Photo by Bernie Dechant

This article was originally published on October 26, 2016 and re-edited on January 9, 2018.

A great song can change your life or at least make you re-evaluate certain aspects of it. It can become a legend that affects all different kinds of people. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION‘s ‘Behind The Song’ series wants to explore the stories behind those songs, in the words of the people who wrote them.

The bittersweet indie-rock ballad Inside Of Love is a stand-our piece in the two-decade-lasting career of New York City’s Nada Surf. Featured on their critically acclaimed 2002 full-length Let Go, the track about unfulfilled love became a constant in pretty much every live show the band gives. And, of course, it’s obvious that the song will also be a highlight on the group’s forthcoming anniversary tour where they will perform the record in its entire length on selected shows you can find below. To get to know more about Inside Of Love we asked Nada Surf leading man Matthew Caws about his memories and thoughts on the creation of this song.

I wrote Inside Of Love somewhere near the year 2000. Even thought I don’t remember the exact year, I know it was the middle of summer. I was living on north 8th street and bedford avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and working at Earwax Records a few blocks away. We were in the process of releasing our second album, The Proximity Effect, which we had recorded for Elektra Records in 1998 but they had never released. We were putting it out ourselves and the process was taking a long time. Meanwhile I was exploring music at home, trading a four-track for an eight-tracks, buying and selling some cheap guitars, listening to new records at the store, enjoying a twilight time: the band still holding just enough promise to hold off choosing another career, but not busy enough to take me away from home.

I started the song sitting on my couch playing a red Danelectro. I felt like I was on to something special but was having trouble really landing it. I played around with it on and off for a few days, accumulating lyrics and sometimes taking walks to help loosen up my mind. As an extreme measure I took a guitar to McCarren Park and strummed on a bench for awhile (an electric guitar so no one could hear me). I finally figured out how I wanted it to go and nearly ran home to get to a tape recorder.

The only difference between the song as I recorded it at home and the version that ended up on the record is that the more complicated chord progression that is under the ‘I know the last page so well…’ verse used to run through the whole song. We’d already tracked the whole song for Let Go when it occurred to us that we could simplify. We would only have to swap out the guitar and bass tracks. Someone had offered to make a video for us two days later, so we had to make this decision fast.

‘Inside Of Love’ seems to have really connected with people. I’ve been told many times by couples that it was their wedding song.

This makes me feel

1. very warm inside and
2. useful!

We have a concert tradition now of (most nights) asking the audience to do a little side-to-side two-step dance with us while we play it. This stems from my feeling that it was the closest I feel I’ve come to writing a soul song and I was daydreaming one day of back-up singers swaying while they sang. Some nights just this little unified action feels very special. We’re doing something small and simple all together. I have a vivid memory of playing in a town square in switzerland and people dancing in the balconies above us all around, the warm yellow light of their apartments silhouetting them.

I still have strong feelings for this song. The words still resonate with me. I feel like most people can identify with wanting to feel part of a loving relationship, of a warm and mutually supportive partnership. I’ve never gotten tired of singing it.

In the wake of the upcoming 15th anniversary tour of Let Go Nada Surf will also release a benefit compilation called Standing At The Gates which features cover versions of the album’s tracks by befriended artists (Inside Of Love will be covered by The Texas Gentlemen, for example). The sampler will be benefitting the ACLU and The Pablove Foundation (which helps children with cancer). Order it here via iTunes and here on CD.