“I am but one small intstrument.”

We’re sitting at the gate getting ready to board a plane for NYC. We’re on our way to begin a 10 show celebration of a record we released 10 years ago. We’ve been rehearsing quite a bit, soaking these songs in and it’s been hitting me how utterly unlikely all of this is. When we made this album we had just come off a very disappointing experience of releasing our first major label album. When we were signed, it was just assumed we were headed for massive album sales and radio play galore. Instead we were humbled into what felt like obscurity, having to explain who we were to over and over when hanging out at our record label building after being on the label for years. Imagine David Spade saying, “And you are…..?”

While making Clarity, we were completely below anyone’s radar. It was a feeling of both utter freedom and depressing insignificance. These songs were formed from posture of deep humility, doubt, and isolation. I also believe it was a time of true honesty. When no one is looking, you are most free to be who you really are. So this really is an unlikely time for us. If someone were to tell us that in ten years we’d be embarking on a sold-out tour that celebrates these songs, we would have told that person to take it easy on the crack.

So this a perfect example of how both you and I really have no idea what kind of impact we can have in the world. At the time, forming this collection of songs was a small thing and somehow they’ve had an impact we could have never imagined. It’s a reminder to never assume what you do is insignificant. The conventional wisdom of measuring success does not always yield the true weight of who we are and how we touch the world around us. It’s funny, this album is to this day one of our worst selling releases, so the numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

It’s gonna be an amazing few weeks. I can’t help but think of some words my friend wrote:

“Is tomorrow just a day like all the rest.”
How could you know just what you did?
So full of faith yet so full of doubt I ask.
Time and time again you said don’t be afraid.
“If you believe you can do it.”
The only voice I want to hear is yours.
I shall ask you this once again.
And again.
He said:
” I am but one small instrument.”
Do you remember that?
So here I am above palm trees so straight and tall.
You are smaller, getting smaller.
But I still see you.


26 thoughts on ““I am but one small intstrument.”

  1. Amazing song, even more amazing album!

    Clarity has def. made an impact on me. It has been a comfort of mine through some rough times, fantastic times and when things were just “so-so”. It is still, after ten years, in heavy rotation in my home and on my ipod.
    Music is a release and comfort for me, as I’m sure it is for many. I am blessed to have found a band that writes from their heart and souls and touches my heart and soul in the process! You should be so proud of the many waves of people and their lives that you have made a difference in!
    Safe travels on your journey and Congratulations. You deserve it!
    See you in DC and Philly!

  2. I read your blog for commentary and interviews on socio-political-religious topics. I don’t really count on or even think about JEW content when I come here even though it’s what led me to your site a long time ago.

    It may take some coffee and a quite room for me to process all that Clarity has been meant to me over the years. From the time it was released, it was the soundtrack that was playing in the background during some pivotal times in my life. One of these days I’ll take the time write it down and click send.

    I hope this short tour is full of stories from people about how this sales-challenged album brought them to a better place or encouraged them to keep fighting for something greater then themselves.

  3. I absolutely adore that song. I put a video of you guys playing it in Aus on my Facebook with a tag line: “There are great songs in the world. But try as you may, you will never find a better song than this”.

    I understand the song is about A Prayer for Owen Meany, part of which is a young man knowing exactly when he was going to die and the almost divine wisdom he had.

    Much of what I take from this song comes largely from the first lyrics. “Is tomorrow just a day, like all the rest?”.

    The thought that we all have dreams and aspirations of what we’d like to achieve, who we’d like to spend our lives with, those special moments we wish to experience. But the fact is every single day of our lives is mundane, it is 1 of a possible 7, the day our kids are born is just a day, the day we die will be just a day. This makes me actively try to appreciate every day I have. I feel contentment is a realisation that we need to appreciate what we have when we have it, because it is too easy to see things with rose tinted glasses after they’ve gone.

    It also helps that it ROCKS. I love the calm closure and audacity of the record version, but the power of the live one is exceptional. I went nuts when you played it at the Roundhouse :p Also the initial verse beat is really interesting, as with “Heaven” off that record they seem unlike your other beats, were they your babies or did Mark T have a lot of input?

    But when you talk about Clarity affecting people count me in. I got into you guys in 03/04. I bought BA hoping it had GSH, as I’d heard the outro at a (drummer) mates, obviously got the wrong one, but got into it all the same (I’d heard the singles obviously). But now every time it snows I hear a drop-D power chord, my girlfriend is my angel and so on.

    And so ends your fan mail :p All the best for the tour, feel free to bring it to the UK!

  4. hey zach. you guys are inspiring to many many people, including myself. enjoy your hard earned success. wish i could see you on this tour. it would have been my favorite so far. just to see goodbye sky harbor live… wowza.

  5. Goodbye Sky Harbour and Clarity as a whole was the soundtrack of a period of great change in my life. I started listening ten years ago and have never stopped. For me there’s no question that Clarity would be my desert island disc!

    As J.I. rightly said you can’t miss out the UK, we love Clarity too! London please.


  6. Zach,

    It’s been a wacky ten years for certain. I’ve pretty much grown up with you guys. I can remember sitting around a friends room in high school listening to Clarity. We talked about it like foodies talk about their last meals. We were not just impressed. We were STARVING for more. We were a group of kids who loved secret bands, that no one cared about. We felt like Clarity was the beginning of a revolution. After 10 years of devouring everything you guys put out I can say the world is definitely still hungry. Good luck. Have an awesome tour. Wish I could see you guys. And thanks for not giving up on the rock star dream 🙂

  7. Kick some ass out there friend. May it be a deeply profound experience among some good friends who have journeyed long and hard together. Drink it up and enjoy it all.

  8. Zach,

    You seemed to have missed my previous comment:

    Ken Silva Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    February 23rd, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Careful sayin’ stuff like that. A huge nose don’t look so good on a Rock Star, ya know.

    And I’m stictly solo acoustic these days bro.

  9. I just want to say thanks to you for being authentic on this blog, and thanks to you and the rest of the band for being so authentic when you made that record. It’s so rare. That is all.

  10. I just got back from the new york show. wow – you guys just killed me with an authentic recreation of the entire clarity album. Way to go man – You should post that picture you took at the end of the show.

  11. hope you have a blast on tour. the first (well, only) time i saw you guys was at the clarity release show ten years ago at the green room i think it was. i have alot of memories associated with those songs – what a great album to revisit.

  12. Zach,

    This is a cool post! Thanks for sharing. You spoke about being in a place of humility when you made your album–I still appreciate the level of humility you evince, at least in my discussions with you. Have fun on your tour.


  13. As somebody who saw you guys on the Clarity tour with At the Drive-In, I’m very happy to see these shows happen. If I ever do another edition of POST, these shows would be mentioned, along with mentions about the Get Up Kids reuniting and Blake forming another band after Jets to Brazil.

    Anyway, not to be one of those “it was better in the basement” guys, but I was quite happy to see “Blister” played live when I saw you guys open for the Foo Fighters last year, along with the time that “Seventeen” was played at the Gypsy Tea Room in ’05. Just a nice reminder about the greatness of the second and third records.

  14. Yo Zach,
    Just saw you in DC, and I couldn’t help but think of this blog post when I saw you look out at the crowd, and your face lit up. Bravo man, you deserve it.
    And Goodbye Sky Harbor kicked some major ass.

  15. hey zach!
    Wow! i cant believe its been 10 years!!! congrats!
    i still remember the good old times when JEW was playing infront of a small crowd in germany (Im proud to be one of them) in a club called “schwimmbad-club” in heidelberg near my town (you may remember,zach). people was like, huh? who? jimmy eat world? who is that band?

    are you and your band planning a 10 years celebration tour in germany or any tour 2009? if so, is it possible to meet you? i mean, im a big fan of jew right from the beginning, but never met them face to face.
    well, have fun

  16. Zach,

    This particular blog entry is so touching to read. I have a profound love of music and always have, as I grew up taking singing lessons for twelve years. From all of the classical works I studied to all of the rock ‘n roll I was raised on, there has been no artist whose music has inspired me the way Jimmy Eat World’s has. When I’m sad, your music makes me feel whole again. When I’m having an outstanding day, your music makes it even better.

    The best thing about JEW is that you guys have remained humble and down-to-earth throughout the years. When I rave to others about you guys and your music, I always label you as the band who has never forgotten where they came from. I truly believe that’s a rare thing.

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for always staying true to yourselves and for being individuals people can look up to. You deserve all of the fame and success you have worked so hard to achieve.

    Forever a Fan,
    Karli G. (Tempe, AZ)

  17. Hey Zach,
    I have no idea if you remember me, but I met you once at a meeting with Zack Newsome, Matt Gibson and Kyle Diroberts (among others) a year or so ago in some hotel in downtown Scottsdale. Anyways, I now live in Portland and go to Evergreen (with Bob Hyatt)…I saw that you commented on his blog and got excited to see a familiar name.

    Anyway, I love this post and what you said about never assuming that what you do is insignificant… I may have to write a blog post soon in relation to what you wrote…(maybe while listening to Clarity)

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