First on the album, this was actually the last song written to make it to the final session. I knew that I wanted something to feature Rob's bass and Jeff's drums as "melody" instruments. The stumbling line is written out to feel shaky and menacing, Rob 'un-tuned' his bass, and Jeff played purposely ahead and behind the beat. I was actually in the recording room conducting the breaks, although I quickly realized that the musicians could sense them better than I could ever direct. Oscar added the organ chorale that is later heard by Grey's guitar (at the very end), and as a finishing touch we put Peter in the booth and basically wouldn't let him out until he played every horrible shriek he could think of.
Laurie Frink and I recorded several trumpet melodies later on, but ultimately decided that the song worked better as a collage focused on the drums and bass. Also, I think it's kind of cool that the first song on a trumpet player's album has no trumpet on it.
The title refers to a powerful poem by W.S. Merwin that describes the climate of the long March our president ordered various Oklahoman Native American tribes to make:
The sky goes on living it goes
on living the sky
with all the barbed wire of the west in its veins
and the sun goes down
driving a stake
through the black heart of Andrew Jackson
It may be one of the most gruesome acts in our nation's history, and this song is meant to honor the hardship while still remind us of the beauty and perseverance of the human spirit.