In October of 2001, North Carolina's Sorry About Dresden released their much-loved sophomore album, The Convenience of Indecision. Formed four years before by two North Carolinians (Eric Roehrig and James Hepler) and two transplanted Nebraskans (Matt Oberst and Matt Tomich), by the beginning of 2001, the band was so bursting with energy and ideas that they were barely able to contain themselves. They'd released their debut album, The Mayor Will Abdicate, in 1999; a record thrumming with youthful enthusiasm, buzzing with fuzzy guitars and thunderous bass and drums. Cacophony and melody in equal shares, struggling for dominance. The album seemed to sum up the sound of the then-ending decade, a final reflection of people in their twenties during the Nineties, a decade of possibility and optimism. The band thrashed ignorant of any boundary set against them.
After a few years of touring, in 2001, the band signed to Saddle Creek for their second album. They were writing and recording at an impressive pace, producing more material than any one release could contain, doling out songs into an EP (How the Cold War Began), several seven-inches, and compilations along the way. In the autumn of 2000, they convened for the first of the two recording sessions that would make up The Convenience of Indecisionat Sound of Music Studios in Richmond, Virginia, with Brian Paulson. In Spring 2001, they traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska to record more with Mike Mogis at Presto! Recording Studios.
In contrast to the songs found on their first album, the songs that made up The Convenience of Indecision were darker, the moods colored deeper. There were still wound-up pop songs with crackling choruses, perfect for shouting out of the rolled down windows of cars in the night, but the album’s overall tenor matched the snow-covered street that would adorn the cover. There had been a turn: older now, an increase in the responsibilities of adulthood looming in, the past taking a larger portion than the future. There were marriages and children. There were breakups and losses.
The final product of these sessions is a triumph: a warm, humane, aching record. The sound of friends aging together and feeling the real edges of the complicated world, one that resonates louder and louder with each year that passes.
Yet, at heart, Sorry About Dresden were obstinate young punks still and when picking from the array of songs they’d recorded, they made a decision against everyone's suggestion: they did not include one of their best songs on the album. "Ghost (Is Leaving Me)," recorded during the Mogis sessions in Lincoln, is a gorgeous, grown-up ballad. Everyone who heard it told them to put it on the album. Even better: make it the last song--a final graceful note of uplift and communion (as it stands, the album ends with the equally beautiful, though more downbeat, "A Reunion of Sorts"). And perhaps because it was what others told them to do, they didn't include it.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of The Convenience of Indecision, Saddle Creek is proud to present the song now. While the band had two prolific and talented songwriters in Matt Oberst and Eric Roehrig, the two always wrote and sang their own songs. This makes "Ghost (Is Leaving Me)" special as it is one of the few songs that both Matty and Eric sang together, accompanied by Hepler and Tomich on concertina and bass organ.
Whatever the reason for not including the song, it serves now as a gift to us from the past and serves as a reminder of what a great band Sorry About Dresden was. With Matt Oberst’s passing in 2016, we lost a great songwriter, musician, and friend. “Ghost (Is Leaving Me)” gives us a chance to hear him again. A song connects the friends who play it and the audience who loses their voices shouting along, pressed right up against the stage. It connects us through time to our younger selves, unaware of the sorrow and joy that are inexorably coming our way, and reminds us that there is almost always something more coming.
Release Date: October 22, 2021
1. Ghost (Is Leaving Me)