“What’d I do to you?”

I don’t remember exactly what he did or what he said, but whatever it was, it irritated Jeana, our keyboard player, and she let him know about it. We had enlisted my college roommate Mark Derby (The Derb) to manage bookings for THE SWOON. His efforts met with varying degrees of success, landing lucrative college shows and terrible little American Legion Halls in small-town Minnesota. He brought to the mix a tactless forthrightness which sometimes transgressed the boundaries of our keyboardists’ sense of dignity. It happened once again during a SWOON rehearsal while we were still putting together a new song to be titled “Sister Mary Francis.” Picture the scene in the unheated, unfinished second-story addition to the Gillispie family home in Cottonwood. In the winter, it was so cold up there that we had to light up a kerosene heater at least an hour before rehearsal just to thaw our instruments out. Perhaps while waiting for the room to warm up, Mark made some seemingly innocuous comment which was probably not innocuous at all, thus inciting Jeana’s retort and inspiring his protest of innocence, “What’d I do to you?”

There was something a rhythm to the way he said it that made us laugh. To his amusement, Austin and I dropped the outburst into the new song we were writing on the spot.

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Here’s an old song from THE SWOON you might not have heard before. “Medicine” was in the set list for a long time, and it was one of the songs that we submitted for inclusion in the Neverland project, but it didn’t make the selection for the studio work. This version, recorded during a live rehearsal in January of 1989, in preparation for the Neverland recordings, captures the song’s energy and REM-inspired guitar riffs. Thirty-two years later, the message of the song seems no-less pertinent, nor the petition less urgent.