This song came together over a several year period in a most unusual and gratifying way. In early 2006 I rented a small 600-year old house in Frigiliana, Spain, where I spent many weeks focused on writing material for this album. One of the musical ideas I was working on at the time consisted of the arpeggiated introduction and opening chords for "A Million Miles Away," though I had at that time no lyrical ideas whatsoever and no sense of song structure. I just loved playing this little passage, over and over again, though I never was able to turn it into anything. Eventually I would wind up setting it aside.
One day I was having lunch at La Taberna de Sacristan, a small patio restaurant I liked in the square just below the cathedral. Daydreaming in the noonday sun, I found myself ruminating on how the pursuit of art and beauty can truly lead a person to a place beyond return where only those things will satisfy the soul, with ties to all else jeopardized. The idea wasn't at all clearly formed, but it did make an impression on me in the moment as having some kind of potential, and certainly as having the power of truth about it. When I went back through my journals recently to see what I wrote that day, I found I had scrawled the words "a million miles away...in a world of books and ideas." My journals are filled with these kinds of things, almost never leading anywhere. I bet only 1 out every 100 ideas I've written down like this ever amount to anything, yet it's all part of the process.
A couple of years later, back in LA, I was writing a song on the piano, one I never finished about misplaced patriotism. The song was starting to take shape and I had a number of lyric ideas jotted down. One afternoon I recalled that little abandoned guitar introduction I had been working on in Spain, and wondered if perhaps that arpeggiated section might work on this new song. I began playing it over and over again on the piano, just as I had in Spain on the guitar, and found myself dreamily transported back to those days. For some inexplicable reason, out of nowhere it suddenly occurred to me that the lyric idea I had in the square in Frigiliana that day might work perfectly with the arpeggiated guitar part I had been working on up the hill in my house at the very same time, but had never previously ever connected. It was as if those two ideas were inherently linked together, not only by temperament, but by time and place -- and yet it took years for this recognition to dawn upon me, and in the most roundabout manner imaginable. The song, of course, became something else, but that explains its origins.