Here’s the opening segment of “Make Me Smile,” a new SURGE track written and read by me (William Nava) with music by John Passaro and Daniel Howard.
Some may recognize the title – back when SURGE released bi-weekly episodes, “Make Me Smile” was announced as the next installment three times. All three times were followed by extended silent hiatuses.
In many ways the history of “Make Me Smile” is the history of SURGE.
I wrote the text for “Make Me Smile” January 2013, originally intended to fit into a five-minute open mic slot. The text quickly ballooned well past that possibility, leaving the poor piece homeless. Having recently completed a super-sized album, I didn’t feel up to another full-lengther. But I really loved “Make Me Smile,” and didn’t want to just produce it as some awkward 18-minute single.
So SURGE was conceived out of a desire for “Make Me Smile” to have a bigger home than I was willing to build myself. It was originally gonna be an hour-long album consisting of three tracks: “Make Me Smile,” with music by John Passaro; John Passaro’s “The Man” (now titled “Flow”); and Daniel Howard’s “The Gift.”
The album was set up as a time-crunch challenge, to be completed before I was to leave on an extended trip. We failed it miserably – not one of the three tracks was done by the time I headed for the airport.
John took over the project while I was away. He conceived and executed the successful transition to bi-weekly podcast. I joined John as co-producer during production of episode three. “Make Me Smile” was promised as episode four.
“Make Me Smile” went from late to very late until another episode was completed and released. “Make Me Smile” was promised as episode five.
The hiatus that followed was even longer. Summer and winter volumes were conceived to freshen SURGE’s energy. “Make Me Smile” was handed off to Daniel Howard to add music. Two more episodes were finally released. Naturally, “Make Me Smile” was promised next, and again, SURGE came to a stop.
Why? The culprits here are no mystery: insecurities, pressures, expectations, inexperience, laziness. The shit that usually kills young projects. But why “Make Me Smile” in particular?
I offer two interpretations:
John, Dan, and I co-created “Make Me Smile,” so it is the only track by SURGE’s original three. It began SURGE, and will not see full light of day until the release of the complete album. In addition, it is easily John’s most ambitious musical undertaking yet. All this extra significance proved paralyzing.
The track opens with an act of unspeakable violence, from which the rest of the piece must heal – through struggle, acceptance, vacillation, and finally, transformation. So my other interpretation is this: “Make Me Smile” retroactively provides an instructive allegory for dealing with the debilitating forces that resisted its completion.
For us, the track represents both SURGE and the struggle for productivity. The release of this teaser thus serves as a symbolic home-stretch marker for us, and a cause for celebration.
We hope you enjoy it.