I put a dedication in it for her?

I'm not very big on these things, and I've tried to ignore it for a while, but now that it's finished I just can't seem to get around the fact. If I did it it wouldn't be meant as mushy or anything, just a nod to the person without whom this simply wouldn't have been an album.

At the same time, it would have to be big, on the second page of the booklet, like, as a preamble even: i.e. not "For X" but simply "X:". I mean, thanking her in the liner notes would seem inappropriate: it's just a very different ballpark from "thanks for borrowing those mics and letting me play your band's drum kit", if you catch my drift.

I'm just worried that either a) she doesn't want to be confronted/reminded and b) she or I will regret it after some time and it will seem silly in retrospect.

What do you think?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane to Media & Arts (20 answers total)
Wow. Are you sure this idea of making the dedication "big" isn't coming out of bitterness (or wanting to get back together)?

How about small print in the back: "A nod to X, without whom this simply wouldn't have been possible."
posted by nobody at 2:20 PM on February 28, 2005

a nod to the person without whom this simply wouldn't have been an album.

My feeling is that if the two of you are on okay non-stalkerish terms, even if it's as broken-up partners, then this is appropriate. If you think she doesn't or may not want to be reminded, then this is not appropriate. Your saying "it would have to be big..." is in some way already showing your preferences. I think there are ways to be meaningful in liner notes without making some sort of big, possibly misinterpreted dedication. Just like you said it actually, as the last thing "and to X, without whom this simply wouldn't have been an album." Looks like me and nobody agree.
posted by jessamyn at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2005

I agree with nobody (hey, that somehow makes sense). You have to accept that she's not only going to "read" this, she's going to "read into" it. Make your intentions clear.

Unless, of course, this is a shaded cry for her attention. And in that case, you should have a photo of her name written in your blood.
posted by ColdChef at 2:23 PM on February 28, 2005

"Inspired by...."

It's your call I think. I wouldn't worry about her reading it, if the album is about her you can say that on the sleeve and there isn't much she can do about it. Unless as suggested above this is some sort of coded message or cry for help. It's really down to how honest you want to be, and I suppose that - as well as her reaction - depends on whether the songs are generally positive or negative towards her.
posted by fire&wings at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2005

If you think she doesn't or may not want to be reminded

Would she bother getting a copy of his CD if she were trying that hard to avoid him?
posted by patgas at 2:34 PM on February 28, 2005

Well, as you're asking for suggestions, I'd say no. It's over. You'll both move on. It will seem silly in years to come. I mean, you know, she'll probably know when she hears the album, who else needs to know?
posted by carter at 2:36 PM on February 28, 2005

You didn't mention what kind of terms you're on with your ex. If you're on bad terms, I think a giant "thanks to XXX for three years of hell, without which none of this would have been possible" is an appropriate dedication for a breakup album.
posted by Jairus at 2:46 PM on February 28, 2005

I would say no. Isn't writing, composing, and recording an entire album of songs about her and yall's relationship enough of a dedication? If she listens to your songs, I'm guessing it'll be pretty obvious to her who you're singing about. A dedication seems like overkill at that point.

I don't recall if Pink Floyd put a dedication to Syd Barret in the liner notes of Wish You Were Here, but if they did, they didn't need to. Everyone knows what they were talking about because of their clarity of purpose. I suspect your album has that same clarity.
posted by samh23 at 2:53 PM on February 28, 2005

I think you'd be a bigger person if you didn't.
posted by trbrts at 2:54 PM on February 28, 2005

What is the album named? You could indirectly give her a nod by referencing some inside joke you had with her.
posted by norm at 2:55 PM on February 28, 2005

I wouldn't.

I myself have recorded an album like this once, and it is the most unlistenable thing I have ever done. It is was a great release for me to work through my feelings, but at the end of the day it is both painful to listen to, and at times embarrassingly bad (not that yours yours is). It might be something you come to regret. Pius, I just think it is better if it is vague; if this person ever listens to the album and has questions they can ask you.

I also hate thank-you's in liner notes, so I may be biased - they seem arbitrary and insincere.
posted by Quartermass at 2:56 PM on February 28, 2005

Plus, when you get a new gf, and she comes round to your place, and she picks up the CD and sees the dedication, you're busted.
posted by carter at 3:09 PM on February 28, 2005

I would say no. Isn't writing, composing, and recording an entire album of songs about her and yall's relationship enough of a dedication? If she listens to your songs, I'm guessing it'll be pretty obvious to her who you're singing about.

I strongly agree with this. Making some sort of huge "this record is based on my breakup with Jane Smith" announcement seems really loaded, whether or not you're on good terms (though especially so if you're not). If you're on friendly terms, though, and you really feel a genuine need to acknowledge her without any ulterior motive (be honest!), I think a simple, low-key mention of her name in the the thank you section would be sufficient. (Personally, I'm in two minds about "thank you" sections in liner notes as it is -- I don't think they're necessarily arbitrary and insincere, as Quartermass says, but sometimes they do come off as gratuitous or painfully insider-ish.)
posted by scody at 3:10 PM on February 28, 2005

Yeah totally, totally lame. If I ever saw an album with that on it, I'd forever think about your relationship -- totally alienating the listener. The old addage, "no one gives a shit about your relationships but you", is true... even though it's incredibly real to you. Basically what I'm saying, "ditto".
posted by geoff. at 3:27 PM on February 28, 2005

If one of my ex's wrote a amazing album about the exit I'd be annoyed if it was rubbed in with a head nod. Not to mention depending on what girl you pick up in the future, it will be documented for jealousy.
posted by sled at 3:40 PM on February 28, 2005

Response by poster: Wow. The feedback is more than I expected, and the diversity of the answers goes to show for the many factors that come into play, I guess . And I thought I was just being fussy :) Thanks guys!

Some clarification:
-We are on friendly, certainly non-stalking terms. It's over, and I get that by now.
-Inside jokes seem like a bad idea: I don't want to put a big stamp on the album, it needs to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
-I should also add, when I say "most of the songs are in some way connected" I mean that there's some link in my mind, not necessarily in the mind of the listener (that's why we like songs, right? Cause we can make up our own story to suit our own lives/minds?).
-carter makes a good point, but then again - we all have a past, why not document it creatively and be frank about it?
-To geoff, one of the things that prompted me to ask this question was reading the liner notes for one of Bright Eyes' albums, I don't have it here but it's probably "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning", which have a big "for X and Y, whose coming and going have inspired... etc." (paraphrased). To me as a listener, it kinda put things into perspective: you're going to subconsciously make up your own backstory anyway, offering specifics and naming names have never really hampered the experience for me as a listener.

Thanks a heap for the feedback - you guys have given me a lot to think about. I think I'll go do that now. :)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:59 PM on February 28, 2005

Write a short song, the lyrics of which make an acrostic of her name. Stick it on the end as a hidden track.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:20 PM on February 28, 2005

I don't see why this would be necessary at all. To anyone who doesn't personally know you and her, it'll come off as meaningless at best and immature or silly at worst. I don't think we all need to be taking our cues for conduct from Conor Oberst.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:19 PM on February 28, 2005

I've seen the liner notes of some albums have a "special thanks to..." section before the rest of the thank yous that implies anyone mentioned in the former section had some vital role to the creation of the album worth being mentioned separately from "thanks mom, dad, joe who let me use his drums" type areas. Special thanks, from what I've seen, are usually in the same font and text size as the other thank yous but appear before and separated from them. Would something like this work?

It seems like making any bigger a deal of it than that would seem kinda cheesy. I haven't seen the Bright Eyes dedication you described but it doesn't sound like something I would get any special meaning from, although I don't know the album so if there's some meaning to it that I wouldn't catch if I didn't know who was instrumental in its creation and why then the dedication might have some relevance. If your work is clearly a break-up album, putting her name in a special thanks section would probably present her relevance to the material clearly enough without having to hit anyone over the head with a big "[her name] MADE THIS POSSIBLE" (or whatever) thing on the second page which I doubt will make anyone who didn't care enough to read the liner notes suddenly care. Or maybe that's just me.
posted by DyRE at 8:08 PM on February 28, 2005

If you know of any albums by other artists that are obviously about their breakups (Jackson Browne's I'm Alive comes to mind), look in the liner notes and see if the artist(s) did something similar. I don't have the example CD handy, but my guess is that Jackson didn't say "Thanks for helping me write this material, Darrell!"

Congrats on going solo (in the band sense, not the breakup). Good luck with the CD!
posted by terrapin at 8:46 AM on March 1, 2005

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