Second Nature

Background and Commentary

“‘Second Nature’ sounds like an older and wiser version of ‘A Farewell to Kings’ after the painful maturation of ‘Distant Early Warning.’ The thought is not to replace the demon-kings with a flock of new Jeffersons and Lockes, but rather to negotiate with the powers that be.”—Carol Selby Price and Robert Price, Mystic Rhythms

“It’s a conciliatory message. If we can’t reach perfection in this world then let’s at least settle for some degree of improvement. Sometimes we have to accept something less than total victory. It’s like the difference between compromise and balance. The politician who campaigns for clean air but doesn’t want to close down the stinking factory in his area because thousands of people will lose their jobs. My viewpoint is that I’ll take as much as I can without hurting other people. . . . To me it seems obvious that we should wish our cities to be as nice as our forests and that people should behave in a humane fashion—yet this is also clearly a naive and laughable assumption. I want a perfect world and can be bothered to do something about it, yet I can’t do it on my own. So, even if you don’t want the things that I do, at least let’s make a deal and go for some improvement. But you shouldn’t just scream about it in a song. If you really care about a cause, them get involved with people who are doing something about it, people who are self-actuating. That’s what I do in my own time, without any clarion call for publicity. I go out into the dirty world.” (Metal Hammer) You want to say things in a way that is not only not preachy but also not boring. So, finding the images like ‘second nature’—I was really fond of that analogy of saying ‘we want our homes to be a second nature.’ That was taking a common phrase and being able to twist it to say what you want it to say.” (Profiled!)—Neil in Merely Players

Neil in his book Roadshow says the song articulates a moderating of his (environmental) goals over time. The lyrics, he says, “included the realization that even if I could not accept compromise, I would have to accept limitations. ‘I know perfect’s not for real / I thought we might get closer / But I’m ready to make a deal.'”


A memo to a higher office
Open letter to the powers that be
To a god, a king, a head of state
A captain of industry
To the movers and the shakers
Can’t everybody see?

It ought to be second nature
I mean, the places where we live
Let’s talk about this sensibly
We’re not insensitive
I know progress has no patience
But something’s got to give

I know you’re different
You know I’m the same
We’re both too busy
To be taking the blame
I’d like some changes
But you don’t have the time
We can’t go on thinking
It’s a victimless crime
No one is blameless
But we’re all without shame
We fight the fire while we’re feeding the flames

Folks have got to make choices
And choices got to have voices
Folks are basically decent
Conventional wisdom would say
But we read about the exceptions
In the papers every day

It ought to be second nature
At least, that’s what I feel
Now I lay me down in Dreamland
I know perfect’s not for real
I thought we might get closer
But I’m ready to make a deal

Today is different, and tomorrow the same
It’s hard to take the world the way that it came
Too many rapids keep us sweeping along
Too many captains keep on steering us wrong
It’s hard to take the heat
It’s hard to lay blame
To fight the fire while we’re feeding the flames

Tablature (Bass)

Excerpted from Ultimate Guitar.

w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w

+w +w +w +w +w +w +w +w Q e+h +e e+h e e Q e+h +H e e

Q e+h +H q Q e+h +H e e Q e+h +H e e Q Q q +h+Q e w

e e e e e e e e +e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e e +e e e e e e e e

q e e e e e e +e e e e e e q q e e e e e e +e q q q e

e e e e e e e e +e e e e q e e q q e e e e +e e q e e e e q Q e e e

+e e Q q e h+Q e +w Q e+h +w Q e+h +w Q e+h +w Q e+h

For complete tab, go to Ultimate Guitar.


“Second Nature” bass cover

“Second Nature” drum cover

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~ by rvkeeper on February 8, 2011.

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