After we lost Tony, I kept thinking about his daughters and my own daughters and then I remembered that Tony actually had a song about his daughter. That's the kind of songwriter he was, not cryptic, more autobiographical. I spent some time listening to "For Fiona." The lyrics really jumped out at me and took on a different light now that he was gone. Lines like "we could make believe this world would never end" and especially the line "I'm always here" really hit me hard. In my version, I end the song on that line as opposed to finishing the final chorus, it leaves it sort of open ended and thinking about that line and what it now means.
I happened to be vacationing in Fort Collins at the time, where Rise Against record our records with Bill Stevenson and where NUFAN recorded their "Feel Good Record Of The Year", so I called up Bill and asked if he'd record a version of the song with me. He graciously donated his studio and his time. I had no real intention, this was way before Fat approached me with the comp idea, I just knew I wanted to sing this song and pay tribute to Tony and what had happened. I called up Jon Snodgrass from Drag The River and asked if he would sing it with me. Jon has shared many more miles with Tony than I ever did, and I felt like it was important to have him on the song. I wasn't close as close with Tony as Jon was. Jon didn't say yes right away, I think it was all too soon for him to process. But on the day Bill and I were working on the song, Snodgrass just walked in unannounced and delivered some great vocals.
Bill and I knew the songs lyrics, but we kept coming back to this one line where it sounded like he was saying "but i wouldn't give it up for nothing free" and when we looked it up, most lyric sites on the internet confirmed that's what he was saying. But it didn't make sense, and Tony's lines always made sense. They were always buttoned up and neat, no ambiguities. I remember Bill behind the glass and me in the vocal booth and both of us not saying anything for awhile, just thinking about it. Then Bill looks up at me with an ah-ha face and says "B...Blythe !" I have a daughter named Blythe, but we all call her B, and Bill kept saying "B…Blythe!" and then he says "Fi…Fiona! I wouldn't give it up for nothing, Fi." I'm sure somewhere Tony was laughing his ass off at us as we were deciphering his lyrics.
I ended up playing the song every night on tour for a few months to a slideshow I put together of pictures of Tony. I wanted our fans to hear it, and I also wanted to create a place for people to mourn. Some nights I was on autopilot, and some nights I was choking on words as the reality kind of settled in. NOFX opened for us once in Corpus Christi. When I finished the song and walked off Fat Mike grabbed me and just came undone on my shoulder. The whole NOFX band and crew were crying, which was so jarring especially because those guys are always such goofballs. They were so much closer to Tony than I was. They were like brothers.