Week 40 - Refugee

Hard to believe.  The forties.  We’ve come quite a way my friends.  As I said in the newsletter, if this year were a marathon, we’ve just finished mile 20 of 26.  And just to make this week a little more interesting for me, I had the extra challenge of having to travel for my freelance video work.  I had hoped to make some headway in the hotel room with my laptop but it just didn’t happen.  So essentially, I had two days to pull it together.  Thankfully, I had a lot of Thursday and most of Friday free to try and catch up.

This one started (as the last three have) while noodling around on the computer.  I began with synth sounds first rather than trying to get a drum pattern going.  Whatever mood I happened to be in early Thursday pushed things a certain way and we ended up in G minor.  It was initially sounding a little different, a little melodramatic (cheesy?) but I had a deadline to make, so I went with it.

Thankfully, the melody came quickly and within about two hours, I had the chord progression and melody for the verse and chorus sections.  I also had a lead on what would become the bridge.  I was pretty happy to get that far in the first session.  The only nagging worry I had was that it was too cheesy (a vague and mostly unhelpful word but a very real concern for me at that point). 

When I returned to work on it Thursday night, my goal was to get a draft of the lyrics completed.  Again, I wanted something that wasn’t too cliché and cheesy (sorry).  Before bed Thursday night, I had a rough draft and I recorded a pass of the lyrics.  Fortunately, I had most of Friday open to continue.  It turns out I spent a great deal of that time on the lyrics.  Writing lyrics takes me a while and even with all the time I spent, they still feel unfinished. 

Friday evening brought some family commitments, so it wasn’t until about 9:30 that I got back to it.  I spent an hour trying to wrap up the lyrics and got them to a point I felt was passable.  My focus then turned to getting a good vocal take.  One thing I’ve realized this year is that listeners really hone in on the vocal and so a good sounding vocal will carry a lot of other shortcomings.  (I hate to generalize because there are always exceptions, but it’s something I’ve noticed pretty consistently.)

Before heading to bed a little past midnight, I felt like I had a potential final cut of the vocals.  I still wanted to record another pass first thing Saturday morning (which I did), just to see what I’d get.  I’ve found over the last month or so that recording the vocal first thing in the morning with little or no warm up, sometimes gives the voice a little character that it wouldn’t have otherwise.  It did pay off in a few spots and the final vocal is a hybrid of the Friday night and Saturday morning takes.                

At that point, I added a few more synth sounds.  I was looking to fill out the higher end of the spectrum but I wasn’t finding much that worked for me.  In the end, I added a little something to the chorus and bridge sections.  I was afraid of falling into the trap of just adding something because I think it needs to be there and not because the song is calling for it.  I hope I didn’t and that what I added helps. 

And that’s it really.  This was a quick turnaround for me, so I don’t feel like I have a lot to say in this week’s blog.  However, even with the quick turnaround, it was a fun one to work on.  And I did get it from a place of not liking it Friday night to actually enjoying the finished song which feels like a little success.  I hope you like it too.   

For now, we cast Refugee aside for #41.  As always, thanks for following along and have a great week!