The Story of “Everything You Want” by Vertical Horizon

Jason Henry
8 min readJul 8, 2021

[You can watch my video on this post here.]

At around 4 a.m. one restless morning in the west side of Manhattan, singer/songwriter Matt Scannell was struck with inspiration. But he just rolled over in bed, hoping that he would remember the lyrics playing out in his head when he woke up.

Inspiration struck Scannell again with the intro of the song, but again he didn’t move out of bed.

Fortunately for Scannell and for anyone who is a big fan of this song, inspiration was relentless. It was when he heard the entire chorus that he knew he had something special, got out of bed and began working on one of the most iconic songs of 90s alternative.

Pre-RCA Days

Vertical Horizon was founded by Matt Scannell and Keith Kane as an acoustic duo when they were students at Georgetown in Washington. After graduating, they recorded their debut album There and Back Again in 1992. The duo recorded the album at Scannell’s former high school with the two producing the entire album and playing all the instruments.

After touring for a few years, they hit the studio in 1994 to record Running on Ice and recruited Dave Matthew’s Band drummer Carter Beauford. This album (released in 1995) took Vertical Horizon’s sound to new… horizons for me at least because while the acoustic sets on There and Back Again were decent, Running on Ice is a different league.

The songwriting is more sophisticated and less formulaic. Take a song like “Fragments” for example. It’s a great song that is still quite minimalist while coaxing memories long forgotten and perhaps for a good reason.

But it’s the inclusion of more percussion and keys which allowed the band to capture the necessary sound to accompany the nuance of their lyrical themes. As beautiful as acoustic music can be, There and Back Again left me wanting. But you got to cut them some slack. After all, this was their first self-produced album.

Scannell was also slowly emerging as the principal songwriter which would be cemented when RCA came calling after noticing Vertical Horizon’s modest album sales and concert crowds.

Jason Henry

Former Edu. Psychologist | Current Writer | Constant Learner | “By your stumbling the world is perfected.”