David Ellefson Looks Back (PART 3) on Megadeth’s ‘So Far, So Good…So What!’ Final Installment – Episode 3
David Ellefson: The final installment today of the So Far, So Good…So What’s the Story?! webisodes, providing a behind the scenes narrative and reminiscing on moments which made the So Far, So Good…So What! album one the most pivotal Thrash records to close out the decade of the ’80s.
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So Far, So Good…So What’s the Story?
Webisode 3: Songwriting Collaborations & Movie Time
The SFSGSW album was the first Megadeth record I had songwriting credits & collaborations. Down to just me and Dave following the Peace Sells… tour (along with drummer Chuck Behler coming into the ranks) I picked up my guitar and began chugging out riffs to add to the songwriting process. These included the main riff to ‘Hook in Mouth’, the rap/bridge riff of ‘Liar’, and lyrics to ‘Mary Jane’ and ‘In My Darkest Hour’.
‘Mary Jane’ was inspired when Dave and I went back to my family’s farm in Minnesota in 1986 after completing the Peace Sells… album. Greg Handevidt and I took Dave down to the Loon Lake Cemetery south of Jackson, MN where the legend of Mary Jane Terwilliger lived and her tombstone still resided. Mary Jane was rumored to be a teenage witch, was buried alive by her father and the story took on hauntingly epic proportions from there. Her tombstone epitaph read “Beware my friends as you pass by, as you are now so once was I, as I am now so you must be, prepare my friends to follow me” which made its way to the bridge section of ‘Mary Jane’ and it seemed fitting for the song to appear on SFSGSW album.
In fact, the music was written during the Peace Sells… tour where we would compose daily during soundchecks. One afternoon in Washington DC during that tour, Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson didn’t show up to sound check so me and Dave had then-drum tech Chuck Behler sit in behind the kit so we could continue composing. Ironically, that became Chuck’s audition for the band as he seemed to know the new songs we were writing from watching behind Gar. From that point onward, Dave and I knew Chuck would be the one to man the drum kit for the next album.
A highlight during the making of the album came when movie director Penelope Spheeris approached us about appearing in her next film THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION “THE METAL YEARS” which would feature the track ‘In My Darkest Hour’ as a single from SFSGSW LP. Earlier in 1987, Penelope had invited us to participate on the soundtrack to her punk rock film DUDES, which featured Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Flea (The Red Hot Chili Peppers) & Lee Ving (FEAR) with a re-record of our KIMB cover song ‘These Boots (Are Made For Walking)’. Ironically, SFSGSW producer Paul Lani would record and mix that track which made for a seamless transition for him to work on the SFSGSW album with us just a few months later in 1987.