I wrote the autobiographical "I Didn't Mean To Be Unkind" in late 1978, shortly after I left Marquette. I'd moved to Marinette to work at a radio station, never again to live in Marquette.
Musically, the acoustic guitar part was a huge challenge. I posted earlier about the Eadd9 and Amadd9 chords, even posted a picture. Both chords require stretching my aging hands across four frets; easy when I was 22, not so easy at 64. Let's just say modern recording technology and re-takes made it possible. I also got a lovely smooth tone - again - from my cheeseball Telecaster. Loving that axe. Lastly, the string section came courtesy of a new MIDI controller, a tiny little Akai instrument that is literally no wider than my laptop. It's tiny by design and made it a lot easier to add strings.
As for the lyrics, well. The original version of the song had ME moving away, and envisioning the girl left behind, "coffee cold, eyes full of tears." Last month, when I revisited the song for the first time in over 40 years, it struck me how egotistical and self-centered that was. I mean REALLY.
Yet I loved the music, and the feelings behind the song were very real. I worked on it, adding the middle eight ("It was over...") in an attempt to explain what had gone wrong. (It *was* my fault, after all, that things didn't work out.) I added a fictional 'last night together' to make it more poignant. But it still wasn't right.
Then I hit on the idea of flipping the script. She became the one who left, while I was the one staying behind, heartbroken. Suddenly it all made sense. And had an ironic realization; while the song was ostensibly about her, it was really about me. When I made the song about me, it ended up actually being about her. And that's as it should be.
So the story is no longer historically accurate, although the feelings come from my heart. As for the girl, well, I won't reveal her name. But she knows who she is, and she's heard it. I hope she likes it.
July 9th, 2020