Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Get Me Rewrite! Part 1

As promised, here is the first revision of "One More Day to Rain". I took the song over to David McKittrick's house on Sunday night and we hammered out a new draft of the song. Here's a breakdown of the changes we made:

  • Trimmed some lyrics. The second and fourth lines of each verse were cut in half, which literally gives the song some breathing room. None of the lyrics are final, but these will placehold nicely for construction purposes.
  • Improved the chord progression. Originally the verses ran through an unchanging D-G-A (capo 3rd fret) progression, but Dave altered it so they run a far more interesting path: Dsus4-G-Asus-G/Dsus4-G-Asus-Dsus4/Asus-G-Asus-G-Asus.
  • Added a lead/changed the bridge. I had a quickie placeholder for the lead after the second chorus that we expanded and altered so it works as a proper lead to take us back into the verse. Not entirely successful, but at the moment it will do.
One More Day to Rain (v2)

We also discussed the second song (which I continue to call "Track 1" because it was the first scratch of a song I recorded for this project). What you will hear is the basic melody and chord progression, with made-up placeholder singing where the final lyrics will be. What I have in mind for this song is modestly epic, musically speaking. Each verse will play off a three-note staccato progression, with the vocals taking one path, horns on another, and other instruments including strings layering and varying throughout. Dave and I agreed that it would be an in-studio art project -- once all the various parts are recorded, we would cut and paste and insert them all over the song, wherever they felt right. I hope that all makes sense -- I'm extremely excited by the possibilities for this song. I just have to write some good lyrics to match.

New Track 1 ('Epic' Edition)

So... thoughts, ideas, suggestions? Again, I want you to think of this project as fully collaborative, which means all ideas are open to consideration, and you will be given co-writer credit on any song in which your ideas are applied. (And if I don't use your ideas, don't take it personally.) I don't for a moment believe everything I'm doing here can't use improvement or serious critique, so feel free to speak up and opine as much as you wish.

My next step is to work up Song Number Three, so keep watching this space.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Givn' It One More Day

Last night I spoke with the most excellent David McKittrick, him whom I've spoken of in earlier posts, and he had some most excellent suggestions for the "One More Day to Rain" song. The main one, which is the most important, was to give the song (as he put it) some "room". The verses come at you pretty rapid fire and there's no space in between phrases. I think he's right, and it was a concern that I had myself. The verse and chorus progression differ only by one chord -- a major and a minor -- and that may lend to the feeling of repetitiveness. Dave suggested some tinkering with the song structure, which he and I will do in person probably some time next week. A lot to think about.

I am also musing over lyrics for Track 1, a song which I think is gonna require some serious attention and a lot of work to make it meet what I think is its potential. Not a mere tossed-off track, in other words. Stay, as they say, tuned.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Return of This Thing

Any time you see the Takamine guitar icon, it means there is a song or songs attached.

So, okay. Obviously, I didn't keep up my post a day promise. But I am guilty with an explanation: life got in the way. Not gonna bore you with the details, some of them some of you already know. Beside that though, I was stalled, musically speaking, and the songs simply weren't coming. Well, now apparently they are. Just two so far -- one is untitled and still needs lyrics, but it's still a keeper. Look for a demo of it later this week. More to come after that.

The demo-ready song is called "One More Day to Rain", and I want to talk a bit about it because the main reason for this blog is to discuss things like process. We all have our ways of working, and I'd be interested to know how some of you compare your own methods, whether for music or any other work. This is also a participatory blog, so please be absolutely candid and open about what you're hearing and reading. I'd also like to hear what sort of contribution you'd like to add to the track, if any.

Whereas Track 1 has been clattering around my space for a few months, "One More Day to Rain" is barely a week old. The title came to me while I was driving around thinking
idle thoughts. It had been cold and rainy for over a week and I was a bit tired of it, so I muttered "I'm givin' it one more day of rain", meaning I wanted sun and warmth, NOW, dammit! (Or there was gonna be trouble, I guess.) Anyway, it immediately struck me as a good song title, so I held onto it. When I started writing lyrics though I realized that the story should be different: I'm not sick of the rain and want it to be sunny, which I suppose would make for a cheerful little tune, I'm in a drought and I need to to rain. Badly. Which speaks to something else.

The first verse originally began "Fell out of bed this morning, see/Got right up, right on my knees" and then I stopped, stuck. I suppose the idea was the guy was gonna pray for rain. Well, but that wasn't what I was after. I'm not asking for rain; I'm sayin' that it better rain, and soon, 'cause I'm about done in, this drought is gonna kill me. That seemed to work much better, and I was off. I wanted to avoid any pity-party/woe is me lyrics, which would be easy and cheesy, so I left the details a bit ambiguous. This guy's at the edge -- "Then I'm givin' up again" -- but we don't know exactly what his problem is. The frustration comes from my own recent unemployment, but that ain't what I wanna sing about, either. (As I said in an earlier post, I'm not interested in writing Springsteen lyrics.)

As for the demo: I am reasonably pleased with it. I think it would sound great done with a band, I like the idea of keeping the tone all Byrds-y and bright, again partly to avoid a dolorous or pitying feel. It's just the place where this guy happens to be at, and he's pretty much gonna fall over soon if the skies don't open up.

Give it a listen, tell me what you think.

One More Day to Rain MP3

One More Day to Rain

All I got's some empty pockets

An empty promise, an empty room

Talkin down them echo hallways

Hollow words I spoke too soon

Now what I need's a rain-filled night

The sun is hot, the sky's too bright

Makin for another day of drought

I'm givin it one more day to rain

Then I'm fallin back again

Givin it one more day to work things right

Givin it one more day to rain

'cause I think one more day

is all I got

Listin all the hurts I'm feelin

Gets me nowhere, leaves me stuck

Restless and tired in the hot sun

Runnin in place it takes too much

Now what I need are drenching showers

A soaking rain to make me whole

Wash away from me the fear and doubt

I'm givin it one more day to rain

Then I'm givin up again

Givin it one more day to save my life

Givin it one more day to rain

'cause I think one more day

is all I got

If you cede it, if you feel it

If you give it up you lose

(c) copyright 2010 John E. Williams