First things first, this is not autobiographical. I have great parents. I just want to make that clear.
Let It Go started last Saturday afternoon. Around 1:30 pm in fact. I have the recordings to prove it. I was hanging out with my family and figured I’d pick up the guitar to see if anything would show up. It’s funny. The early iPhone recordings have a lot of the kids laughing and goofing around. It’s sweet.
The first idea to stick was the little picking pattern that (in the end) you don’t hear in the song until we’re coming out of the bridge and starting the third verse. As I sat there on the couch playing around with that, I started humming the melody that would become the ‘Let it go young man, let it go’ part. Those words and the rest of the chorus came shortly after that.
Initially, I thought I’d make the song a little more personal and autobiographical. We all have things we are clinging to, things we need to let go of. But at some point (you can see I’ve already let go of some grammatical conventions…) I decided it would be more interesting to write this from the point of view of an angry young man.
I fleshed out the rest of the song over the next day or so although lyrically, it was still loose. In fact, that’s been an interesting part of this whole 52 in 52 process. I’m turning these songs around so quickly (by my standards) that I don’t have time to let them settle. And by that, I mean the process of living with a song for a while, picking it up and putting it down, letting it stew, etc. It’s not uncommon for me to be making tweaks to lyrics long after I considered the song finished. However, with these new songs, I haven’t had that luxury. I’m often changing words right up to and during my last vocal takes. To be honest, with all four songs so far, I think I’d still be making lyrical changes. It’s been an interesting process of learning to let that go. I don’t know that it makes the songs the best they can be, but it’s been a good practice.
As I thought about a musical approach, I figured it would have to support the spirit and energy of the angry young man. I played around with electric guitar ideas, palm muting the guitar parts, etc. I also spent a lot of time trying to make the original picking part work. Like Week 2, I spent a few evenings ‘getting nowhere’. It was very frustrating. I chalk a lot of it up to my lack of skill on the guitar, but one important point of this year long adventure is learning to work around my limitations. So it wasn’t wasted effort.
It wasn’t until Thursday evening that I finally settled on a guitar idea – the simple palm mute chugging on the acoustic. This was awfully late in the game but so be it. In my final playing around and mixing Friday evening, I did bring back some of the early week guitar parts I had recorded (although the electric never made the cut). I even brought in some of a piano part I had tried. I’m still not sure if it works there at the end but it was time to let this song go...I could tweak these things forever. The work-in-progress feeling might be something I’ll just have to learn to accept this year. I guess that’s another reason why this little 52 in 52 adventure is a good one for me.
I hope you enjoyed the song. These blog entries might have a little too much detail for some but I’m figuring this out as I go. As always, thanks so much for following along. Your support has been wonderful. It’s on to number 5. Have a great week!