Week 11 - You Said

Here we are at the end of another week.  They really do fly by.  And that especially seemed to be the case this week.  ‘Time to stop and upload the song, Gary!’  (And write a quick blog entry. Yikes!)  Now, where to start with Week 11…

I sat down last weekend determined to try some new techniques.  As I’ve said, one of my hopes for the year is to get familiar with as much of the music production tools out there as I can.  There’s no better way to do this (I believe) than to put it right into practice.  Because a lot of this technology involves loops and grooves and other electronic stuff, I set out this past week to write something along those lines.

Last Saturday night, I spent time playing with dozens of these loops and grooves, looking for a little inspiration.  I guess you could say it was the electronic equivalent to my typical process of sitting down with the acoustic guitar and noodling around until something strikes me.  Well last Saturday night, nothing was striking me.  I’m thinking this was mostly due to the fact that playing with grooves and other electronic sounds is a little new to me.  No worries.  I’ve got 41 songs to go.  I will try again. 

After a while, I decide to just play around with some improvised vocal lines.  I played back a simple pad (the low note that starts and ends You Said) and hit record.  The first words to come out were, ‘You said you were still coming back for me.’  It didn’t really have any meaning attached to it.  It just popped out.  In the end, I added a little reverb and liked it.  I wanted to try turning it into a song.  It wasn’t quite the electronic direction I had planned to go for the week but so be it.  (Recording note: What you hear in the finished song is the actual improvised line that I recorded that night.)

I let it go for the night, returning to it the next day with the intention (or hope really) of developing an entire song with that same style or feel.  However, after quite some time noodling around, I had nothing to show for my efforts.  That’s when I started thinking I could maybe use it as an open or close (or both) to a more ‘typical’ song.  Off I went. 

Monday morning I set out to develop that ‘typical’ song.  The melody and chords came fairly quickly.  However, I was stuck around what this song was about.  Was it a romantic old flame situation?  Was it something else?  One of the early lines to pop out was ‘The table was ready and full that night…’  I liked it and it didn’t take much to get my imagination going in a more…shall we say ‘Middle Eastern’ direction. 

It took most of the week to get the lyrics to where I felt comfortable with them.  Given the subject matter, I didn’t want to come across on the one hand as irreverent, or on the other as inaccessible.  But in the end, I decided that I needed to write what felt right to me.  And maybe that was the best lesson learned this week.  That said, I was still editing lyrics right up to and during the final Saturday morning vocal takes. 

One last thing to mention is that, although I’m fairly satisfied with the end result, I went to bed as late in the week as Thursday night with knots in my stomach.  The song just wasn’t working for me.  I seriously thought of scrapping it all and getting up early Friday to write a new simple voice and guitar song for the week.  Fortunately, fatigue got the best of me.  There was no early Friday morning session.  In the end, I persevered and finally, on version 4, things started to click.  This might be the third week of 52 in 52 that’s gone like this with the last minute panic, etc.  I wanted to share that little story because maybe there’s another important lesson in there.

That’s it for now.  (I can’t let this blog hold up the song’s release and I do have life full of many other commitments.)  I hope you enjoyed You Said.  On to Week 12!  And as always, thanks for following (and reading)!