Jared Kolesar has found songs in the best and worst of times.
For Jared & The Mill’s new single “Eliza,” it was definitely the worst of times. He wrote the song in Nashville with his bandmates Larry Gast III and Michael Carter, and Ben Roberts of the act Carolina Story.
“We were just vibing, but I was so hungover that day,” Kolesar says. “I was unable to function. Ben was giving us a tour of his house, which is outside of Nashville. His wife was lovely. His kids were lovely.
“I felt like a complete animal. It was the level of hungover where you have a thousand-year stare everywhere you look. His kids were worried about me. I was trying to keep it together so hard, but apparently it wasn’t working. It was a funny introduction to the (co-)write.”
In between bathroom visits, Kolesar sat on the couch and Gast “busted out, out of nowhere, the lick” that starts “Eliza.”
“We couldn’t stop playing that opening lick,” he says. “We didn’t know what to do with it, but then we all just wanted to move forward and make something.
“He sang ‘Eliza’ for some reason. We didn’t really know why. We don’t know any particular person named Eliza. The song wasn’t inspired by anyone named Eliza. It felt good to sing over the chord he was playing. I was thinking how outrageously hungover I was.”
The feeling inspired the opening line to the chorus, “Eliza, the morning’s spilling in.”
“The light was hurting me and my brain,” he says with a laugh. “The light of day was coming in and hitting my face. Then, we didn’t know what to do with it.”
The team gave up for the night and Kolesar recalled the Rachel McAdams romantic comedy “About Time.” One of his favorite characters in film is the free-spirited sister, Katherine, played by Lydia Wilson.
“The sister in that flick is just one of my favorite characters who’s ever been written in a movie,” Kolesar says. “I love people like her, who lack the responsibility or the conceptual awareness to make decisions based solely on the responsibility factor. These little lights who make you feel alive to be around.
“A lot of times, I feel like they’re a good foil to my personality. I sometimes make decisions based solely on what is responsible. I don’t worry about my own impulse. To be around people who truly live every moment to the fullest are these lights I love being around.”
The rest of the chorus—“Realize you’re never gonna get what you give/Eliza won’t you phone it in from there/I know that it’s not fair/But nothing is/Oh Eliza”—is about people who expect the world to be kind to them because they’re that “pure,” he says.
“I’m not going to say naïve,” Kolesar adds. “‘Eliza won’t you phone it in from there/I know that it’s not fair/But nothing is’ is probably one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written.
“To me, it’s this point of growing up you achieve at some point in your life. It’s a good realization to have. The universe doesn’t care about what’s fair. There are plenty of karmic disaster out there. Things are tough. Life is hard. The earlier you get on board with that, the more true happiness is. The verse supports that rhetoric.”
That verse is “Half the time you’re reaching out/It’s true/We talk about the hurt you’re in/It’s nothing new.”
“I have friends who make terrible, terrible decisions in life and love,” he says. “They call you and they want to talk about their problems, and they’re surprised they’re irresponsible.
“Of course, you went back with your ex who cheated on you five times and did it again. ‘I can’t believe that happened. That’s unreal.’ We follow that verse up with ‘But would you take it all back/Be safe and go slowly/Oh don’t you know what it could be.’ It’s hard and it sucks, and things are crappy sometimes, but life is good.”
Jared & The Mill
“Eliza” video: youtu.be/Weyi3Ou4buU