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'Wanderlust': Song-By-Song with Gavin Rossdale

May 26th, 2008 11:00am EDT
Gavin RossdaleSome Days: I met someone from Fox in a grocery store who came up and asked if maybe I could write something for TV. It was nice because I love being commissioned. I must have been a dog in a previous life because I quite like someone throwing a ball and I have to fetch it. So I wrote the song for this TV show Drive. They had sixty songs already but felt they all missed the mark. It was a show about people on a journey, so I looked at it through my eyes and I wrote this song the next day. They loved it. I thought "Great – this song will make me a star like something on Grey's Anatomy." Then the show was canceled after four episodes, so it's just my song now.

Frontline: Obviously we've all been watching wars around the world of late that have been shocking and horrible even if you agreed with them -- which most of us didn't. It was clearly dodgy and has become a chronic diversion of funds. It's hard to get political in songs unless you've committed your whole creative life to that like Rage Against the Machine. But the situation is so shocking and heartbreaking, so I wrote my anti-war song imagining how I would feel if I was there -- because my experience has only been about getting killed in print. As a parent, imagining anybody's kid over there is too, too horrible.

Forever May You Run: I didn't have a studio at the time so I called up Linda Perry who Gwen had worked with and I think is just great. I had never co-written anything but I wanted to start with Linda. We began this song, and since I don't play piano, I asked her if she would. I started singing this bit and she put a nice change in. Then Linda sent me home saying she had my vibe and would try to write something. I went home and I wrote this song that I wanted to have a little of that universal feeling of "Everybody Hurts" Linda played me what she had done, and I played her what I'd done. And she said let's do yours. Jimmy Iovine's daughter Jade heard this one and got her father excited about that song. That was the song that green-lit this record.

The Skin I'm In: In London, we live opposite Primrose Hill, and it's a beautiful love pad. I was there and wanted to write a really truthful love song. I wrote "The Skin I'm In" in a studio I had that was eventually turned into the nursery. It had a picture of Johnny Lydon and Bob Marley on the walls -- two men who meant the world to me. To me, this one's more Bob that Johnny, with its little reggae feel. Really it's just a nice song for my girl.

Drive: I'm guilty of writing about some of the same themes over and over. I'm one for owning up to life's struggle -- even the Buddhists say, "Life is suffering." Coming to LA to be with Gwen was great, but the move was somewhat isolating because all my friends were in London. And I didn't want to come here and just lean on the person I love. So that move was intense. Marriage itself is intense. I wrote this song and I couldn't call it "Landslide" because Stevie Nicks had gotten there first with one of my favorite songs. But that word still fit. Hope Stevie doesn't mind

Gavin Rossdale

Future World: This was almost the template for the record --- that sensual feel and songs about living in the modern world of hard-wired cable and firewalls. It really is another in a long list of my survival guide songs. I think life is hard for everyone – no matter what you do. It's just such a fragmented, fractured world that you just to have a lot of ability to make a lot of glue in every area.

Love Remains The Same: I really wanted to write my drinking song -- my drowning of the sorrows song. I have a tough wife with high standards so there are those times when there is a disconnect. It's hard to be with anybody for any length of time, and there are those times when you realize we need to make an effort here. I'm not really a drinking man, but I can imagine. It does have a certain Bukowski ness to it. I didn't want to hide behind anything.

If You're Not With Us, You're Against Us: I'm really inspired by Radiohead -- as anyone who loves music should be I think. Thom is such an interesting writer. I like what he does with phrases. This song is about who's starting all the war, and manipulating the world purely for themselves at the expense of the masses. We all know the difference between right and wrong --there's not really that much grey area.

This Is Happiness: There was a particular week when that I went with Gwen to New York. It was one of those times when parking space after parking space, everything fit in perfectly. Something about it was so magical, and when I wrote this album I wanted to make sure I had some of those up moments. I have such a deep love for New York -- probably my favorite city in the world. I quite like that middle eight, "You make me so much better/I hope I don't make you worse." Bob loved it so much he said we should have it twice. And Chris's guitar solo is fantastic,

Another Night In The Hills: I was writing with Dave Stewart. I went to his studio and I wanted to do something less self-conscious. I'd moved up into the Hollywood Hills. I said, "Let's do a new wave song, not painfully earnest but actually fun. Writing with Dave is hilarious because he has no attention span. He had a good riff and then went off to take a phone call. But that's great because it suits my personality because I'm more comfortable working some things out on my own.

The Trouble I'm In: That's Shirley Manson of Garbage fame singing with me. One of my favorite records of all time is Bob Dylan's "Desire" and especially "Isis" and "One More Cup of Coffee" with the great female voice blended in. I love that. It's another thing that being in a band was not possible, Now it's whatever goes. At first Shirley didn't want to sing on it. I wrote her and she wrote back and said, "You persuasive bastard." So she came to sing on it. And she's great on it. It's just about relationships and how we're always in trouble.

Beauty In The Beast: Often I will just write the lyrics first and they'll lead me to a musical feeling. I wanted to write a nighttime urban song. That's as close as I'll get to writing like Beirut – whose music I love. What Dave Stewart did for me on this one was to write really great bass lines. Dave's bass part allowed me to get deeply in that plaintive mood. The song's meant to feel like walking down by Soho in England.

This Place Is On Fire: That was the working title for the record. I have a studio upstairs in my house and Gwen was downstairs with her design team. The clothes were looking amazing and she had the artwork for her album out and I was upstairs with this huge Dr. Dre-like bass woofer and the music was going. And the engineer was like, "Wow, this place is amazing." And I was like "Yeah, this place is on fucking fire. " I though `Oh my god, that's the title." So I started singing with a Vocoder. It's a nod to my wife. It was a longer piece but I thought it was a nice trippy way to end. And maybe open my shows."