It was another one of those funny weeks of songwriting for me. And it wasn’t just the obvious distractions of the Boston Red Sox wrapping up a hard fought and well-earned World Series victory (go Sox!) or my hyped up kids preparing costumes for Halloween. The funny part was my throwing out a song midweek and starting over. I think it’s only happened one other time this year.
Things got off to a good start last Sunday. After my first writing session of the week, I had a melody and chord progression in place for the entire song. Generally, this is a nice start because the only thing left to do is figure out what the song is about and write those lyrics. However, sometimes figuring out of what the song is about is tougher than you would imagine.
In this case, I liked the music I had. The melody was stuck in my head for several days so I was hopeful it might wind up as a catchy song. But as fate would have it, finding some lyrics to fit the tune was quite a challenge for me. Again, the hang up seemed to be figuring out what the song was about.
So Wednesday morning I decided to start all over again. This isn’t something I did lightly because just getting a song finished up in a week’s time is tough for me. I was well aware that cutting the seven day timeframe down to three or four days could very well prove foolhardy. Essentially, what I did early Wednesday morning - after probably an hour of trying to move the ball forward on the rough lyrics I did have in place - was say, ‘OK, this is frustrating you. Take a little break.’ I had about a half hour left before needing to move on to help get kids off to school and myself ready for that day’s video job. I told myself to play around for thirty minutes and see if anything popped out.
For whatever reason, I stuck the capo up on the sixth fret of my acoustic and began playing around. Sure enough, within a few minutes I had the little pattern that would form the basis of Butterfly. I also had the opening line, ‘Butterfly at my window there, Have you got something to offer, something to share.’ I liked it, had a sense of what the song could be about and - after two days as a very frustrated lyricist with the week’s first song - readily jumped on board. I was concerned about the timeframe but I felt that the feel of the song would allow me to get by with a fingerpicked guitar accompaniment and little else. It wasn’t going to need hours of drum, bass or synth programming.
With the new song, it really became an issue of trying to build some structure and then getting some lyrics in place. Fortunately, that went fairly smoothly. I was able to carve out time to watch the Red Sox win the World Series in Game 6 Wednesday night (did I mention that already?), take my daughter out trick or treating Halloween night and still have a set of lyrics together that I felt served the song.
Friday night I finalized the fingerpicked guitar part and recorded it along with a scratch vocal track. I then woke up early Saturday, finalize the vocals and added the little piano part at the beginning and end. I thought about adding other instruments but I felt like the sparse arrangement worked for the song especially given the emotion of the track. Then it was mix, stir, upload and out to you.
I hope you enjoyed Butterfly. It was a meaningful one for me. And it's funny how allowing myself that half hour of playing around (musical daydreaming if you will) resulted in a song that might not have otherwise ever seen the light of day. Just another one of those magical things about songwriting.
And with that my friends, the countdown continues. Eight songs left as we move on to #45. Thanks so much for listening and for taking the time to read this blog (i.e. my production notes). Have a wonderful week!