The title track of the album is based on one of us writing about the other, and one of us writing about herself, so we thought both perspectives might provide some good context and back story for this song.
(John) The title track for the album, this one came to life as a simple riff played on a three-string cigar box one afternoon early in the pandemic, when we were trying to get used to the fact that music venues were closed, and everywhere (it felt) was closed. I was playing around with this little guitar riff (which would become the verse) while at the same time watching our calendar in 2020 get rearranged by forces outside our control. Wallowing in despair, I thought it was all over–“it” of course being undefined and just kind of the existential “everything”. But no! This riff brought me some comfort, and one day I saw Rebecca walking around the house and I was like “man I get to hang out with one FIREBALL HOT ROD FAST MACHINE of a lady, what the hell am I complaining about?”. And there it was–the idea that sparked the song, and as our usual process goes, anything I write goes to Rebecca to become an actual good song (as I’m prone to spilling out random ideas, some of which are good, and many of which are not). Rebecca sorts the good from the bad, and most importantly, she writes them into actual songs. So I gave this to her and said “hey, I had an idea to write a song about how hot you are, but I only wrote one line, can you write the rest of it”?
(Rebecca) This song was called “Cigar Box Shuffle” for far longer than I’d like to admit. John came up with the base rockabilly vibe on the three-string cigar box, and since we’d been trying to write more on that instrument for awhile, it seemed like we had the beginning of something good. Problem was, it really didn’t have any words. But we liked it, and John spent a little time drafting out some concepts for the overall feel–nothing really set in stone yet.
The idea was there, but not much else, when John asked me to finish writing a song he said he was writing about me. When we write together, there’s usually a little more to go on at this point, but we talked through what the tone and style needed to be, and I went to work getting the lyrics in place.
I kept the opening line he wrote, and a few others throughout–in particular, my favorite line of the song: “Low down high life, living the dream”. But it stalled again as we tried to find the third verse, so for the first several performances of this song, we just repeated the first verse at the end. That’s not a formula I care for though, and I worried that we’d perform it that way too long and it would stick. After a month or so, I sat down over coffee and the third verse basically fell out. With that in place, we were able to finalize the composition of the last chorus and outro, and it was finally finished.
The title stayed “Cigar Box Shuffle” well after we realized that the range of the cigar box (mostly G) was not going to fit the key we ended up playing the song in (D) and moved it over to the archtop guitar. That was only ever a placeholder title to begin with, and it didn’t even make sense any more. I love to title songs with something that’s from the song, but that’s not necessarily obvious. And combing through the lyrics and phrases, I thought that “Fireball” summed up the vibe, the sound, and the theme in a delightfully punchy way, which also worked out quite nicely as a title track for the record. (Way better than “Cigar Box Shuffle”!)