Cheshire Kitten (We're All Mad Here)
Words & music by S. J. Tucker
Guitars, vocals: S. J. Tucker
Tracked & mixed by Ginger Doss, Eagle Audio USA

I started writing "Cheshire Kitten" in the winter of 2008, at a restaurant north
of Portland, Oregon, between a bookstore concert in Portland and an appearance
at Conflikt 1 in Seattle.  I finished the song that July, sitting outside the Camellia
Lounge in Portland, Oregon, before a Tricky Pixie concert.  The concept arrived
as a "what if", and I don't remember what, if anything, prompted it.  The same
thing happened with the Wendy songs, when I wrote them--a lightning-bolt idea
snuck into my head unannounced, and I asked "what if?"  What if the Cheshire Cat
isn't always so sure of himself?  What if there's more than oneCheshire Cat? 
How do subsequent generations of Cheshire Kittens feel about living up to their elders'
reputation of madness and mischief?  And suddenly, a Cheshire Kitten walked into
my mind and told me all about how she felt.

Maybe anyplace outside of Wonderland
is not for me, my friend.


In July, her story filled itself out, all at once, pulled together by that
delicious line in the chorus:
If I leave my grin behind, remind me
that we're all mad here
and it's okay!

All of us dreamers must find a balance between Wonderland and the real world,
and it isn't always easy.  Some of us are broken by it.  Some of us are made
stronger.  You can't spend all your time in one place or the other.  You have
to visit both, and you have to trust yourself to find your way back.

About the recording: for the recorded version, I wanted to capture a bit of frenetic
silliness, something like what the voices in your head might sound like when they're
all trying to be helpful at once--hence the devolution into kitten-talk and scat
singing in the last minute or so of the song.  I recorded those vocals in our friend
Karla's basement laundry room (just about anything can become a vocal booth
on short notice when you're on the road.  Ginger and I are pretty adaptable), in
Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Interesting fact:  the opening guitar lick of "Cheshire Kitten" is a direct nod
to and a near carbon copy of the ending melody of Michelle Dockrey's "The Girl
That's Never Been", a song inspired by a story about grown-up Alice meeting the
Cheshire Cat for a drink.  Michelle (aka Vixy) and I often put those two songs
back-to-back in our setlists at shared shows, completely on purpose.  Vixy was
one of the first people to hear "Cheshire Kitten", after I finished writing it,
and we sing it together nearly every chance we get.  Spookier and spookier: I
started writing it a few hours before she and I met, and I finished it exactly
one week after we had our first shared concert.  ooOOOOoooOOOOOOOOoooo

Special thanks to Karla and family for use of their space, Gingy, and my Kitten
Sundae tribe.
.

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