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I Am Chaos October 10, 2022

I wrote I Am Chaos in January 2019. It was the first prompt in the first Toronto Songwriting School Songwriting Calendar that I got. In November 2018 I attended a songwriting retreat with them and it kicked off the ridiculous songwriting kick I’ve been on ever since. The prompt was to write about a household chore. Since Willie Nelson has already written an excellent song about doing the dishes, I decided that wasn’t going to be it. As I thought about chores I could write about, I started thinking about my obsession with having a really nice looking well organized home and my own inability to keep that up as well as I would like. I had been on several spurts of throwing out all the things I don’t need, and I had recently read Marie Kondo’s book about the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I really enjoy organizing. I get a real thrill out of pulling everything off the shelves and going through things, and putting them back, and discovering I don’t know where to put them back, and getting really depressed about the pile of stuff in the middle of the floor, and sitting down and crying, and then putting what’s left in a doom box, and then being excited about the part that is nice and tidy and the things that have homes, and the things that are in their homes, and the homes that are out of sight, and then I go out, and then I come home and I throw my purse on a chair, and my shopping bags on the floor, and I take my bra off and fling it across the room, and I toss my coat on the back of the couch, and before you know it…Chaos.

It was a no brainer to have the parts about order being very pretty and pure, and then the chorus loud and chaotic. I don’t remember what gave me the idea to do the long repetitions of ‘I Am Chaos’ to end the song, but I can’t imagine it ending any other way. When I toured the New Shoes album in the summer that year, I performed this song at every stop. The chord progression under the repeated ‘I Am Chaos’ changes with each rep, so that’s 6 different progressions in total that I had to memorize. I had a lot of trouble getting it right. I said at the beginning of the tour that by the last show, I would play the correct progression, and that is exactly what happened. Fortunately, since that whole section is about Chaos, it really doesn’t matter if I mess the chords up!

The title comes from a little inside joke between me and my husband. We often speak about how he is order and I am chaos. He likes to have very precise routines, I get a little snaky if I have to follow the same routine every day. We write music together and his notes are written clearly, cleanly, and linearly. My notes are all over the page, or across many pages, in different books even. There’s arrows pointing one way and another. There are parts of different songs and different sections written in between the notes for the song in question. He always starts books at the beginning and reads them to the end. If I’m not enjoying a book, I’ll skip to the middle and see if something grabs me, if not, I abandon it. Same with movies. I’ll happily start a movie in the middle, or skip ahead if I’m not enjoying it, but he can’t handle that. With video games, he must try to do his best, I’ll intentionally pick wrong answers in an RPG just to see what happens, and I’m not at all bothered by failing. He stands in one spot to undress, I walk around the house casting off articles of clothing on two floors as I go. He is order. I am chaos. We get along real well though!

— Kyla
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