Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day! As you might expect, I chose to write about love this week. (How original.) I thought I’d write a nice romantic one. However, sitting down intending to write a song about a certain subject– especially when faced with limited time – doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. You just might have to settle for whatever idea bubbles forth first. That was the case this week. Not quite love…more like infatuation.
Speaking of limited time, that was a big factor this week. Most of you know that the northeastern US was hit by a blizzard last weekend. Well, as one of the rewards of home ownership, I had the pleasure of spending two days digging out. To be fair, it wasn’t all shoveling. A good part of Sunday was spent up on ladders trying to free up frozen gutters hoping to ward of ice dams. It was as fun as it sounds.
What this meant for Week 7 is that I didn’t get to the end of the weekend (as has generally been my pattern) with a finished song on paper. In fact, I had nothing but aching muscles and bones. So I woke up early Monday with a plan of starting on this week’s ‘love’ song. And that’s what I did.
I started in the usual way, playing around on the acoustic guitar. (I promise I’ll try some new approaches in the coming months, but I was behind the eight ball on this one and wasn’t about to start experimenting.) The first thing to come as I played around with various chords was the ‘Somebody call a doctor, somebody call a priest’ line. It was fun to sing and I decided to go with it.
Lyrically, the song went through a few stages. Initially, I played the singer up as a man possessed or cursed, trying to tie in the priest reference in the chorus. It still has those elements but it evolved to include references to illness and disease. The silly ‘jitter jumping love fever’ line came early and I was trying to work that in to the theme. In the end - as happens every week - the lyrics still feel a bit rough. In fact, some of them were improvised during the final vocal take. Can you guess which ones?
While there were some challenges lyrically, Love Disease was much more challenging musically. From the get go, I heard this as a ‘big’ song. I could hear a horn section playing in the final chorus as the songs fades out. Almost as if the E Street Band were going to town on it. (Talk about fantasies...)
Well, I didn’t have the time, ability or resources to pull off anything like that. Of course, that didn’t keep me from trying. I must have tried every option under sun – trumpets, organ, piano, acoustic guitar - and ultimately spent quite a bit of time that went nowhere. (I had to rely heavily on my 52 in 52 mantra – ‘There are no mistakes. You’re always learning.’ Though, it’s not much comfort when it’s midnight on a weeknight and you have nothing to show for the evening’s effort.)
This experimenting when on for most of the week and I went to bed late Thursday feeling frustrated and defeated. The week was almost over. I was literally telling myself, ‘There are just going to be weeks when you don’t feel good about what you’re releasing. It’s part of the process.’
Woke up Friday and listened back. I didn’t like the vocal. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s too low for me.’ I had been working in the key of D. I tried some other keys, finally settling into G. (That’s pretty far off. I have no idea how that got by me. Must have been the time pressed week.) I headed off to work hoping the new key might somehow help the song. No matter what, I knew I had my work cut out for me Friday night (on top of a three hour family commitment). Hey, who needs sleep?
In the end, I went with the chunky palm muted electric guitar. I tried to fill the sound out with other instruments but nothing seemed to work. And the time came to call it quits on this one.
One last thing…You might have heard a female voice at the end. That’s my daughter Julia. She has a phenomenal voice that’s way beyond her age. I hope you’ll be hearing more of her over the year.
That’s it for now. I hope you enjoy Love Disease. Thanks for following along and reading my lengthy blogs. I know I do quite a bit of rambling but these will serve as a sort of journal for me when I look back on the year.
Hope your week is great! It’s on to #8! (Oh no, I’ve started speaking in couplets…)