Ciao Bella


guess where I woke up today
3,000 miles from the USA

tell me what’s going on
while you’re across the pond
and I’m stuck at home

the people back home
while I’m here
they just disappear

so I’m not coming home
oh no, I’m not coming home

where in the world do you want to go?

I’ll tell you what it’s worth
as I fly across the Earth
and I never look back

while you stick around
in the same old town
yeah, you’ll never leave

so I’m not coming home
oh no, I’m not coming home
someday you can go
but ’til then, I’m not coming home

I’m just getting used to
the world that I’m seeing
it’s hard to believe
in a few weeks I’m leaving

I’ll never forget you
or the things that we went through
please tell me when we get on that plane
it will be ok

as time goes by
we will try
to say goodbye

and things will change
they re-arrange
but I’m still the same

I’m not coming home
oh no, I’m not coming home
someday you will know
why I’m not coming home

Lyrics by Paul Friemel


First Place Hits

Addicted Demos (Demo Version) –

Addicted Demos (Acoustic Demo Version) –


Written by:Paul Friemel
Lead Vocal:Paul Friemel
Guitar:Paul Friemel
Bass:Paul Friemel
Drums:TJ Mapes
Recorded at:Catamount Studios – 5/15/2004
Appears on:First Place Hits

Song Notes

Ciao Bella has quite a story for being a song that was recorded after the band ceased to exist. Where to start?

– The summer of 2003 had come to an end and 2nd Best had endured multiple line-up changes and to top it all off, both Jeff and Paul were leaving Iowa at the end of the Summer, leaving TJ to fend for himself during his first semester on campus at Iowa State University. Paul tasked TJ with searching for new band members in his absence, for Paul would spend that same semester a little further away from campus in the small quiet town of Rome, Italy all the way in Europe. The experience enriched him and changed him dramatically and when he returned he found himself in a newly formed relationship and his ex-girlfriend living in the same building he did a few floors above. Talk about a shock to the senses! Ciao Bella is the manifestation of all these experiences into song format, as this is how Paul typically manifested emotional trauma. So healthy.

– When super-fan Jaylee once asked Paul what Ciao Bella was about, he paused and carefully said something to the effect of the following: The song is written like small snippets of multiple bigger conversations with different people at different times during my time abroad. Although all the words may appear to be spoken by the narrator, they are not. It’s a back and forth, but this song would sound pretty ridiculous as a duet, so this facet of the meaning gets lost pretty easily. One thing we can tell you for certain is that the “you stick around in the same old town” is being spat at our favorite punching bag, Corvetta. Some habits die hard…

– The phrase ‘ciao bella’ is a commonly used greeting and farewell in Italian, but is so prevalent in many other languages that is simply ubiquitous. The literal translation is ‘hello beautiful’, but like the Hawaiian term ‘aloha’ can be used interchangeably to mean hello or goodbye. This is the title of the song because it signifies Paul’s having given up on one important relationship to travel to Rome and starting a new long-term relationship with someone else while he was there. So in essence, the title should truly be thought of being duplicated as ‘Goodbye beautiful, hello beautiful’, with each phrase speaking to a different woman. Yikes, really dude?

– Paul played around with one specific call out line in the song depending on the make-up of the audience. Instead of “where in the world do you want to go?”, he would belt out “Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?” This was an in-joke amongst graphic design students that shared his journey to Italy, from which the song is written about. One of their professors had been unhappily given the nickname Carmen San Diego and was always an appreciated moment in the song. Something less confusing was put in place of this lyric in the real song. It is present in this form in the ‘Acoustic Demo’ version of the song on the Addicted Demos release.

– After re-visiting many old demos from the 2003 time-period that songs like Not Where I Came From, Pandora to Pangaea, and Corvetta were written, it’s clear that the bridge melody was lifted from another un-finished demo title Sandra Bullock. The original lyrics to that section were simply “time went by, time went by, time went by. but we won’t change, we re-arrange, we’ll stay the same”. The introductory bass riff and the secondary fluttering guitar riff also appear to have originated in the Sandra Bullock demos. This kind of thing happens a lot when writing music, and it’s always nice when you find out you only ripped yourself off and not some other famous song. Cha-ching!

– The song was close to finished shortly after the semester abroad had ended. Paul had purchased a cheap guitar from a music store in Rome to keep up with song-writing and just to relax, but memory doesn’t serve as to if the song was actually started in Rome or upon his return to the states. By the time the Spring semester of 2004 began, the song must’ve been completed because a newly reformed 2nd Best performed it for the first time as a four-piece, all brandishing acoustic guitars on Sunday January 25th, 2004 at La Boheme in Ames, IA. This performance was an extreme departure from the DIY punk shows they were known for previously.

– As a fully electric four-piece, the 2004 iteration of 2nd Best closed out almost every set of that year with Ciao Bella. The song was finalized with help from guitarist Dave Moore who came up with the ringing lead guitar melody that close out the second half of the song. It’s difficult to remember how the song existed before that, but it was different. Dave’s guitar part cemented the song and it was finally finished. After a few practices the band felt they were ready to hit the road and nail their usual Iowa spots to show everyone that the band was back but… well, more about that can be found in the shows and events section…

– The song is often seen titled “Ciao Bela” with one ‘l’ instead of the usual two. This is because Paul may have not actually ever realized how to spell it even though he lived in frickin’ Italy. It’s at least 2020 now, so we’ve gone out of way to fix the spelling.

Ciao Bella was the final song played by 2nd Best in front of a live audience as the closing tune to the 2004 VEISHEA Battle of the Bands. The performance is recored but has not yet been posted to youtube.

– After winning the 2004 VEISHEA Battle of the Bands, TJ and Paul found themselves the receivers of 10 hours of free studio time at Catamount Studio, a world class recording studio in the heart of Iowa. This meant that they could comfortably record one more song in high quality before completely calling it a day. There were two options, Ciao Bella or a new song written by TJ named Television. Having had less time to perfect all the aspects of Television and after working on some new demos, the decision was made to go with Ciao Bella and the rest is history. To this day, Television only exists as DIY band-recorded demos.

– Multiple recordings of Ciao Bella exist in various forms of acoustic recordings, garageband demos, and of course the final studio version. Two of these alternative versions exist as part of the Addicted Demos recorded by TJ and Paul in 2004. The demo version of the song includes a dreamy outro chord progression that was omitted from the studio recording but can be heard as an overdub during the layered last section of the song. The acoustic demo version is named such because the intro to the song is played on an acoustic guitar instead of the bass. This version is closer to the 4-piece all acoustic live performances from La Boheme.

Ciao Bella was recorded in one full day, and when we say full, the day started and 8 AM and the final mastered song wasn’t in the band’s hands until around 2 AM. We can’t recall the name of the engineer at Catamount, but he was a trooper! We think he actually dug the song and didn’t want to lose momentum. The ten hours were exhausted and the band decided to pay for additional time to get the song done and the results were monstrous. The only problem was how to get people to hear it? The band later released the song on their website, but with the announcement that 2nd Best was truly gone for good, reception was minimal with no other outlets to get the song here. Soundcloud wasn’t a thing in 2004.

– Everything on Ciao Bella except for the drum parts was once again recorded by Paul in a similar fashion to the previous Twofish Recording session for the songs on Steps. TJ nailed the drum part first thing in the morning and then was forced to wait around all day while Paul finished up the tracking. It was a super long day. Sorry TJ, you’re a trooper. Having not actually crafted the noodling guitar riffs that blanket the second half of the song, this section proved to be difficult to keep time correctly and Paul may have been suffering from fatigue. This rather lengthy guitar section had to be recorded multiple times and at the end certain parts were frankenstein’d together to get a solid performance that didn’t appear to sound off time. The bass part went off without a hitch.

– The big scream was nailed in one take and Paul even managed to catch himself performing it with his crappy digital camera. Remember, smart phones didn’t exist back then. This moment can be found and heard in the Ciao Bella recording montage video lower on this page.

Ciao Bella is the last official studio recording that 2nd Best ever created and sonically it is incredibly well-recorded, mixed, and mastered. The catch-22 is that it never appeared on any physical or main release, since the band disappeared from the face of the Earth after its recording. It was included with the three Steps songs on the band’s Bandcamp site because it seemed like the appropriate place to put it at the time. It is now officially lumped in with a ton of other songs as the second track on First Place Hits, a digital-only release commemorating the 20th anniversary of the band.

– For Paul, it’s a toss-up as to whether Ciao Bella or Pandora To Pangaea is his favorite 2nd Best song. Both show a significant amount of growth in song-writing from his early songs like Iguana or Between 2 Homes and from a production standpoint, both are in the top tier. It’s also worth noting that from a progression of time stand-point, 2nd Best songs continued to show improvement as new songs were written and there was never a major regression in quality song after song, meaning that the band may still have yet to reach it’s actual ceiling for growth. Did the band end while they were at the top, or is there still further to go? Only time will tell…


2nd Best’s first performance since 2003 at La Boheme’s open mic night in Ames, IA. This was the first ever public performance of Ciao Bella!
TJ & Paul used their VEISHEA win prize to record Ciao Bella at Catamount Studios in Cedar Falls, IA on May 15, 2004.

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