The song had existed as “The Acoustic Song” since the early, original Jacksonville demos, when I first found and started working with the band. When you’re an A&R/Manager for a long time and come across an artist with a song or two that are hits, it’s a very special and gratifying feeling.
RJA was on a different spectrum, the demos had one song after another. Just as with Face Down, all it took was one listen:
When I see your smile
Tears roll down my face
I can’t replace
And now that I’m strong I have figured out
How this world turns cold and it breaks through my soul
And I know I’ll find deep inside me, I can be the one
I always found it incredible how Ronnie could go from urgent scream to gentle ballad. I remember once after the signing to Virgin Records hearing a producer say Ronnie had to pick one or the other, or be considered a “Jack of all trades and a master of none.” Needless to say I thought they were wrong, and I’m glad Ronnie didn’t.
I will never let you fall
I’ll stand up with you forever
I’ll be there for you through it all
Even if saving you sends me to heaven
After the signing to Virgin we re-recorded everything, and when the album was sequenced, we put the song dead last (right before the hidden track). Not normally where you would put a song you consider a hit single.
From an A&R and record making perspective, my thoughts were that the sequencing of the album had come together in such an ethereal way, almost as if it were telling a story, with each song slowly finding its own proper place.
Also with the quality of songs we had, we weren’t making a compilation of a single or two and a bunch of filler, we were making an album – one that could stand the test of time and go up against anything. Putting the song last also felt like a bit of a reward for fans that listened all the way through, which so many millions did.
Seasons are changing and waves are crashing
And stars are falling all for us
Days grow longer and nights grow shorter
I can show you I’ll be the one
Even with Face Down and False Pretense breaking records and remaining on the charts as long as they did, the song grew and grew in popularity and became it’s own animal – a hit without any of the promotion usually associated with one.
It was also another RJA song that changed lives. It became a wedding song, a prom song and more, with fans sending in heartfelt letters about how they used the song on their special day, some even with tattoos of the lyrics.
In one instance, Enterprise High School in Enterprise, Alabama had picked it as their prom song, but before they could celebrate, their school destroyed and many lives lost due to a deadly tornado while class was in session. The band turned down a huge national TV talk show appearance that would have had them essentially publicizing the tragedy and performing on set to a handful of students. Instead, we helped form a huge concert and fundraiser for thousands, including the entire school and community right in Enterprise. That’s just the way we rolled.
The re-recorded version was always titled “Guardian Angel,” I believe it was Elias’ idea to add the “Your” part to the beginning, as it was something his mom or someone in his family would say to him.
And again, Shane Drake knocked the video out of the park. The video and some pics from the making of it, logos, and the Enterprise show below.
From the RIAA certified Platinum debut album Don’t You Fake It by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.
For more on Steve Tramposch / Launchpad’s discovery, management, label signing, and A&R of RJA click here.
For more photos from the Platinum album award presentation/concert click here.
For more on our A&R and music consulting services click here.